I have always believed that the initial step in addressing a deep and difficult issue – especially one that is controversial – is recognition: we must first understand that something matters; that it is real; that it affects people’s lives. Without recognition, without an embrace of the importance of an issue, we risk what will likely be at best a display of sturm und drang when we try to talk about it, signifying nothing but ego and personality. Yet despite the sometimes perfunctory dismalness of on-line comments, » Continue Reading.
Two weeks ago I posted my initial interview with noted travel writer and blogger Carol Cain. That column set a record for comments here at the Almanack. My own reaction to those comments taken as a whole is that they persuasively demonstrate the need for this conversation (fortunately the off-line discussions that have been spurred by this issue are leading to some productive initiatives… more on that in the future).
Subsequent to my first interview with Carol I asked her a series of of follow-up questions. I share her answers today. These questions were formulated previous to the posting of the first interview, thus not » Continue Reading.
I’ve been preoccupied with Adirondack vistas of late. Two recent copies of Adirondack Life had pictures with Burton’s Peak in them: one was a cover picture and the other placed in the 2014 Photo Contest (those of you who are savvy about my Lost Brook Dispatches and have followed the clues can see if you can identify it).
Like so many of us, I cherish beholding a corker Adirondack view perhaps more than any other experience in the park. There is something magical about the combination of grandeur and intimacy in wild Adirondack vistas, studded with lakes, ponds and streams and infused with a dark, raw primeval power impossible to capture in words. Quite » Continue Reading.
Born in Brooklyn to a Dominican-Puerto Rican family, Carol lived and studied in the Dominican Republic as a teenager before returning to New York City to pursue a career in public relations. She speaks three languages.
Over the last few weeks I have been making an argument that socioeconomic and racial diversity is a primary challenge facing the Adirondacks. The core of the argument is that the Adirondack region is becoming ever-more sequestered racially as the rest of New York State rapidly moves towards a non-white majority and this poses problems for the future of the park. This sequestration cuts both ways – the Adirondacks lose and an evolving population that does not have a relevant connection to the park loses too.
So far my argument has been rooted in experience, raising questions of equity and social justice along the way. Proceeding from this experience I would contend that the » Continue Reading.
Last week I wrote a column about my personal experiences on the South Side of Chicago. My purpose was to frame the issues in terms of sequestration: when a region or area is overwhelmingly of one socioeconomic or racial class, it gets cordoned off – literally and figuratively. Other classes know little about it in experience and understanding. Stereotypes predominate. Economic and cultural gaps persist, even widen.
This is a two-way street. An obvious example is the gap in understanding between people who have lived all their lives in hyper-urban areas – say East 55th Street in Cleveland – and people who have lived exclusively in very rural areas – say farm country near the Ohio » Continue Reading.
Over the last couple of weeks I have noticed a substantial increase in reader comments on various posts claiming that environmentalists who are uncompromising about preserving or restoring pristine wilderness are absolutists, because there is no such thing in the Adirondacks.
The idea of pristine wilderness, they say, is an elitist fantasy. The real-world approach, they suggest, is some common sense pragmatism. When we don’t take that approach, residents suffer, recreationalists suffer, the economy suffers – in short, people suffer.
Last week I began a series arguing that racial and socioeconomic diversity is the number one issue facing the Adirondacks. My multi-part argument is sustained in part by overwhelming demographics that I will be presenting soon. But there is a deeper moral and cultural dynamic to my argument far more important than statistics. I need to get to it first or the rest of the argument will suffer a lack of meaning. As always, I’ll try to accomplish that with a story.
About a month ago I crafted a little poll for readers to take. The purpose of the poll was to test a hunch: that of all the issues affecting the future of the Adirondack region, the one I happen to think is most important goes all but unrecognized. So I wrote descriptions of the ten issues I had selected, trying not to tip my hand or show bias, and released the poll. The results, while interesting in their own rite, validated my hunch even more than I had expected.
Here is your ranking, the aggregate of more than 150 responses (some of » Continue Reading.
After four nights at Lost Brook Tract with Amy, two adult sons and our irrepressible dog Henderson, I’m raring to go for another year of Almanacking, though my contributions will be a little less frequent as I bear down with more purpose on the book I’m undertaking.
This stay at Lost Brook Tract was the best ever. The weather conditions and quality of light were the most beautiful I’ve ever experienced in the Adirondacks, to which the photo can attest. It was truly luminous. There was less snow than in past years but no less winter. The temperatures ranged from a positively balmy 35 degrees on the first afternoon to properly Adirondack zero-and-below readings » Continue Reading.
Thank you readers! The results of my little poll exceeded my expectations. I received nearly 150 responses, a great number.
Let me remind you that this poll was intended to be neither scientific nor comprehensive. It was designed by me to see if the results would highlight what I think is a hidden issue concerning the future of the Adirondack Park. It did that for sure, but it also provided other insights.
Here is how the issues fell out, ranked by weighted average:
When it comes to major issues that impact the future of the Adirondacks this year has been one of the most event-filled in decades. From the ongoing Adirondack Club and Resort debate and the orbiting cluster of questions related to private land use to the continuing economic wins for the North Country, the recent constitutional amendments and the classification of the Finch Pruyn lands, this has been a pivotal time.
My reading of recent events is that most of the news is good news for the park. It seems to me that stakeholders in the Adirondacks are responding to the challenges we face with concrete initiatives that are » Continue Reading.
This Thanksgiving unfolded for me in traditional and typical fashion, promising that the standard playbook would be executed all the way through: take the family to my in-laws, help cook a massive meal for twenty, monitor my Mother for too much wine or too much stimulation (Mom is 92 and can overload either way), overeat, get teary looking at my wife and drive seventy miles home while fighting indigestion and narcolepsy.
By early afternoon all was going to form. How could I possibly have known that an earth-shaking revelation was about to completely overwhelm me? How could I be prepared for the sheer jubilation, the exaltation this imminent moment was going to » Continue Reading.
My last column in this APA series was a proposed new land use policy organized around a consensus-driven process with a development plan and ecological assessment as the primary inputs and a design that maximizes both ecological protection and the profitability of the project as the desired output. I expected a number of less-than-receptive comments but instead I received a lot of good ones including some questions and challenges that I hope are at least partly answered this week.
I have been experiencing potent daydreams over the last week. Really they are little flashes of transference, brief moments where my conscious self is in a different place than I am. It is less than an out of body experience – a concept which my reason will not allow – but it is much more than simply thinking about or remembering or longing to be somewhere. Everyone has had similar experiences, when all of a sudden another place or time from memory, or even a fiction from imagination, floods into one’s head so strongly that the smell, sound and feel of it is palpable.
My daydream is no fiction: it is a small glade two » Continue Reading.
Get out your torches and pitchforks, kids. Here comes a nice fat target to shoot at. I’m going to propose an updated land use policy and permitting process for the Adirondack Park Agency. I’m not going to go into a detailed explanation of it since I imagine that I will have ample opportunity to do that in response to the numerous comments I hope to receive.
Consider this a straw man that you can light on fire or eviscerate as desired. I don’t suggest for a moment that I have the one best answer or anything remotely definitive. But I aim to have something to talk about which I can defend on the basis laid » Continue Reading.
As I began to think about my series on the Adirondack Park Agency, my discussions with people elicited a wide variety of comments. My topic over the next two weeks, land use policy, generated some skepticism from people who have been around the proverbial block on this issue. “If you want to be buried in angry commentary, write about zoning,” went one. “Private land use is the third rail of Adirondack politics,” went another. These sentiments are not news to anyone.
But there are other comments I have heard over the last month. Here’s one: “I’m not opposed to development; I’m opposed to pollution. Development is development, pollution » Continue Reading.
Deep in the heart of the Adirondacks lies a special spot. Unassuming at first glance, possessing neither towering heights nor glittering finery, it nonetheless, like so many places in the park, harbors intimate secrets. This is a place of near perfection, of pleasures nonpariel. Elsewhere will you find it loftier, thicker; elsewhere will you find it more scenic. But nowhere – I mean nowhere – will you find it better.
And it comes in only medium and large.
I’ve been following the debate over the proposed amendment to the New York State Constitution to allow NYCO Minerals, Inc. to conduct exploratory drilling on 200 acres of Forest Preserve in the Jay Mountain Wilderness. The basic framework for this proposal is that whatever land NYCO disturbs by their drilling and mining must be exchanged for land of equal or greater value and acreage that NYCO donates to the Forest Preserve.
Please remember as you read this commentary that I have repeatedly and consistently positioned myself as an advocate for finding common ground and seeking consensus around the most controversial issues in the park. There are plenty of people who are wary of » Continue Reading.
I’ve been thinking about my father lately as my interest in Adirondack history has grown in its personal impact. The palpable feel of the history in the park, the physical sense of it, is the result of a sensibility I owe my parents, especially my father. His life and values tied me directly to a different time, to a different world that is always echoed in the wilderness, in places that connect all of us to a sense of the primitive and to bygone lives.
Ray Nelson lived part of his youth as a frontier man, » Continue Reading.