Posts Tagged ‘Adirondacks’

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Adirondack Diversity: More with Carol Cain

John Brown FarmhouseTwo 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 influenced by the tone and content of the comments.   However her answers, written after the comments, speak powerfully for themselves.

» Continue Reading.


Saturday, February 15, 2014

Lost Brook Dispatches: The Best Vista in the Adirondacks

Wallface in SnowI’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 frankly I have never experienced a stronger sense of wild harmony and beauty anywhere else I’ve been. » Continue Reading.


Saturday, February 1, 2014

Diversity and the Adirondacks: A Demographic Stasis

Lyman Epps SeniorOver 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 my core argument is true prima facie – that is it is obvious to anyone with open eyes and a little breadth of experience in the world. » Continue Reading.


Saturday, January 25, 2014

Diversity, Sequestration and Relevance in the Adirondacks

yupLast 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 River.  When the only experience of another way of life is popular media, the lack of understanding can be fractious indeed; witness the current divisions in American politics. » Continue Reading.


Saturday, January 11, 2014

Racial and Socioeconomic Diversity and the Adirondacks

Lyman Epps SeniorAbout 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 you may notice that the results are different than published by me three weeks ago – additional responses broke the three-way tie for third place) :

 

 

 

» Continue Reading.


Saturday, January 4, 2014

Lost Brook Dispatches: Remote New Year’s Perfection

From Burtons PeakAfter 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 the last two days.  For New Year’s Eve I served a bottle of Prosecco we’d carried in.  It was frozen.  That’s cold.  I can report that thawing Prosecco by positioning it next to a flaming birch log flattens it into tepid watery juice faster than any other method I know.  Oh well, we had hot chocolate too.  And the salmon pasta was “spiced” with a little rye, which thanks to its higher alcohol content resolutely maintained its golden liquidity to the bitter end. » Continue Reading.


Saturday, December 21, 2013

Poll Results: What Readers Are Thinking About

Gothics Mountain Medium ResThank 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:

 

» Continue Reading.


Saturday, December 14, 2013

Take a Poll: Is There a Hidden Issue in Adirondacks?

part of the great range from the brothers trailWhen 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 making a difference but also with a sense of intelligence: people are thinking a lot about matters in the park and there seems to be a higher level of general understanding of these challenges than in years past. » Continue Reading.


Saturday, December 7, 2013

Lost Brook Dispatches: The Shay Effect

Lost Brook Tract in WinterThis 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 bring, this profound thunderclap completely sweeping away all the usual familial mediocrity?

But then it happened.  The setting was innocent enough: I was in the snowy yard with my brother-in-law Dan, exercising Henderson with a stick, talking about our favorite mutual subject, the Adirondacks.  Amy and I were planning to be at Lost Brook Tract just after Christmas and Dan, who had considered coming along and doing some skiing was telling me that his winter visit would have to wait until the following year.  “We’re all coming next winter, he said.  We’ll come up to your land for a couple days but we’ll get a place for a week.  Shay’s a little worried about snowshoeing up there.”

There it was. » Continue Reading.


Saturday, November 30, 2013

Commentary: Implementing a New APA Land Use Policy

APA officeMy 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.  » Continue Reading.


Saturday, November 23, 2013

Lost Brook Dispatches: The Glade

Henderson's glenI 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 thousand feet up and three miles in along the bushwhack route we take to Lost Brook Tract.  Some disturbance created it many decades past, a long enough span of time so that almost no trace of downed trees remains.  Since then the fortunes of wind and slope, of patterns of water running down the bedrock below the soil, have kept it from filling back in.  Surrounded by a ring of birch, spruce and balsam, it is perhaps fifty feet by thirty feet in extent, carpeted in ferns and boreal undergrowth. » Continue Reading.


Saturday, November 16, 2013

Commentary: An Updated APA Land Use Policy Proposal

APA officeGet 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 out in the two previous commentaries in this series: common ground exists to a far greater extent than the usual rhetoric would have you believe and we waste time, effort and good will by playing politics when reasoned discussion and a rational process can get us to consensus far more often than not.  So be ready, because I’m going to come back at any and all objections with direct challenges.   » Continue Reading.


Saturday, November 9, 2013

Commentary:
Compromise, Consensus and a New Land Use Paradigm for the APA

APA officeAs 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 is pollution.”  That quote, from the Strengthening the APA Conference held at the end of September came from an environmental advocate some would consider strongly anti-development.   Then there’s this: “Policies that protect the most appealing and beautiful parts of the land we’re developing, like clustering, make sense to me.  I want strong land value.”  That one is from a developer and contractor in the park, said to me over coffee a few weeks ago.  Or how about these vicious salvos (paraphrased as I didn’t write down the exact words):  “We should always be doing that sort of thing” (conservation design) and “I never understood why the APA allows houses that big to be built; there should be a restriction on size.”  Those two are from a real estate developer and realtor I know. » Continue Reading.


Saturday, November 2, 2013

Pizza Perfection in the Adirondacks

PizzaDeep 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. » Continue Reading.


Saturday, October 26, 2013

Commentary: Vote No on the NYCO Mining Amendment

National City Center ClevelandI’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 this approach because they fear that efforts to find “balance” or “compromise” will lead to the abandonment of principles that should never be compromised.   That skepticism is unfortunate: negotiations to achieve consensus around common interests, when done correctly, are never about compromise of principles.  Rather they are about avoiding black and white thinking, absolutist rhetoric and the disingenuous politics that so easily proceeds from strident declamations of rightness (for an object lesson, see the tragic rhetoric over this issue).      » Continue Reading.


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