Saturday, February 8, 2014

Adirondack Diversity: A Conversation with Carol Cain

CainAs we debate diversity and the future of the Adirondack Park it is high time to hear from another voice besides mine.  Today I bring you a subject matter expert: traveler and travel writer Carol Cain.

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.

Carol has been blogging since 2008 and her current site, Girl Gone Travel, is a multiple-award-winning travel site.  Considered an expert on travel and tourism from a multicultural perspective Carol has been featured in visual media from Telemundo to NBC, CBS and ABC, and print media from Better Homes and Gardens to the New York Times, as well as freelance writing for New York Family Magazine, American Airlines, Matador, Expedia, and Forbes.

In 2013 Carol was a featured speaker at the TBEX-Europe Travel Conference where she gave a presentation on multicultural travel writing.  About that presentation she has said

…we all have multiple layers and cultures in who we are. However, in an effort to make it big, bloggers and writers tend to shape their voice and image to become more mainstream and appeal to what corporate media calls “relatable”…  … I challenged [writers and bloggers] to be different and break the mold. I encouraged them to use the power of new media to tell a different story and present a different face. And I promised them that in doing so they will find an audience that has been neglected for far too long who has been dying to be spoken to.

For our purposes Carol Cain is an even more valuable voice because she is a lover of and regular visitor to the Adirondacks and has written extensively on her travels throughout the park.

I asked Carol an initial set of questions about her experience of the Adirondacks and her perceptions of the issues we are discussing.  Her answers were illuminating and affirming.  I noted in particular how she echoed the idea that lack of experience and understanding cuts both ways, to everyone’s detriment.

The questions and her answers, unedited except for minor formatting, follow.

How many times have you been to the Adirondack Park?  What parts of the park have you visited and what are your favorites?  Why?

We tend to visit the area about 3 to 5 times a year at least. We have enjoyed everything from the Wild Center at Tupper Lake to the Olympic Park in Lake Placid to hikes around Lake George. The hikes are our favorite excursions as a family or a couple. We have found that the beauty of the area, the natural resources and ability to get lost in nature is what keeps bringing us back.

As a non-white person is there any place in the Adirondacks you felt uncomfortable?  Any place especially welcoming?  Do you think in general the Adirondack region is welcoming to non-white people?  How does the region compare in that regard to other places you’ve been?

I will confess that I would’ve never really considered hiking on my own in the area in the past. I first came to the area with my husband (who is white) and my kids. There are a lot of preconceived notions of what rural America is like, and what the perception of people of color can be. There certainly isn’t always that level of comfort one feels in more diverse environments such as the city. That being said, I never felt that all the people, in the entire region, would be unwelcoming. It was more of the fear of one or small group and then feeling isolated and helpless should anything happen – thus, I never thought of it as a general opinion of all, just as a fear of a few who might live in areas such as these. I think that those unfamiliar with NYC would probably come in with their own preconceived notions, especially when thinking of areas such as Harlem or the Bronx.

The lack of diversity doesn’t surprise me at all, even in more popular places such as Lake Placid. But I have never had a negative experience. The lack of diversity is the same in other regions, like say the Catskills. But, I have found that the closer one is to a major city, the less that is the case. I can go an entire weekend in the mountains anywhere in America and never see a person of color.

Do you think in general that non-white people outside the park know about the Adirondacks or care about the park?  Do you think in general that non-white residents of New York State have a favorable or unfavorable impression of the region?  Does the sizeable North Country prison industry affect these impressions?

Funny you should mention the prisons, as I remember it being points of references for some of my city friends (regardless of race) when I would share tales of my adventures (not because they themselves had problems with the law, but because that’s what the areas are known for in more urban areas). I personally was never really that informed to know those details – thankfully, as it would’ve further influenced my ideas of the area.

There are a lot of impressions about Upstate New York that people have. Some are that it is far and hard to navigate through and to without a car. That it is cold and brutal in the winter. That there are no good food or entertainment options. That bars close too early. That cops are incredibly harsh on “outsiders”. That you can’t just walk around, and if you are of color you wouldn’t want to anyway. That people call soda “pop”. That the wine is too sweet…I mean, the list is endless. But really, that there isn’t anything to do because enjoying the outdoors isn’t instinctively something we would do or consider very enjoyable or welcoming.

Do you think in general that non-white voters in New York State have interest in legislation or amendments affecting the park?  Do you think in general that non-white voters are interested in the future of the park?

I wouldn’t say that people of color aren’t interested in the parks. I think that the parks aren’t in our radar as much. The parks and the lifestyle they offer isn’t a part of our culture. That’s, in great part, due to the lack of outreach and inclusion in marketing and branding. The outdoor lifestyle hasn’t always been targeted at the urban or minority community. It has, over the years, been more geared towards white, affluent demographics. Go to any outdoor gear store and you will see imagery and pricing that is geared as far away from our community as possible. So, it’s not that we don’t care…it’s just that it is not a priority for us and it isn’t something that we would really feel a part of. Obviously, I care greatly and over the years my exposure to the parks nation-wide have inspired me to stay informed and involved in promotion and helping however I can, but it took my experiencing the parks personally to really feel connected enough to get involved.

Some people believe that it is really important to get more diverse visitors to the Park.  Any suggestions for how we can do this well?  Any insight into how we get young non-white people to enjoy the region or visit for the first time?  Can schools or area colleges play a role?

I do believe that diversity in the parks is incredibly necessary, not only because of how much impact more people invested in the parks would have on their conservation, but also because with the growing number of minorities in this country, it would be a missed opportunity to engage those communities in efforts of preservation. I think marketing is a great start. The Ad Council recently released a series of commercials for and one ad in particular, where an black father watches as his son, also black, admiring a redwood tree in complete awe, was subtly but incredibly powerful to me, and I am sure to many families of color who watch it. That is because the power of representation is an incredible motivator for action. If one never sees themselves represented, then there’s no motivation to consider oneself included. There was no big announcement or fanfare… just the image of a family, in the same way any other family would be portrayed. Except that this particular type of family rarely ever is in messages that beg for attention and community participation, certainly never in marketing and promotion of brands.

Would you ever consider living in the Park or having a second home there?  Why or why not?

I would absolutely consider a home in the park, as a matter of fact my husband and I talk about it often. We have been there so many times and have had such positive experiences that we’ve fallen in love and would want to give that to our children. That being said, there’s no doubt that I worry about the lack of my own personal cultural influences for my children.  I worry that moving to a rural area would mean lack of understanding that a Caribbean Latino isn’t the same as a Mexican, or that I wouldn’t find ingredients for my Dominican dishes, or that my children would lack the diverse community we are so fond of. Maybe for these reasons we would reconsider a permanent homestead. At the end of the day, with all the friendly faces and beautiful natural resources to enjoy, the warmth of cultural identity and community is also important to us as a family and one that only diversity can offer.


There will be more from Carol Cain in the near future.  In the mean time, the New York Times article, on how National Parks are trying to appeal more to minorities, is interesting reading in the context of our discussion.

Photo: The Cain Family braves the Olympic Bobsled.  Copyright Girl Gone Travel, used by permission.

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Pete Nelson

Pete Nelson is a teacher, writer, essayist and activist whose work has appeared in a variety of Adirondack publications, and regularly in the Adirondack Almanack since 2005. Pete is also a founder and current Coordinator of the Adirondack Diversity Advisory Council, which is working to make the Park more welcoming and inclusive.

When not writing or teaching mathematics at North Country Community College, Pete can be found in the back country, making music or even walking on stilts, which he and his wife Amy have done professionally throughout the United States for nearly two decades.

Pete is a proud resident of Keene, and along with Amy and his dog Henderson owns Lost Brook Tract, a forty-acre inholding deep in the High Peaks Wilderness.


117 Responses

  1. Tim says:

    Wonderful interview! I found the ad at
    and it moved me.
    As Carol says, it’s all about fear of the unknown and preconceived notions, whether it’s the ADK or NYC.

  2. Joe2 says:

    The rural/urban divide is once again noted here, and I think that is particularly a problem in New York State since we have so much of our population, money, business activity, etc., so highly concentrated in the NYC region, located in a far corner of the state (if you live in Tupper Lake). The divide is about as extreme as you can get in our country. For someone living in NYC it is a long trip and lots of hassle to go hiking or camping in the Adirondacks, and is probably not something many would want to do on an average weekend–takes too much time to get here. Speeking as someone who has lived in a major city it is a huge hassle to try to get on public transport carrying skis or a full-sized backpack and then get somewhere. Many urban residents don’t own cars, or else they own smaller cars–not ideal to pile in with 4 buddies and their gear for a weekend and then drive five-six hours. I don’t see how that distance and transportation problem can be solved easily.

  3. Outlier says:

    The Big Bear CA / San Bernardino National Forest area is about an hour from Los Angeles where everybody has a car. Trust me, it would NOT be mistaken for the Adirondacks.

  4. Outlier says:

    Why is it that predominately White areas are the ones that must diversify? Would anyone be taken seriously if they said that Mexico, Nepal or Malawi must diversify?

    Recently, a Trader Joe’s was rejected in a Black area of Portland, Oregon. Despite complaints of Black areas being “food deserts”, it seems the local population did not want the “diversity” that a Trader Joe’s would bring.

    • Outlier says:

      Notice how NO ONE has (could) answer the question.

      • Paul says:

        I can answer your question with a question.

        Have you ever been to Mexico? Let me guess. Probably not.

      • Paul says:

        Some folks here don’t seem to understand what Racism is. Everyone judges people yes, but if you judge them superior or inferior, a threat or not a threat based on their race then you are a racist. Are some here trying to make the point that everyone is a racist? And by that everyone (including many people in the Adirondacks) are not racists? Good luck with that!

  5. Bill says:

    Yawn…..I see Pete continues to force feed his liberal leftist utopian agenda for the Adirondack Park.

    Really Pete, one article wasn’t enough to push your personal agenda? Now you want us to ‘experience’ it from a minority perspective?

    Change happens, as it always does, but trying to force it down peoples throat with a take it or leave it attitude does nothing but create animosity and resentment. Your doing a great job at that I admit.

    If for one second you think many of us are stupid enough to think your article is only about ‘starting a conversation’….well, think again.

    Go back to your Adventure writing and stay out of the political arena. It doesn’t suit you well.

    • Pete Nelson Pete Nelson says:

      To the contrary, Bill. You, Outlier and your ilk are proving just how important this conversation is. Thanks for that.

      In a forum where people can choose to read and comment freely, where readers can state their opinions no matter how ignorant or offensive they may be, the claim that something is being forced down people’s throats or that there is anything “take it or leave it” about it is utterly ridiculous.

      As to your friendly suggestion to me, the sneering, combative, name calling tone a number of you are evidencing is not going to have the slightest effect upon what I write, but you can be pretty sure it’s having an effect upon other people who are reading it.

      • Outlier says:

        Well, you want diversity. Does that include diversity of opinion?

        • John Warren John Warren says:

          He says while expressing his opinion.

          • Outlier says:

            If any of this becomes a serious proposal, it will find push back from those more articulate and better financed than me. I have asked some basic questions that still have not been answered.

            Dismissal is not a refutation.

      • Bill says:

        I see I touched a nerve Pete. Good.

        The Park and North Country will evolve on it’s own, as it always has, without someone like you pointing fingers and blaming a certain race for misconceived/unjustified racism/bigotry you want many of us to swallow hook line and sinker.

        If you want to see a racist Pete, look in the mirror.

  6. Pete Klein says:

    Carol is correct on all points and even her family is one of diversity.
    If you look at the countries being represented at the Olympics, one thing you will notice if you care to notice is that diversity is taking place worldwide.
    If you look at the problem spots in the world, what should be obvious is much of the problems are the direct result of various forms of tribalism trying to hold onto the past.
    The problem with trying to hold onto the past is that the present becomes the past every second you are alive and step into the future.
    The future is unavoidable.

    • Outlier says:

      You’ve got it exactly backwards. People want to associate with others most like themselves. The problems happen when they are forced together whether by maps or social planners.

      • Pete Klein says:

        People who want to associate with others most like themselves usually end up associating only with theirself.

      • Paul says:

        “People want to associate with others most like themselves.”

        Did you even read what the woman was saying?

        The problem here is that you think that a black and white person are not “like” each other. Sad.

        • Outlier says:

          Yes, I read what she’s saying. She seems to believe marketing is the answer. For reasons I gave elsewhere, I don’t believe that will bring the diversity that is generally sought here, which incidentally, is never specifically detailed. Is it attracting a few more foreign tourists? Or is it something more extensive. All I hear is that the Adirondacks are too White and the people in the Park need to get their freak on and change that.

          I am nothing like an inner city rapper/gangbanger or a serial father. Are you?

          • Paul says:

            I don’t think she even mentions the idea of “marketing”???? I think she mentions that it is marketed to a different demographic. But that is all.

            Again, you seem to be talking about things that people are proposing to do when none of that has been discussed.

            “All I hear is that the Adirondacks are too White and the people in the Park need to get their freak on and change that.”

            But it sounds like you are also “hearing” other “proposals” and things being suggested when that simply isn’t the case.

            You have “heard” Pete’s point. There is not really any diversity in the Adirondacks all the rest of this stuff seems to be you in some kind of a panic?

  7. James Fox Jim Fox says:

    Go for it, Pete! I wholly embrace your vision. Carol’s perspective and experience is a good fit to a region whose residents and businesses are wary of differentness. Not necessarily rejecting, but guarded; as with most change from outside.

    We aren’t easy to get to, Carol, but the west-central Adirondacks are to be experienced too!

  8. Sandra Weber Sandra Weber says:

    Okay. I can’t take it anymore. This discussion is so full of misinformation, generalities, and nonsense. I am so tired of the name calling, the labels, and the lack of empathy.

    WHO says the Adirondacks is “a region whose residents and businesses are wary of differentness?” What is that based on? What experiences? What facts?

    I started as an “outsider”/visitor. I was a taxpayer/part-time resident for 20 years. Now I have been a full-time resident for 2 winters, living in an old log cabin in the woods. I have written 6 books about the Adirondacks, numerous articles, and studied its natural and social history for 20 years. How can anyone try to tell ME that “there are no good food or entertainment options” in the Park. On most evenings (year-round) I have to choose between 3-4 events, such as lectures, music, films, art exhibits, etc. And, I have never eaten better, fresher, locally-grown food than in the Adirondacks.

    “Bars close too early.” Really? Where? I was recently dancing at a bar until 3 in the morning in Saranac Lake.

    “Cops are incredibly harsh on ‘outsiders’.” Hmmm. Since I became a full-time resident, I have been harassed by the police SEVERAL times. It has nothing to do with where you come from or the color of your skin. It has to do with cops with a big head.

    “You can’t just walk around….” I live in Elizabethtown. I have never felt safer in my life. No one locks their cars, houses, garages, etc. People go in the post office and leave their car running, unlocked, with their wallet on the driver’s seat. I help older people cross the street. I hold doors open for people. I greet EVERYONE with a smile and a hello— not just rich, white, good-looking people—EVERYONE.

    And, it seems that some people haven’t taken notice. The Adirondacks is already DIVERSE. Although I am not sure what you mean by diverse— it seems to mean “non-white” to some people. What is “non-white?” Is any one of us 100% white? I would love to hear from anyone who thinks they are “100% white.”

    The Adirondacks that I live in is already diverse. And my neighbors whose families have lived here for 3 or 4 or 5 or 6 generations are not afraid of people who are “different.” THEY don’t judge people. (Sorry, that was a generalization—MOST of them don’t judge people—obviously, there are some ignorant people everywhere, even in rural communities.) MOST of my neighbors embrace people who appreciate this region and who dare to try to survive a winter here. Especially if those “different” people know how to be neighborly and NOT try to tell them HOW to live their lives.

    Has Carol ever been to a farm in the Champlain Valley or a square dance at Schroon Lake or a John Brown Lives! conference or a lecture at the North Country Underground Railroad Museum or an art exhibit at BluSeed Studios?

    The Adirondacks HAS changed. Just as the beaver and cougar and coyote and moose have found their way back to the Adirondacks woods, the diverse population that once lived here in the 1800s (YES, check your Adirondack history books)is back and thriving!

    How do we get a more “diverse” group of people visiting the Park? Quit making stuff up and talk about the TRUTH that is before your eyes. It doesn’t require “ads.” It simply requires each of us who care about this park to reach out our hand and welcome EVERY person to the Adirondacks — quit looking at people’s color or gender or sexual orientation or country of birth or income or education or age or religion or shoe size.

    Thank you for listening and opening your minds and hearts. The Adirondack Park IS a living, breathing, thriving organism and it is my home.

    • Outlier says:

      Sandra, there are three types of people here. Those that want to control others, those that want to live off the efforts of others and those that have a live – let live attitude and essentially want to be left alone.

      The first two make up almost all the voters, liberal and conservative, Democrat and Republican. That last group has pretty much given up on voting as a losing proposition (Which organized crime family do you want to live under?).

      Just as the Religious Right is upset that somewhere a woman is getting an abortion or there is a gay couple threatening heterosexual marriage, there are those on the other side that worry when their desired mix of people is not being realized. They lament that the Park has been a result of “white-centric thinking” and they want those from backgrounds without an outdoors centered lifestyle, presumably making it less white-centered. And they want to convince us, not with facts or logic but by shaming us into guilt.

      My history may be faulty, but I don’t remember anything about the creation of the Park referring to bars, museums etc.

      Ironically, Carol is safer hiking alone in the Adirondacks than she would be in Central Park and certainly the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico.

      • Sandra Weber Sandra Weber says:

        Outlier, I don’t know who you are or where you live but please re-read my post. Please stop saying things like: “There are three types of people here.” Please stop trying to put labels on people and putting us in boxes.

        You seem to imply that you have a “let live” attitude. So why are you judging everyone else? And why do you (and alot of other commenters here) keep straying from the topic?

        • Outlier says:

          Sandra, we ALL judge people. Anyone that claims not to is lying to themselves as well as us. I am honest enough to admit it.

          Be honest. If you were walking down the street and you encountered in turn, a man dressed as a Sikh, a woman in a Sari, a middle aged man in a business suit or a 20 year old male of any race dressed in a hoodie, tattoos, baggy pants and “bling”, would you feel equally at ease?

          Do you give out personal information to a stranger over the phone? No? Isn’t that “judging”?

          The central argument made in this thread is that the Park as conceived and sustained is a product of “white-centric thinking.” And this is not a judgement?

          And if you disagree with my categorization of the American voter, you haven’t been paying attention and are hopelessly naive.

          • Sandra Weber Sandra Weber says:

            Of course, we all judge people. But some people try to recognize their judgements and try to avoid them.

            I am brutally honest. YOU do not know ME. I WOULD feel equally at ease with any of these people. No, wait….you caught me. I would actually be the most uncomfortable with the man in the BUSINESS SUIT!

            I do give out VERY personal information to strangers on the phone and in person. As for the American voter….that is another discussion for another day.

            You said: “The central argument made in this thread is that the Park as conceived and sustained is a product of “white-centric thinking.”

            I think I have already voiced my opinion on that statement. It is inaccurate—historically, socially, and in reality. Anyone who knows Adirondack history and opens their eyes as they travel through the Park today (not just “pockets” of the Park) can clearly see that “change” has already occurred.

            Life is not a competition. I am not trying to convince anyone of anything or win them over to my way of thinking. I am trying to share my experience and my knowledge, and each person can do with that what they want. We are not enemies. We are neighbors. I embrace disagreement and conflict and “differences” and “diversity.” That is how we learn and grow.

            I have nothing more to say. I have to go chop kindling and thaw my frozen kitchen drain.

            • Sandra Weber Sandra Weber says:

              Oops! I have one more thing to say. I spent an hour at the ice palace in Saranac Lake last night from about 9pm to 10pm. I met people of all ages, races, incomes, backgrounds,…I know one girl was from New Zealand, one “non-white” from Brooklyn, one obvious well-to-know fashion model (with bare legs), etc. With the help of a Paul Smith guy, I got every single one of them (and plenty more) to slide their arses through the ice tunnel and then wander through the ice maze.

              Yes, I spoke to strangers! And we laughed and played like children together. Again, my point is that the Park is already diverse and all we have to do is embrace it. I know that I made an impression on those people last night, and they made an impression on me.

              I may be a dreamer…but I’m not the only one…I hope some day you’ll join us.

          • Michael McGuire says:


            I am an American Voter, and I do not fit into either of the categories you have laid out for me. It is not hopeless naiveté that is in evidence, but rather hopeless ignorance that is on display. May I answer the challenge that you offered Sandra? Thank you.

            If I saw, say in Old Forge a man dressed as a Sikh and a woman in a Sari, I would assume that they are Hindu ( not Muslim ), Indian or Bengali ( South Asian, not Middle Eastern – a different race and ethnicity altogether), and very likely visiting teachers, or other type of cultural ambassadors. If I saw a Middle Eastern man approaching me I wouldn’t assume anything. He could be Arab or Persian, it’s very hard to tell. He could be Palestinian, which also means he could be Muslim, Jewish, Catholic, or possibly a Coptic Christian. By the way, can you guess what language ethnic Iranians speak? I’ll bet you guessed Arabic. Wrong. They speak Farsi. They are not Arab. They are Persian.

            The 20 year old of any race with bling and tattoos and a hoodie with baggie pants. A) Rich kid. B) Poor kid going to his job. C) Thug. D)Undercover Cop from State’s Academy. E) War Veteran worthy of your respect.

            Man in the suit. A) Wealthy 1%er who doesn’t care about you OR me. B) Doctor C) hit man D) who cares.

            You sir are a glaring affirmation of how the Adirondacks could benefit from greater diversity across the board. Thank you for taking the time to show us.

  9. Hope says:

    I’ve been living in a world class resort in CO for the past 4 weeks. One would think that it would be a mostly rich, white man experience but you would be very mistaken. The community of locals and visitors is very eclectic with a very international flavor. There is pretty much every economic class as well ethnic type living and playing in harmony in this Valley. What brings them here? Great skiing and a welcoming community who knows who they are and what they can provide and worldwide marketing strategy. At the end of the day you could be standing on the shuttle bus with a family from Brazil, some Austrailian snowboarders, Nepalese, Mexicans (native as well as American), Black folks as well as Indian, Chinese, etc. These are both visitors and workers off to their jobs. It’s great! I’ve never heard a ethnic slur once from anyone. I’ve not heard anyone complain about the different languages that where being spoken. Others who can speak English come to the aide of complete strangers who don’t to help them navigate the community. What there is here are jobs which bring young people not only from the surrounding area but from all across the world. Eventually theses jobs (mostly entry level type resort jobs) lead to some of theses people settling here and moving up the ladder.

    So I think that a combination of marketing strategies outside of our communities as well as increase in jobs (of any type) will lead to the diversity you are speaking of. Worried about crime ? There is very little crime here because it is not tolerated by the community. I left my iPhone at a very busy lodge at the top of the mountain and didn’t realize it until the end of the day when I was at the bottom of the hill. Someone turned it in to a cashier and I was able to retrieve it. The same thing happened a week later to another friend of mine and they got their phone back also. According to a European, I was chatting with about it, the phone would have been long gone and hacked.

    • Outlier says:

      Don’t get your hopes up Hope, but I think what is meant here by “diversity” reaches beyond the wealthy (whatever the ethnicity or race). Someone wealthy enough to vacation at such a place has no need to hack a cell phone. Such places also take a very hard line on the hired help that gets out of line.

      If what you described was created in the Adirondacks, it would be severely criticized as “elitist.”

      • Outlier says:

        Hope, haven’t you heard that not tolerating crime is racist?

        • Hope says:

          Wealthy vacationers aside. I’m friends with people who live here as well as some employees from other countries.I have also run into some ADK locals out here working. There are also many, many transplanted ADK natives working out here some in top level jobs.

          Not tolerating crime is a community endeavor not a racist endeavor.

          • Outlier says:

            “Not tolerating crime is a community endeavor not a racist endeavor.”

            What color is the sky in your world?

      • Hope says:

        I am an employer myself and I would also take a hard line on an employee who would steal from me, a supplier or a customer. That has nothing to do with race or diversity.

        • Outlier says:

          Do you perform criminal background checks on prospective employees? That’s considered discriminatory.

          In diverse communities, elected officials are defended and frequently re-elected even while under indictment.

          Please, do tell us how you select employees.

  10. Bob Meyer says:

    WOW! so much fear, anger and intolerance.
    this is an important attempt at dialogue not a political agenda.
    thanks again Pete!

    • Outlier says:

      Call it whatever you like. (By the way, are you JUDGING me?) We’ve seen this movie before. A do-gooder identifies a “problem.” Laws are passed and large amounts of money are thrown at the problem which gets worse and creates new problems as well. No thanks.

      The concern is that the Park is not diverse and will not diversify sufficiently quickly. Advertising is not going to do the trick. If Pete and his supporters get their way political action will be inevitable.

      • Sandra Weber Sandra Weber says:

        Outlier, You make some very good points in this debate, BUT you continue to surround them with judgements, name calling, fear, anger, etc. You do a disservice to yourself and your views by presenting them in this manner. You make it so easy for people to discount what you are saying by presenting yourself in this way.

        If ALL sides in this discussion could stop being so defensive, maybe we could all learn something from each other.

        Just saying….no one has to listen. It is your life and your voice and I respect your right to say whatever you want to say, however you choose to say it.

      • Bob Meyer says:

        Outlier, i’m not judging anybody. by the tone (more fear anger and intolerance of those who are different or disagree with you) of your response i’d say, if the shoe fits wear it. 🙂
        where do you go from open discussion of an issue to political action?
        seems to me, it’s more about the market place potential here. the sacred cow of capitalism, no?

        • Outlier says:

          Bob, why don’t you suggest how diversity in the Park can match diversity in the rest of the state. Do you really believe advertising will work? Is it really just about tourism? On the other thread, I sarcastically brought up ideas about resettling refugees, Section 8 vouchers, homesteading programs etc. and they did not raise any eyebrows. Pete has brought up the experience of his kids in a diverse school. Sounds like more than simple tourism is contemplated.

          Pete has brought up a valid concern. The Park IS a political creation. US born minorities and immigrants do not embrace the outdoors (for very different reasons). Is it really because the Adirondacks are White? That doesn’t stop others from wanting to shop at “White” malls, live in “White” neighborhoods or attend “White” schools. Their has been extensive advertising to encourage non-Whites to visit National Parks. I doesn’t appear to me to have worked. This is why I think this discussion if pushed far enough must result in political action.

          As for myself, if anyone wants to go through the trouble of visiting or even residing in the Adirondacks good for them! Chances are, they want an experience that they will treasure. On the other hand, some have pointed out the difficulty in getting to the Park. Let me point out that the trashed sites and lean-tos are usually found at the easy access points. And, yes, the trashing was almost certainly done by Whites.

          • Sandra Weber Sandra Weber says:

            Outlier just said: “As for myself, if anyone wants to go through the trouble of visiting or even residing in the Adirondacks good for them!”

            Hmmm. So finally you reveal that you don’t live in the Park and have no interest in visiting the Park. WOW! So what knowledge or experience do YOU have to be making your statements?

            You just revealed that you have NO interest in the Park. Why are you even making comments on this blog.

            What is your personal and political agenda? Who are you? I revealed myself! Are you afraid to reveal yourself?

            You are wasting our precious time and resources! Go clean up your own yard before you criticize others.

            • Outlier says:

              “So finally you reveal that you don’t live in the Park and have no interest in visiting the Park. WOW!”

              How did you jump to that conclusion? What specifically in what I have said tells you this?

              For the record, I was born about 30 minutes from the Park and have camped, hiked, paddled in the Park numerous times both while growing up as an adult. I have relatives with summer homes in the Park.

              Go get a massage and have a cup of herbal tea. It’ll do ya good.

  11. sarah says:

    I live in small tourist town in the eastern region of the Park, so I have a few observations from my experience.

    Residents are open and friendly to any visitor (even Outlier). Visitors pay the bills. It doesn’t matter where visitors are from, their language, race, gay, whatever – it does matter that visitors are polite to workers, pay their bills, and don’t trash the local wild land resources (this upsets people).

    Visitors are usually from cities, used to diversity. Anyone considering moving here visits first, and gets a feel for the community. They want to know they will be welcome as residents so the first step is welcoming visitors.

    The school is more diverse, racially, than the town in general due to cross-cultural adoptions. This is a good thing. There has always been economic diversity.

    For a minority person to move to our town takes some courage. Specifically, they give up the social community they had in a city in exchange for our small town community, which is also very rich, but different from their city experience.

    If a minority is financially to move here they are also able to leave, whereas residents often have no option to leave. If we want them to stay we weave them into our social fabric. If we don’t they leave.

    I have not encountered people like Outlier here. I imagine they exist, but they are not high profile or numerous. Maybe they keep to their own like-minded sub-group? I don’t know them.

    I would like our community to be more diverse. I think, slowly, it will become so as visitors turn into residents, as telework takes hold, and as more jobs come to areas just outside the Blue Line.

    As for visitors, there is an obvious business opportunity in appealing to more market segments than the area does now. Tourism people know this already; those that don’t will figure it out soon enough.

    Finally, look at how gay people are so much more accepted now vs 20 years ago. Social norms change in our nation, and the Park is no island. So I am optimistic there will be a slow organic change here. It is rapid change that freaks people out.

    I’m not here to debate this, but I wanted to share my thoughts and experience.

  12. Will Doolittle says:

    Great interview, Pete, thanks.
    Well, there’s a lot of weird stuff posted here, but it’s all good, I think, because that is the point — to get a discussion going, an honest discussion, and I’m glad to see that. I’m not sure what you mean when you say the Park you live in is diverse, Sandra. But the population of the Adirondacks is not diverse. The great majority of people in every community is white. Pointing that out is not being negative.

    • dave says:

      It seems to me that Sandra might have a broader definition of diversity. One that doesn’t begin and end with the color of skin, but instead includes diversity of origin, of socio-economic status, of education, of upbringing, of thought and opinion. In that sense, I have to agree with her, the Adirondacks can be pretty diverse. At least, that has been my experience since moving here. I’d go so far as to say that I have experienced more of that type of diversity here than I did when I lived in a major city.

      • Outlier says:

        Curiously, no one has given any detail of exactly what kind of “diversity” is needed to bring the Park up to their standards. I have heard everything from Hope’s experiences at Colorado ski resorts (Vail, Aspen and Steamboat Springs are 95% White) to warm fuzzy experiences at an integrated school. Widely differing hallucinations requiring very different means to try to realize them. Most say that the Adirondacks are too White and do not welcome outsiders, although even this is disputed.

        It’s essentially a Birkenstock bull session and anyone injecting reality into the discussion is a bigot.

        • Paul says:

          Again, Pete is simply pointing out what is a fact. A lack of diversity in the Adirondacks. You make it sound like he is suggesting some type of social engineering.

          It is interesting if you visit any of the Colorado resorts mentioned the people cleaning your rooms are Mexican. Here in Lake Placid they are most likely white folks. In Vail they have to bus folks in to do that work, they can’t afford to live in town. So during the day there is quite a lot of diversity and when the Census is taken Vail looks 95% white.

          Characterizing people comments on their experiences as “hallucinations” is not “injecting reality” it is described as something that I prefer not to type into a comment. But we all know what it is.

          • Outlier says:

            Typically, when a “diversity” issue is raised, it implies that it is a problem to be solved. True, Pete hasn’t explicitly proposed any social engineering. On the other hand, he’s said nothing that would rule out social engineering. Social engineering proposals that where suggested, for whatever reason, did not receive any fundamental objections other than possible impracticality.

            It doesn’t seem like there is even a consensus on just diversity is sought.

            Why doesn’t anyone propose what diversity they would like to see and how they propose to achieve it?

      • Paul says:

        Dave, I agree. Like I said my experiences point to quite a lot of economic diversity in the Adirondacks. I think the history of the place shows that as well.

        I can use a hunting club that I belonged to as a great example.

        We had members interacting there (and having a great time) that went from a plumber to a hedge fund guy. Guys who were not far (or under) the poverty line to guys who had so much money they didn’t know what to do with it. We had teachers, prison guards, nurses, a cook that was a lumber jack by trade, guys without a job, you name it.

        BUT all of us were white males.

  13. Will Doolittle says:

    What major city? What is diversity of origin? Where you grew up? I’m pretty certain every major city in the country has way, way more diversity in diversity of origin (if by that you mean where people come from), socio-economic status, education, upbringing and thought and opinion than anywhere in the Adirondack Park. Again, pointing that out isn’t negative. Saying the Adirondacks doesn’t need diversity and shouldn’t waste time trying to get it isn’t bigoted. I for one am not calling that point of view bigoted, Outlier. But asserting that the Park is more diverse than a major city, in any human way (it may be more diverse in flora and fauna), seems to counter common sense.

    • dave says:

      Diversity of Origin is just that… people with diverse origins. Sandra specifically referenced hanging out with someone from New Zealand. To me, that IS an example of diversity… even though it may not include a different skin color.

    • dave says:

      My experience living in a major city is that even though I was around lots of people of different colors… that did not always translate into being around people who were substantially different from one another, or from myself.

      The people I was exposed to were all fairly similar. Similarly educated, with similar interests and moral and political values, and otherwise having only very minor differences between them.

      Now, clearly, that certainly has something to do with the social circles you associate with, the neighborhoods you choose to live in, and the jobs you take… but maybe that is the point. In that huge city, where all of this diversity supposedly exists, it was easy – in fact, it almost happens unintentionally – to find myself embedded in a tribe with similar people and exposed to less REAL diversity than I experience here in my small Adirondack town.

      If I go to the local pub tonight I have a good chance of running into: a best selling author from the south, a volunteer firefighter who has lived here his entire life, an artist who is south korean, a doctor who happens to be black, a hard core conservative “prepper”, a hard core liberal anti-technologist, a high powered attorney for a national organization, a local teacher, an olympic hopeful, a bunch of absurdly rich people, a bunch of people barely scratching by… and we’ll all likely suck at guessing answers to Jeopardy.

      That experience, to me, is way more diverse than any I had in the city, even though there may be less color involved.

      So, I don’t know… I kind of get both sides of the conversation here.

      • Will Doolittle says:

        Your experience is because of the choices you made living in the city, which is very different from saying the diversity isn’t there. It was there, you just weren’t experiencing it. Not only is diversity present in big cities, it is present in profusion, both in depth — the number of people from very different places and cultures — and width — the number of different places and cultures that people are from. That depth and width is far, far greater in New York or Chicago or Miami or Houston or Los Angeles or any other major U.S. city than anywhere in the Adirondacks. It’s silly to even argue the point, because it’s self-evident.

        • dave says:

          It seems to come down to how you define diversity and what kind of diversity you value.

          If diversity to you is simply being in the vicinity of people of different colors, then sure… the Adirondacks are not very diverse. If, however, diversity to you is more about being exposed to diverse experiences, diverse interests, diverse ideas, from people with diverse backgrounds… then that changes things. I think the Adirondacks, at least where I live, can be rather diverse in this way.

          And after all, what exactly is the point of diversity? If not the exposure to differences and variety?

          I am not arguing that the census data in the Adirondacks has more diversity to it than a large city. I am implying that the raw numbers of a population are not necessarily the only measure of whether one can experience true diversity in that area.

      • Paul says:

        Dave, you are right it has a lot to do with what people do and not just who they are near. My family and I spend a lot of time in Baltimore. It is off the charts as far as diversity of color. Yet all my time is spent mostly with my white “tribe”. But I wouldn’t say that am exposed to less real diversity than I experience when I spend my time in the Adirondacks. I might hang with my white family but you can’t really do anything in a place like Baltimore or Washington without interacting with African Americans.

        • dave says:

          Yeah. We can certainly question whether cities with racially segregated communities can be considered diverse cities… but that is not what I am saying.

          When I lived in a city I did not segregate myself out by race. I did not hang out with a white tribe. My social, work, and neighborhood was fairly “racially” diverse. But we were still all very similar to one another.

          So even though there was racial diversity all around me, there was very little diversity of experience, or of thought, or of interests. To me, if diversity has any value, that has to be it. A variety of experience and exposure to new ideas, etc. Not just a mixture of skin colors.

          So, as odd as it is say, given the realities of the populations, in that sense I feel like I have experienced more diversity here. Well, ok, maybe “more” might be taking a step too far. But similar, for sure.

          • dave says:

            I should also continue to qualify this by saying that I am drawing these experiences from time spent in exactly one major city, and exactly one Adirondack town. It is always possible that these experiences were anomalies, and that they have influenced and biased my thinking on the subject.

            • Pete Nelson Pete Nelson says:


              You’re being very fair. Your experiences are worth describing, regardless of quantity. I agree with you – and hope anyone would – that diversity is more than skin color, indeed more than any single factor. I agree that in some important ways one experiences a diverse group of people in the Adirondacks. The point is not to deny that, but to have a larger conversation with respect to massive changes in population dynamics and ethics.

              Thanks for the input.

              • Will Doolittle says:

                Any group of people that you get to know will have a diversity of experience. But if you work in, say, a brokerage firm, then naturally many of the people who work there, regardless of race or ethnicity, will have some experiences in common. Same thing in a newspaper, medical practice, etc. That says nothing about the diversity of the community as a whole — the city or the village. This discussion is emblematic to me of the problems with many discussions on blogs — even the simplest conditions cannot be agreed upon. If, for example, we cannot agree that major U.S. cities are far more diverse, in every way, than any community in the Adirondacks (which they obviously are), then we simply cannot have a conversation, because there is no starting point.

                • dave says:

                  I’ll try that again…

                  The starting point would be, what is diversity, Will. As I have suggested, this seems to revolve around how you define diversity and what kind of diversity you value.

                  Just because your “self evident” truth about this is being challenged, it doesn’t mean there is no starting point to the conversation, it just means that the starting point is not where you, Will Doolittle, insist it should be.

                  If you come to a conversation clinging to preconceptions and an unwillingness to reconsider the basic assumptions you bring to the conversation… as you seem to do in a lot of these discussions… then you are right, we probably can not have a conversation. At least not a very meaningful or interesting one.

                  • Outlier says:

                    Has anyone defined diversity other than to say what it is NOT?

                    • Paul says:

                      : the quality or state of having many different forms, types, ideas, etc.

                      : the state of having people who are different races or who have different cultures in a group or organization


                      The second definition is the key one here.

                    • Paul says:

                      Like Dave has said I think there is some of the diversity in the first definition in the Adirondacks. Like him I have experienced it as well.

                      But the fact is there is very little of the latter.

                      Then the larger issue is that other parts of the state (the parts that determine our fate) have a growing amount of the second thing going on.

                      Is any of this explanation really necessary?

                    • Outlier says:

                      Are you saying that taxing productive and responsible people, driving them out of the state while subsidizing the non-productive and, at the same time, throwing open the doors of immigration to fill jobs that don’t exist has consequences?

                      Are you sure about this? What could go wrong?

                    • Paul says:

                      Who are you talking to?

                  • Paul says:

                    Dave, I don’t think he is talking about a self-evident truth. He is just talking about the facts. The fact is there is a lack of diversity in the Adirondacks. Fine, you can argue that there is only a lack of some kinds of diversity but that doesn’t change the facts. Just look at what the woman said in the interview. There is an issue. You can’t really argue that it doesn’t exist. I think that is Will’s point.

                • dave says:

                  And by the way, Will, I have never said that major cities are less diverse. In fact, I’ve said the exact opposite several times now.

                  My comments have been about experiencing diversity.

                  The diversity you can find in small towns may not be as deep and apparent as the diversity of large cities, but in my experience it can be more accessible. This is, I believe, a product of the smallness of the small towns. There are not enough people here to allow us to separate ourselves out into segregated neighborhoods, or bars, or clubs, or restaurants. At least not as much. We are all thrown into the small town pot together. The pub scene I describe above, that happens because there is… one pub in town. There is no rich person’s pub, or minority pub, or local’s pub… There is just that pub. So we all go, and it is one big mish mash of all sorts of different people in there. It is great. It is diverse. FAR, far more so than if I drove down to the financial district in Boston and went to happy hour.

                  Point? I don’t know. Maybe it is this: A little diversity tends to go a lot farther in smaller towns, precisely because they are smaller. So maybe the Adirondacks are not as far away from offering a diverse experience as we think.

                  • Will Doolittle says:

                    Fine, but the discussion wasn’t about changing the way you look at diversity, or having the time to talk to people and find out about their diverse backgrounds, even if they appear similar on the surface. It was about actual diversity, and the lack of it in the Adirondacks, of ethnicity, culture, socioeconomic background, place of origin, work experience, family makeup — any measure you care to use. All those diverse forms of diversity are in far greater abundance in any big city in the U.S. than in the Adirondacks. I do think that is the starting point for a conversation about diversity in the Adirondacks. I do think that is the point where Pete started. So you’re right, if I say I’d like to talk about the lack of diversity in the Park and you say there is no lack of diversity, then we cannot have a conversation.

  14. Paul says:

    “If any of this becomes a serious proposal, it will find push back from those more articulate and better financed than me.”

    Outlier, what has been “proposed”? Nothing.

    What are you so afraid of???

  15. Dan Murphy says:

    I have a habit of reading the comments to an article before I read the article. My mind conjures up what I think the actual piece might say based on the comments, then when I read it, it is shocking how different it usually is.

    Call me crazy Pete, but there are 50 or so comments to this piece, and it seems as though maybe only 2 people got the point.

    It isn’t about whether or not there are good places to eat in the ADK’s, or that the cops are harsh to outsiders (that isn’t what she said anyway,). It isn’t about bringing a more diverse group of people to the ADK’s. It’s about perception. It’s about getting people from the metropolitan area to even think about the park.

    Her response said it all. “I wouldn’t say that people of color aren’t interested in the parks. I think that the parks aren’t in our radar as much. The parks and the lifestyle they offer isn’t a part of our culture.”

    Major metropolitan areas make up about half the population of the state. And the majority of these people do not care about the ADK one way or the other. It isn’t about getting people to move to Saranac Lake, it is about getting people to know that it even exists.

    Re-read her comment “There certainly isn’t always that level of comfort one feels in more diverse environments such as the city.” Really think about that.

    From her point of view, people who live in major metro areas do not even think about the park, and when they think about rural areas, they feel they are less safe than they are in Harlem or the Bronx.

    It isn’t about forcing diversification (which is a preposterous notion to begin with). The whole point is, this park that you all love so well, can (and probably will) cease to exist in the near future if something isn’t done. Groups fight change and development of the park by the all-powerful “It’s the law…” We quibble about interpretations of minute nuances in the law, all the while, it could all go away…

    Peter brings to light a huge issue… Bickering back and forth about specific realities means nothing… Literally perception is reality. Slippery slope arguments like those that took place over Prop 4 and 5 mean absolutely nothing to a voter who DOESN’T CARE…. All it would take is a few slick promotional campaigns by a few politicians that have an idea that appeals to the 9 million urban new Yorkers, and all of it could cease to be… either all at once, or a bit at a time.

    The point is that if you want to the park to remain protected, you better get in front of this, and find a way to make the park matter to the majority of New Yorkers who don’t even think about it now.

    • adkmike says:

      Thanks, Dan, for taking this thread back to the main point.

    • Pete Nelson Pete Nelson says:

      You’re not crazy, Dan. You’re right on the money.

      In my perception this issue angers people who feel they’re being judged and it scares people who are afraid of “diversity” as they have conjured it in their perceptions. So the result is a lot of vitriol, some of it offensive, much of it defensive, some of it simply missing the point. Some of it is worthwhile too, raising important challenges. But most of it, as you said, is off topic. That’s fine, but don’t try to say that’s my argument.

      You get my argument exactly: I’m concerned about the park being valued and protected, because you are right about the risks. I’m also concerned about the perceptions of Carol Cain and others on a second front, because Sandra Weber is right: this is a wonderful place and everyone should want to come here for the benefits wild places and close-knit communities offer. All people deserve that, regardless of who they are.

      That’s my argument; I’m not concerned with most of the other stuff people accuse me of being concerned about – social engineering and supposed judgments of Adirondackers and all that kind of nonsense that has nothing to do with what I’ve written.

      Thanks Dan; the conversation is getting better. On we go.


      • Dan Murphy says:

        I have attempted to make this point before and been pounced on for doing so, and I assume I will again. And that’s ok (if what you say doesn’t move people to emotion, then why say it?)

        And as a point of disclosure, I am an avid snowmobiler and the president of an ATV club.

        If you take all of the voters in NY, and make a pie (I wouldn’t eat it) 2/3 to 3/4 of your pie is representative of the voters that don’t know anything about the park, nor do they care for the most part (this is the group you are currently addressing).

        The remaining piece of the pie is everyone that lives in or around the park, and a spattering of other folks around the State. These people, even if they were united, are already outnumbered, and their ratio is shirking as the original piece points out.

        Here is my point. Certain environmental groups take very hardline stances on issues. Fighting against activities and plans for areas inside and around the park in a fashion that alienates anyone that is not already of the same thinking.

        Speaking from my “world”, people are beginning to resent these groups to the point that they oppose anything with their name attached. Having “Adirondack” in the name of a group should conjure “warm fuzzy” feelings, yet it is now a buzz word for “this can’t be good”. If I wanted to encourage my members to vote yes on Prop 5, all I had to do was say that PROTECT opposed it (they didn’t even need to know what the proposition said)

        Fighting against logical “comprise” for lands (such as the snowmobile trail through the finch lands), or taking a stance that there is no room for any motorized sports, or development, or anything else that “we don’t like” inside the park (PROTECT fought against a mountain bike trail for the love of God), is turning the ATV and snowmobile communities, and the residents that live in the struggling communities that are being hurt against groups that love and promote the park. I didn’t say may… It is happening… It is a fact.. If you think that I am wrong, you are mired in your group to deep, and are missing the forest for the trees (pun intended).

        So you have a minority piece of the pie to begin with, and it is already shirking due to population change. And “you” are alienating the majority of the people that make up your piece of the pie. Hardline environmental groups that on the surface appear to be “protecting” the park, are actually expediting the issue that Peter writes about.

        No one has offered a viable solution to the problem that Peter writes about. Here is one (and the majority of you will not like it). Adopt the stance that protecting the park protects the snowmobile trails that are in and around it. Snowmobile and ATV use is skyrocketing. Albany sees it, and is promoting it as a revenue stream for the State.

        You may hate it, but if you embraced it and worked toward logical management of trails, poof, you immediately change the thinking of about a million people, and a billion dollar industry in NY.

        I can see the campaign now. “Protecting the Park means Protecting our Trails” My group would support that. You may think “I would never support anything to do with snowmobiling”, and you are free to feel that way. You are free to feel that way as your numbers dwindle, and you see sweeping legislation changes, and you then have no say in the process.

        But hey, maybe I am wrong…

    • Outlier says:

      If people would say what they mean by diversity and how they would expect to realize it, perhaps much of this discussion could have been avoided. In the absence of specifics, it becomes a fill in the blank exercise.

      If the original question had been framed as “How can interest in the Park be extended beyond current residents and visitors?”, the discussion MIGHT have been far more productive. I say MIGHT have been because everyone here seems to fear offering any specifics on what exactly the issue is or what can be done about it.

    • Gina M says:

      Behold! Someone who’s not so panicked that they lost their reading comprehension abilities. Thank you!

  16. Pete Nelson Pete Nelson says:

    Extra shout-out to Paul:

    You’re making sense again, buddy.


    Keep it up.

    • Paul says:

      This may not make sense. But if you look historically at some of the folks that supported the creation of the Forest Preserve and the protections that it offered their motives were mostly selfish. For example it allowed land barons the opportunity to solidify their stranglehold on the Adirondack timber market or to “protect” the land surrounding their private estates. And to do it at the expense of someone else, in this case the tax payers of the state. We often look at the protection of the park as some kind of lofty project when there was far more to it.

      But my point is that many of these other “interested” parties are gone. The task of protecting the park now lies more than ever with the populace of the state. If that populace (increasing in diversity) doesn’t care it will have an impact on the park.

      With that said I think there are many people, even ones that live in the Adirondacks, who are not concerned. Having grown up in Saranac Lake I knew (and know) many people who don’t care about hiking or paddling or many of the tings discussed here. They just happen to live in a town surrounded by those opportunities. And like many folks that live in the more distant metro areas they are not “part of their culture” as Carol describes. So even living in the midst of the park may not do it for many?

      • Matt says:

        Good points Paul. I would suggest that the interested parties you mention didn’t exactly leave, but they have certainly changed. We see the conversation about public land management framed as those with strong recreational interests butting heads with strong preservation interests, and I think to myself, does someone in the city without any context for this discussion even care about any of this? What if we missed the point? What if it’s more important for us to ensure that New Yorkers get to experience the amazing Natural and Human Landscape of the Adirondacks FIRST, so that we have more voices in this conversation? Isn’t that what we all want? If folks CARE, the park will endure. Many Preservation interests, as well meaning as they are, isolate themselves by inadvertently fighting the folks who would bring people here to ultimately become advocates for the continued protection of this special place- ironically, in the name of caring for it. When the park is portrayed as a “battleground” of interests, we all loose. This has everything to do with diversity- diversity of perspectives and experience- perhaps the most important kind of diversity of all. Additionally, I think it has everything to do with how we view Wilderness as a society, which happens to be a hot topic right now. Prepare yourselves for boatloads of academic discussions about Wilderness from some of our usual suspects during this 50th anniversary, but I digress. We should ask ourselves: if all the folks living in the city(I don’t care what color they are) with little to no stake in the park or understanding of Wilderness, Wild Forest, Primitive, etc. were given the opportunity to experience the Adirondack Wildlands in a compelling and memorable way, would the park be more or less protected for future generations? Think about it. When you experience it in your own lifetime, it becomes real. We should be thinking about that every time we form an opinion on what we do with our public lands. Even though Wilderness happens to be a place where people are only “visitors” We still need people, and not just the ones that are especially academic about this stuff, or only like to walk in the woods or camp out. Ultimately we need all New Yorkers to care on one level or another, and ensuring we have well manged access to our public lands for a variety of recreational pursuits goes a long ways towards that goal.
        I want Carol to get her special Dominican ingredients AND have the kind of Adirondack Park that is well protected, unique, and values the kind of welcoming community experience she seeks here. Call me clueless and idealistic, but I think we can have both if we can agree to stop bickering over pointless nonsense like politics and social experiments and focus on what really matters.

        • Outlier says:

          So, Matt. What are your proposals to make the city slickers care more about the Park?

          • Adkmike says:


            I would suggest no one has a solid idea about how to address the lack of interest of urban people of many roots. Their is agreement that lack of interest is a threat to its protections, but that is all. Do you think this threat to protection and preservation is real? If so, any ideas to contribute.

            • Outlier says:

              As I have stated several times, the threat is real but not in the way most here believe. The threat to the Park comes from the diversion of state resources to address the needs of the new majority. They are heavily dependent on government services. Debates over hoe to provide these services will eclipse any Park related issues.

              Even affluent immigrants from non-western nations (which is mostly the case) have no cultural interest in outdoor activities offered by the Adirondacks.

              It is a mistake to focus on the diverse part of the population. The NPS has tried to do this with no success. In general, the best way to increase support for the Park is an economic revival. No one who is living paycheck to paycheck really cares about such abstract matters.

              Unfortunately, the state of NY has a perfect record of failure with economic revitalization.

              If the increasing diversity of the population is a threat to the park (the one thing most agree on) then you would think that maybe we should slow down on immigration to give us time to deal with these issues. But I would guess that comprehensive immigration reform (i.e. amnesty) gets a thumbs up by many here.

              • Paul says:

                That increasingly diverse population is the Adirondacks market. Let me explain it to you this way. If the Adirondacks continues to be only attractive to a mostly white and shrinking market that is all she wrote. Even if you continue to attract a market segment that is shrinking (whites in NYS) you are what we call DEAD in finance. Even getting a larger share of a shrinking market is still death. Slow death.

  17. Paul says:

    Given this situation (let’s assume for a second that diversification is impossible) perhaps the best thing would be for public land in the park to be federally protected as has been proposed in the past?

    Are things like national parks under some threat as the nation diversifies?

  18. Paul says:

    Here is some more food for thought. The Forest Preserve and the protection that it afforded was conceived at a time when almost no one in the rest of the state had the means or the ability to “experience” the Adirondacks. Given that disconnect (the kind we describe here) why did they “care” enough to do it? I think this may be a valid challenge to Pete’s premise here. And perhaps gives some credit to the idea that diversity in the Adirondack’s themselves is not necessary for their protection? Even though they would be lesser for it.

    • dave says:

      I actually think this is a pretty important point. One I bet will be covered in future posts about this.

    • Will Doolittle says:

      Who is “they”? If by “they,” you mean the people of NY, I think most of “them” didn’t have much input into creation of the Forest Preserve.

      • Paul says:

        The legislature had to support the idea. They (at least in theory) represent the people of the state. As we have discussed here (to the extreme this past year) changing the NYS constitution is no simple matter and in the end the decision lies/lied with the people. This is really the whole basis of this discussion and why some care about the diversity of the state and the views the people might have regarding the Adirondacks.

  19. Outlier says:

    Verplanck Colvin promoted the Forest Preserve as a way of protecting the watershed that fed the Erie Canal, i.e. an economic argument. I’m sure had he had other reasons but this was the best way to sell it.

    Even though relatively few had the means to visit the Adirondacks, the country was seeing rapidly advancing standards of living the concept of a vacation was becoming more popular.

    The diversity argument leads to false conclusions.

  20. Outlier says:

    The issue of “privilege” has been raised on other posts on the topic of diversity and the Adirondacks. Anyone planning on attending the “White Privilege Conference” being held this year (the 15th year!) in Madison Wisconsin?

  21. Dan Murphy says:

    For the sake of this conversation, isn’t the concept of “diversity” clear (until it is derailed by a chain of comments that make it strictly about race… and bar hours).

    Right now.. as it stands.. there are a group of people who care about the Park… They are white.. black… Asian.. rich.. poor… middle class.. and any other combination that you can think of. But the important trait is that they actually think and care about the park and the laws that protect it.

    It isn’t about physical or even “cultural traits”, it’s about thinking… You either consider the park a priority (on some level) or you don’t. You can take a white, male, from Ithaca who makes $500K a year, and a Hispanic single mother from Harlem that is on public assistance, and because of our great county, both their votes count the same…. If neither of these individuals have a vested interest in the park, even in ideology, the end affect is the same.

    It’s about diversification of peoples thinking, and values, not about race or culture. It’s about getting the park, and its issues on the radar of people who currently are isolated from it. There are people who live in the park, that don’t think about it. You (we?) need to get them to diversity their thinking and their experiences to add the park to their “life”. It’s about diversifying the way that the park is promoted to break into the psyche of people who are not reached by current methods.

    Mental diversification.. not physical..

    When you see in in that light, the race or culture of the individual becomes irrelevant, and the actual issue becomes clear. If you are worried about what “diversity” means in a physical sense, you are worried about the wrong thing.

    • Outlier says:

      The calculus of “…a Hispanic single mother from Harlem that is on public assistance”:

      Let’s see… Do I vote for maintaining/increasing state funding for Medicaid, welfare, after school care, transit subsidies etc. or for some White Park in the sticks?

  22. Pete Nelson Pete Nelson says:

    My congratulations, readers. As far I know you have set a record for comments here at the Almanack in response to this column. This comment will break a hundred.

    The topic of diversity obviously raises strong feelings. That’s great but I’m a little dismayed at an occasional “shoot the messenger” disposition aimed at Carol Cain’s comments themselves rather than the larger issues I’ve been raising. Her entirely positive feelings about the Adirondacks were apparently ignored by some in favor of defensive responses to her perceptions. Those who reacted that way ought to be reminded that perceptions may not be reality but they matter.

    I myself find the people of Adirondack region by and large to be more welcoming and authentic than most places I know. In fact I wrote a column about that very thing some months ago that got scathing criticism going the other way (as in I am bigoted in favor of the Adirondacks). Oh well!

    But my own perceptions and experiences do not change the fact of the perceptions of others outside the park, some of which were clearly and neutrally stated by Carol. Whether we like it or not, many people downstate think that the Adirondack region has lots of prisons and has nothing to offer them. That’s a problem. That’s the point of my series.

    Those who think Carol Cain’s views are in any way biased ought to go read her travel site. They will find, as I did, that she is clear, positive, eminently reasonable and insightful. We will her more from her.

    My next column will have nothing to do with diversity. But fear not, more is coming, I just need more time to gather what is becoming a wealth of information and good discussion.


  23. Adkmike says:

    Outlier, Dragging this into taxation and immigration law is so far from the topic that I will ask you to, please, stick to the direct issues and not: divert ot attn to your personal agneda.

    • Outlier says:

      I think taxation and immigration ARE germane to the discussion. One of the reasons for the “diversity” of the state (ex Adirondacks) is immigration. Decades ago, the decision was made to open up immigration beyond those from Europe. Subsequent decisions were made to offer amnesty to those who entered illegally. We also take in a large portion of the worlds refugees. Do you deny that this has changed our demographics?

      Secondly, as a political creation the Adirondack Park is, in part, a financial expense to the state. Enforcement of regulations and the fact that public lands do not pay taxes into the state’s coffers. I believe that the State also pays local property taxes. And unlike National Parks, the State does not charge admission at Park entrances. So the Park is a budget item that competes with what are called “social services”. The diverse part of the state’s population, for various reasons place a greater demand on these social services. New York’s social safety net is more generous than most states.

      To pay for all this, the State requires a fairly high tax burden. It has also pursued policies that create a discouraging business climate such as excessive regulations and high energy costs. The only way the state can retain or attract new businesses is through tax breaks and subsidies. This method has largely been an expensive failure.

      A large influx of immigration and low rate of job creation means that those who manage to have a job have to bear an increasing burden.

      THESE are the threats to the Park, not some imagined dearth of diversity.

      So I will continue to push “my personal agenda.”

      • Outlier says:

        It’s so much easier to just vote a thumbs down than having to refute with a counter-argument. You guys can’t even agree on what diversity you are seeking, let alone a way to address it.

        Really, If I am so far off-base, it should be very easy to point out where.

      • Paul says:

        This is all well and good. But the diversity is already here in the state. Are you suggesting that if we change these policies everything will go back to where it was when we had a mostly white European demographic in NYS?

        Outlier look out there. The world is changing. Even if you had the type of control you would like us to have on immigration you are going to get people who are not white Europeans. So this issue is not going away.

        • Outlier says:

          True, it can’t be changed in the short term. But why should they be encouraged or accommodated? In this case it is a fool’s errand to think that the short term economic interests of those that use social services can be moderated by outreach or education. We can’t even control the out of wedlock birthrate or incidence of HIV in some of these populations or even encourage them to take actions that would be in their own long range interest.

          Likewise, getting the current immigrants to embrace the outdoors when they most likely came from either a densely populated city or an ecologically destroyed countryside wracked by war or tribal violence is not going to be overcome by education or outreach. That’s partly why they settle in cities when they arrive. The other is that’s where the social services are. Strange how John Muir or Louis Agassiz didn’t need education or outreach to embrace the outdoors. It’s also strange that we are supposed to welcome other cultures but then change their culture when they get here (such as misogynistic practices).

          The thought of projecting the prevailing western concept of multiculturalism and diversity on non-western people is foolish and dangerous.

          • Outlier says:

            To put some US Census data behind what I am saying:

            From 2010-2013 NY had 318,132 foreign immigrants (4th largest) and 328,538 people (largest) left the state. Close behind was that other powerhouse, NJ.

            I knew the situation was bad, but this shocked even me.

            NY lost more people than even CA despite CA having a much larger population.

            • Joe says:

              wow, thank goodness we had all those immigrants or we would really be in trouble

              Dig a bit in the stats and tell us what areas of the state are people leaving from….are they the same areas immigrants are moving into? or? Let us know.

              • joe says:

                Actually, the more interesting data would be about voters and immigrants can’t vote until they are citizens…many never become citizens. So if you have time, tell us about increases and decreases in the voter population around the state, their demographics, etc. They are hold the decisions about the park in their hands, not recent immigrants.

                If you have time, research and post….

                • Outlier says:

                  If I have time I will look into these issues and respond when Pete posts his next installment of this serial silliness.

                  I suspect that the numbers leaving a particular area are roughly proportional to the size of the local population. That suggests that downstate and LI has the greatest absolute numbers leaving. However, the upstate economy is so bad, it may have a higher proportion of out-migration. Outside of a movie, I NEVER saw a “help wanted” sign in upstate NY until I moved to Florida in the 1980’s.

                  Foreign immigration probably settles exclusively in large urban areas since there are probably already fellow immigrants in cities and it is easier to provide public services to them which the local liberal political establishments are certainly glad to do. An exception may be those engaged in agricultural work.

                  What is significant is the nature of the emigration/immigration. Typically those leaving are younger, healthier, more ambitious and probably wealthier. Many leave with their jobs as businesses relocate out of state. Those staying behind are likely to be poorer, have heath issues or are long term welfare cases. With Obamacare, those remaining behind with health problems are likely to be a large consumer of public funds.

                  Now look at the immigrants. Sure, there will be the occasional PhD. from Asia hired as a college faculty member or researcher with a private company. His kids probably speak very good English and will excel academically. I would guess that for every such case, there will be a few thousand goat herders or street vendors from some third-world dump. They will require enormous social services, present a drain on the schools and be tossed on the local governments once federal subsidies expire. Many turn to crime or fraud. Some even go back to their home countries for terrorist training. Go to for great information on this topic.

                  While it’s true that they can’t vote until they become citizens (which could take several years), they ARE counted in the census for purposes of representation. Since they tend to settle in Liberal/Democratic areas, there is a direct benefit to the Left since they are better able to maintain their representation.

                  Further, they get no questions asked education (including free lunch), medical care, translators etc. The children born here ARE legal citizens through a false interpretation of the 14th amendment. This qualifies them for many additional services, through their parent(s).

                  We are currently considering yet another amnesty for illegal aliens. I’ll bet most of the diversity crowd here is all for it. They actually seem to delight in being overtaken, as though FINALLY, we’ll be rid of those uptight White men. Then they wring their hands over the consequences.

                  • Outlier says:

                    The threat to the Park from the state’s increasing diversity is not that they will vote to clear cut forests or vote to strip-mine minerals. The threat is financial in that there will be a strong incentive to divert more and more public funds to support social services to both foreign immigrants and the permanent class of inner city poor. Even if they don’t vote, their local political representatives will be demanding financial help to cope with the expense of housing, feeding, educating and policing their pet diversities. Look at the riots that took place when EBT cards suffered a computer glitch.

          • Paul says:

            “We can’t even control the out of wedlock birthrate or incidence of HIV in some of these populations or even encourage them to take actions that would be in their own long range interest.”

            Good grief. “Some of these populations”??? These are wacky comments.

            Many immigrants are highly educated and highly skilled and we need them. Many of them have come to the US to get an education and we want to encourage them to stay here.

            You make it sound like the only source of diversity is some group of unmarried, pregnant, diseased individuals coming in with their hands open for a handout.

            Get real.

            • Outlier says:

              I was referring to the US born “diverse” population.

              “Nationwide, African-American women reported the highest rate of out-of-wedlock births, at 67.8 percent. American Indian or Alaska Native women reported a 64 percent rate, while Hispanics reported 43 percent and non-Hispanic whites reported 26 percent. Asian-Americans reported the lowest rate of out-of-wedlock births, at 11.3 percent.”

              “Unless the course of the epidemic changes, at some point in their lifetime, an estimated 1 in 16 black men and 1 in 32 black women will be diagnosed with HIV infection”

              “In 2010, the rate of new HIV infections for Latino males was 2.9 times that for white males, and the rate of new infections for Latinas was 4.2 times that for white females”

              But in the matter of immigrants, there is the resurgence of diseases in the US that were thought to have been wiped out – leprosy, TB.

  24. Matt says:

    Outlier: Diversity of experience and perspective are what we are talking about here, not diversity of color or race which is irrelevant. The Adirondacks can be a very insular place, and that’s the problem Pete is referring to. To answer your question about how we fix this(thanks for asking):

    First: Welcome everyone, regardless of where they came from. Visitors deserve our respect. Pete makes a good point here that we have an uphill battle since the Adirondacks is associated with prisons. Not exactly welcoming. We need to change that. Our Adirondack culture must not be defined by incarceration.

    Second: Offer an experience that will compel visitors to love the park and want to protect it. This must happen in our human communities and our Wild lands. We must offer a diversity of recreation for a diversity of interests and people. Open space recreation has changed significantly since the early 70s when the State Land Master Plan was crafted and it needs to be revisited. It’s time to bring it into the 21st century.

    Third: Be proud of what the park represents: well protected open space and vibrant communities co-existing in harmony. It’s an amazing place for many reasons, but we have issues. The folks that live here could be it’s best advocates, but quite often are disillusioned with the endless stream of litigation and bureaucracy which makes any kind of change all but impossible at times. Still, folks that care about the park and want to make the communities stronger persist, and must not be lost in the continuous legal shuffling.

    Diversity happens.

    When a community(or family, or tribe, or government or whatever) is healthy, a diversity of ideas can be brought to the table and considered in a respectful and open forum. The Adirondack Futures Project was a fine example of an exercise in welcoming a diversity of opinions, ideas, and experiences. That being said, diversity alone was never the point. Just seeking diversity is like seeking something green when you actually want lettuce.
    The point of the futures project was ultimately to strengthen communities, prepare for an uncertain future, and protect the park all at the same time. We all get a little closer to this goal when we welcomed a Diversity of ideas and experiences into our daily conversations. There is no Silver bullet here, but we’ll know we are moving in the right direction when we are welcoming and considering many viewpoints, as we do in this forum.

    On that note, John Warren: Thanks for letting Outlier be an Outlier here. Cheers