Wednesday, August 10, 2022

The listening tour is over . . . for now 

summer tour

If I’m honest I don’t want to leave. NYC can’t beat the morning commutes and there’s definitely no hope for my love of hopping in freezing mountain water after a long day. On the bright side, I am of the belief that our Explorer summer listening tour did incredibly well. There was something truly thrilling about showing up to Stewart’s to find someone waiting for you, waiting to tell their stories to us. How lovely. 

The idea behind the listening tour was to learn what’s going on in the broader Adirondack communities and we specifically wanted to know what we were not covering. 

At our last stop in Northville, there were three people waiting to tell us that they were disappointed we were not covering their community. You might think that sucks but I see that as the biggest win. I mean they stopped their day to come tell us because they want their voices to be heard – is that not the whole point of going out of our way to find where we lack coverage? The only acceptable response of course is to incorporate Northville into future pieces.

summer tour

Pictured above are some of the folks we spoke to at length, in Schroon Lake, Keene, Elizabethtown, Long Lake, Lake George, Lake Luzerne, Tupper Lake, North Creek and Northville (We also made stops in Bolton Landing, Ticonderoga, Indian Lake and Chestertown but were sometimes too busy for photos!)

On our ride to the first stop Melissa and I agreed that trial and error would be the only way to find what worked so each time we learned more about communities, how to approach conversation, what people are looking for in their news, and more. 

For example, I quickly learned that asking people what they took issue with in their community was not going to work. People got defensive, and rightfully so. As an outsider and a stranger to all of these folks I was asking them to look critically upon their homes. I wasn’t looking for a negative response so much as I was looking for issues that could use covering, but that was not how the question came across. So I rephrased. I started asking people what they loved about the Adirondacks and people lit up. When discussing their life in these mountains eventually there was always something that they struggled with or a challenge their community was facing – it answered my original question but this time around I got to hear about their favorite things as well. People talked about growing up in the park, their latest adventure, and why they keep coming back.

explorer listening tour

From left: Explorer Digital Editor Melissa Hart, Publisher Tracy Ormsbee and Engagement Intern Izania Gonzalez in Northville.

It’s an important take away for me, and for others perhaps. Adjusting is a necessary part of life and it was a vital practice for this summer’s tour. I’ve learned more completing this tour and working with the Explorer than two semesters of grad school.

Any and all stories that come from this tour will be denoted as such so that people know we heard them and so that it grows the trust between us and all of you so that you continue to come to us with your ideas. This is only the beginning of making an active effort of listening to Adirondack communities. I am happy I got to be the guinea pig in this experiment. I hope that the Explorer’s reach continues to grow so that every Adirondack community feels their voices are being heard. If you want to weigh in, feel free to take a brief survey or send in an email, someone (sadly not me) will read it.

I leave you with a short video I made that showcases my Adirondack summer:

 

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A New York native, Izania has her bachelor's degree from RPI in sustainability studies and is currently a student at CUNY's Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism, where she's focusing on engagement journalism.




One Response

  1. Bill Ott says:

    You describe a major effort in improving the Explorer/Almanack. I really did not know there was room for improvement. Then I look at the threesome photo, and there is no improvement needed there either. The photo just reached out to me to be included somehow. I have been trying to figure out that since last night. Thanks for your article and efforts.

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