Women’s History Month provides an opportunity to honor the women from the Adirondacks who have lived here, and those who have written about women who helped to preserve this special place and loved its many facets. A number of books have been published the last decade or so that chronicle the lives and stories of women who contributed to the history and culture of the Adirondacks.
“Weaving the Stories of Women’s Lives” is the theme for the 2015 National Women’s History Month. Two women ingrained into the fabric of my Adirondack life are Anne LaBastille and Barbara McMartin. » Continue Reading.
This spring, New York has an opportunity to modernize its criminal justice system so it helps children who get into trouble with the law, while also helping our communities become more diverse, prosperous and successful.
A goal for the State should be to help troubled youths lead more productive lives. This, in turn, will make our communities safer and more productive. The State Legislature can help the Adirondack Park build a brighter future for our communities, as it protects our clean water and wilderness, by raising the age as the Governor has proposed. » Continue Reading.
The Herkimer County Legislature has named Friday “French Louie Day” in honor of the noted French-Canadian Adirondacker Louis Seymour. A celebration is planned for Saturday in the Town of Inlet.
Friday marks the 100th anniversary of the death of Seymour, who made the wilderness between Inlet and Lake Pleasant his home from the 1860s until his death in Newton’s Corners (now Speculator) on February 27, 1915. Seymour’s name became legend after the 1952 biography Adirondack French Louie: Life in the North Woods by Utica author Harvey Dunham, which portrayed him as a man of hard work, determination and humor. » Continue Reading.
Wilderness advocates in the environmental movement have known for years there is a problem when it comes to diversity and the future of the Adirondacks. We look around the backcountry on an inviting summer weekend and we see people who use, love, and defend New York’s wildest lands. But we don’t see many people of color. » Continue Reading.
Andrea Adams, founder and former director of The Bridge and a local LGBTQ activist, passed away peacefully at her home in South Glens Falls on January 22. Her loving partner Dennis Belden was by her side.
A memorial service was held on January 28 at Saint Andrew Lutheran Church in South Glens Falls, a welcoming congregation of which Andrea and Dennis were dedicated members. » Continue Reading.
There has been some old-school rancor in the Adirondacks lately. From management of the Essex Chain to the opening of the Adirondack Park State Land Master Plan (SLMP) for review to the fate of Lot 8 and NYCO’s drilling, some of the traditional disputes between advocates for preservation and advocates for increased access, recreation and development have been heating up.
These tensions have never been absent, but in an era when many are talking about “common ground,” things have been getting surprisingly vitriolic of late. This spike in old fashioned hostility hit an undistinguished apex with the unanimous approval by the Essex County Board of Supervisors of a resolution supporting Denton Publications’ flame-throwing, editorial calling for the abolition of environmental advocacy group Protect the Adirondacks.
Last weekend the people of New York State lost a leading citizen, the children of Albany lost a dear friend and the Adirondacks lost a trailblazer. On Friday, December 5th, Brother Yusuf Abdul-Wasi passed away unexpectedly at the age of sixty four. His substantial contributions to the Adirondack region were only a small part of his many undertakings. But from the perspective of the ongoing work to make the Adirondack Park a more inclusive, welcoming and life-changing place for everyone, we have suffered an incalculable setback.
Brother Yusuf was a tireless doer, a walker of the walk who gave the experience of the outdoors to countless urban children. He was also a man of courage and staying power who struggled through war and personal adversity and emerged as a voice of dignity, commitment and wisdom. His story is a great American story and his accomplishments were many (you can read a brief article about his life here). » Continue Reading.
Black history in the Adirondacks has an anecdotal quality, maybe because the numbers of black Adirondackers have been so few. Here’s a story of a black homesteader who was good friends with John Brown. There’s a barn that may have sheltered fugitives on the Underground Railroad. Outside Warrensburg is a place in the woods where a black hermit lived. And so on.
The temptation – and I should know; I’ve been a lead offender – is to make a sort of nosegay out of these scattered stories, pack them all into a story by its lonesome, a chunky little sidebar, and let this stand for the black experience.
It makes a good read, and it’s efficient. And it’s wrong. It reinforces the idea that the black experience in this region was something isolated, inessential. It ghettoizes black Adirondack history, and this wasn’t how it was. » Continue Reading.
It has been nearly a year since I began a series of columns on diversity in the Adirondacks. Much has happened since then, most notably a challenging, motivating and well-received symposium held in August, “Toward a More Diverse Adirondacks.”
The symposium was a good start to addressing the important challenges in making the Adirondack Park more welcoming and inclusive, thereby increasing the Park’s role in the betterment of the lives of all New Yorkers and giving it a richer, more robustly supported future. But if a good day of conversation was all we accomplished it would amount to very little. So a number of initiatives are underway to the further the work. It is our sincere wish to make diversity part of the cultural DNA of the Adirondacks, as surely for human beings as it is for the natural world. » Continue Reading.
It must have taken great courage, the kind needed to overcome the natural fear of rejection and isolation, for the first woman and the first person of color invited to join the board of the Association for the Protection of the Adirondacks.
For one hundred years, from 1901 until 2001, those directing the work of the Association had been entirely white and mostly male. So had the boards and staffs of most environmental organizations in the Adirondacks, in the entire state and, I imagine, in the country. I hope we were all warm and welcoming of these courageous individuals when they first joined. Their experience and character made a difference.
The recent conference in Newcomb at the Adirondack Interpretive Center, “Toward a More Diverse Adirondacks,” brought the reality of courage, fear of rejection and isolation to everybody’s heart. It required everyone participating to re-examine assumptions. Many governmental and non-governmental organizations today applaud diversity and are trying to find ways to walk that talk and be more diverse. This recruitment is challenging, but what this conference made clear is that it is even harder to welcome, include, accept, and embrace difference. » Continue Reading.
Civil rights leaders, community activists, social scientists, and organizations will get together in Newcomb on Saturday to discuss the need to broaden diversity in race, ethnicity, sexual orientation and gender-identity among the Adirondack Park’s residents and visitors.
A symposium entitled Towards a More Diverse Adirondacks will feature a day of discussions about challenges to, and opportunities for, widening the pool of people who use, enjoy and care about the future of the Adirondack Park, the largest park in the contiguous United States. » Continue Reading.
Several months ago I wrote a series of columns on socioeconomic and racial diversity and the Adirondacks. The reception to these columns was even stronger than I expected. Much of it was thoughtful. Some of it was controversial. Some of it was ugly. But in total the columns and the reaction validated my point that for most people diversity in the Adirondacks is an under-the-radar issue even though it is arguably the most important issue facing the future of the park.
Since then the conversation has grown and led to action. Many stakeholders in the park recognize that human diversity – my new descriptor, for indeed the issue is bigger than just racial or socioeconomic problems – is just as important to the Adirondacks as plant and animal diversity is to a healthy Forest Preserve. » Continue Reading.
Today I wrap up my series on Diversity and the Adirondacks. The response has exceeded my expectations, even as it has – not unexpectedly – raised some troubling voices.
I have always believed that the initial step in addressing a deep and difficult issue – especially one that is controversial – is recognition: we must first understand that something matters; that it is real; that it affects people’s lives. Without recognition, without an embrace of the importance of an issue, we risk what will likely be at best a display of sturm und drang when we try to talk about it, signifying nothing but ego and personality. Yet despite the sometimes perfunctory dismalness of on-line comments, I am convinced by the experience of writing these columns that the issue of diversity in the park is headed for a substantive future, not just shouting and rhetoric. » Continue Reading.
Two weeks ago I posted my initial interview with noted travel writer and blogger Carol Cain. That column set a record for comments here at the Almanack. My own reaction to those comments taken as a whole is that they persuasively demonstrate the need for this conversation (fortunately the off-line discussions that have been spurred by this issue are leading to some productive initiatives… more on that in the future).
Subsequent to my first interview with Carol I asked her a series of of follow-up questions. I share her answers today. These questions were formulated previous to the posting of the first interview, thus not influenced by the tone and content of the comments. However her answers, written after the comments, speak powerfully for themselves.
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