The varied non-profits of the Adirondack Region are critical to successfully moving toward a better future. So we were pleased to have the opportunity to spend a day last week with the Adirondack Non-Profit Network (ANN), an informal network of leaders from organizations serving the Adirondacks that has been organized by the Adirondack Community Trust (ACT). Non-profits in the arts, community development, healthcare, environmental research and advocacy, social services, tourism (e.g., museums), education and others were represented. A major goal of the group is to foster more integrated, Park-wide planning and cooperation, which we endorse wholeheartedly.
The goal of the half-day workshop we organized for the group was to explore the ways in which the non-profit sector can contribute to progress toward the ADK Futures vision. The group prioritized these top areas:
- Adapting to climate change
- Developing support services to better enable mid-career families to move here
- Getting somewhere on the diversity issue
- Developing a vision and strategy for public education in the Adirondacks
- Making the Arts a growing economic sector
- Dealing with a growing number of poor in the Park
- Getting water quality efforts better organized, networked and coordinated
- Getting all the tourism NGOs to strategize together (outdoor oriented but also indoor)
- Continue the work of Main Street revitalization
The group thought most of this would be difficult, but some areas like getting the tourism NGOs to work together or developing a support system for mid-career families were seen as relatively easy. Large numbers of the non-profits represented could work on climate change, tourism and the Arts. There were fewer who would address water quality improvement, coping with a growing poor segment of our communities or addressing the lack of diversity in the region’s residents and visitors.
Some key ideas from the discussion were:
- Climate change is still an education issue
- In education, study the best schools in the Park and create a model of successful small schools
- Create a Park-Wide Arts organization – conceive of the Park as an arts center; this is a major hole in the Park’s non-profit infrastructure.
- Non-profits need to help a few key towns to revitalize that don’t have the local organizations and experienced people to pursue this. For example, adopt Port Henry.
Overall, the big theme was thinking Park-wide, collaborating, networking and making connections all the time.