This year’s Forum was a celebration of progress through collaboration. Almost 200 people gathered on a hot summer day to continue to address the problems of the region and to find ways to move forward together. There was a palpable sense of energy and forward progress. An informal poll showed consensus that we are moving forward in important areas, although there remains concern about addressing water quality issues and adaptation to climate change. Most importantly, there is agreement that the region’s self-esteem is definitely on the upswing. The morning sessions highlighted progress in important areas of tourism development, community sustainability and water quality improvement. All emphasized the collaborative efforts taking place throughout the Park. We presented a summary of the year’s events in terms of each of the six scenarios. For the most part, our preferred scenarios are happening and the ones we want to avoid are not, but there is a long way to go still to fully realize them. The day ended with Bob Bendick offering a vision of creative conservation, where entire communities and regions take up the preservation of our natural resources together with a shared sense of the benefits.
The full documentation for the Forum can be downloaded here.
Our presentation on the year’s events for each scenario can be downloaded here.
We also released an updated version of the ADK Futures Vision, which can be downloaded here.
Thanks to all who participated and have remained engaged in the Common Ground process.
This year the Adirondack Common Ground Alliance is about successful projects rooted in regional collaborative work. Water quality, recreation and sustainability projects are profiled and discussed. Here is a link to our presentation. We have also released an updated version of the ADK Futures vision.
Last year, we presented the results of all the workshops, featuring the strong alignment of results across many groups. This year, we review what has actually happened over the past 12 months compared the the scenarios. We are adding to the Forest Preserve, enhancing the Wild Park. for example. DEC, partnered with many groups, combined with NCREDC funding to rebuild many outdoor recreation facilities all over the Park, developments of the Usable Park scenario. The Sustainable Life scenario saw the widest variety of projects.
So what is developing looks like a combination of the Usable Park’s recreation with the economy of the Sustainable Life scenario, all built up the strong and unique foundation of the Wild Park as expressed in the recent additions to the Forest Preserve.
The state is clearly rewarding projects that benefit more than one town. This, along with the tax cap impacts, is moving us slowly toward the ideas written about in the ADK County scenario even it the actual creation of a country isn’t in our future. The time when each town or hamlet was an island is passing, slowly.
Even though the main thrust of the ADK Futures project has moved on to implementation and tracking progress toward the vision, we continue to give talks where we introduce new groups to the original six scenarios and the issues that they frame for the Park. There are plenty of people that have not heard them yet and there is always a good discussion.
Recently we gave a talk at the Adirondack Museum in Blue Mountain Lake. About 40 attended and we had an excellent discussion about the scenarios. In the middle of our talk, after we presented the endstates, we asked them to do the ranking exercise for desirability and attainability. The results from 31 people turned out to line up very well with the overall results from the workshop series as you can see in the table below. The ranking on desirability is almost identical to the workshop series. The attainablity rankings were slightly different, putting the Usable Park (B) first instead of Sustainable Life (C). Also, surprisingly, the Adirondack County (D) endstate was seen as more attainable than in the averages but thinking of the Park as a region is much more widely talked about now than it was.
In addition, we published a condensed version of the six endstates in Adirondack Life this spring with a link to the magazine’s website where readers could do the ranking exercise. Although hundreds of people started the exercise, only 91 completed it. These rankings are shown in the table below. C and B are still the top in desirability. But the Wild Park (A) ranks third instead of fourth with this group. Also Adirondack State Forest (F) got a slightly higher score and is fifth instead of sixth. The attainability ratings are very different with Sustainable Life (C) is only third. Wild Park (A) again ranks higher than in the workshop series.
These results are similar to those of two half-day workshops we did during 2012. One was with a group of seasonal residents. The other was a group of Paul Smith students in a land use planning class. The Wild Park scenario was an attempt to capture the point of view of a person who doesn’t live in the Park and is not involved in the issues of economy and community building in the region.
These two data sets overall continue to support the consensus vision that is based on the Sustainable Life (C), with a sustainable version of the Usable Park (B), and continued protection of the Forest Preserve as a Wild Park (A).