The Park’s first diversity symposium is on Saturday August 16 at the SUNY ESF Newcomb Campus from 8am-5pm.
The web site with registration information, the agenda and details can be found here. For additional information please call John Sheehan at the Adk Council, 518-432-1770
Participating organizations include: Adirondack Almanack, Adirondack Council, Adirondack Foundation, Adirondack Futures, John Brown Lives, SUNY ESF, the Common Ground Alliance and The Wild Center.
For background, see this current report analyzing diversity in enviro groups and this article about the same issue. It is a bigger issue than the Adirondacks, for sure, but go look at the Boards and staff of the enviro groups related to our Park for some insight about us. It isn’t conscious, I don’t believe, but the situation speaks for itself.
The Park’s demographics are strikingly at variance with the rest of NY State, and particularly the cities, in most every dimension from age to race, to language, to sexual orientation and on down the list. This widening gap is one possible route to failure in the Park’s future. Today we get the full attention of Albany, but there is nothing the suggest it will stay this way. A big election, with high city voter turnout, could change a lot of things pretty quickly.
A few decades back, the issue was ‘home rule’ being trumped by excessive outside attention. But now the risk suggested by demographic trends is the actually opposite. It is the possibility that the Park will become a largely neglected, abandoned, and increasingly irrelevant backwater of the State. We need to find ways to make the people who visit and live here a better reflection of the state’s population.
The Park and the Forest Preserve exist at the pleasure of NY State voters. The lofty notion that it is ‘forever’ is only actually true until an amendment on the ballot changes it. It is not nearly the bedrock certainty that the tone of the Forever Wild language implies.
Please come join us at this symposium to share, to think, and to learn about this challenge to our region. Think of this as a starting point. See you on August 16th?
Thanks to Pete Nelson for actually getting attention focused on this issue.