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Registration for the 2015 CGA Forum is Open

The 2015 Common Ground Alliance Forum details and registration information have been released.  It will be at the same Long Lake location as usual on July 15.

Click here to go to the registration and information page.

Jim and I will be there to lead the working group considering how the ADK region might think about responding to climate change.  We have held 2 full two day workshops on the topic – one at Paul Smiths College during a snowstorm last December, another just this week, June 15 and 16 in Chestertown.  Also we held the prototype of a 3-4 hour version of this with a sustainability class at Paul Smiths in May, just before finals, on  Sunday, and 50+ students came.  We also worked in the Southwest this past winter, with the Dept of Interior Climate Science Center in Tuscon and learned a lot about how the west is handling the impacts of climate change on large scale conservation landscapes.  So we will have a lot of information to offer for consideration by people who come to our working group.

Hope to see you on July 15.  There are a number of other work group too, don’t read this and think the Forum is only about climate change.  Click on the link above and find out about the whole agenda.

 

Next Workshop on Adirondack Responses to Climate Change

We are accepting registrations for the next two-day workshop on Adirondack Regional Responses to Climate Change to be held on June 15 and 16 at the Chestertown Town Hall.  This workshop requires pre-registration.  It offers the opportunity dig deeply into the issues that climate change presents for our region and the possible responses we might make.  The report on the previous workshop can be found in an earlier blog post.  If you are interested please email jim12942@gmail.com.

Workshop at The Wild Center May 16 on Welcoming LGBT Visitors

The Adirondack Diversity Advisory Council (ADAC) is holding a training workshop at the Wild Center on Saturday May 16 from 9:30am to 1:30pm.  The workshop is designed to hep participants provide a more welcoming environment for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people who want to live in or visit the Adirondack Park.  The workshop will be led by well known author and educator Brian McNaught.  This is part of a growing effort to raise awareness of diversity issues in the Park and to take steps to be more welcoming to a broader set of visitors and new residents.

Dave and I know Brian personally and can say that he is really good. You may think that you are fine with gays, etc., but are you really aware of the issues that transgender people face?  There is a lot for us all to learn.  We will be there and hope to see you there.

CGA Annual Forum Survey Available to Take

The annual CGA Forum will be in Long Lake on Wednesday July 15, 2015.

As they did last year, the CGA Core Team has prepared an online survey of potential work group topics for this year’s Forum.  Please take the survey as part of designing this year’s forum.

The survey asks you to identify the issues you want to work on in small groups at the Forum.  We need you to pick some from a long list of ideas.  Please complete the survey by April 1st even if you can’t attend the Forum.

Click here to take the survey.

Summary of Results of First Adirondack Regional Responses to Climate Change Workshop

On December 11 and 12, 2014 a diverse set of 32 scientists, policy makers, government officials, non-profit leaders and concerned citizens mapped out different ways in which our region might respond to the threat of disruptive climate change. As we did for the ADK Futures project, we are using a scenario planning approach in which we consider multiple plausible outcomes for 25 years from now and map out pathways to get to them using events that could happen between now and the outcome horizon.  The full documentation of the workshop is available.  Here we present a summary of results.  Future posts will explore some of the issues raised.

The issues and options with regard to climate change are notoriously complex and because what we do will be affected by what happens elsewhere, we can’t just consider scenarios at the regional level.  Therefore, we set the context for our regional thinking with two sets of global scenarios.  First, we presented 5 scenarios for how the global climate system might evolve over the next 25 years.  These global climate scenarios are labeled:

  • C1: Gradual Change
  • C2: Faster Change
  • C3: Pause Ends
  • C4: Non-Linear
  • C5: Unpredictable

After some discussion, we asked the participants to rank order these climate scenarios from most probable over the next 25 years to least probable.  Here are the results:

global climate ranking table result

The result is pretty clear:  the most difficult to deal with climate possibilities (C4 Non-Linear and C5 Unpredictable) are the most likely (tied for first) and the most benign ones are the least likely.  Get ready for more bad weather.

Next, we presented 5 scenarios for the human race might respond to the threat of climate change at the global level.  Climate change is a problem whose worst consequences can only be prevented by global action.  These global response scenarios are labeled:

  • G1: Governments in Gear
  • G2: Bottom Up Progress
  • G3: Private Sector Leads
  • G4: The Oblique Path to Progress
  • G5: Panic!

Again, after some discussion, we asked the participants to rank order these climate scenarios from most probable over the next 25 years to least probable.  Here are the results:

global response ranking table result

This result puts most faith in the private sector(G3) and bottom up efforts (G2) and has the lowest expectations of success for top-down, national government-led efforts (G1).  This is realistic but it isn’t clear that we can avert damaging climate change without G1 and a truly global solution.

With this as context, the workshop focused on 6 scenarios about how the Adirondack Region responds over the next 25 years. These regional responses are labeled:

  • A: Minimize Our Carbon Footprint
  • B: Prepare for the Worst
  • C: Hyper-Green Human Refuge
  • D: Climate Change Laboratory
  • E: Don’t Panic
  • F: Reaching a Regional Tipping Point

After almost a full day of analysis and then a spirited half-day of plenary debate, we asked the participants to rank order these six regional response scenarios on desirability and attainability, just as we did with the Adirondack Futures endstates in 2011 and 2012.  Here are the results:

regional after ranking result

Unlike in the Adirondack Futures result (which we said at the time was highly unusual), the most desirable outcome here A, where we lower our carbon footprint, is the least attainable. Why this is so will be the subject of a future post. The scenario that got the most endorsement for action in the workshop is B, the one focused on proactive adaptation with the expectation of serious climate change in the future.  Scenario C, which says the region will be a winner on balance because of climate change, was viewed skeptically. The narrowly focused science and research scenario D was viewed as difficult to pull off and didn’t address enough of the region’s needs.   Scenario E that took a pragmatic, measured approach was seen as easy to do but undesirable.  Scenario F in which the region is badly wrecked by climate change was obviously undesirable but received a fairly high attainability score.

The end of the workshop was devoted to sketching out ways in which multiple endstates and layers of endstates might be integrated into a more complete roadmap for the next 25 years and beyond. One synthesis depicted change over time at both the global climate level (top), global response level (x-axis) and regional level (bottom).

adk cc synthesis diagram

The climate will worsen, eventually changing non-linearly.  The G2 (Bottom Up) and G3 (Private Sector) global responses predominate at first followed by more of a G4 (Oblique) approach and then finally as the climate worsens still, G1 (Top-Down) kicks in.  Regionally there is a lot of focus on mitigation and clean energy (A) especially as the private sector brings the costs down.  The intensity of our regional efforts will follow the triggers of the global scenarios with B (Adaptation) and C (Human Refuge) dominating over time. Seems likely that B and C will end up dwarfing everything else as the climate gets bad. In their view, D (Laboratory) is flat over time and so is E (Don’t Panic).  You continue to do smart, practical things (E) and you do great science although funding might be tighter in the future as money goes to adaptation.

In future posts we will dig into specific scenarios and their implications.

Report Available on First Climate Change Response Workshop

On December 11 and 12 we held our first workshop in a new series about how the region responds to the threat of disruptive climate change.  Despite a big snow storm the two days prior, 32 people made it to Paul Smith’s College to spend two days examining six alternative scenarios for how the region might respond.  Although there are some tweaks to make to the starting framework, in general the group found the framework useful.  We plan to hold more of these workshops starting sometime in May 2015.  We would like to develop a half-day version as we did in the original ADK Futures workshop series.  In the weeks to come we will be writing a few posts about issues and conclusions raised in this first climate change workshop.  For now, you can read the full report on the workshop.

WWW.AdirondackStrategies.com

I like the report because it starts right out with measures of success.  It also explains this is rooted in some 100 plans and reports already done and instead points action steps.  The meeting last Monday was organized into working group to begin work on moving ahead.  Public comment is also requested.

If this works, begins the report, we should expect the following benefits:

  • wage and payroll growth
  • increased business revenue
  • improved health and wellness statistics
  • alternative energy consumption increase
  • educational attainment increase
  • real estate values for year round property increase
  • level of private capital investment in leverage increase
  • availability of cultural and recreational assets grows
  • increasing school enrollment

Wow. Now I’m interested!  How to we get to this place?

It lays out these 7 business opportunities.  They can be done park-wide or at least in more than one location.

  • Sustainable forest and natural products
  • Sustainable construction and building products
  • Recreational equipment manufacturing and retail
  • Tourism
  • Ecosystem services and nature conservation
  • Value added agriculture and food processing
  • Non profit employment

Next it lays out four goals, each with metrics, strategies and actions. Here they are:

Goal One:  Inspire a culture of entrepreneurship with a globally competitive workforce and diverse business base

Six specific strategies and their actions are described. They include a small and micro business program, a lend local idea, teaching programs, higher ed collaborations, and a leadership program.

Goal Two: Promote a sustainable and connected rural life with quality infrastructure and community amenities.

Ten strategies are described, each with a couple of actions,  They begin with be happier, and cover broadband, hamlet restoration, affordable housing, health care, road/pedestrian/bike  infrastructure, improve access to water, assistance for towns with larger projects, improving financing for grant funded projects, non profits, first responders and reuse of vacant sites.

Goal Three:  Reinvent traditional industry across the working landscapes in forest products, naturals resources and agriculture

Fives strategies and their actions are described. They cover natural resources protection including invasives, promoting local building materials, alternative energy, wood products, and local farming, local food.

Goal Four: Advance the park as a world class destination

It describes 10 strategies and several actions for each one.  They cover the trail towns initiative, lodging renovations, tourism ambassadors, more types of lodging moving people across the park, integrated web presence, world class sports, wellness/health tourism, branding, upgrades of non-lodging tourism facilities.

This is the link to the whole report.

This is the link to the web site, Advantage Adirondacks, which has a lot more material and supporting documents.

The project was organized and run by the Adirondack Partnership and AATV.  Funding came from the NYS Dept of State, DEC and the ADK Futures Project  of the Common Ground Alliance was used as the local match to get the State funding.

The meeting on Monday was associated with AATV and had lots of local government people there.  This effort looks like it has traction.

New “Blueprint for the Blue Line” Released by CGA Core Team

The Common Ground Alliance Core Team has been working on a new “2015 Blueprint for the Blue Line“, an agenda that Albany can use as a guide to the ideas from CGA now that election season has passed.  Early in the history of CGA, it produced a similar document and now we offer an update.  It reflects a poll used to prepare for the 2014 Forum last July and subsequent work by the Core Team.

Government is best suited to serving a region with aligned aspirations.  With that in mind, we hope the State’s leadership in Albany will find CGAs guidance both helpful and inspiring as our brightening future unfolds.

This is the link to the new Blueprint.

 

ADK Angel Investors Launch Point Positive

A group of private investors has incorporated Point Positive, Inc.  It has already held two pitch sessions this year to listen to business plans presented by entrepreneurs in the Adirondack region.  It is the  outgrowth of 18 months of work funded by generous donors and organized by the Adirondack Foundation.  The first company funded is ADK PackWorks, an innovative bag company using old packbaskets for design inspiration and now their product line is on Amazon as well as in local stores.  Two more companies are in the due diligence process now.

The goal is 20 member (either individuals or institutions) group that would be able to raise seed money for startups to build product prototypes, for example.  Or get an existing business to sufficient scale that it clearly will work and grow.  The group has 15 members now and is seeking additional members and sponsors to help cover the cost of operations.  It is based in Saranac Lake and coordinated by Melinda Little.

The idea is to develop business that serve markets here but also markets outside the Park.  Improving fresh food distribution in the rural Adirondacks is a great problem to solve  – but even better is to find a solution that can be applied to other rural regions nation-wide.   Building a solar greenhouse to get winter greens here is an opportunity, but better would be selling a solar greenhouse ‘package’ to other northern farming areas, including Quebec.  We are already seeing a surprising variety of ideas.

Angel investing is getting popular.  There are so many groups in some regions that finding deals to present is quite competitive.  But in our region, there is no other group.  In a turn of the old phrase, we’re building an angel group to go where the money isn’t.  And it isn’t just about money.  We’re trying to create an ecosystem of people, ideas and funding.  Mentoring and coaching involved is part of the work involved.  Clarkson and Paul Smiths College are involved.  The biggest goal is to make this a place where people can find support they need to get a real business up and running that can scale to markets well beyond the region.

The group is called Point Positive.  It is a white water term.  Before a white water run, a group of paddlers must agree to use paddles to point positive, the safe passage, or point negative, noting hazards to the paddlers behind you.  The investor member are here to ‘point positive’ and in this sense, be more than just passive investors.

 

 

 

AJES Article Appears

The Adirondack Journal of Environmental Science recently published our article in their 2012 edition (which was released in May 2014).  The article contains the details of the methodology behind the ADK Futures Project.  You can find the article here.

Written in 2012, it recounts the approach and the data set.  For some readers, this will be a dry academic snore of a read; no worries.  But for others, this is where you can read about what we actually did.  Our current plan is to use the same methodology to develop a set of scenarios about different responses to climate change over the next 25 years.

The ADK Futures work is the first time we have used the methodology for a public process.  The innovation is that we leave behind a database evidence tracking tool for the public to view progress on the events and scenarios, or lack of it, as the case may be.  It will be dynamic, accumulating actual developments over time, comparing the news to the workshop events and scenarios.  This blog, and all the associated files for workshop and materials, constitute our ‘report’ of record.

Our hope is the tracking database becomes more useful over time, as the future unfolds and uncertainties are resolved. In just 18-24 months, the Sustainable Life vision developed from this work is accumulating plenty of evidence showing progress. But it is just the beginning and lots of uncertainty remains.

We didn’t actually create a new direction for the region, but we uncovered something already here,  gave a voice to it, and built shared intentions around it.  The long-running conflicts all still exist, but our shared intentions have become the center of attention and drawn considerable positive government attention as well.