FROM THE DIRECTOR WELCOME TO THE FALL NEWSLETTER. IT’S A BEAUTIFUL TIME OF YEAR, BOTH HERE AT THE KELLY ADIRONDACK CENTER AND IN THE ADIRONDACKS. If you have not been to the center recently, I encourage you to stop by and enjoy drawings by Walter Hatke. “What Came Home: Works on Paper from Hikes in the Mountains,” accompanied by Jordan Smith’s poetry, will be on exhibit through April. You can get a preview of the work on the KAC website. Birch Bark, 2016
20x32” (panel size) / 25x37” (outer frame)
You will read elsewhere in this newsletter about Union’s first 3-week Adirondack mini-term. I’d like to acknowledge the efforts of faculty and staff who helped organize and run the program, including Holli Frey (Geology), Andy Morris (History), Dave Cotter (Sociology), Jillmarie Murphy (English), and Jennifer Grayburn (Director of Digital Scholarship at Schaffer Library). After three days at the Kelly Center, and three nights camping in the high peaks area, we moved to Huntington Lodge at the Arbutus Lake area of the SUNY ESF campus in Newcomb. Among our many activities, we enjoyed informal conversations over (student-prepared) dinners with some distinguished guests, including Paul Hai, Peter Bauer, Hallie Bond, Jordanna Mallach ’00. In the category of upcoming events, Jim de Seve, senior lecturer in Film Studies, is working with students in his documentary filmmaking course to create a documentary on the Black River Wars. The film will tell the story of Paul Schaefer’s 10-year battle to block the building of the Panther Mountain and Higley Mountain dams, which would have flooded the Moose River plains. Students have been using the collections in the Adirondack Research Library, and have visited the sites involved in the battle, to collect data and footage. We will definitely be showing the film when it is complete. Stay tuned.I hope to see you soon at the center or at one of our events on the Union campus.
Doug Klein FACULTY DIRECTOR, KELLY ADIRONDACK CENTER
P H O T O C R E D I T : M A N U E L PA L A C I O S
WHO ARE THE PEOPLE IN THE WILDERNESS? ON THE INAUGURAL ADIRONDACK MINI-TERM (AUG. 18 – SEPT. 8), 11 STUDENTS AND FIVE FACULTY AND STAFF FROM
DAVID COT TER , S O C I O LO GY
UNION COLLEGE SPENT THREE WEEKS INTENSIVELY STUDYING THE “PEOPLED WILDERNESS” OF THE ADIRONDACKS.
OUR EXAMINATIONS RANGED FROM THE GEOLOGIC FEATURES, HISTORICAL, ARTISTIC AND LITERARY LEGACIES OF THE PARK TO THE SOCIAL ECOLOGY OF COMMUNITIES WITHIN IT. OUR EXPLORATION OF THAT COMMUNITY ECOLOGY BEGAN AT THE KELLY ADIRONDACK CENTER, WHERE WE SPENT TIME COLLECTING AND ANALYZING INFORMATION ABOUT ENROLMENT AND FINANCIAL TRENDS FOR SCHOOLS, AND ANALYZED DATA ON VARIATION IN DEMOGRAPHIC AND ECONOMIC CONDITIONS IN PARK TOWNS. BY THE TIME WE LEFT THE KAC THE STUDENTS DEVISED A SET OF PROJECTS FOCUSING ON THE MEANING OF WILDERNESS; CONSERVATION, PRESERVATION AND DEVELOPMENT; IN- AND OUT-MIGRATION FROM THE PARK; AND THE IMPACTS OF TOURISM. ONCE WE GOT INSIDE THE “BLUE LINE” THE STUDENTS WERE ABLE TO ENGAGE IN ETHNOGRAPHIC RESEARCH (OBSERVATION, CONVERSATION AND PARTICIPATION) IN THE COMMUNITIES. THE IMMERSIVE EXPERIENCE WAS EYE-OPENING FOR ALL OF THE PARTICIPANTS. WE VISITED WITH SCHOOL ADMINISTRATORS, MET WITH TOWN PLANNING BOARD MEMBERS AND REPRESENTATIVES FROM THE ADIRONDACK PARK AGENCY, CONVERSED WITH ENVIRONMENTAL ADVOCATES AND INTERVIEWED LOCAL BUSINESS OWNERS AND PATRONS—BOTH RESIDENTS AND VISITORS. FROM THIS EMERGED A NUMBER OF INTERESTING THEMES.
—ADIRONDACK TOWN PLANNING BOARD MEMBER
Schools sit at both the literal and figurative center of many communities. For many of us the idea of a school, where the total enrolment from kindergarten through high school is less than 100 students, was hard to fathom. Even the larger school in Lake George has only 60 students in a graduating class. As we toured the facilities of two small schools—one of which had been built for more than 300 students but now had less than 70—we saw some things that were expected and some that were not. As in most schools there were cafeterias, classrooms, courses with college credit and computers. But there were no locks on the lockers. As another school prepared to open for the fall, a few students came in and affixed notes of encouragement to each locker. A glance at the composite photos on the walls in the hall of one school showed something else missing. As an administrator said, “There’s a whole lot of lack of diversity here.” In contrast, flags lining the halls in another school represent international students who make up just under a quarter of all the high-school aged
students in the building each year. Administrators told us there was a strong sense of community and belonging both inside the building and with the wider town. The school belonged to the town and the people of the town belonged in the school. People come to graduation even if they don’t have students in the school. When a student wanted to drop out of one school, the superintendent simply told them they weren’t allowed to. “When I send a kid to college, I never see them again.” —ADIRONDACK SCHOOL ADMINISTRATOR
Several of the people we talked to observed that many graduates from the area go away for college and either never return or only return when they are older— sometimes with young families and more often after having careers elsewhere. As one town official noted, he was the only one among his five siblings to have remained in the area. At the same time we interviewed many people who had moved in “from away”—frequently for love of the amenities in the region. A few had moved for a specific job opportunity, but most were looking for a way to make a living and a life here. UNION.EDU/ADIRONDACK
“It’s like a game of Jenga—if you lose the school, you lose jobs and families and then the community collapses.”
WILDERNESS WATERWAYS&U —ASSISTANT TOWN SUPERVISOR
We found out that while some towns struggle with not enough tourism—and are therefore trying to find ways to more effectively attract people—other places sometimes have too many tourists. While towns with too few visitors may struggle to keep businesses open, places with too many tourists have problems with affordable and appropriate housing for residents. As one town official noted, “People make a lot more renting on a nightly rather than monthly basis.” This leads to a crunch in the rental housing market but also for those looking to buy a family home. Demand from people buying investment properties and vacation homes results in a lack of family housing that fits with local wages. For many of the towns the tourist trade is highly seasonal, and the businesses in town are booming a few months a year but close down in the off seasons (though this varies in different parts of the region). Many of those vacation and rental properties sit empty in the off seasons. “I don’t know how much time we spend on snowmobile trails.” —APA OFFICIAL
Among the flashpoints we encountered was an ongoing conflict over the presence and place of motorized transportation in the state-owned land in the Adirondack Park. To some, completing a network of multi-use equestrian, bicycle and snowmobile trails between towns was a way to infuse new life into the local communities. To others it represents an unwelcome intrusion into the wild forest and wilderness areas. As one wilderness advocate noted, hiking trails are narrow and go around trees while snowmobile trails are between eight and twelve feet wide —and sometimes even wider. Not enough workers, not enough jobs.
Another persistent refrain we heard was about the simultaneous shortage of workers and jobs. Many businesses in the tourist-heavy towns sported “help wanted” signs, but many people noted that few jobs in
the area provided a livable wage. So much so that those people who stayed in the park often took on multiple jobs either seasonally or simultaneously‚or left the region in the off season. Many of the businesses in tourist towns hire workers from outside the park during the busy seasons. One town official and business owner from Lake George suggested that we look at how crowded the streets are on the eve of Labor Day weekend and come back in six months—most of the businesses would be closed and the streets empty. Similarly, there appears to be a shortage of skilled tradespeople—something we heard from individuals lamenting the inability to get contractors to work on modest home repairs. We also experienced this first-hand when one of the College vans broke down. Forming Farms, Crafting Community: The Farm2Fork Festival
On the crisp and clear Saturday of Labor Day weekend we headed from Newcomb up to the Farm2Fork festival in Saranac Lake. Alumna Jordanna Mallach ’00 had suggested that we come to the festival, an annual celebration in the center of the weekly farmers’ market that showcases local producers. We wound up volunteering. We served up baked potatoes, pulled pork, kimchi and a selection of local cheeses. And as was evident on both sides of the serving line we also served community—a connection between people, both locals and tourists. All the leftovers were donated to a local church’s food program. At the end of our day on the line we took a tour of Moonstone Farm, a new farm operation on a place that’s been farmed for the last century. The farmer’s collaborative relationship with other farmers, as well as other businesses like Hex & Hop brewery, was illustrative of the emergent social and economic networks in the region and the way these undergird social life here. Upon our return to Union, students, faculty and staff worked to produce a set of projects including a podcast, a website, a museum exhibit and a set of posters with embedded augmented reality. These projects were unveiled during an open house at the KAC over Homecoming and Family Weekend October 19.
“All that wilderness is accessible to anyone who wants to use is. Nobody does. It’s a tree museum.”
PROGRESS WITH COLLECTIONS AT THE
ADIRONDACK RESEARCH LIBRARY The Adirondack Research Library is proud to announce a recent donation of historic photographs and negatives from the 1880s. Originally shot on dry glass-plate negatives, the photographs document everyday life, landscapes and the people of the Adirondacks at that time. The photographs were taken by Reverend Osmond David Putnam, a second cousin of Jeanne Robert Foster. Though new to the art form, he had a critical eye for composition. His shots provide a glimpse into the close of the 19th century, as the Adirondacks moved from an isolated wilderness to a permanently settled part of the state. O.D. Putnam (1861-1926) was the grandson of Enos Putnam (1810-1865), a Methodist minister and abolitionist who preached at the Mill Creek Wesleyan Methodist Church in Johnsburg, N.Y. The church was built by the Putnams in 1859 after separating from the Methodist Episcopal Church, whose senior leadership had refused to speak out against slavery. The Putnam family farm was a familiar stop along the underground railroad. With direction from his father, O.F. Putnam, Osmond began training to become a minister in the 1880s. To pay for his education, he began taking photographs with a five-by-eight inch camera, selling prints to rural residents for whom photography was a rather new service in a such an isolated part of the state. The geographic scope of his work was limited to Warren and Essex Counties, due to the range of early stage wagons in the area. Though he probably shot other subjects, his Adirondack photographs taken between 1885-1887 are all that remain of his work. It is thought that the majority of his photographs, negatives and equipment were destroyed in a fire at the family’s farmhouse in Wilton, N.Y. in the 1920s. Thankfully, he had given over 100 negatives to his brother Elliot, who in turn gave them to Jeanne Robert Foster. At the death of Foster in 1970, her Adirondack materials were willed to the Riedinger family in Schenectady, N.Y., finally coming into the possession of Noel Riedinger-Johnson. In 1986, Noel edited Adirondack portraits: a piece of time, published by Syracuse University Press. The book collected Jeanne’s unpublished poems and prose about the people she knew in her early years in the Adirondacks, supplemented by Putnam’s photographs. The collection, in storage since then, was transported from South Carolina to the Adirondack Research Library this fall. We hope to make this collection available to Union College, Schenectady and the world. Please come to the library and see long-lost portraits of a different age, when the modern Adirondacks we now know were still being eked out from a hard scrabble wilderness.
THE KELLY ADIRONDACK CENTER 897 Saint David’s Lane, Niskayuna, NY 12309 (518) 388-7000 UNION.EDU/ADIRONDACK
ADIRONDACK RESEARCH LIBRARY PROJECT ARCHIVIST
Faculty Director of the Kelly Adirondack Center
Kelly Adirondack Center Coordinator
Executive Editor of the Adirondack Journal of Environmental Studies
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