A Conversation about Diversity

Above: Brother Yusuf and Joe Hackett at the Adirondack Diversity Symposium in August 2014.

In the Adirondacks, “diversity” commonly refers to the range of species inhabiting a particular landscape.  That’s changing.  In August 2014, the first ever Adirondack Diversity Symposium took place at the Adirondack Interpretive Center in Newcomb, and it was about people.   Civil rights leaders, community activists, social scientists and organizations came together to discuss ways to broaden diversity in race, ethnicity, sexual orientation and gender-identity among the Adirondack Park’s residents and visitors.

“The world is changing around us,” said Cali Brooks, executive director of Adirondack Foundation. “The future of the Park depends on people continuing to love and use it for generations to come.”

The symposium, held at the Adirondack Interpretive Center in Newcomb, brought together civil rights leaders, community activists, social scientists and organizations to discuss the need to broaden diversity in race, ethnicity, sexual orientation and gender-identity among the Adirondack Park’s residents and visitors.

“The symposium was a tremendous success,” says Pete Nelson, a writer and teacher who led the effort to organize the event. “People were really engaged right up until the end and the conversations were intense, authentic and thought-provoking. There are a variety of initiatives in discussion now – from youth pipelines to more diversity training to specific outreach – to carry this important start forward. I am excited to think that this core group of committed people will be able to do a lot to make the Adirondacks more diverse, inclusive and welcoming.”

The conference explored appropriate and effective approaches to attracting new Adirondack enthusiasts, and raising the awareness of these issues and opportunities for those who already love the Adirondacks.

The symposium has already spurred action in the form of a successful fundraiser on Adirondack Gives for Brother Yusuf’s Youth Ed-Venture & Nature Network, which brings urban youth to the Adirondacks to connect to the natural world.