New director vitalizes diversity initiative

December, 2019

By NAJ WIKOFF , Lake Placid News

Ninety-five percent of visitors to the Adirondacks are white; for one reason or another, people of color aren't coming here. Forty-five percent of New Yorkers are non-white, and a great number of them are not visiting our region. Yet their taxes help cover our Olympic venue maintenance and upgrades, forest and fauna protection, highway upkeep, state police services, prisons and Tupper Lake's Sunmount DDSO - all of which provide good-paying jobs for many Adirondackers.

Attracting diversity, be it ethnic, cultural, religious, of sexual orientation, or ability, will benefit our economy. Furthermore, it will broaden the base of people who care for the Adirondacks and are willing to advocate for air pollution regulation, reduced road salt usage, more DEC rangers and other useful initiatives.

About five years ago, Pete Nelson, Willie Janeway, Paul Hai, and Martha Swan founded the Adirondack Diversity Initiative. It grew out of a 2014 Newcomb Adirondack Interpretive Center symposium titled "Toward a More Diverse Adirondacks" that came up with two guiding principles: the Adirondacks should be welcoming to and inclusive of everyone and relevant to and supported by an increasingly diverse New York.

"We want the Adirondacks to be a place that matters, a climate haven where wildlands that can be cherished by all," said Nelson, "a place for recreation, to move to and to live in for a host of reasons. We need to embrace differences in all directions and value everyone, including people here in the park who are not valued now. We don't have that view of the park; yet, that's our goal. I think it's fair and delightful to say that we've hired an expert. We look forward to learning with her where we go from here."

Since 2014, ADI has been led by a volunteer team representing individuals and organizations. They have organizing workshops and other events, developing strategies to achieve their objectives. With the help of the governor's office, a $250,000 Environmental Protection Fund grant, and the Adirondack North Country Association's organizational support, they hired their first director, Nicole Hylton-Patterson, a diversity professional based in the Bronx.

Read the full article in the Lake Placid News