There are many groups trying to figure out the future of their own village, town, county or region. Many are slowed down in reaching a plan that everyone can agree on because of conflicting opinions of "us vs. them" mentality. If this is happening at this level, how can there ever be a good action plan for something as big as the Adirondack Park?
Well, last week the "Mapping the Future of the Adirondack Park" workshop was held at the Harrietstown Town Hall in Saranac Lake. It's a unique process figuring out the future, and Dave Mason and Jim Herman figured out how to do this by using a unique process. They are using a strategy that they used when they ran a strategic planning consultant firm that was sold in 1999, before moving to their vacation homes in Keene.
The participants are given end-state scenarios to rank desirability and attainability. Many might desire to see great things happen for the Park, but that and what is doable might be at the opposite sides of the spectrum. Finding a scenario that most people viewed as desirable and possible would be something that should be taken seriously and plan accordingly to accomplish in mapping the future.
Groups throughout the Adirondack Park were asked to discuss, give feedback and rate topics such as envisioning a wild Park, a usable Park, the sustainable life, an Adirondack county, post "Big Government" solutions, and the Adirondack State Forest and its threats.
This unique process of all the groups who participated in the workshops had similar expectations, except the group in Saranac Lake. They were more negative about events having to do with government action. Perhaps it is because we are in closer contact with state agencies in nearby Ray Brook and feel they would like to plan a positive future without external pressures. If that is desirable, do you think it can also be possible?
In these planning workshops for the future of the Adirondacks, there was a good mix of representation from business, tourism, health care, education, retired, local and state government and non-environmental and environmental participants.
The different scenarios presented an interesting summary where most groups were similar. The results showed that there was a desire and attainability in having a combination of a sustainable life, a usable park and a wild Park with post-big government solutions. This would mean we would all live, work and play with an attractive lifestyle that would leave a low carbon footprint. Also, since the size of the Park is big and diverse, a bottoms-up, pragmatic initiative would need to be tailored by us internally.
While this is a simplified overview of the workshops, we commend Mason and Herman for enlightening us with their strategic planning process. We know that the Adirondack Park has many challenges and opportunities that this process can help map out its future that everyone can aspire to attain through further discussion of the many complex issues.
The conclusion of these series of workshops that were held around the Park will be presented at the Common Ground Alliance meeting on July 18 in Long Lake.
To see more on these results, go to www.ADKfutures.org and become involved in mapping out the future of the Adirondacks.