Adirondacks for All:

Identity & Environmental Justice in the North Country

Join us for our new virtual program series, “Adirondacks for All: Identity & Environmental Justice in the North Country.” This summer series will examine the intersections between racial and environmental justice. Through engaging discussions with a diverse group of local activists, archaeologists, teachers, land stewards, and more this series will explore experiences of inequity and oppression in the Adirondacks and the ways in which those realities connect with issues of preservation, pollution, and access to land, water, and nature.

The Adirondacks have long been celebrated as one of the nation’s signature conservation achievements. A unique patchwork of residential hamlets and forest preserve, the park’s extensive network of woods, waters, and high peaks have inspired generations of residents and visitors seeking their own “Forever Wild” experience. Hiking a backcountry trail, summiting a 4000-footer, paddling a clear lake, or enjoying some of the Northeast’s remaining old-growth forests, wilderness preservation and resource conservation secure these recreational opportunities for the general public and protect threatened ecosystems from destruction and development. The challenges of climate change make the difficult and sometimes controversial work of forest preservation all the more pressing now and for future generations. 

And yet beneath the surface, and inside the park’s blue line, legacies of dispossession, systemic racism, and inequality contribute to the unfortunate sense that the Adirondacks belong to some but not others. Established in 1892 for “the free use of all the people for their health and pleasure,” the reality has rarely matched this high-minded democratic ideal. 

The “Adirondacks for All” program series was developed by the Adirondack Experience in partnership with the Adirondack Diversity Initiative, The Wild Center, and the Nature Conservancy. This series was funded by the Institute of Museum and Library Services, the Max and Victoria Dreyfus Foundation, Inc, and the Leo Cox Beach Foundation. 

Upcoming Events

Previous Adirondacks For All Events

Recordings will be available below after each live program.

Adirondacks for All Symposium Part 3: Using Policy and Preservation to Foster an Adirondacks for All

Friday, November 4, 2022 | 7:00 pm

During this final roundtable discussion in the “Adirondacks for All” week-long symposium, Aaron Mair will engage state representatives and Adirondack stakeholders in a conversation that touches on the past, present, and future of the Adirondacks. Mair is currently leading the Adirondack Council’s “Forever Adirondacks” campaign and formerly served as the first African-American president of the Sierra Club. Mair’s passion for stewardship, preservation, and environmental justice has put him at the center of efforts to memorialize the region’s African-American history and establish the Timbuctoo Summer Climate and Careers Institute which will connect New York City youth with educational programs and green job training based in the Adirondacks. Mair will address these and other projects designed to protect Adirondacks land and water while encouraging diversity, equity, and economic opportunity.

About the Speakers

Aaron Mair is a 30-year wilderness expert and environmental justice pioneer, and advisor to White House’s Commission for Environmental Quality for the Clinton and Obama administrations. Mair was the first African American president of the Sierra Club, and is well-known for his work in environmental justice. In this talk, he will discuss the first voting rights protection efforts for African Americans.

Adirondacks for All Symposium Part 2: Wilderness For All

Wednesday, November 2, 2022 | 7:00 pm

Today, in order to remain relevant, we must adapt and address the challenges and obstacles that stand in the way of promoting a more diverse and inclusive environment. This is especially true of a place like the Adirondack Park. There is an increasing recognition that a host of cultural, geographic, and economic barriers continue to undercut the Park’s democratic commitment to “the free use of all the people for their health and pleasure.” If the Adirondack community wishes to provide a wide range of opportunities to all visitors– including those marginalized by physical disabilities, economic burdens, or legacies of exclusion–Park managers, stakeholders, and private sector partners could learn from individuals and organizations working at the grass-roots to open Adirondack wilderness to traditionally underrepresented groups. The panelists featured in this roundtable discussion have spent considerable time and energy bridging the access and equity gap, connecting Black and Indigenous youth, among others, with an environmental and cultural heritage that should transcend cultural, racial, and economic boundaries. Benita Law-Diao, Annie Cree, and Stephanie Morningstar will share their personal journey with the Adirondacks and discuss opportunities to move forward in a more positive direction.

About the Speakers

Benita Law-Diao is a NYS Licensed Public Health Nutritionist/Dietitian. She served 32 years with the NYS Department of Health. During her career she was a Public Health Nutritionist, Contract Manager, and Program Research Specialist. Throughout her life Ms. Law-Diao has held a strong passion for the environment and sustainable living. For five consecutive years, she and her co-workers rode bicycles across New York State to market the re-opening of the Erie Canal and increase public awareness of this world class recreational asset. As a past President of the Hudson-Mohawk Council and a National Board Member of Hostelling International USA, she led efforts to encourage more people of color to participate in travel and recreation. Ms. Law-Diao is the Outdoor Afro Leader for Albany and Upstate New York. She advises Eagle Island Camp in Saranac Lake. She is also a member of the Albany Riverfront Collaborative and works to forge robust civic partnerships necessary to nurture a river-connected and sustaining community with a vibrant and interdependent economy, culture and landscape. As a Cornell Cooperative Extension Albany County Master Gardener, she works with the community on a variety of sustainable agriculture and beautification projects. In May 2022, Ms. Law-Diao was appointed to the Adirondack Park Agency, the first African-American to serve on the board.

Stephanie Morningstar is Mohawk, Oneida, and mixed European descent. She is an herbalist, soil and seed steward, scholar, student, and Earth Worker dedicated to decolonizing and liberating minds, hearts, and land- one plant, person, ecosystem, and non-human being at a time. Stephanie is the Executive Director of the Northeast Farmers of Color Land Trust, an organization dedicated to advancing land access for BIPOC land stewards of color. Stephanie tends medicines at Sky World Apothecary & Farm; and teaches about the wonders of plant medicine at Seed, Soil, + Spirit School. Stephanie’s theory of change is rooted in community-driven, self-determined solutions created by BIPOC communities for BIPOC communities. She carries with her over a decade of Indigenous community-driven systems change work in healthcare, legal, herbal, agricultural, land access, and academic research spaces where she cut her teeth on speaking Truth to Power. Her work advancing sovereignty in institutional spaces with and for Indigenous communities has resulted in mandating Indigenous Cultural Safety training to service providers; Indigenous Dispute Transformation frameworks; and meaningful and ethical Indigenous-driven research in climate change.

Annie Cree is a Mohawk of Akwesasne and part of the Bear Clan, wife to Evan Cree and proud mother of four. Annie is Director of Outdoor Programming for Iakwa’shatste youth fitness and Youth Coach and team trainer to a few local minor sports teams. Working at IYF she is able to offer land-based activities such as hiking, biking, canoeing and snowshoeing to name a few. She also offers family-oriented programming and workshops to help educate parents and children together on safety issues, wellness, cooking classes, and traditional teachings and workshops. Annie has been a youth mentor for over a decade helping local youth with college prep or finding jobs and sometimes just being there for an ear to listen to what they have to say. Annie has also developed a running program that is offered in Akwesasne to the 5 local schools that helps prepare runners for a few different running events including the Ottawa marathon Kids run. Last year there were 65 kids total that participated in the program and 28 that attended the marathon. Annie is also a member of the Akwesasne Suicide Prevention Committee, The Akwesasne Coalition for Community Empowerment and the Community Health and Social Educators Committee all that help to bring wellness to the community.

Adirondacks for All Symposium Part 1: Reframing Adirondack History

Tuesday, November 1, 2022 | 7:00 pm

The history of the Adirondacks region has long privileged accounts of Euro-American settlement: taming a wild landscape and establishing a multi-generational presence across the North Country. Within the last few decades, individuals and organizations across the Adirondacks have increasingly challenged the cultural, social, and political assumptions at the foundation of these kinds of Euro-Centric narratives. With their scholarship, filmmaking, and cultural education initiatives, these three panelists have worked to re-center the experiences of underrepresented people who have acted as forces for social, political, and cultural change in the North Country and beyond. A “reframing” wide enough to reflect this diverse population must account for the First People of this region, African Americans, immigrants, but also Adirondackers without political visibility or power. “I am large, I contain multitudes,” Whitman wrote. So does the Adirondack Park. In this roundtable discussion, Darren Bonaparte, Amy Godine, and Paul Miller will discuss opportunities to highlight the plurality of experiences that comprise the tapestry of American and Adirondack history.

About the Speakers

Amy Godine, independent scholar and longtime Adirondack Life contributor, has been writing and lecturing about Adirondack social history since 1989. Her interest has been Black and ethnic history, migratory Adirondackers, and other non-elites whose regional experience is unacknowledged in the historical record. Exhibitions she has written or curated on ethnic diversity in the region have appeared in the Chapman Museum, Saratoga History Museum, and Adirondack Museum. Her exhibition, “Dreaming of Timbuctoo,” the story of an abolitionist-founded Black farm settlement in North Elba, is at the John Brown Farm Historic Site in Lake Placid. Next fall Cornell University Press will bring out her book, The Black Woods, a comprehensive history of this pioneering civil rights initiative before the Civil War.

Paul A. Miller is an independent writer, photographer, and filmmaker based in upstate New York. As an experienced television professional, he worked for national shows and networks including The History Channel, National Geographic Channel, PBS, and “The Oprah Winfrey Show.” For years, filmmaker Paul Miller has driven past the John Brown Farm State Historic on route to family vacations. Like many, as a young student, he had learned of abolitionist John Brown and his raid on Harpers Ferry, but he never thought about why Brown’s home is located in New York, nestled between the beautiful peaks of the Adirondack Mountains. When Miller learned that it is connected to the establishment of a little-known and long lost antebellum African-American settlement in the mountains, he knew the story had to be told. In his feature-length documentary, “Searching For Timbuctoo,” he seeks to add some much-needed dimension to the well-known story of John Brown and his Harpers Ferry raid by revealing how a little-known Black settlement in the Adirondacks helped lay a path towards the Civil War and, as a result, changed the course of American history.

Darren Bonaparte is a cultural historian from the Akwesasne First Nation. He is a frequent lecturer at schools, universities, museums, and historical sites in the United States and Canada. Darren has written three books, several articles, and the libretto for the McGill Chamber Orchestra’s Aboriginal Visions and Voices. He currently serves as the Director of the Tribal Historic Preservation Office of the Saint Regis Mohawk Tribe.

The Future of Adirondack Stewardship: Climate, Ecology, and Community

Tuesday, September 6, 2022 | 7:00 pm

Throughout history, scholars, writers, artists, and activists have looked beyond the dominant cultural attitudes of their era to re-evaluate the way we organize our relationship with the natural world. The “Romantic Revolt” of Emerson and Thoreau, the conservation ethic of Gifford Pinchot, John Muir’s passion for wilderness preservation, and Rachel Carson’s ecocentric critique of scientific progress have pushed the boundaries of environmental stewardship and continue to inform more contemporary commitments to sustainability and environmental and social justice. These environmental values, among others, have equally influenced the trajectory of conservation, preservation, and stewardship in the Adirondacks. As one of the nation’s first “Forever Wild” nature preserves, Adirondack Park stands as a foundational achievement of environmental preservation, but the work is far from finished. The challenge of climate change has only brought greater urgency to the critical work of protecting biodiversity and promoting ecological stability. This panel of artists, storytellers, students, and teachers will explore the ways we might reimagine Adirondack stewardship–incorporating ecocentric and rights of nature perspectives–and discuss the socio-economic barriers that have historically prevented underrepresented communities from engaging in these conversations. It is critical that Adirondack stewardship transcend the racial and class boundaries and anthropocentric positions that have traditionally defined environmental circles and instead, empower people from all walks of life to participate in decisions and policies that will determine the future of the region.

About the Speakers

Blake Lavia (all pronouns) is a multimedia artist and community organizer, currently living in the Kaniatarowanneh / St. Lawrence River Valley, at the foothills of the Adirondack Mountains, Haudenosaunee Territory. Through their work with the environmental storytelling group Talking Wings, Blake Lavia has organized numerous conferences, curated in person and virtual art exhibitions, and produced visual storytelling pieces that spotlight Water and Earth Guardians. Their art practice dances between filmmaking, writing, photography, animation, and mixed media illustration, and spotlights structural violence, cultural memory, and our current climate crises. In recent projects, such as the North Country Rights of Nature Symposium, Blake Lavia is striving to bring communities together to discuss how to build an ecocentric and just reality for the region and the world.

Tzintzun Aguilar-Izzo (they, elle) is an environmental artist and movement weaver, who is currently working to spotlight stories of regenerative solutions to the climate crises in the North Country, Haudenosaunee Territory. As part of Talking Wings, they have collaborated with Blake Lavia on several art and community-centered environmental projects, such as the “North Country Art, Land and Environment Summit” and “Confluence: A Tapestry of Rivers and their Guardians.” Talking Wings is currently embarking on a new endeavor in which they are weaving together a regional collaboration to co-create an ecocentric governance system for waterways and draft a Bill of Rights for North Country rivers.

Jen Kretser,Director of Climate Initiatives at The Wild Center, leads the Center’s climate change engagement programs including the Youth Climate Program, which was highlighted by the Obama White House Office of Science and Technology; interpretive programs for visitors; the new Climate Solutions exhibit; and other climate related initiatives and community partnerships. In 2015, she represented The Wild Center and the Association of Science Technology Centers (ASTC) at the UN COP 21 climate talks in Paris and is working to help seed youth climate summits around the world. In 2022, she led The Wild Center’s delegation at the UN COP 26 climate conference in Glasgow, Scotland. Kretser is an active member of the NYS Climate Resilience & Education Task Force, serves numerous boards including the Climate Literacy Energy Awareness Network (CLEAN), Adirondack Mountain Club and the Adirondack Diversity Initiative. Jen also serves on the U.S. Action for Climate Empowerment (ACE) Coordinating Team and is working on new national education guidelines for climate change and climate justice. Jen grew up in and is grateful to call Saranac Lake home.

Caroline Dodd is a lifelong Adirondacker, climate activist, and cross-country ski coach. She was a founding member of The Wild Center’s Youth Climate Program, where she continues to serve on the Youth Advisory Board. She studied environmental science and policy at Cornell University, where she researched climate change mitigation for the Kingdom of Tonga, traveling to the United Nations Climate Negotiations in Poland. Caroline has since served as a legislative advocate for the Adirondacks, a ski instructor, and a winter sports events coordinator. She will attend graduate school in Environmental Policy this fall. She can also be found playing her flute and singing at Chapel Island on Upper Saranac Lake. Caroline plans to carry her passions for climate justice and local climate solutions into the climate policy space.

Towards a More Inclusive Adirondack Wilderness

Tuesday, August 23, 2022 | 7:00 pm

In 1892 the Adirondack Park was established for “the free use of all the people for their health and pleasure.” Unfortunately, this expansive democratic ideal, commonly associated with public lands, tends to obscure the economic, cultural, and geographic barriers that have undercut efforts to make the Adirondacks a more inclusive and welcoming space. The demographic composition of the Adirondacks region, including permanent residents and seasonal visitors, equally complicates this founding vision. While this history has deep roots in the North Country, the events of the past two years, including the pandemic and national reckonings with social and racial justice, has spurred a re-examining of inequity in the Adirondacks and its connection to land and water access, conservation, and environmental justice. Much work remains to realize this founding vision, but thanks to a number of individuals and organizations, sustained commitments to diversity, representation, and equity are opening space for a more inclusive, welcoming, and accessible Adirondack wilderness. In this program, Robbi Mecus, Klarisse Torriente, and Nicky Hylton-Patterson will explore why having a broad spectrum of representation in the Adirondacks matters, opportunities to find solutions in community, and the intersection of identity and belonging in the Adirondacks.

About the Speakers

Klarisse Torriente is an AfroLatina, Social Worker, and lifelong adventurer born and raised in Newburgh, NY. Through her high school’s distance team, she was able to better connect with the land through running, hiking, and swimming. She moved to the Capital District in 2014 to get a Masters in Social Work. It was around that time that she began to hike in the Adirondacks and fell deeply in love with the region. Through many, many solo hikes, camps, and group experiences, she has found opportunities to heal and emotionally coregulate walking on Adirondack ground.  She became a volunteer Summit Steward in 2021 and was the first black human to be in that position. Her goal in life overall is to create opportunity and empowerment for marginalized folks in our society, especially People of Color and low-income humans in pursuit of joy.

Nicole “Nicky” Hylton-Patterson joined the Adirondack North Country Association family as the Director for the Adirondack Diversity Initiative (ADI) in December 2019. Her journey from St. Catherine, Jamaica to Saranac Lake is one marked by lengthy sojourns in Trondheim, Norway, Elmira, NY, and Tempe, AZ.  A relentless advocate for justice and equity, Nicky brings 20+ years of experience as a community organizer, educator, activist scholar and diversity & inclusion subject matter expert and practitioner to the role. When she isn’t working with the ADI family of advocates, allies, and affiliates on ensuring that the Adirondacks is a place where biodiversity reflects human diversity, she enjoys spending time outdoors hiking and horseback riding. During fierce Adirondack winters, Nicky is equally happy ensconced with a good book and working on her latest piece of haute couture inspired creation.

Robbi Mecus is a resident of Keene Valley and has been a NYS Forest Ranger for 23 years, nine of those in the Adirondacks. She is an avid rock and ice climber, as well as a single parent of a nine-year-old child. She is also the first woman to work as a NYS Forest Ranger in the High Peaks of the Adirondacks, and the first openly Trans Forest Ranger in New York State. Robbi belevies it is important to explore the intersection of policing and the “law enforcement role” of a Ranger and how it affects different communities who may come to recreate in these spaces, namely the Black and Brown communities and the LGBTQIA community.

Indigenous Homelands, Land Rights, and the Politics of Protest

Tuesday, August 9, 2022 | 7:00 pm

As social protest movements swept across the nation in the late 1960s, Indigenous activists embraced direct action as a strategy to address historical injustices that continued to negatively impact their communities. Frustrated by centuries of broken treaties and the steady erosion of their sovereignty, they sought to bring greater visibility and awareness to their cause and reform the relationship between their communities and the federal and state governments. While the 1969 occupation of Alcatraz, led by Mohawk Richard Oakes, and the 1973 occupation of Wounded Knee stand as some of the most dramatic examples of Indigenous protest during the “Red Power Movement,” this history also overlaps with that of the Adirondacks. On May 13, 1974, a group of Traditionalist Mohawk families from Kahnawake and Akwesasne sought to reclaim some portion of their original homeland in the Adirondacks region. Rejecting an illegal treaty that ceded nine million acres of Haudenosaunee land to New York State in 1797, the Indigenous activists occupied a former girls camp at Moss Lake, near Old Forge. After three years of negotiations with New York state officials, the Mohawk community accepted six hundred acres of land to establish the community of Ganienkeh (land of the flint). In this program, Jessica Jeanne Shenandoah, a member of the Onondaga Nation, will share her experience of the Moss Lake occupation and join Neil Patterson Jr., a member of the Tuscarora Nation, in a conversation that explores Haudenosaunee efforts to protect their sovereignty, land, and culture.

About the Speakers

Neil Patterson Jr. was born into the White Bear Clan as a citizen of the Tuscarora Nation. He is the Associate Director of the Center for Native Peoples and the Environment at the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry. Neil founded the Tuscarora Environment Program in 1997 through the assistance of the Haudenosaunee Environmental Task Force.

Jeanne Shenandoah, Eel Clan, Onondaga Nation, was a traditional home birth midwife and herbalist for twenty-eight years. A mother and grandmother, she works at the Onondaga Nation Communications Office, and is “involved with spiritual and political activities of my people and following the traditional ways.” A member of the Haudenosaunee Environmental Task Force, she served as a representative of the Onondaga Nation in the Onondaga Lake Environmental Cleanup issue. Jeanne attended The Global Peace Initiative of Women Religious and Spiritual Leaders at the United Nations in Geneva Switzerland as a Haudenosaunee woman representing the spiritual tradition of Indigenous women. Jeanne received The Harriet Tubman Humanitarian Achievement Award in March 2005.

Indigenous Perspectives on Adirondack Park: Knowledge & Practice

Tuesday, July 26, 2022 | 7:00 pm

The Adirondack mountains are part of the traditional homeland of the Mohawk (Kaniekehaka). Lost through theft, illegitimate treaty agreements, and fraudulent land sales after the American Revolution, the Mohawk people have made efforts to reclaim some land, mostly adjacent to the current reservation, and affirm that the mountains are still legally part of the original territory. Nevertheless, Indigenous peoples have worked to maintain their cultural footprint in the region and create space to practice their traditions and lifeways in the mountains, forests, and waters of the Adirondacks. Through communal initiatives and strategic partnerships with museums and historical preservation organizations, conservation nonprofits and land trusts, and educational institutions, Haudenosaunee communities continue to make valuable contributions to the park’s environmental and cultural heritage. In this program, Lorna Mae Thomas, Dave Fadden, and Neil Patterson will discuss their relationship to the Adirondacks and their efforts to incorporate Indigenous knowledge into the preservation of the Adirondack Park, now and for future generations.

About the Speakers

Lorna Maie Thomas is a member of the Bear Clan of the Mohawk Nation at Akwesasne. Attending the Akwesasne Freedom School, and completing internships on and off the territory she has acquired first hand knowledge of caring for baskets and beadwork. Maie has a B.A. in Women’s and Gender Studies, and works at the Native North American Traveling College and the Six Nations Iroquois Cultural Center.

Neil Patterson Jr. is Assistant Director of the Center for Native Peoples and the Environment, at SUNY College of Environmental Science & Forestry. His work has been to celebrate, restore, and build relationships between indigenous communities and their aboriginal territory. He believes that the pragmatic way in which indigenous people have co-evolved within their landscapes provides the most sublime template for re-imagining and creating sustainable food, material, and energy systems.

David Fadden is an artist, storyteller, and writer with strong ties to both Akwesasne and Onchiota. His subjects range from traditional Haudenosaunee teachings to intimate and inspired portrayals of community members. Fadden was recently invited to reimagine a living wetland exhibit at The Wild Center (Tupper Lake, NY) from a Haudenosaunee perspective. His work can be seen at the Six Nations Iroquois Cultural Center in Onchiota, a family-run facility founded in 1954 by his grandparents. Today, he continues the work to break down stereotypes and advance accurate understandings of Mohawk and Haudenosaunee culture.

Women in the Forest of History: Renderings of Adirondack Wilderness

Tuesday, July 12, 2022 | 7:00 pm

The voices of women are often silent in the vast history of the Adirondacks, but women have always lived here and considered it their home. Beginning with Indigenous women that inhabited the Adirondacks for countless generations prior to colonization to enslaved and free women that settled the region and ran households, farms, and social movements, women were involved in shaping the Adirondack environment and communities. This session will examine the lives of several women from the 1700s to the 2000s, the natural and social obstacles they faced, and the meanings and inspirations they found in the Adirondack wilderness. Recovering their experiences and hearing their voices enriches the collective landscape.

About the Speakers

Robin Caudell is an award-winning Staff Writer for the Press-Republican newspaper in Plattsburgh, where she has worked since 1990. Robin holds a BS in Journalism, University of Maryland at College Park, and a MFA in Creative Writing from Goddard College. She is a Cave Canem Poet, North Country Underground Railroad Historical Association Trustee and founding member of the Plattsburgh Air Force Base Museum. A Cold War Veteran and SAC Warrior, Sgt. Caudell was stationed at Plattsburgh Air Force Base, where she was the recipient of the John L. Levitow Award, Non-Commissioned Officer Leadership School. She recently received the 2022 Women of Distinction Military Service Award from NY State Assemblyman Billy Jones. Since living in the Adirondacks, her diverse research projects explore the Underground Railroad and the Black Experience in the Adirondacks.

Sandra Weber is an independent researcher and writer specializing in Adirondack History and Women’s History. For more than 30 years, she has been researching, portraying, and writing about women and their relationships with the Adirondack landscape. Breaking Trail: Remarkable Women of the Adirondacks, which she co-authored with Peggy Lynn in 2004, profiled the lives of 25 women. Several of Sandra’s other books, such as Mount Marcy, convey a “sense of place” by exploring the human and natural history of a specific site in microscopic detail. More recently, Sandra has studied the woman suffrage movement and the importance of commemoration. She wrote The Woman Suffrage Statue (McFarland, 2016) and edited The Champlain Valley Suffrage Centennial Auto Tour (2021).

Incarceration, Wilderness, & The Adirondack Paradox

Tuesday, June 28, 2022 | 7:00 pm

For nearly two centuries, the remote forestlands and high mountain peaks of the Adirondacks have provided opportunities for middle-class recreation, wilderness adventure, and scientific research. At the same time, those natural characteristics led state and federal authorities to look toward the North Country as a convenient location for a network of prisons. Towns and villages across the Adirondacks have since come to rely on prisons as a source of economic development, employment, and state funding. The Park’s recreational infrastructure is equally tied into the region’s prison system, as the poorly paid labor of incarcerated workers supports otherwise unaffordable conservation projects. In this sense, Adirondack wilderness has been shaped by the unfortunate trend towards mass incarceration.

About the Speakers

Dr. Alice Green is the Executive Director of the Center for Law and Justice, a civil rights organization she founded in 1985. She has a doctorate in criminal justice and 3 master’s degrees – education, social work, and criminology. The Center provides community education on civil and criminal justice, legal guidance and advocacy, crisis intervention, and community planning and organizing around criminal justice, civil rights and civil liberties issues of particular concern to poor communities and those of color. Dr. Green writes and lectures on racism and criminal justice and often does commentary and analysis for a number of newspapers and television and radio programs.

Clarence Jefferson Hall Jr. is assistant professor in the Department of History at Queensborough Community College, City University of New York, and visiting instructor of Sustainability Studies in the Department of Social Science and Cultural Studies at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, New York. His research investigates the intersectional histories of environment, race, and incarceration in the U.S. Hall’s first book, A Prison in the Woods: Environment and Incarceration in New York’s North Country, was published by the University of Massachusetts Press in 2020.

Anna Givens is a senior at the University of Rochester in Rochester, NY, majoring in Anthropology and Russian. During her time as a student, she has conducted extensive research on incarceration, including the criminalization of mental health patients at a local hospital and the ways in which federal prison contractors lobby the government. Recently, she completed an honors thesis in anthropology exploring prison siting in the Lake Placid area.

Adirondack Equality: 19th-Century Black Settlement & Environmental Justice

Tuesday, June 14, 2022 | 7:00 pm

In 1846, communities and organizers from the Hudson River Valley mounted the first voting rights protection efforts for African Americans by purchasing land in the Adirondack Mountains and founding a number of free Black hamlets or Black suffrage communities. The movement was the backbone of what would become the voting rights efforts and Underground Railroad. The Black Suffrage Settlement movement and leaders would directly influence radical resistance efforts like John Brown’s raid on Harpers Ferry. Because suffrage was tied to land ownership, preserving this history has become an important part of conservation efforts in the Hudson Valley. Aaron Mair will bring these stories and connections to life in this presentation and in calling for a permanent exhibit in the North Country to recover and mark this chapter in New York and American history.

About the Speaker

Aaron Mair is a 30-year wilderness expert and environmental justice pioneer, and advisor to White House’s Commission for Environmental Quality for the Clinton and Obama administrations. Mair was the first African American president of the Sierra Club, and is well-known for his work in environmental justice. In this talk, he will discuss the first voting rights protection efforts for African Americans.

Deep History and Belonging in the Adirondacks

Tuesday, May 31, 2022 | 7:00 pm

The Adirondack mountains, lakes, and forests are an international symbol of wilderness within which humans are often considered to be recent intruders. In fact, the story of the human presence on this landscape runs even deeper than the forests themselves. Since the end of the last Ice Age when open tundra still dominated the region, predecessors and ancestors of Haudenosaunee and Abenaki peoples have made this region their home, although many historical accounts falsely claim that indigenous people were only visitors or absent altogether. This program will explore the deep human history of the Adirondacks and consider ways in which recent archeological discoveries have pushed the boundaries of scientific and historical knowledge and helped to shape larger discussions of belonging, ownership, stewardship, and the concept of wilderness itself.

About the Speakers

Curt Stager is a scientist, educator, and author whose research deals with climate change and deep ecological histories of lakes and landscapes around the world.  His work is published in prominent technical journals such as Science as well as periodicals such as National Geographic and The New York Times, and he co-hosts Natural Selections, a weekly science program on North Country Public Radio.  Curt is the author of four books, most recently “Still Waters: The Secret World of Lakes.”  He teaches natural sciences and holds an endowed research chair at Paul Smith’s College in upstate New York.  In 2013, the Carnegie-Case Foundation named him Science Professor of the Year for New York State.

David Fadden was born to John and Eva Fadden in Lake Placid, NY and grew up in the tiny Adirondack Mountain community of Onchiota. In his youth, he grew up surrounded by the wild beauty of the region, by his grandparents Ray and Christine Fadden’s teachings and stories, and by his parents’ creative example and encouragement. Eva Fadden expressed through wood sculpture and John, a retired art teacher, is a painter and prolific illustrator. With strong ties to both Akwesasne and Onchiota, David has established a solid reputation as a painter, but he is also recognized as a storyteller, illustrator, writer, and sculptor. An admirer of the Dutch and Renaissance painters David finds inspiration in the old masters’ eloquent and seemingly effortless use of light. His subjects range from traditional Haudenosaunee teachings to intimate and inspired portrayals of community members. Working primarily in acrylics, he often combines fine brushwork with palette knife applications to produce luminous interpretations of Haudenosaunee youth and elders.

Tim Messner is a father, a wanna-be craftsman, low-level food producer, professor, and archaeologist. His family moved to Kanienkehaka (Mohawk) territory in 2012 when Messner started a job at SUNY Potsdam. Soon after arriving in the North Country, Messner became interested in the deep Indigenous history of the Adirondack uplands. He has spent the last decade exploring the Adirondacks for recreational and scholarly pursuits.