Economic scenarios: What does the Adirondacks’ future look like?
The Common Ground Alliance Forum, an annual meeting meant to stimulate conversation and action about the future of the Adirondacks, held its biggest forum yet on Wednesday, July 18th in Long Lake, with roughly 230 people attending from across the Adirondack Park.
This impressive number is an indicator of the common interest that exists throughout the Park in improving our economies and communities in the coming years.
The theme of this year’s meeting, ‘Momentum,’ was highlighted by a project conducted voluntarily over the past year by Jim Herman and Dave Mason, two retired strategy consultants living in Keene.
Over a year ago, they decided to use their talents in Scenario Development to help get the Adirondacks on the right track for the next 25 years (and hopefully, beyond).
They created a project in which six ‘endstates,’ or scenarios, were devised to show what the Park could look like in 2037.
Meetings were held across the Park. The endstates were talked about in places as close to home as View and as far away as New York City, to include seasonal residents. Surveys were taken and discussions were initiated.
Participants were asked to rate the scenarios into two categories: desirability and attainability.Each of the endstates was different from all the others; some were very radical and others very conceivable.
When Jim and Dave presented their final data on July 18th, they stressed that the project was about the conversation that was created about the future, and not the specific results based on the data collected from the surveys.
That being said, something remarkable occurred in the data.
Overall, the most desirable scenario also ranked as the most attainable, meaning what we want to happen is very likely to happen.
“This never happens,” the two strategy consultants said in relaying their shock.
The endstate that topped both categories outlines an Adirondack Park with a somewhat closed-loop economic system.
Money would stay in the Park, with widespread usage of local energy (sustainable biomass and other renewables) and local food (other than venison).
Besides this recycling of goods throughout the Park, money would also come in. There would be the tourism that our area depends on now, as well as business conducted from homes in the Park.
This ‘telework,’ a term currently foreign to Old Forge, is possible thanks to broadband internet, an ultra high speed internet available for use in many homes around the Park.
Although broadband in the Central Adirondacks may seem a long way off, it is actually very close to becoming a reality, and could be the next big thing in Old Forge.
With this broadband comes possibilities in business that will have people working from their living rooms, hopefully in the Adirondacks.
In this scenario, dubbed “The Sustainable Life,” we would share services throughout the Park and help reduce impact on our greatest asset: the forest.
This sounds like a great deal: we want it to happen, and we think it’s going to happen.
But does that mean it will?
We cannot take it for granted that we will move in a positive direction in the coming years.
We must continue to look for the next step that will help us reach our goal, and we must look for that step as a single Adirondack community.
You can follow Colin Criss on Twitter @ADKCurrent