Adirondack Week panel discusses women and the Adirondacks


This past week was Adirondack Week here at Union. The goal of the week is to educate the community of what an amazing resource the Adirondacks are, the history of the region and how close they are to Union.

On Thursday, May 14, in Old Chapel, as part of Adirondack Week, there was a panel discussion, consisting of female faculty and staff of Union, in which the importance and contributions of women to the Adirondacks across a variety of disciplines was discussed.

Assistant Professor of English and American Literature Jillmarie Murphy moderated the panel.

The panel was comprised of six women: Hilary Tann, Katherine Lynes, Viki Brooks, Frances Maloy, Peggy Lynn and Hallie Bond, the new director of the Kelly Adirondack Center. Each woman was given roughly 10 minutes to speak about women and the Adirondacks.

Lynes was asked to be on the panel due to her research on nature writing by black writers and the issue of equal access and feeling safe in an outdoor space.

Lynes stated, “I need to begin with a foundational statement that I have no time to expand upon here: being in outdoor space is not equally safe for black people as for white people. I can go for a hike alone and feel perhaps a sense of worry about my safety as a woman — but I don’t think often, if ever, about my race because I don’t have to: I have white privilege. Black people more than likely will wonder: Will anyone help me if I am attacked because of my race? When will I be attacked, arrested or questioned about my presence in a particular space because of my race? Will I simply be thought of as an anomaly? ‘You’re black … what are you doing here?’”

Lynes then went on to discuss outdoor spaces, specifically those in the Adirondacks. She spoke about common assumptions regarding natural outdoor spaces.

She stated that people often expect peace, serenity and rejuvenation from having interacted with other-than-human nature; many expect to find wonder and even relaxation.

Lynes addressed activist and criminologist Alice P. Green and how in 1975, she and her family moved to the Adirondacks, fleeing racial strife, lynching and Jim Crow laws that did not allow them to move freely in outdoor spaces without fear of retribution, which was sometimes deadly.

Although Green and her family felt safer in the Adirondacks, they still were faced with many racial problems. Lynes revealed that she, among others, is in the process of recovering the voices, histories and writings of black inhabitants and visitors to the Adirondacks.

Lynes stated, “Black women’s voices will, I hope, be a vital part of this recovery. We have a start in the story (in “The Adirondack Reader”) of Alice Green who, after a trip to Senegal in her adult years, now says, ‘Africa,’ proudly when asked where her ancestors are from; and, she still claims the Adirondacks as a space of home.”

Additionally, Hallie Bond, the new director of the Kelly Adirondack Center discussed women and their roles in the Adirondacks, concluding with the powerful statement that the Adirondacks provide “freedom and opportunity for women.”

Other events for Adirondack Week included a hike to Tenant Creek Falls on Sunday, May 10; a Dinner and Discussion led by Professor Phil Terrie entitled, “State of the Adirondack Park, 2015” on Monday, May 11; and the Adirondack Fair in front of the library on Thursday, May 14.

Two concerts were also held throughout the week to celebrate. On Monday, May 11, Ricochet Duo kicked off Adirondack Week with their performance of Hilary Tann’s “Solstice” for Tayor Time.

They performed again on Wednesday, May 13, at Proctors. That performance was called, “The Woodswoman Project: A Tribute to Anne Bastille.” Images by Adirondack photographers Mark Bowie, Shaun Heffernan and Carl Heilman II accompanied the music.


Leave a Reply