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Common Ground Alliance Winter Meeting Focuses On Attracting New Residents To The Adirondacks

Adirondack Park sign
Pat Bradley/WAMC

The Common Ground Alliance is a collaborative bringing together diverse groups that advocate for various Adirondack issues.  For the first time the Alliance held a winter meeting to discuss progress since their summer forum and hear ideas about how to attract more full-time residents to the Adirondacks.
More than 100 people logged in to the first Common Ground Alliance winter meeting to hear an update on the Blueprint for the Blue Line, efforts to attract new residents to the Adirondacks and a discussion with people who have settled in Millinocket, Maine on their efforts to bring new residents to their area.

Adirondack Council Executive Director and Alliance member Willie Janeway gave a quick overview of the Blueprint’s current focus.  “The four items on the Blueprint for the Blue Line: the cell service and broadband piece, the childcare,  extending funding for the Adirondack Diversity Initiative and securing increased resources and funding to manage increased use. Those things are each standalone important but even more importantly they are interwoven. This incredible world class landscape depends on addressing these issues.”

Stagnant population growth has led to efforts to attract new residents.  Northern Forest Center Adirondack Project Manager Leslie Karasin said they are working with the Common Ground Alliance to implement the Attracting New Residents plan.   “We do not want this to be a document that sits on the shelf and gathers dust. And so there are mechanisms to share information and ideas. a lot of the work of implementing the strategy will take place in and with communities and so a strategy includes some tools that communities can use. And then facilitate interest groups around some of the important thematic issues that we know need to be addressed if we're going to be successful in attracting new residents as a region.”

The Northern Forest Center facilitated a conversation with individuals who have moved to Millinocket, Maine. The community has many similarities to the Adirondacks including being adjacent to millions of acres of forests.   Jessica Masse owns a small business in Millinocket and has visited the Adirondacks.   “We both have a history rooted in natural resources and it sounds like we have common aspirations for the future. We need an influx of new people.  I think about the question every single day. How do we get people to move to Millinocket? How do we revitalize this place?  Broadband is a really important part of that. Creating great quality of place is an important part of that.”

Masse advises that one strategy to attracting people is to look for those who will be active in the community.  “We see something that wants to be done and instead of complaining about it we make a plan and  we get started. And that attracts like-minded people. That’s been the most successful strategy as I look back over the last 10 years in this area is really getting those community champions together and working on common goals. It’s really important  for local government and state government and even national government to foster enabling conditions like broadband and good policy. But then you need the community champions that really have a vision for their future and they’re the ones that are going to make that vision a reality.”


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