July 6, 2015

Syriacuse: From Handguns to Hope

By Stephon Boatwright In ADKs, System Change

I think this is the longest I’ve gone without blogging since I launched the blog: yikes! Firstly, I haven’t been to the mountains in over half the year (typing that makes me feel faint).  Secondly, I’ve been continuing to enjoy the natural and cultural beauty of Ithaca.  I’ve hiked and biked all through the area…..and then I lost my phone with all my pictures.  No, I don’t want to talk about it.

So far, 2015 has been kind of a dud.  The winter was truly vicious.  I remember looking up the temperature atop Mount Marcy during a cold snap in February (the coldest Feb on record) and the high for the day was only a few degrees warmer than Everest.  Despite record high temps in May, June ended up being one of the wettest and chilliest on record.

Needless to say, I’m looking forward to July, or at least I was until this past weekend.  What should have been a weekend of BBQ’s and Sangria erupted in 10 shootings thorough the city of Syracuse, about an hour north of Ithaca.  To put that in perspective, Chicago, a city just shy of 3 million people, saw 7 gun deaths in the same period.  These types of incidents led the city to dubbed Chiraq by some.  Syracuse, on the other hand, has a population of about 145,000; Syriacuse did not make CNN headlines.  Overall, crime has dipped in Syracuse like most other major cities throughout the last few decades, but incidences like this past weekend are still not all that uncommon.

While I was sifting through news on the shootings, I had suddenly had enough and just wanted to plan my next trip to the Adirondacks.  Along my flurry of Google searches I found an article about Mountain Lake Academy.  The academy is an experimental school that takes in at-risk teenage boys and exposes them to the glory of the ADKs along with academic training and community service.  My mind immediately began to fill with scenes of merry kids from urban and rural slums climbing peaks, kayaking and fishing, all free from the consumer-driven idiocy of pop culture, similar to Benton Mackaye’s original vision for the Appalachian Trail. Whether MLA is Mackaye’s “retreat from profit” with an academic twist, I’m not sure.  However, I am quite sure that institutions that focus on both natural beauty and intellectual enrichment, opposed to submission, have a much better shot of ending the war zone that plagues places like Syracuse…or Syria for that matter.


With that off my chest….the blog is back, I swear! My wanderlust is kicking in pretty badly, so I’m sure I’ll have more trail antics and adventures to report soon!

  1. Jake Dean July 6, 2015

    I was getting worried for a minute there, glad to see you're back at it. You're right, I didn't hear about any of these shootings. 10? In one weekend? That's nuts. Makes me want to stay right here in Germany where a vandalized vending machine makes the news.

  2. Stephon Boatwright July 6, 2015

    Never fear! I'm making some big moves that will hopefully give me much more adventure time! I hope all is well my friend. Try not to damage too many Coke machines 😉

  3. Jake Dean July 7, 2015

    Eh, it's mostly Fanta.


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