Releasing Millennials into the W!ld

Entitled. Broke. Lazy. Glued to their phones. That’s us. Who wants that? Millennials tend to have a bad rap. But we’re also sharers, we prefer experiences over things, some of us are parents, and there are billions of us.

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So how do we convince our own demographic to choose the Adirondacks as a place to spend time and money?

The W!ld Center hired Schireson Associates in New York City to do a study on millennials and the Adirondacks. They approached Trampoline to interpret that data and asked if we could take the study and create a guidebook with strategies that would help businesses, organizations and TPAs reach millennials and get them to the Adirondacks. It was an exciting opportunity for all of us, and for the owners it was a convergence of all the things they aimed to do when they founded Trampoline 13 years ago.

To be honest (TBH), there was a small panic between millennial staffers at first. I hadn’t posted to Instagram in a year, Kelli hadn’t logged into Facebook in months, John had trouble wrapping his brain around the fact that some people don’t want to spend a week in the woods. But that wasn’t the point, there are stronger themes that are the core of this project.

The end result covers more ground than we could ever have imagined. And it’s not just the book itself, it’s the re-emergence of the information and solutions it holds for businesses in the Adirondacks and beyond.

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The guidebook addresses some obstacles that exist in the Adirondacks and offers communication strategies to overcome each of them. We used a variety of already existing businesses and organizations within the Adirondacks to show how these suggestions could work to combat issues identified in the Schireson data. Wild1Wild2To celebrate the wrap of the guidebook the Tramp millennials, Matt (millennial at heart) and friends hiked up Noonmark Mountain in Keene. It was also National Trails Day, so why not? #NationalTrailsDay

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GUIDEBOOK SPOILER: Everyone’s seen the stereotypical beautiful mountain top shot and sunrise shot from the kayak. It stirs interest, but it’s not getting people to the Adirondacks and it’s not getting people to spend money here. We need to appeal to the “indoorsy”.

It was a great day and only enforced a lot of the main issues we addressed:

Connectivity: We lost service in Keene Valley and one of the cars got lost. (I was driving, I own up to the fact that I have zero sense of direction and mostly rely on my phone and Google Maps to get me places, typical Millennial.)

Food & Beverage: Food and beverage is an experience for us. One guy in the group would have traveled all the way to Keene just to go to the Adirondack Cafe for their really fresh and locally sourced food. One car stopped at a food truck on the way back (side note: Food Trucks are awesome and we want more in the Adirondacks). We also talked about heading up to the Lake Placid Pub & Brewery for a couple brews but the need for showers and naps triumphed.

Overwhelmed: “This is a high peak right? No. Seriously?” Being a 46er is not going to be in all our futures.

Options: We were super thankful that we were in a place with options that day. We originally planned to hike to Rainbow Falls but had a dog (FYI, no dogs allowed on that trail) with us and had to switch plans last minute. There were a lot of trail heads in the area but I got very nervous that a couple of us would have to stay behind with the dog and wouldn’t have anything to do. And that would mean separating from the group in a place that doesn’t have cell service. Also, my body is still tired from that hike but I want to take advantage of the Adirondacks and all it has to offer since it’s in my backyard. What else in the Adirondacks is worth the hour or two drive for the day or weekend that isn’t a big hike or camping trip?

Endorsements: We chose this hike based on a recommendation from a friend. Then we talked to other friends and ended up with a group of nine. Afterward, photos of our trip ended up all over Facebook, Instagram, blogs, Twitter and Flickr.

Amenities: We were pretty concerned about finding a milkshake. We ended up driving back to Glens Falls before we got one but if we knew about a shake place on the way back we would have stopped. We’re also all familiar with the Adirondacks so we made sure we had Motrin, bug spray, plenty of water and food with us but a group of millennials not from here may not have been as prepared.

Vastness: Just look at this. How do we combat the sheer vastness of the Adirondacks?

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We also address lodging and worth in the guidebook. A compilation of issues and solutions for all generations in the end. The only difference is that millennials demand (maybe feel entitled?) while other generations want.

Kelli spearheaded the design of the toolkit, her thoughts summed up:

There has been a lack of understanding about all the Adirondacks has to offer… if we can all work together to frame the Adirondacks as an accessible, shareable, exciting place to be we can build a promising future. Not just for Millennials, but for generations to come.

 

Choices, Choices

Living and working in the Lake George Area has many perks. Topping the list for me is the ability to throw some gear in a pack, hop in my car and in just a half an hour be in a place where you can no longer hear the buzz of the city.

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The Adirondack Great Range: a source of inspiration (and reference) right in our backyard.

I feel like I cheated. Most professionals my age had to move to a big city to find work, relegating an outdoor experience to a long weekend or worse, a holiday. And here I am, able to ride a world-class network of cross-country mountain bike trails or paddle on Lake George after work.

Now that’s not to say a big city isn’t an inspiring and stimulating place to live and work — especially for a designer; but as someone who grew up in the Adirondacks and enjoys all that it has to offer, I didn’t have to try living in a big city to know that I wasn’t cut out for that pace of life. Where some find inspiration on a graffiti-covered brick wall in Brooklyn, I find mine in the alpenglow after sunset on an Adirondack mountain summit.

Some of my most difficult decisions these days involve choosing a place to explore on a weekend. Do I fish for native brook trout, go hiking, or play 18 holes of golf?

It’s a problem I’m happy to have.

Ever Upward!

 

New York's entry from the "50 and 50 - The State Mottos" Project (by Dan Cassaro)

Dan Cassaro’s entry from the “50 and 50 – The State Mottos” Project

A few weeks ago, this correspondent traveled to the fair city of Syracuse, New York for the annual Create Upstate design conference. The two-day event is hosted by various Upstate AIGA chapters with industry-leading sponsors (Adobe, Mohawk Paper, et. al.) and an impressive roster of guest speakers.

Diligent note taking during the presentations.

I took diligent notes during the presentations.

I actually won the tickets at the AIGA’s Cocktails with Creatives event at Superior Merchandise (an amazing design boutique and coffee shop in the heart of Troy).

The presenters touched on a range of issues we all face as creatives; staying inspired, balancing work and life, knowing when to fire a client, dealing with copycats, etc. Many of the speakers recounted their humble beginnings through old, embarrassing photos and admittedly bad high school art projects. While each presentation was nuanced, the common thread was clear: Although we come from varied backgrounds, we all share an enduring drive to create.

Becky Simpson teaches us how to embrace the awkward.

Becky Simpson teaches us how to embrace the awkward.

None of us are born with the talent of Picasso. We have to work hard to cultivate our creativity. No amount of inspiration can replace rolling up your sleeves and getting your hands (or mouse finger) dirty. The keynote speaker, Dan Cassaro of Young Jerks, reminded us that we’re all Commercial Artists—emphasis on “Commercial”. This is a business, after all, and we should consider ourselves lucky that we get to pursue creative endeavors. In our deadline-driven industry where budgets often trump vision, it’s easy to lose sight of what’s important: we get to create for a living!

The conference was a welcomed refresher that allowed me to step back and gain some perspective. Speaking with other attendees it was clear that we all need the occasional reminder that our industry is a pretty unique one. I came back feeling reinvigorated and ready to take on the next challenge.

And I’ll definitely be back next year!

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