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12,000 years of Human Footprints ~ Leaving our Mark

“Humans have been leaving marks on Orange County for the last 12,000 years, but only for the last 200 have the marks been permanent wounds and scars,” asserts Fred Isseks, PhD.

“Many Native American cultures, including the local Lenape Nation, have long believed that important collective decisions should never be made without weighing the potential significance the decision could have for the next seven generations,” he explains.

During the lecture, “12,000 years of Human Footprints ~ Leaving our Mark,” on Tuesday, March 28, Dr. Isseks will ask attendees to keep the seven generations principle in mind when listening and then to imagine what Orange County might have looked like had that been a requirement of the decision making process when the largest, most impactful, development projects were still on the drawing board.

The talk, which starts at 7 p.m. in the Gilman Center in Library Room 130, will focus on “a stretch of the Wallkill River Valley which has been home to humans since the days of the mastodons. The history of this small region in the heart of the county is rich with examples of large scale projects, from a nineteenth century drainage canal to twentieth century landfills, all of which are still having an impact, and provide us with an opportunity to ask, ‘what if… we had done this differently?’” states Isseks. “The Canal’s history is a cautionary tale about how our best intentions can have unexpected side effects,” he continues.

Isseks holds a BA and MA in English from SUNY Albany. He then went on to earn an MA in media studies at The New School for Social Research. With the knowledge he gained from that degree he guided his high school students in collecting footage for documentary films and videos on toxic waste and environmental hazards to this area caused by illegal dumping and the landfills. These documentaries have been screened in film festivals and won an Environmental Award of Merit from Mohonk Consultations and a first place in EarthVision Environmental Film and Video Festival of Santa Cruz. He has published on the subject and been featured on PBS “In the Mix,” CBS “Up to the Minute,” and CNN “Headline News.” He continued his study and received a PhD in communications from European Graduate School in Saas-Fee, Switzerland. His research and interest in local history has led him to be an activist/history buff.

The lecture with discussion is free and open to the public. Questions may be directed to Cultural Affairs at (845) 341-4891 and You may also check out the Cultural Affairs website at

Event date, time and location.

Dorothy Szefc
Cultural Affairs