The Week: What Caught Our Eye

January 15, 2022

A woman sliding down an ice chute in an ice castleIce Castles — LED-lighted sculptures, frozen thrones, ice-carved tunnels, slides, and fountains, all created by artists — are about to debut in five cities across North America, including Lake George.

Dear Colleagues and Friends:

Dr. Martin Luther King, who would have turned 93 today, delivered his final Christmas sermon on December 4, 1967, from the pulpit of his Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta:

“This Christmas season finds us a rather bewildered human race,” he said. “We have neither peace within nor peace without. Everywhere paralyzing fears harrow people by day and haunt them by night. Our world is sick with war; everywhere we turn we see its ominous possibilities.

“ … It really boils down to this: that all life is interrelated. We are all caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied into a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. We are made to live together because of the interrelated structure of reality. Now let me suggest first that if we are to have peace on earth, our loyalties must become ecumenical rather than sectional. Our loyalties must transcend our race, our tribe, our class, and our nation; and this means we must develop a world perspective. No individual can live alone, and as long as we try, the more we are going to have war in this world. Now the judgment of God is upon us, and we must either learn to live together as brothers or we are all going to perish together as fools.”

One hundred two days later, he was dead, slain in Memphis in the early evening of April 4, 1968, by a single shot from a Remington rifle held by James Earl Ray. Two months after the murder, Ray was arrested at London’s Heathrow Airport attempting to board a flight for Brussels.

It was President Reagan who signed the law establishing the Martin Luther King Jr. national holiday. He had previously opposed the idea.

WARM WELCOME FOR THE COLD: Wind chills as low as 40 below are forecast for some parts of the Adirondacks this weekend, creating ideal conditions for the opening of Ice Castles, Winter Fest, Winter Carnival, and ice bar season. West Mountain in Queensbury is becoming a national ski racing training destination. Olympian Thomas Vonn (Olympic Gold Medalist Lindsey Vonn is his former wife) has been hired to lead a new residential training center for young ski racers. To the north, Gov. Kathy Hochul is promising state support for year-round recreational amenities at the North Creek Ski Bowl near Gore Mountain. And if cold is not your game, check out two Adirondack spas, just named among the 100 best in North America, according to Spas of America.

A CELEBRATORY LOOK AHEAD: Next winter will be even bigger. The Adirondack venues associated with the 2023 World University Games are hosting events throughout the weekend to raise awareness for and celebrate the Games, which will bring 1,600 collegiate athletes from 50 nations and 600 universities to the Adirondacks next January. Events will be held Saturday at Gore Mountain in North Creek, Sunday at Whiteface Mountain in Wilmington and Monday evening on Mirror Lake in Lake Placid. A flag-raising ceremony officially signifying the region’s host status for the 2023 Games will be held the following Saturday in Lake Placid.

GO POUND SALT: That’s what Lake George Waterkeeper Chris Navitsky feared he might hear when he first suggested the Town of Hague Highway crew could reduce their use of winter road salt and still keep their winding, mountainous roads along the lake’s northwestern shore safe for travelers. Instead, six years later, tiny Hague is a leader in the highly successful Lake George Road Salt Reduction Initiative coordinated by the Lake George Association, for which the Waterkeeper works. They’ve reduced their use of salt by 70% over that time, helping keep it out of the lake and drinking water wells, and saving local taxpayers a boatload of money.

A man wearing a "Death Wish Coffee Co" shirt sitting in front of burlap bags filled with coffee beansMike Brown, CEO of Death Wish Coffee

DREAM COME TRUE: He was grinding it out at a small coffee shop in Upstate New York when, on a whim, he decided he’d brew the strongest cup of coffee ever. Then his company won a chance to advertise on TV during the Super Bowl. Pretty soon they were drinking his coffee aboard the International Space Station, and “Good Morning America” was calling. Now, Death Wish Coffee and Creator/CEO Mike Brown are taking it to another level altogether with the help of strategic advisory firm Schwartz Heslin Group. Behan Communications’ John Brodt tells the story on behalf of Schwartz Heslin.

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Behan Communications loves helping our clients tell their stories to customers, neighbors, employees, government officials and other key stakeholders. You’ll find an example of our Content Creation work in the story we tell about Schwartz Heslin Group and Death Wish Coffee above. Looking to tell your organization’s story in interesting and impactful ways? Let’s talk.

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REDEFINING COURAGEOUS LEADERSHIP: A University of Virginia professor of business administration argues in a new book that it’s time to refresh our notions of leadership and courage in the workplace. Pretending to be fearless and have all the answers isn’t fooling anyone; instead, he suggests, courageous leaders are open and humble, stick to principles and work to promote an atmosphere of safety and inclusion. “The leaders we need today surround themselves with, and promote, people who help them learn by challenging rather than flattering them,” he writes in Harvard Business Review. “They reward rather than punish those who try new things, even when they don’t go well. They change outdated systems that exclude diverse perspectives. The leaders we need today demonstrate, rather than demand, courageous action.” 

A LIFE’S WORK: The day his infant daughter came home from the hospital, Brian Wallach found out he had ALS. He was 37. With whatever time he had left, he decided he would change health care in America. As official Washington was leaving town on December 23, 2021, President Biden signed into law the bill Brian Wallach had fought for and helped write: The Accelerating Access to Critical Therapies for ALS Act, or ACT for ALS.

HONORING ICONS: The U.S. Mint this week announced it would honor American women of historical significance on new quarters, including poet and civil rights activist Maya Angelou, the first Black woman to appear on the coin. Others are Sally Ride, the first American woman in space; Anna May Wong, the pioneering Asian film star; Wilma Mankiller, the first female principal chief of the Cherokee Nation; and Nina Otero-Warren, an author, educator and advocate for women’s suffrage.

SCIENTIFIC MARVEL: We should all be as enthusiastic about our interests as St. Lawrence University physics professor Aileen O’Donoghue is about hers. Her discussion with North Country Public Radio about the James Webb Space Telescope will remind you of the power of great teachers to spark the desire to learn. “It's going to see these things we haven't been able to see: the disks around forming stars to see if we can see forming planets. It's going to look into these dark clouds of gas and dust, like the Orion Nebula and see where baby stars are forming. It's even going to look at Mars and look for molecules of water!”

MEDICAL BREAKTHROUGH: A 57-year-old Maryland man was recovering this week after receiving a heart from a genetically modified pig, offering hope to people in need of life-saving organ transplants. But there’s more to the story. The Washington Post reported late in the week that the recipient, David Bennett Sr., did time for stabbing a man and paralyzing him in 1988, raising thorny questions (subscription) about medical ethics and who “deserves” a second chance.

SHIFTING HABITS: The news service Axios worked with Google Trends and a design firm to examine changes in the information Americans are seeking through Google searches since the onset of the pandemic. Turns out demand for tequila and sweatpants remains strong as we enter year three, as has the interest in items to keep home offices stocked and yards looking sharp.

A LITTLE HERO: Magawa, an African giant pouched rat, has died at the age of 8. His passing is notable because of his extraordinary success sniffing out and alerting human handlers to the presence of landmines in Cambodia, a skill that is believed to have saved lives and prevented catastrophic injuries. He found 71 landmines and 38 items of unexploded ordnance during his four years of duty.

SNAP TO IT: Saad Bhamla, a professor and researcher at Georgia Tech, likes to try to keep things fun for his students. They designed an experiment to see if Thanos, the supervillain of Marvel, could really generate a snap of his metallic fingers. It has something to do with friction and the storage and release of energy. They discovered something truly astounding — a finger snap happens about 20 times faster than the blink of an eye, and the acceleration generated is three times that of the throwing arm of a major league pitcher.

ADVANCING EQUALITY: Rachel Balkovec, a former collegiate softball player who has worked in professional baseball as a strength and conditioning coach and hitting instructor, was named manager of the Tampa Tarpons, a Class A affiliate of the New York Yankees, making her the first woman to lead a major league-affiliated team. Meanwhile, the NFL’s Minnesota Vikings have requested permission from the Philadelphia Eagles to interview their vice president of football operations, Catherine Raiche, for the Vikings’ general manager position.

SORRY THEY ASKED: Tyler Johnson, a senior at Tully High School in Central New York, was chosen to be featured in an edition of the school’s newsletter. He was asked to describe his biggest challenge and how he had overcome it. When he answered honestly — growing up gay and overcoming bullying — the principal told him he had to submit a different answer or be excluded. So, more bullying. Now the superintendent and principal are facing calls to resign.

THE WORDLE ON THE STREET: There’s a new online word game that is taking off so fast, it’s a wonder you’re spending time reading this. It’s called Wordle. Players get six attempts to guess a five-letter word, with prompts to help them along. The inventor, a software engineer, created it to make his word-game-loving partner happy, without any concern about flashy graphics or, for that matter, any kind of business strategy. The simplicity, experts say, is part of its appeal.

LIVES

TERRY TEACHOUT was a proud son of the small-town Midwest, a place of plaid shirts and tuna casserole that was “narrow and kind and decent and good.” He acted on stage in local productions, played in a country band, and wrote like a dream. He became an editorialist for the New York Daily News but will be remembered best for 20 years of exuberant drama coverage for the Wall Street Journal, (subscription) his biographies of Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, George Balanchine and H.L. Mencken, and his own plays and librettos. He was 65.

ED DAGUE was the smart and genial nightly dinner guest, for years the top TV news anchor in the New York Capital Region market, unflappable, witty, and well dressed. Donna Dague, his wife, was the not-so-silent silent partner, poring over his contracts, offering opinions on his co-anchors, and picking out his wardrobe. In his final years, when deteriorating health put the longtime local broadcaster in residential care, his devoted wife was still there to protect him. Donna Dague was 75.

MICHEAL LANG and partners Artie Kornfeld, John Roberts and Joel Rosenman in 1969 created a festival touting “three days of peace and music” in a remote Catskills hamlet. The event was Woodstock, and the world hasn’t seen anything like it before or since. Subsequent attempts to recapture the vibe fizzled, including a planned 50th anniversary celebration that was canceled. Lang died at 77 of non-Hodgkin lymphoma.

DON MAYNARD’s coach with the New York Jets, Weeb Ewbank, called him “one of those lean and hungry Texans who can run forever.” A member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, he played 13 of his 15 professional seasons with the Jets, retiring with then-NFL records of 633 receptions and 11,834 yards, an average of 18.7 yards per catch. He was fellow Hall-of-Famer Joe Namath’s top target on the Jets team that upset the Baltimore Colts to win Super Bowl III. He was 86.

ALMOST FINAL WORDS

“Without courage we cannot practice any other virtue with consistency. We can’t be kind, true, merciful, generous, or honest.”
—    Maya Angelou

THE SIGNOFF

THE PILOT of a small plane defied death twice in a period of minutes, first when his plane crashed on a Los Angeles street, then when LA police pulled him from the wreckage seconds before it was smashed by a commuter train.

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THANK YOU to our contributors: Bill Callen, Bill Richmond, John Brodt, Lisa Fenwick, Tara Hutchins, Claire P. Tuttle, Kelly Donahue, and Katie Alessi.

FACING OUT is what we do. We help companies, organizations and individuals work effectively with their most important external audiences – their customers, their shareholders, their communities, the government and the news media.  www.behancommunications.com

Facing Out features news and other nuggets that caught our eye, and that we thought might be of value to you, our friends and business associates. Some items are good news about our clients and friends, others are stories that we hope will leave you a bit more informed or entertained than you were five minutes ago. As always, we welcome your ideas and feedback.  

Let’s make it a conversationmark.behan@behancom.com

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