The Week: What Caught Our Eye 2

February 26, 2022

Photo of Goodnow Flow in Newcomb, Essex County.

In the struggle between winter and spring, winter and wind are still winning at Goodnow Flow in Newcomb, Essex County. (Jim Pierson)

Dear Friends and Colleagues:

Not to add to your woes first thing in the morning, but spring training is nowhere to be found and the regular baseball season may be shortened. Really, baseball, just when we needed you most?

OVER FOR OVERALLS? Just a whisker short of 100 years old, Caplan’s store was a mainstay in the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont, its aisles crowded with the sturdy, practical work clothes that farmers and foresters favored and outdoors people loved. Caplan’s carried the Carhartt brand, but Caplan’s is no more. The overalls and hats are gone, the gear, too. Its aisles are empty, cleared out by COVID. Though Caplan’s customers in rural Vermont are out of luck, Carhartt itself is enjoying a renewal (subscription required). The brand built on thick duck fabric has been adopted by hipsters, rappers, and celebrities, with an appeal so broad that both Barack Obama and Sarah Palin rock it. It’s become a symbol of solidarity for the heroic American worker.

SHOCKING: Vermont is being less than hospitable to its largest manufacturer, GlobalFoundries. While New York State and Saratoga County pulled out all the stops to help the chip fab maker establish a high-tech fabrication facility and grow to more than 3,000 employees, Vermont seems unsympathetic to the company’s pleas for some relief on what it pays for power — $36 million a year, 80 percent more than what it pays at its New York plants. Vermont's electric costs are 6.4 percent higher than New York State’s overall.

RACK OF ROCKY: The people of Danville, Ohio, a tiny community northeast of Columbus, have been gathering once a year for nearly eight decades to celebrate the bounty of the harvest — the raccoon harvest. This year’s feast featured 500 pounds of raccoon, served in a stew with mashed potatoes, mixed vegetables and homemade cornbread. Each year proceeds of the feast, which is run entirely by volunteers and attracts people from across Ohio, benefit local citizens in need. (If you haven’t tried it, the taste is described as similar to roast beef but sweeter). “It’s a novelty,” one attendee told the local news. “There’s not a whole lot of places that do this.”

MULTILINGUAL MASTERY: The grave events in Ukraine have the world on edge, but as footage emerged of Russian tanks breaching the frontier, much of the internet was fixated on an international affiliate correspondent for The Associated Press, who delivered the news in live standups in six different languages. The correspondent, Philip Crowther, shared a clip of himself bringing the news live on camera in English, Luxembourgish, Spanish, Portuguese, French and German, a post that quickly rang up more than 3.8 million views, more than 43,000 likes, 7,000 retweets and 3,700 quote tweets.

LANGUAGE WAR? If you are wondering what happened to the Ukraine capital we used to call Kiev, it’s now Kyiv, as decreed by the Ukrainian government in 1995 as part of an effort to assert a Ukrainian identity distinct from the Soviet Union. The U.S. government officially adopted the new spelling and pronunciation in June 2019.

The Town of Bolton’s woodchip bioreactor, shown here under construction, is helping protect Lake George from algae-causing nitrate.

The Town of Bolton’s woodchip bioreactor, shown here under construction, is helping protect Lake George from algae-causing nitrate. (Kathy Suozzo)

THE CHIPS ARE UP: Woodchips have long been a driver of the Adirondack region economy. Now they’re being put to work to protect one of the region’s greatest economic and environmental treasures, Lake George. The Warren County Town of Bolton is at the helm in this first-of-its kind demonstration project. A Lake George Association/Lake George Waterkeeper study shows it’s working.

RUN FASTER: With sales slumping and 2,800 employees on layoff, Peloton eased its founder and chief executive upstairs to the C-suite and replaced him with the former chief financial officer of Netflix and Spotify, Barry McCarthy, whose first job is to win over skeptical employees. McCarthy issued a list of ten values that he said would guide his day-to-day interactions. We love these: Fast is as slow as we go. And: Your comfort zone is your own worst enemy.

FARTHER AND FURTHER APART: Americans have long sought to live in communities of more-or-less like-minded people, a trend that has accelerated in recent times as our politics have become nastier and our differences more pronounced. Conservatives seeking to live among other conservatives and progressives seeking to live among other progressives are driving more extremist politics at both ends of the spectrum, and more lopsided election results. Of the nation's 3,143 counties, the number of super landslide counties — where a presidential candidate won at least 80% of the vote — jumped from 6% in 2004 to 22% in 2020.

THE PRICE OF HAPPINESS: Laurie Santos (subscription required) is the Yale cognitive sciences professor who came to national attention a few years ago when she inaugurated a course known as Psychology and the Good Life, an exploration of what helps people live happy, fulfilled lives. When nearly half the undergraduate student body tried to enroll the first year the course was taught, it was taken as a sign of our anxious times. Now, Professor Santos is taking a break. Burnout.

LEFTY IN LIMBO: Golf legend Phil Mickelson is reeling after his comments about a proposed Saudi-backed golf league to compete with the PGA Tour sparked furious backlash from just about everyone and cost him at least one longtime sponsor. Mickelson ran down a list of Saudi Arabia’s human rights atrocities, including the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi and criminalization of homosexuality, but said he was involved with the proposed new tour nonetheless because it was a chance to “reshape how the PGA Tour operates.” He apologized in a long statement. Don’t expect to see him in any events for a while.

KING OF THE COURT: If you live anywhere near a public tennis court, chances are good that you’ve seen people playing what appears to be doubles tennis, only they’re standing way too close to the net and using what appear to be ping-pong paddles. The sport is pickleball, named for the family dog of one of its inventors. The number of players has nearly doubled in five years, to 4.8 million, making it America’s fastest-growing sport. (Bonus if you knew the game was invented in 1965; hardly an overnight sensation).

HOLLYWOOD TOM: Tom Brady, newly retired as quarterback of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (which still feels odd to write), isn’t staying on the sidelines for long. He’s producing and appearing in “Brady,” inspired by the true story of the adventures of four best friends who traveled together to see Brady’s New England Patriots (that’s more like it) in Super Bowl LI. Lily Tomlin, Jane Fonda, Rita Moreno and Sally Field play the quartet.

HISTORIC DISCOVERY: Scientists on Scotland’s Isle of Skye have discovered the skeleton of a pterosaur, a giant flying reptile that lived 170 million years ago and dined mainly on fish and squid in what was then a subtropical landscape. A piece of the fossil was first discovered in 2017. Researchers raced rising tides to extract the skeleton, and at one point the tides overcame them, leading to fears that the find would be carried out to sea.

FAREWELL, ARTHUR: Marc Brown was teaching at a small college in Boston in 1976 when the college announced it would close. Not long after the news broke, his young son asked him for a bedtime story about “a weird animal.” Thus was born Arthur, the beloved aardvark who was featured in about 20 children’s books that have sold nearly 70 million copies and, in 1996, debuted as a TV Show on PBS Kids. The show, which is on the air in 80 countries and has won seven Emmys, was renowned for showing children that imperfection is OK and that all of us struggle at one time or another, sometimes with things we can control and sometimes with things we can’t. It began its 25th and final season this week, an occasion Brown marked with the release of a new book: “Believe in Yourself: What We Learned from Arthur.”

STAKEHOLDER CAPITALISM: Those two words spark a lot of debate in board rooms. Some business leaders believe it’s their job to deliver profits, and spending shareholders’ money to engage in broader societal issues is perilous. Others will insist that to succeed long term, businesses must play a greater leadership role in society.  One of the leading advocates of business as a force for good is Hamdi Ulukaya, the CEO of yogurt maker Chobani, which repurposed a shuttered Kraft plant in Upstate New York. A comment on the piece, however, should get the attention of every politician and economic development professional in the region: “Wonderful column on Hamdi Ulukaya this morning. My husband is from upstate NY and you can’t imagine what a beacon of hope Hamdi represented for so many forgotten workers from that industrial wasteland.”

HUNGRY HANK: A 500-pound bear nicknamed Hank the Tank is wreaking havoc in a California neighborhood near Lake Tahoe, breaking into homes and helping himself to the food inside. The state’s wildlife agency says he has broken into at least 28 homes, using his size and power to bust through front doors and even garage doors. The state said it’s trying to capture Hank, after which they will determine whether he can be placed in a controlled habitat or euthanized because he has lost all fear of people.

THE POLICE BEAT: Just about anyone who has ever spent time as a small-town news reporter has either ridden along with local police to describe an officer’s typical day or works with someone who has. Dillon Carr, a reporter for the Ashland Source, an online news publication in Northeast Ohio, took his turn in the squad car last week, and was with the young officer as they responded to a call for an unattended death. The details — of the scene, of the officer’s reaction, of the reporter’s own sense of awkwardness — take you to a place few will ever see, and are a vivid reminder of the human toll on people who serve as first responders.

TAKE A BREAK: Jane E. Brody (subscription required) went to Cornell, majored in biochemistry, and planned to become a research scientist. When that did not work out, she pursued journalism, an interest from her high school years, and became The New York Times’ health, medicine, and biology specialist. She says The Times gave her a free hand – well, except for that one column on masturbation that the editors held for four years. Now 80 and after 46 years as the nation’s most influential interpreter of diet, smoking, mental health, exercise and sex research, she’s retiring.

THE NEW MATH: You’ve heard that 10,000 steps a day are the key to staying healthy and fit? That did not come from Jane Brody. It’s an arbitrary number that seems to have originated with a Japanese marketing campaign for a pedometer. New research shows as few as 4,000 steps a day will do the trick.

TOP CHEESE: Food and Wine magazine’s list of the best cheesemakers in America spotlights Nettle Meadow Farm and Cheese Company (and animal sanctuary) in Warrensburg. Nettle Meadow’s Kunik, now sold nationwide, “is just one of the exceptional offerings from this relatively tiny dairy farm (and animal sanctuary!) way up in the Adirondacks,” Food and Wine says. Other locals on the list: Old Chatham Sheepherding Co., Chaseholm Farm, Consider Bardwell Farm, Four Fat Fowl, Grey Barn and Farm, Lazy Lady Farm, Jasper Hills Farm, Shelburne Farms, Springbrook Farms, Vermont Shepherd Creamery and Vonn Trapp Farmstead. 

THE NEW NAPA: Some of the great chefs of New York City are not in New York City at all. They’ve decided they’d rather cook in the Hudson Valley. It’s not just the abundance of spectacular cheese and fresh produce nearby, or the good local wines. It’s the lifestyle, the lower cost of living, the influx of former city dwellers, and the willingness of local farmers to grow what up-and-coming chefs prefer to cook.

JUST TO SEE YOU SMILE: Jennifer Bennett refused to smile, even while working one-on-one with the kids she helped at school. Fear kept her from seeing a dentist for years. She was embarrassed by the condition of her teeth. Now, she’s won a contest for a free dental makeover worth $50,000.

LIVES

FINNEGAN HOROWITZ SHEA’S first major public appearance was in the book “Inside of a Dog.” He was the olfactory expert (subscription required) in “On Looking,” where he led his human, a cognitive scientist, on a tour of the odors of a city block. More high-profile nose work followed in “Being a Dog.” A mixed breed, Finnegan came from a shelter before relocating to the Upper West Side of Manhattan. He favored Central Park, Riverside Park, cheese, and belly rubs and once appeared on CBS’ Sunday Morning. He was 14.

DUVALL HECHT won a gold medal in rowing at the 1956 Olympics and then settled into life as marketing manager for a securities firm in LA. He was bored listening to the radio on his long daily commute, so he put a reel-to-reel recorder in the passenger seat to listen to books for the blind. In 1975, he founded Books on Tape Inc. (subscription required), using seed money partly raised by selling his 10-year-old Porsche. He was 91. 

SIGAL BARSADE was a professor of management at the Wharton School who saw a powerful force in the workplace others seemed to overlook: Love. “Little acts of kindness and support can add up to an emotional culture characterized by caring and compassion,” she wrote. Her studies showed that a healthy emotional culture enhanced employee performance, (subscription required) satisfaction and teamwork, while reducing burnout and absenteeism. She died of a brain tumor at 56. 

ALMOST FINAL WORDS

“Springtime is the land awakening. The March winds are the morning yawn.”
—    Lewis Grizzard

THE SIGNOFF

GREAT EXPECTATIONS: Los Angeles Rams wide receiver Van Jefferson learned just after his team won Super Bowl LXVI that his wife had been taken from the stadium in labor, giving birth to their son as Jefferson was stuck in traffic on the way to the hospital. The baby’s name: Champ.

_ _ _

THANK YOU TO OUR CONTRIBUTORS: Bill Callen, Bill Richmond, John Brodt, Troy Burns, Jim Pierson, Kathy Suozzo, 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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