The Week: What Caught Our Eye

November 7, 2020

A view of a lake with mist during sunrise and evergreen trees.A mystical dawn on Lake Flower, created when a dam was erected on the Saranac River in 1827. (Paul Chartier)

Good Morning, Colleagues and Friends:

In a time of national searching and waiting, of bombast and self-seeking, we celebrate two models of courageous public service.

ALBANY ATTORNEY John Dunne was just 9 the first time he toured the old Sing Sing prison in 1939. The conditions never left his mind. After his years at Georgetown and Yale, he became an insurance lawyer on Long Island, but his heart beat for public service. He ran for the State Senate and served for 24 years. Dunne never achieved his political ambitions – to be governor of New York or Senate Majority Leader. He chose instead to fight injustice. When 1,000 rioting prisoners took control of Attica state prison in 1971 and held 40 hostages, Dunne was chairman of the state Senate Crime and Corrections Committee. It was a time of prison unrest and he had toured New York’s toughest prisons and talked to inmates and guards. When he arrived in the yard of Attica under siege, inmates cheered. Accompanied by Assemblyman Arthur Eve, New York Times editor Tom Wicker and others, Dunne led four days of negotiations, working out agreements to almost all of the inmates’ demands. A solution seemed at hand. He urged his friend, Gov. Nelson Rockefeller, to come to Attica to help bring a peaceful end to an uprising that frightened the nation, but under pressure to take a stand for law and order, Rockefeller refused, instead sending in police to retake control. Forty-three people died in the worst prison riot in U.S. history — deaths that John Dunne said could well have been avoided. Dunne went on to become the surprise choice of President George H.W. Bush to be the chief enforcer of civil rights laws in America, arguing cases before the U.S. Supreme Court. When he was nominated, one of the nation’s most prominent African American leaders, Congressman Charlie Rangel said that, if the civil rights post had to go to a Republican, President Bush “couldn't pick a more decent person than John Dunne.” John Dunne died this week at 90.

WARRIOR FOR UNITY: At the time of his death, the president was hailed as a symbol of national unity. At his funeral, men who had taken up arms against him stood in solemn tribute. Former adversaries carried his remains. He was a Republican who protected the rights of Black Americans, sought citizenship for Native Americans, promoted Black and Jewish people to high federal office, established the Department of Justice, fought the Ku Klux Klan, created the first Civil Service Commission and christened Yellowstone the first national park. It has been said that if Lincoln loosened the shackles that enslaved Black Americans, it was Ulysses S. Grant who melted them down. With Veterans’ Day approaching, Mark Mulholland of WNYT News Channel 13 remembers the greatness of Grant in a visit to the Saratoga County home where he spent his final hours.A mural mosaic artwork on wall along a sidewalk, showing a river, people whitewater rafting, a bicycle and mountains.North Creek has skiing, hiking, river rapids and history, and now the largest public art project in the Adirondacks.

WHY WE LOVE IT HERE

TILES OF SMILES: It took 2,000 volunteers of all ages nearly 10 years to transform a mundane retaining wall into the largest piece of public art in the Adirondacks, the just-completed North Creek Mosaic Project, depicting scenes of local life and recreation on an idyllic spring day – the kind when you can raft on the river and still ski in the mountains. The project is about 220 feet long and contains more than 200,000 individual tiles. Maury Thompson caught up with the artist who started it all.

NORTHERN LIGHT: A Washington, D.C.-based writer who made summer visits to the Adirondacks as a child and young parent returned recently and indulged in many of the pleasures that make the region such a treasure. The headline says it all: Autumn in the Adirondacks is a mountain do.

IT’S AN HONOR: The Glens Falls Country Club golf course, which has been around for a century and was designed by the legendary Donald Ross, has been named one of the top 100 golf courses in the U.S. by Golf magazine.

BOOM TIMES IN THE ADIRONDACKS: Fighter planes, most from the Barnes Air National Guard base in western Massachusetts, are increasingly disturbing the peace of the Adirondacks with high-speed, low-altitude training flights, some of which cause window- and nerve-rattling sonic booms. One such flight spooked a horse on a popular trail in the Tug Hill, the Times Union reported, tossing at least one rider.

COLD COMFORT: If you learn to love the outdoors in winter, a newcomer to the Northeast was told 25 years ago, you’ll love living here. If you hate the cold, go back now. It was good advice, and in this year of the pandemic, when more people have sought solace in the outdoors, a timely reminder that there’s no reason to hunker down.

ROAD TO ASYLUM: Travel to Champlain, N.Y., hard against the Canadian border in Clinton County, where a nondescript dirt path tucked into rural farmlands has become a lifeline to asylum in Canada for more than 50,000 people since 2017.

ANIMAL FARM

AN EYE FOR TROUBLE: It is fortunate indeed for the pigs at June Farms in Rensselaer County that the owner is so tech-savvy. Matt Baumgartner, who owns several restaurants in addition to June Farms and is among the Capital Region’s best-known entrepreneurs, set up webcams in the pig barn, hoping to livestream births from his two pregnant sows.  A viewer in Beacon logged in and spotted a tragedy unfolding before her eyes. Her quick thinking, and persistence, resulted in a happy ending.

BIRD BRAIN: Roxie Laybourne had worked at the Smithsonian Institution for 15 years, preparing thousands of bird specimens from around the world for research purposes, when an airplane crash on a clear-blue day in Boston changed the trajectory of her career and of science. She’d go on to establish the field of forensic ornithology, and the methods she developed for feather identification would be used to prosecute murderers, bust poachers, and inform conservation efforts. Most importantly, her work would entirely reshape our understanding of the threat birds and airplanes pose to one another — a threat that continues to hang over every airplane in the sky today.

WHALE TALES: This one got a lot of play this week, but in case you missed it, the driver of an otherwise empty commuter train in The Netherlands shot through a stop block at the end of the tracks and was prevented from plunging 30 feet to the ground only because the train got stuck on the sculpture of a whale’s tail. Incredibly, no one was hurt. Turns out, fake whales aren’t the only life-savers; the real ones become their own ecosystems when they die and drop to the bottom of the ocean.

A small stream flowing over rocks in a forestUnseasonably warm weather makes for a perfect hike along Shelving Rock, near Lake George. Tina Suhocki

HARK, THE HOLIDAYS

DISTANT RELATIVES: Thanksgiving in many American families is a time to gather around tables and televisions for a day of food, fellowship and football. But this, of course, is a different kind of holiday season, one in which public health experts are urging us to think twice about traveling and clustering with loved ones. So people are devising creating ways for families and friends to come together while keeping their distance.

SAVE IT: Consumer spending makes our economic world turn, for better or worse, so if everyone followed this advice, we’d be in trouble: Don’t buy anything for the next year that you don’t absolutely need. There’s even a name for it: A no-buy year. And yes, that includes gifts for others.

COLORFUL DIVERSION: Fans of the late Bob Ross, whose beloved PBS series “The Joy of Painting” aired from 1983 to 1994, gathered in Muncie, Ind., this week for the Bob Ross Experience, where they visited his former broadcast studio and painting workshop, dressed up like him and celebrated a life of creative delight.

DEALING WITH DISAPPOINTMENT: It’s fair to say some of the people reading this today are dealing with a level of disappointment in the outcome of the election, to say nothing of the turbulence and uncertainty that accompanies the ongoing pandemic. Disappointment is a part of life, so we might as well learn how to deal with it effectively.

THAT’S AWKWARD: Clothing retailer The Gap tweeted a post-election message of unity that featured an image of a half-red, half-blue zip-up hoodie with the familiar GAP branding on the chest. The response was so fierce that the company deleted the tweet, accused of trivializing the nation’s political divide in the service of marketing.

POLITICAL SPENDING BONANZA: Every election cycle inevitably becomes the most expensive in history because that’s just how it works. But 2020 was something else entirely — at least $2.5 billion for TV ads alone, representing close to 5 million ads, just in federal races.

RUNNER’S WORLD: People are adopting all sorts of new hobbies and pursuits during the pandemic, including distance running. The New Yorker has some tongue-in-cheek advice for supporting your friend who wants to run a marathon, and like all good comedy, there’s more than a trifling amount of truth weaved in.

UPENDING ANCIENT ASSUMPTIONS: Archaeologists and historians have long presumed that men were the hunters and women the gatherers in early civilizations, but a recent discovery high in the Andes Mountains in South America is the latest to suggest that men weren’t the only ones who were wielding the spear with lethal success.

WASTE NOT: The U.S. throws away a mind-blowing 80 billion pounds of food each year. That’s 219 pounds per person. A team of chefs from New York and Vermont wants to help change that. They’ll be hosting a webinar, the virtual ReCook Café, on November 10 from 2-3:30 p.m. They’ll teach “best practices for maximizing the shelf-life of perishable produce, using parts of foods you didn’t know were so tasty, compiling odds and ends to create new tasty eats, and so much more.”

PREEMPTED GLORY: You’re super smart, highly motivated, love trivia and can think fast. You’ve watched Jeopardy! since you were a kid and dreamed of being one of the lucky few to get through the arduous screening process and make it on the show. You’ve survived the taping and can’t wait to share the moment with your friends and family. Then you get preempted.

ALMOST FINAL WORDS

Be not afraid of greatness. Some are born great, some achieve greatness, and others have greatness thrust upon them.
― William Shakespeare, Twelfth Night

THE SIGNOFF

New Jersey voters approved marijuana legalization this week, so naturally the people who live there had a specific skill they hoped Google would teach them.

THANK YOU TO OUR CONTRIBUTORS: Bill Callen, Maury Thompson, Bill Richmond, Kevin Kelly, Matt Behan, Kelly Donahue, John Brodt, Lisa Fenwick, Tina Suhocki, Tara Hutchins, and Claire P. Tuttle.

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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