The Week: What Caught Our Eye

December 11, 2021

A skier skiing down a mountainCome play in the fresh snow, Gore Mountain beckons. It’s a packed-powder paradise. (Gore Mountain)

Dear Colleagues and Friends:

Before spring interrupted the imminent onset of winter in Upstate New York, we were humming “it’s beginning to look a lot like ski season.” Still, we’ll sticking with our prediction that the 2021-22 ski season, whenever it returns, will be at least as strong as last year’s when, despite COVID-related uncertainties, skiers hit the slopes in big numbers, escaping their home offices and making the most of new flexibility in their work and school schedules. The Schenectady Daily Gazette’s longtime ski writer Phil Johnson reports that skier visits in New York were up 27% over the previous season, and midweek and night skiing were up sharply. In fact, New York had a better season than Vermont.

THE APPLE OF ALBANY: Craig Apple is the sheriff of Albany County, a lawman of rugged looks, big heart, and a necessary flair for the spotlight, popular among voters and elected officials alike, and owner of a big reservoir of goodwill. In 2018, he gained statewide attention when 300 or so migrants ended up at the Albany County jail. The sheriff described their confusion, filthy belongings, and tears. Then, he enlisted Albany Law School’s immigration law clinic to set up shop at the jail and recruit translators. He turned a little-used wing of the jail into dormitory-style housing for people experiencing homelessness, and he implemented medically assisted treatment for inmates with opioid addictions. Now, he’s under attack for having filed a misdemeanor criminal complaint against former Gov. Andrew Cuomo. No bruise for this Apple, The New York Times says. “Craig Apple will be sheriff for as long as he wants to be sheriff,” a wise Albany hand, Assembly Member John McDonald, told The Times.

TAKE ME TO THE RIVER: Imagine this: About 300 years ago, the Hudson River at Albany was twice as wide as it is today. As the city grew, the river was filled in. And yet the historic arc of the Albany waterfront has loomed large in the mind of artist Len Tantillo. For 40 years, he has been celebrating the glorious history of Albany in paintings. Now, he’s among a growing group promoting the reconnection of the Capital City to the Hudson River — perhaps with a canal through the city as has been done in Chicago, San Antonio, Providence and other cities. He offers a quiet exhortation to imagine the possibilities and work to achieve them. “Why not Albany?” he asks. “Why not now? Why not this time?”

A snowcapped mountain in the distanceLike a white beacon, the sunlit summit of Whiteface calls to skiers in need of slope. (Nancie Battaglia)

STRAIGHT OUT OF ‘YOUNGER’: Her college boyfriends thought she was in her 20s. So did her co-workers at the library and the professors at Southwest Baptist University. But she was 48, apparently running from an abusive relationship, and hiding in plain sight under the assumed name of her twenty-something daughter. Now she’s charged with fraudulently obtaining federal student aid to go to college.

GIVING GENEROSITY ITS DUE: Philanthropy, of course, embraces the $10 million gift for a new college building or hospital wing. In fairness, it should also embrace the purchase of groceries for a sick friend, the shoveling of a neighbor’s driveway, and even protesting against the injustice suffered by strangers. In this season of giving, Mackenzie Scott, who knows a thing or two about philanthropy, points out that the generous impulses of our society to seek a better life for others go far beyond check writing: “Each unique expression of generosity will have value far beyond what we can imagine or live to see.’’

THINK IT THROUGH: A lot of people base buying and giving decisions on ethical factors such as sustainability and fair trade practices, seeking to do the greatest possible good with their spending. But it’s important to consider the hidden costs of these decisions, as well, such as what happens to local entrepreneurs when you buy shoes from a company that promises one free pair to a person in need. A pair of Northwestern University marketing professors came up with some things to consider as you seek to maximize your social impact.

HISTORIC PAIR: Kimberley Wallace and Raysheea Turner met by chance at a fundraiser in Albany, N.Y., and immediately hit it off, so much so that one would end the evening with a bold prediction that the two would open a law firm together. Both were young lawyers — Wallace in the Albany public defender’s office, Turner in Schenectady’s. In February 2020, Turner’s prediction came to pass with the founding of Wallace Turner Law, believed to be the only law firm in the Capital Region owned and operated by two Black women.

PHYSICAL THERAPY: The prospective players were tested for speed, agility and fitness, important traits in practically any team sport. After all, they had to be able to safely and quickly maneuver around a soccer pitch while on crutches and missing a leg. The first Palestinian national soccer team made up entirely of amputees, whose members say playing is therapeutic, hopes to compete in the World Cup for amputees in Turkey next October.

HIS GIFT KEEPS GIVING: Peter Brock of Sam’s Diner in Glens Falls delighted in raising money for the North Country children’s charity Adirondack Operation Santa he’d donate and then challenge his friends in the business community to do the same. When Brock died last year, his friends decided the best way to honor him was to keep the giving going.

DISCOVERING CORNWALL: HGTV is promising to make over the Hudson Valley community of Cornwall, N.Y., one of six small towns it’s chosen for a redo. The Discovery TV network is sending a cast of its biggest makeover experts to refresh the home of a local hero; give a small business an upgrade; and reinvigorate a public space to boost residents’ quality of life and community pride. Hometown Kickstart will air in 2022.

TURNING POINT: Schuylerville, N.Y., where the British surrendered in what is considered the turning point of the Revolutionary War, is enjoying a second, quiet revolution, powered by imaginative food, local brews, a welcoming inn, an impressive art gallery, and interest in cycling.

ON-TIME ARRIVALS: If you’re one of those people who is chronically late, we’re guessing it’s a habit you’re not proud of (we prefer to think of our readers as generally thoughtful types). Like any habit, tardiness can be conquered. Start by thinking of punctuality as showing respect for others, and yourself.

THE HARD WAY: Face it, everyone takes mental shortcuts from time to time, especially when we’re stressed. It’s a way to conserve mental energy and is appealing because it feels easy. But we’re harming ourselves in the long run if we give in too often to our defaults instead of carefully and patiently considering all available information and tackling difficult challenges.

TRIBALISM VS. SCIENCE: Dr. Francis Collins played a leading role in the mapping of the human genome, the international effort by 2,000 scientists that made it possible to identify genetic causes of illness in a fraction of the time it once took. For his leadership, he received the prestigious Albany Prize in 2010. He’s retiring at the end of the year as director of the National Institutes of Health, and in what amounts to an exit interview with NPR, he discussed vaccine hesitancy, the U.S. response to the pandemic and why Americans overall are not healthier. “I do think we need to understand better how — in the current climate — people make decisions,” he said. “I don't think I anticipated the degree to which the tribalism of our current society would actually interfere with abilities to size up medical information and make the kinds of decisions that were going to help people.”

FOR HIS NIBS THIS CHRISTMAS: You’ve noticed more men in tights? Yes, lately they have been seen on a Gucci runway show in LA, at the gym and even at coffee bars. The Red Hot Chili Peppers’ Anthony Kiedis rocks them. So does Mickey Rourke. They’re called meggings (subscription) —leggings for men, and this is year they should be under the Christmas tree for all the discerning fashion-first males on your list. Meggy Christmas!

SHARING A FORTUNE: A mountaineer who found a box filled with precious gems while hiking off France’s Mont Blanc is splitting the bounty with local authorities eight years after the discovery. He saw the box, which was filled with emeralds, rubies and sapphires, in 2013, and turned it in to local police. The box, inscribed with “Made in India,” is believed to have belonged to a passenger killed in one of two Air India flights that crashed in 1950 and 1966 near Mont Blanc.

EVERYBODY NEEDS TO FEEL PRETTY: In the annals of bodaciously bad beauty contest behavior, this is a two-humper. Forty-three camels have been disqualified from a camel beauty contest in Saudi Arabia because their owners used Botox to plump up their faces. And you might dismiss all this as outrageous until you learn that the camel owners are competing for $66 million in prize money.

HORRIBLE BOSS: The CEO of mortgage startup Better.com apologized after firing 900 employees in a Zoom video call in which he said, “If you’re on this call, you are part of the unlucky group that is being laid off. Your employment here is terminated, effective immediately.” The affected employees called the apology a publicity stunt.

BOB DROLL: Longtime U.S. Senator and former presidential candidate Bob Dole died last week at 98. A World War II hero, the recipient of two Purple Hearts, and a respected statesman, he was known for his acerbic wit, which he acknowledged could get him in trouble from time to time. “A bus filled with supply-siders goes over the cliff, killing all aboard,” he once said. “That’s the good news. The bad news is that there were three unoccupied seats.”

LIVES

FRED HIATT spent more than two decades as the influential editorial page editor of The Washington Post, broadening its stable of opinion writers and incorporating a variety of perspectives and story forms. He supported the 2003 American invasion of Iraq and defended that stance in the face of criticism, and also championed justice and human rights. In 2016, he wrote that Donald Trump’s “contempt for constitutional norms might reveal the nation’s two-century-old experiment in checks and balances to be more fragile than we knew.” He died of sudden cardiac arrest at 66.

ALMOST FINAL WORDS

“Peace requires us to surrender our illusions of control”

—    Jack Kornfield

THE SIGNOFF

KNIT HAPPENS: A Boston-based knitwear brand called S*** That I Knit is an official licensee of Team USA for the 2022 Winter Olympics. It’s making the beanies and mittens the athletes and Team USA fans will be wearing in Beijing.

THANK YOU to our contributors: Bill Callen, Bill Richmond, John Brodt, Lisa Fenwick, Tara Hutchins, Jill Rubenstein, Mary Ann McCarthy, Ashley O'Connor, Nancie Battaglia, 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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