The Week: What Caught Our Eye

May 2, 2020

Herbs and fingerling potatoes for sale at a farmer's marketFear not, friends, Farmers Markets are coming back,
a sprouting sign of springtime hope. (Eric Jenks)

Good Morning, Clients, Colleagues and Friends: 

Another difficult, draining and disorienting week is behind us, with still more challenging times ahead. The loss of life and livelihoods is astonishing, as is the emotional toll the pandemic is taking on people throughout our country and around the world. As others have said, it’s like living in a movie, except it doesn’t end when the credits roll. Nerves are frayed and uncertainty lingers. There is no minimizing the devastation. The good news is, we remain free to choose our response, and it is in that spirit that we are reminded of the immortal words of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.: “If you can't fly then run, if you can't run then walk, if you can't walk then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward.” And so we shall.

A FRESH PERSPECTIVE: Fresh air, fresh food, a spark of life — outdoor farmers’ markets are re-emerging across the country, and not a moment too soon. In the Capital Region, the Schenectady Greenmarket moved back outside last Sunday, the Glens Falls Farmers Market is back today and the Saratoga Farmers’ Market will continue to operate outdoors at the Wilton Mall through the summer. Troy’s Waterfront Farmers Market remains closed due to COVID-19 concerns, but its website offers opportunities for customers to find their favorite products and support the market and its vendors. A longtime local wholesaler has launched Farmers Market Home Delivery. And markets in DelmarBolton LandingChestertown, North Creek, Lake Placid and Keene are planning to open in the coming weeks. All are following state guidelines on social distancing and wearing of masks and are providing hand sanitizer. They’re asking patrons to avoid coming to the market in large groups.

MANHATTAN PROJECT, REIMAGINED: A group of scientists is working under the radar to win the fight against COVID-19. Their plan is to unleash a first wave of therapies using existing drugs to establish a beachhead against the virus, a second wave of potent new antibody drugs developed specifically to neutralize COVID-19, and a third wave of vaccines to provide seasonal and multi-year immunity. They’re pursuing some unorthodox yet promising ideas, and the combination of their scientific gravitas and billionaire backing has given them access to the White House. The headquarters of this far-flung operation is not some gleaming corporate research tower; it’s a one-bedroom apartment in Boston.

BABE PITCHED, AND CAUGHT IT: They called it La Grippe. The fever was terrible, his throat throbbed, his body ached from head to toe. His cough was constant. His temperature soared to 104. He was not alone. Five hundred million people were infected, 50 million died in the pandemic of 1918, the year we almost lost Babe Ruth.

KEEP YOUR CHILDREN WELL: Lots of good tips this week for parents who are trying to help children understand and cope with the disruptions wrought by the pandemic. A doctor in Alaska authored an op-ed packed with graphics, suggestions and links to additional resources, and included the tale-as-old-as-time reminder that children take their cues from the actions of their parents, so whatever you do, don’t walk around the Mayo Clinic without a mask. Speaking of masks, a speech/language pathologist and autism specialist in Ohio has written a free, downloadable book to help parents explain why so many people are wearing them. It’s been translated by other teachers into five languages. Fifty humanitarian organizations, including the World Health Organization, collaborated on a story book that aims to help children understand and come to terms with COVID-19. It also is available as a free download, with plans to translate it into more than 35 languages. And our colleagues at Lawrence Ragan Communications remind us that, whether communicating with people small or large, being respectful, humble and selfless goes a long way toward defusing difficult situations. In any event, always remember, as any parent of adult children can attest, the days are long but the years are short.

KEEP YOUR COLLEAGUES WELL: These days we’re seeing thousands of words devoted to the changing demands of organizational leadership, from managing remote teams to maintaining a semblance of work-life balance while helping colleagues deal with fear of the unknown. Nicholas Pearce of the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern, who in addition to his academic work is an assistant pastor at a 12,000-member church in Chicago, urges leaders to approach their duties like a shepherd, and to make three important questions part of any interaction. A team writing for Harvard Business Review urges leaders to guide a shift from panic to purpose by focusing on three core spheres of action: Reframing capabilities, reframing operations and reframing relationships. HBR has been pushing out outstanding content on a nearly daily basis since the crisis started. Gianpiero Petriglieri of the global business consulting group INSEAD looks at the psychology behind effective crisis leadership, and a behavioral scientist and a professor of organizational behavior have advice for coaching your team through uncertain times.

Banner showing young man sitting at a computer, and the text "When stars align. Virtual Gala, June 4, 2020, 7 p.m.SEEING STARS: Make-A-Wish Northeast New York was set to host its 22nd annual When Stars Align Gala, a black-tie event that is the organization’s largest annual fundraiser, on March 28 in Saratoga Springs. We all know why it didn’t happen. When it was evident that the rescheduled date of June 4 wouldn’t work, either, the Board of Trustees and staff pivoted to a virtual event to be presented on its Facebook and YouTube pages beginning at 7 p.m. June 4. The event remains critical to the chapter, which like many individuals, nonprofits and businesses has sustained a loss of revenue since the coronavirus outbreak. To register to donate, view auction items that will be open for bidding leading up to Gala night, or enter a Disney Parks-themed raffle, go to

If you’re part of a nonprofit organization that is taking a major fundraising event online, please let us know; it would be our pleasure to help spread the word.

A grocery store cashier checking out a customer, both wearing masks

‘I realized what I was doing was really important,’ says Nia McGuire. (People)

ON THE FRONT LINES: Thank you to our friend Mark McGuire, who coincidentally happens to be in charge of marketing and communications for Make-a-Wish Northeast New York, for the heads-up on a piece on that features vignettes about three people whose jobs require them to be on duty and in public during the pandemic, including his daughter, Nia, who works at the Delmar Marketplace.

VIRTUAL ANGELS: Next Sunday, Mother’s Day, would be the day when, as is tradition, 1,000 or so people gather to run and walk in Saratoga Springs’ Spa State Park to raise money for Kelly’s Angels. Not this year. So, the local, all-volunteer charity that helps children and families who are facing a life-changing illness is adapting. It’s holding a virtual run. A what? Runners and walkers will run or walk on their own in their neighborhood or on their treadmills — any safe place. It’s a chance to do something for your heart and a little something for your soul by running alone for a cause that brings so many together. Here’s how to register:

LOVE FOR THE GOV: Gov. Andrew Cuomo had a bit of a rough week, with increasing restiveness over the economic effects of New York on Pause, a report in The New Yorker comparing his response to the coronavirus unfavorably with actions taken by leaders in the state of Washington and another in City & State that suggested he was slow off the mark in addressing the crisis. But a parody video that made the rounds this week surely lightened the mood on the Second Floor of the Capitol, doubling as a tribute to Cuomo and a guide to New York’s counties. “You’re our hu-man val-i-ummmm. Annn-drew Cuo-mo …” (By the way, for all who were wondering, Governor Kokomo announced this week he is eligible.)

WHAT ARE THE ODDS?: Gov. Cuomo expressed reservations this week about opening the Saratoga Race Course in July. There’s been racing at Saratoga every summer almost continuously since 1863. The summer meet attracts more than 1 million people and pushes about a half-billion dollars into the Saratoga and Capital Region economy, supporting thousands of jobs. Public health considerations come first, of course, but some Saratoga Springs leaders, including a former director of the New York Racing Association, hope the governor will pause — long enough to consider a plan that would allow racing on a limited basis and protect public health.

HOW GOOD IS THIS? These stay-home orders have many of us spending (waaaaay too much) time in the kitchen, preparing food or plating the takeout. Rachael Ray’s right there, too. She’s filming her daily national television show from her Lake Luzerne home in a kitchen she designed, a mix of American farmhouse and Italian villa styles, featuring an industrial range hood, a butcher block island, a pizza oven, a 90-second commercial dishwasher, an indoor herb garden, and a pantry she describes as a daunting, chock-full wall of spices, oils, cans and pastas. Yummo!

Church sign reading "We Are Praying for Fort Edward And America"Nothing more needs to be said except Amen. And thank you.

ALONE TOGETHER: The lead-in sums it up perfectly: “We’re a social species now living in isolation. But loneliness was a problem well before this era of social distancing.” The TED Radio Hour tackles how we can live and make peace with loneliness.

SHARING THE WEALTH: Larry Connor, the CEO of a real estate investment firm near Dayton, OH, called his employees together for a video conference to announce that, in the previous eight days, he had earned $1.6 million in the stock market. Then he told them what he planned to do with it.

THE JOKE’S ON HIM: Like most entrepreneurs, Callaghan McLaughlin is not easily dissuaded by setbacks. So when the coronavirus wiped out his plans for a lemonade stand, the 6-year-old from Saanich, British Columbia, examined his alternatives and decided what the world really needed was a good belly laugh. Step right up.

DO YOU SEE WHAT I SEE: Many of us decorate our homes and offices with family photos, but how often do we really look at them? Kristen Vogler discovered that, in her family, the answer is, not often enough.

Photo of a singer on a street wearing a jacket and ballcap

 Unable to perform in venues, Lashawn Stewart is turning the sidewalks into his stage.


DANCING IN THE STREET: When you spot him dancing through town, you can almost see the musical notes floating around him. Lashawn Stewart knows how to turn a gray upstate sidewalk into an explosion of sound and movement.  He began performing gospel music at age 5 and now writes and performs gospel, pop and R&B. He’s just released his Long Ride music video shot mainly in Lake George and Glens Falls.  Lashawn, known as The Legendary LNS, was born in Glens Falls, lived for a time in Barbados, and now is back in the 518 because, he says, “Glens Falls is my home and I love it and I want to show you can make it in the 518.” 

STRAND AND DELIVER: The coronavirus has kept the doors closed but it hasn’t dimmed the joyful light that emanates from the gifted Jonathan Newell, the classical pianist extraordinaire from Hudson Falls who revitalized The Strand Theater in his hometown and serves as its executive director. Sit back, relax and enjoy the work of a master.

A SONG FOR OUR TIMES: Speaking of talented local musicians, Joel Brown, Skidmore College’s distinguished artist-in-residence, has written and released “Everyone's Gone Home," a poignant anthem for these uncertain times.

FILLING THE TECHNOLOGY GAP: For years, residents and businesses in parts of the Adirondacks and other rural areas of the country have been at a technological disadvantage because so many lack access to high-speed Internet. With schools shuttered and workers who are able to do so forced to work remotely, the consequences of the digital divide have never been starker. Jessica Rosenworcel of the Federal Communications Commission, who since 2012 has been a lead voice on the FCC in the push to digitize rural America, says it’s time to wire the countryside, comparing her initiative to the Rural Electrification Act of the 1930s. “We did that and it was audacious for infrastructure at the time,” Rosenworcel says. “We need to do it again, we need a rural digitization act now.”

IT’S NOT JUST YOU: Let’s stipulate for the record that no one with any degree of self-awareness should be complaining too loudly about having to work at home. But for many, the transition has been downright disorienting. A recent survey by the Society of Human Resource Management found that more than 70 percent of employers report struggles with shifting to remote work. But, hey, at least Zoom lets you mix it up.

SPELL-BOUND: Like many annual traditions, The Scripps National Spelling Bee was canceled because of the coronavirus, but thanks to a couple of previous contestants, the show will go on.

HELPING HANDS: Dr. Frances Bollinger and Dr. James Hicks, physicians with Hudson Headwaters Health Network in Warren County, volunteered to help colleagues treat COVID-19 patients at the hard-hit Elmhurst Hospital in Queens, where, Dr. Hicks said, he lost one patient a day to the illness. They talked about their experiences with North Country Public Radio’s Brian Mann.

SOMETHING SWEET FOR MOM: Barkeater Chocolates knows how to help people stay calm in a crisis: Great chocolate. In fact, the gourmet chocolate business was born in the “Flavorondacks” (North Creek, specifically) just as the Great Recession of 2008-09 was starting. They survived that and are still growing. This week, they’re helping us remember the one person who always gets us through tough times — Mom. And you can order their chocolate without leaving home.

SaranacCrossword.jpgTHINK YOU KNOW SARANAC LAKE?: OK, let’s see. Where could you polish off a gobbler even when it’s not hunting season? Where’s the Summer White House? And what about SARA who’s still HOT at 90?

THE SPIRIT OF MONTY PYTHON LIVES: Have we mentioned yet that the lockdown has brought out the hidden creativity and hilarity of people around the globe? Channeling her inner Monty Python, Liz Koto has christened her sliver of sidewalk as the “jurisdiction of the Ministry of Silly Walks,” complete with a sign instructing passersby to immediately begin “silly walking.” All of it, of course, captured on the family’s doorbell cam.


We all can be forgetful now and then. Did I turn off the coffee pot before I left? Now what was I supposed to pick up again? Yeah, ABC News reporter Will Reaves had one of those days.


We can relate.

Stay strong. Stay well. Stay positive. Be safe.

PLEASE SHARE: Feel free to pass this along to your friends and colleagues.

THANK YOU to our contributors: Bill Callen, Bill Richmond, Colleen Potter, Mark McGuire, 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.

Facing Out features news and other nuggets that caught our eye, and that we thought might be of value or interest 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 conversation:

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