The Week: What Caught Our Eye

June 20, 2020

Aerial image of a sunrise over the mountains, with a lake in the foreground.Brighter days lie ahead, as Lake George offers a beautiful welcome to the rising sun. (Crown Focus Media)

Good morning. We trust you’re in good health. Seldom does history reveal itself in real time, and certainly the perspective of time and distance will shape the judgments of future historians, but it feels like the collective we is experiencing something transformative and extraordinary this summer — perhaps another freedom summer. It may be too soon to draw the parallel, but those who remember the events of 1989 recall watching as the people of Berlin took down their wall block by block — the purposeful, systematic disassembly of oppression. This summer, images the world over have put injustice on trial.   

In  the midst of this, the Supreme Court ruled last week  that “(a)n employer who fires an individual merely for being gay or transgender defies the law.” The day before, it was legal in more than half of the states to fire workers for being gay, bisexual or transgender. The decision — “vastly consequential,’’ The New York Times’ veteran Supreme Court reporter Adam Liptak called it — extends long-sought workplace protections to millions of people who feared losing their job or career if their sexual identities were discovered. 

That all of this has happened — the unexpected ruling from a Conservative-majority court amid a worldwide movement for justice — in the midst of a pandemic that’s still making its own history makes its apparent durability and resonance all the more powerful.

And Friday was Juneteenth, the informal (seemingly soon-to-become formal) holiday celebrating the true end of slavery in the United States. The Emancipation Proclamation ending slavery became official on January 1, 1863, but it took two and half years for it to become reality. That happened when the Union Army’s Maj. Gen Gordon Granger arrived in Texas to enforce the president’s order: “The people of Texas are informed that, in accordance with a proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free.’’ 

The arc of the moral universe is long, sometimes very long.

*****

FORECASTING THE LAKE: As people from across the Northeast begin their annual migration to their Lake George homes, hotels, favored island campsites and treasured fishing spots, there’s a great new weather forecasting and water quality tool at their disposal, courtesy of The Jefferson Project at Lake George. If you’re a Lake George lover like us, you’re probably familiar with the innovative partnership between The FUND for Lake George, RPI and IBM Research, which has deployed more than 500 “smart sensors” on and around the Lake, gathering immense amounts of data for use in identifying and addressing existing and potential water quality threats. The Jefferson Project is making some of that data available to the public at jeffersonproject.live, a digital data dashboard that features, by far, the most highly localized weather forecast publicly available. Powered by IBM’s Deep ThunderTM technology, and fed by The Jefferson Project’s smart sensor network, the dashboard provides an hourly forecast for every six-tenths of a mile throughout the lake’s watershed — so you can check the weather specifically for that home, hotel, campsite or favorite fishing hole. 

Comedic actor and film star Edward Everett Horton, a regular in the Lake George area nearly a century ago.Comedic actor and film star Edward Everett Horton, a regular in the Lake George area nearly a century ago.

KATTSKILL COMEDIAN: Actor Edward Everett Horton was a Lake George lover, like many celebrities before and since. He was born in Brooklyn, made his home in Encino, California, and starred on stage and in 150 movies, often as the worried fuss budget in a perpetual dither. Many summers he found his way to the blessed quiet of Kattskill Bay. He made a legion of summer friends locally and spent some of his final hours at Glens Falls Hospital. Historian Maury Thompson looks back. https://bit.ly/EdwardHortonsLakeConnection

SUMMER (NOT) IN THE CITY: Condé Nast knows its weary readers need a break, so it’s put together a curated list of great weekend getaways that leave the stressful reality of New York City behind. Lake George and Lake Placid make the list.  https://bit.ly/GetawaysFromNYC

WELCOME, SENATOR: U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand and her family – frequently visitors to New York’s North Country – are  looking for a home in Lake Placid

WHERE’S THE BOSS? With their newsrooms in revolt, the New York City media elite are riding out the pandemic at their second homes in the Hamptons. As Business Insider points out, the wealth of New Yorkers can in some ways be measured by where they hunkered down

PAYING IT FORWARD: Marylou Whitney for decades was the grande dame of Saratoga, a graceful and gracious socialite whose annual Whitney Ball was the event of the year, and whose generosity supported many of the community’s non-profits. She also took great care of the racetrack’s backstretch workers, supplying and sharing with them weekly, catered, unpublicized meals. Her generosity toward those who tend the horses who starred in the sport she loved continues with a Sotheby’s auction of her personal effects, with proceeds financing construction of a backstretch health clinic. https://bit.ly/MaryLouWhitneysContinuingGifts

SILENT NO LONGER: NPR looked at the broad protests and support for Black Lives Matter, even in “alabaster-white cities with negligible black populations,” and wondered what was motivating the response from so many white Americans. The answer: Too many spoke up for others to remain silent. "It became inappropriate to be silent, and seemed like there would be less social (repercussions) from being that white girl who is always talking about race and equality," a person wrote. “Which is extremely uncomfortable and embarrassing to admit.” https://bit.ly/WhyWhitePeopleAreProtesting

CAN’T MASK THE BUFFOONERY: Further proof that age and maturity don’t always align: the clowns who insist on abusing restaurant workers, store clerks, bartenders and others for the crime of being asked to wear a mask. https://bit.ly/UnmaskedBuffoons

WE’RE TALKIN’ BASEBALL

TAKE ME OUT TO THE … MOVIE?: Baseball’s Tri-City ValleyCats, whose front office and staff are excellent when it comes to marketing the fan experience, are putting their collective creativity to a new use: How to generate revenue from a ballpark with no ball games. https://bit.ly/MoviesAtBallparks

LEAGUE OF THEIR OWN:  When two collegiate baseball leagues canceled their summer schedules due to COVID-19, the prospects for summer baseball in the Capital Region looked bleak. Enter the reliever: The Independent Collegiate Baseball League, a new organization made up of familiar local baseball names, that will run a 30-game summer season with four teams — the Albany Dutch, Albany Athletics, Amsterdam Mohawks and Glens Falls Independents and rosters packed with local talent. https://bit.ly/CapitalRegionsCollegeLevelBaseball

TAKING HIS SHOT: Brett Rodriguez, a graduate of Queensbury High, had a chance to play a fifth season of college baseball after what would have been his senior season at Wofford College was cut short by the coronavirus, but it was his dream to play pro ball, and he’s pursuing it with the Seattle Mariners organization. https://bit.ly/QsbyGradJoinsMariners

A lake with mist rising off the water, and trees surrounding the edge, with clouds and a blue sky aboveThe beauty of nature is all around us. Drivers rush past Loughberry Lake in Saratoga Springs every day. But Schenectady Daily Gazette editor Miles Reed, a devoted cyclist, took a moment slow down. We’re glad he did. (Miles Reed)

BEYOND DIVERSITY: The president and CEO of Living Cities, a nonprofit focused on closing income and wealth gaps in America, writes that for organizations to embrace a culture of true inclusivity — and not just diversity — when it comes to race, leaders must be willing to actively engage new voices and embrace conflict, which he sees as a requirement for transformation to occur and be sustained. And in light of the Supreme Court ruling this week that all LGBTQ people are protected under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Tuck Woodstock, host of the podcast Gender Reveal, offers four ways to make the workplace more welcoming and equitable for trans people.
https://bit.ly/CEOonRacialEquity

A CHAMPION ON MANY FIELDS: Megan Rapinoe, the star and lightning rod of the World Cup champion U.S. women’s soccer team, has used her platform as a professional athlete to advocate for racial justice, LGBTQ rights, and gender pay equity. In a discussion with Harvard Business Review, she talks about overcoming losses, growing into a leadership role, becoming an ally, and operating as your authentic self. https://bit.ly/RapinoeLeadsOnandOffField

IT’S AN HONOR: Congratulations to Mountain Lake PBS, nominated for a regional Emmy Award for A Spotlight Special: Jean Arthur’s Birthplace Celebrates the Star by the Boston/New England Chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. The special episode of Mountain Lake Journal explores the creation of an outdoor mural in downtown Plattsburgh, NY, depicting film legend and Plattsburgh native Jean Arthur. Mountain Lake PBS producer Paul Larson and videographer Will Houle are nominated in the category of Arts & Entertainment. The special has already been recognized with an Award of Excellence by the New York State Broadcasters Association. Winners of the Regional Emmy awards will be announced in late June. https://bit.ly/MountainLakePBSupforEmmy

BOOTS, BEERS AND BLOGS: A brewery in Virginia wants to pay someone to hike the Appalachian Trail and drink beer in 2021. Let us repeat that: A brewery in Virginia wants to pay someone to hike the Appalachian Trail and drink beer in 2021. It’s accepting applications. https://bit.ly/A6MonthBeerHike

PEPPERONI AND POE: Northshire Bookstore knows books. 9 Miles East Farm Pizza knows fresh food and deliveries. For residents in communities near Saratoga Springs, that’s a fortuitous combination. https://bit.ly/BooksDeliveredWithPizzas

DYLAN ON DYLAN: “A few years ago, sitting beneath shade trees in Saratoga Springs, N.Y., I had a two-hour discussion with Bob Dylan that touched on Malcolm X, the French Revolution, Franklin Roosevelt and World War II.’’ So begins historian Douglas Brinkley’s reflection on the 79-year-old artist. Dylan last played Saratoga in 2013; his Saratoga concert in July is off. But, as he approaches 80, he has just released a new album and epic 17-minute song about the Kennedy assassination. https://bit.ly/BobDylansNewWork

FOLLOW-UPS

LOVE FROM FOX: Those Lake George media stars, the Foy Family, already heating up summer television with a weekly show on the Food Network, now show up on Fox Business News to talk about the challenges of reopening. Their vendors are furloughed and staffing is a challenge, but that’s not stopping people from heading to the Château on the Lake in Bolton Landing. “I got news for you,’’ Buddy Foy Jr. tells Fox. “They came. Customers are eager to spend money and we were able to fill every seat in our restaurants with the guidelines.” https://bit.ly/TheFoysTalkReopeningOnFox

OUR MUTUAL FRIEND: Charles Dickens died June 9, 1870, and was buried five days later at Westminster Abbey. It was expected he would buried at the Rochester Cathedral in Kent where he lived, but he ended up at Westminster Abbey when The Times of London and others insisted on a final resting place of greater honor. Now and for all eternity, he is in interesting company: George Frederick Handel, the great composer; Richard Brinsley Sheridan, the dramatist; Richard Cumberland, the playwright; and the ashes of poets Thomas Hardy  and Rudyard Kipling. Last week, Westminster Abbey paid special tribute. https://bit.ly/WestminsterTributeToDickens (Thank you to the devoted traveler and Anglophile who brought this to our attention.)

ALMOST FINAL WORDS

You didn’t think we’d forget Father’s Day, did you?  They so rarely get the final word, we thought we’d give them the honor of an almost final word this week.

Commentator Paul Harvey once observed: “A father is a thing that growls when it feels good, and laughs very loud when it’s scared half to death. A father never feels entirely worthy of the worship in a child’s eyes. He’s never quite the hero his daughter thinks, never quite the man his son believes him to be — and this worries him, sometimes. So he works too hard to try and smooth the rough places in the road for those of his own who will follow him.”

To all the fathers, grandfathers and father figures in the world, all of those who try to make the road a little easier for the ones who follow, enjoy your day — it almost didn’t happen. By the time we meet again, it will be summer, and that’s never a bad thing.

 “My father gave me the greatest gift anyone could give another person, he believed in me.” - Jim Valvano

THE SIGNOFF

Our delightful colleague Bill Richmond is a smart strategist whose responsibilities at Behan Communications include deep research for clients. If there’s a piece of information a client needs, Bill will dig it out. He’s a digger not only in the office, but in the dirt on his farm. When we say Bill is always willing to get his hands dirty, we mean it. https://bit.ly/WorkingWithWorms

THANK YOU to our contributors: Bill Callen, Bill Richmond, John Brodt, Lisa Fenwick, Tina Suhocki, Miles Reed, John Behan, 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 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:   mark.behan@behancom.com

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