The Week: What Caught Our Eye

July 18, 2020

Photo of thoroughbreds leaving the starting gate at the beginning of a race.Though Skip Dickstein, dean of Saratoga Race Course photographers, has captured the many moods of Saratoga for more than 45 racing seasons, he manages each day of the meet to find a fresh angle. (Skip Dickstein)

Dear Colleagues and Friends:

You will hear it said that Saratoga Springs is not itself this summer. Things are undeniably different. COVID-19 is keeping fans from the track. SPAC is silent. Yet the city in the country still glimmers in the morning sun, the natural beauty seems more spectacular than ever, and the vibe is different but still enticing. Broadway has a bit of a bustle. People are reading in the breeze in Congress Park and shooting it from the park benches. The small tables are outside, drinks are poured, and the reduced number of seats are full, as restaurateurs get past their own struggles and find ways to entertain their patrons. Everywhere, there are dogs walking their people. And people are walking, running, sauntering, strolling and biking. They are discovering there really are springs to behold, downtown neighborhoods worth seeing, stores worth browsing. Strip away all the shiny objects, and the natural charm of Saratoga Springs reveals itself. If you decide to stay home at night, pull up a few chairs on the porch and enjoy the city vicariously with the first-ever City of Saratoga Springs MONOPOLY® Game. The custom, limited-edition game is on sale now, and sales will benefit The Adirondack Trust Company Community Fund, which provides generous support to the non-profit organizations that keep the charitable heart of Saratoga Springs beating.  https://bit.ly/SaratogaMonopoly

DISTINGUISHED LEADERSHIP: Warren County mounted an early and aggressive response to the COVID-19 pandemic that has been widely copied and is now getting national media attention.  The county focused first on protecting the health of citizens and visitors, second on educating the public about the best way to stay healthy and reduce the spread of the virus, and third on helping the local economy get back on its feet, including managing tourism during a pandemic. The quarterback: County Administrator Ryan Moore, Warren County’s delegate to Gov. Cuomo’s control room. He is the authoritative voice on all matters pandemic and reopening, now well known for round-the-clock work habits and detailed 2:30 a.m. emails. Moore is a Williams College graduate, a student of politics and public service, and the son of former Saratoga Springs Police Chief Ed Moore. Warren County hired him in 2018 after his tenure in senior administrative roles in Saratoga and Westchester counties’ governments. In a short time, he has redefined the role of county administrator and earned the confidence of elected officials and community leaders alike. Two weeks ago, he was among the first local officials to take on Walmart and other big-box stores; this week Walmart announced a nationwide policy requiring customers to wear masks. The county’s other star avoids the limelight but her work has been equally extraordinary: Public Health Services Director Ginelle Jones who, with her team, has led the effort to set up community testing for COVID-19 and monitor those who have been infected and those in quarantine. Now, she and her colleagues are tracking down people from 22 hot-spot states who have recently flown into Albany International Airport, some heading to visit friends or family or to vacation in Warren County.

A rainbow over a lake with mountains in the background.Somewhere over Lake George / we see skies of blue / clouds of white / the brightness of day / the dark sacred night / and we think to ourselves / what a wonderful place. (Bill Callen)

PRAISE FROM AFAR: National travel accolades keep piling up for Lake George, Saratoga Springs, Lake Placid and Lake Champlain. Redbook named both Lake George and Lake Champlain among “the most picturesque lakes in the United States,” in league with Lake Tahoe, the Great Salt Lake, and Lake Okeechobee. Harper’s Bazaar said Lake George is among the best last-minute getaways for New Yorkers, with “magnificent mountain scenery and a plethora of activities to keep you occupied, whether you’re a city slicker or a nature enthusiast.” Lake George and Lake Placid also make the top ten list of quaint small towns in upstate New York for summer visits in a list compiled by the website Travel Awaits. City-weary New Yorkers in need of greener scenery should venture north where they will “find the clear, calm waters of beautiful Lake George … idyllic.’’ Hotels4Teams, a site that helps sports teams find good places to stay, says Lake George has “got pretty much everything you’d expect from a tourist town. There are fun things to do, plenty of places to shop and eat, and, oh yeah, a big, beautiful lake.’’ And the Patsey Family of Upstate New York, who run a delightful website offering adventure advice for families, say: “Upstate New York is an amazing and totally underrated area to visit in the US and is well known for its awesome Adirondack hiking and other outdoor adventures … Some of the best hiking in upstate New York is located right in the Lake George area … If you plan to go hiking in New York, this area should be at the top of your list.’’ Whether you’ve known Lake George for decades, or are new to the region, the Warren County Tourism Department’s television commercials (one here, the other here) capture what’s truly special about Lake George. Plus, Inc. takes note of Warren County efforts to ensure that vacations in the Lake George/Warren County region this summer are both fun and healthy.

BERKSHIRES MYSTERY: There was Woodstock. A man on the Moon. The Manson murders and the Stonewall riots. The Summer of ’69 was a season at turns both thrilling and chilling. In the Berkshires, people are still talking about what happened the night of September 1, 1969. Just after dusk, a blinding light from a hovering ship seemed to be firing rods of light into the farm fields near Great Barrington. “My God, what is that?” someone cried out. The unsolved mystery is one of this summer’s top shows on Netflix. https://bit.ly/BerkshireMysteryTopsNetflix

THE NEXT JOBS: What if, instead of returning to online classes in college this fall, you took a year off and started a company? The venture capital fund Contrary — led by 28-year-old Eric Tarzcynski (a graduate of Northeastern) — invests in young entrepreneurs, those who are in college and dropouts, and is looking to help students who want to take a gap year and put a dent in the universe. https://bit.ly/VCInvestmentsForGapYear

THE MEDIA 

THE SOUND OF SILENCE: Bari Weiss has resigned from the Opinion Page staff of The New York Times. Barry who? you can be forgiven for asking. Bari Weiss was The Times’ “star opinion writer,” according to Vanity Fair, an eminently gifted thinker hired in 2017 to bring greater balance to the strong left tilt of The Times’ editorial page. She was tasked with bringing new voices and fresh points of view to the Opinion section, an initiative that was part of the paper of record’s atonement for its failure to detect the wave of populist anger that washed Donald Trump into office. Bari describes herself as a left-leaning centrist, “a reasonable liberal concerned that far-left critiques stifled free speech.” Now, she is quitting, the victim, she says, of “constant bullying by colleagues who disagree with my views. They have called me a Nazi and a racist.” She said, “some coworkers insist I need to be rooted out if this company is to be a truly ‘inclusive’ one, … other New York Times employees publicly smear me as a liar and a bigot on Twitter with no fear that harassing me will be met with appropriate action.” The cancel culture silences another voice. 

WORKING FOR INCLUSIVITY: J.K. Rowling, author of the beloved Harry Potter series, has stirred controversy with her views on gender, but in this piece on the importance of building an inclusive workplace culture, Lisa Kenney writes that the real lesson from Rowling’s response is applicable to anyone who wants to grow: “try to avoid the human tendency to double down and defend when you’re confronted with stories or information that you don’t understand. Truth is, you're probably missing something, and you're being given an opportunity to understand some part of the human experience that you haven't yet had access to. Listening … communicates an interest in understanding another’s experience or perspective.” https://bit.ly/DefiningInclusivity

A DRAINING EXPERIENCE: Nathalia Bruno was hustling through Passaic, N.J., in a rainstorm, guiding her Prius to its next DoorDash destination, when she tempted the rising water on her route. Moments later, at the end of a mile-long journey through a raging subterranean torrent, she was propelled into the Passaic River, which she swam across and escaped in a flight of raw instinct. And if that’s not harrowing enough, we offer you this view from inside the Lincoln Tunnel. https://bit.ly/DriversHarrowingUndergroundEscape

WINDOWS TO THE WORLD: Ever wondered what Denver looks like on sunny day from a cozy apartment? Or Singapore under storm clouds? Or a Swiss slope framed by forested mountains? They’re among the sights you can see looking through the windows of total strangers at a website called WindowSwap. Like your view? You can share it with others.   https://window-swap.com/

THE SPLENDOR OF VERMONT: Photographer Caleb Kenna used his drone to capture a series of images that evoke the peace and solitude of Vermont. He describes his daily drone outings as “a form of visual meditation.” https://bit.ly/VermontSplendorFromAbove

A PLACE OF HEALING: Saranac Lake is a magnet for people who love the outdoors and appreciate the history, culture and restorative nature of the Adirondacks, a quiet place known for its fresh air, scenic beauty and fierce winters. It’s also home to the Trudeau Institute, a global leader in infectious disease research that is either leading or has been asked to participate in multiple projects specific to coronavirus research. https://bit.ly/AdkResearchersFightCoronavirus

BACK TO THE NEST: The pandemic has caused titanic disruptions to tens of millions throughout the world, one result of which has been a surge in adults moving back in with their parents. A record 32 million U.S. adults lived with their parents in April, with more than 80% of the newly returned between the ages of 18 and 25. Mom, Dad? I’m home! https://bit.ly/MovingHomeDueToPandemic

SHAKESPEARE IN THE YARD: The pandemic shut down the Vermont Shakespeare Festival’s summer season, but it hasn’t stopped the actors from delivering The Bard’s words to appreciative, socially distant audiences. https://bit.ly/ShakespeareInTheYard

WALKING FOR AWARENESS: Dave Mayer is the CEO of an organization whose mission is to end medical errors across the globe, and whose work he thought should be getting more attention and support. He figured out a way to raise its profile while living out a baseball fan’s dream. https://bit.ly/TakingAWalkToStrikeoutMedicalErrors

IT ONLY TAKES ONE: The operators of an in-home daycare in Central New York are sharing the sobering story of how one careless parent caused 16 children and their parents to become infected with the coronavirus. “We all need to think,” one parent said. “You can’t just think about yourself.” https://bit.ly/WhyCOVID19VigilanceMatters

A BOAT BUMP: Boat sales have skyrocketed during the pandemic, and if the experience of the Adirondack Watershed Institute is an indication, people are eagerly using them. The AWI, which works with New York State to prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species and provides boat decontamination and inspection services at launches throughout the Adirondacks, said its watercraft inspections are up 25% compared to last year. https://bit.ly/IncreasingBoatInspections

MASK RESISTANCE: It turns out 2020 isn’t the first time we’ve had to deal with people with no common sense who resist calls to wear a mask to help fight a global pandemic. https://bit.ly/RepeatingHistoryOnMasks

ROCKIN’ DOWN THE HIGHWAY: Want to hit the open road but a standard RV is too tame? Kick your road trip up a notch and ride like a rock star in a tour bus from Senators Coaches, which are widely available because the stars they typically carry are parked by the pandemic. https://bit.ly/RideLikeARockStar

LIVES

LIFE OF MAGIC: The Magic School Bus has taken generations of young people on journeys through the human body, outer space and other fun-filled explorations of science. It drove from the imagination of author Joanna Cole, who died this week at 75. https://bit.ly/RememberingMagicSchoolBusAuthor

TRACING AND CHASING: A retired journalist joined the fight against the coronavirus as a contact tracer, and proclaims, “This is a job for someone younger and more energetic. … Think dogged investigative journalism, with no prospect of a Pulitzer.” https://bit.ly/LearningHowToTraceAVirus

ALMOST FINAL WORDS

‘’Nothing so ill prepares a man to look down memory lane as a life of early rising, clean living and three square meals a day. It is far, far better to slumber until noon after nights on the town.’’
 — Humorist and devoted son of Saratoga Springs Frank Sullivan

THE SIGNOFF

The fans can’t go to Saratoga, so this fan brought a slice of Saratoga to his backyard. https://bit.ly/SaratogaPavilionInBackyard

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

THANK YOU to our contributors: Bill Callen, Bill Richmond, John Brodt, Lisa Fenwick, Tina Suhocki, Matt Behan, Skip Dickstein, 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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