“The Week What Caught Our Eye”

August 7, 2021

Adirondack Balloon Festival 01[3].jpegMore than 50 balloons will launch in several communities at the socially distanced 2021 Adirondack Hot Air Balloon festival. (Photo courtesy of The Adirondack Hot Air Balloon Festival)

Dear Colleagues and Friends:

Last week we were wading in Upstate New York. This week all of New York is waiting.

THE WHOOSH, THE ROAR: Stirring hope that life might return to its reliable rhythms, the nationally acclaimed Adirondack Hot Air Balloon Festival returns this September after a COVID year off. As much a signature of fall as apple picking and high school football, the 48th annual event will take place over four days in locations around Queensbury, Glens Falls, South Glens Falls and Hudson Falls. It remains 100 percent free to the community, a testament to the abiding vision of its founders, the late Walt and Joan Grishkot. This year, for the first time, the balloons will rise on the same weekend as  Americade, the world’s largest multi-brand motorcycle rally, which typically brings as many as 50,000 people to Lake George. Together, the events promise an unprecedented boost to the Lake George region’s fall tourism season after a record summer.

A WISH TO GIVE: Maria Lutz, a 17-year-old from rural Hamilton County in Upstate New York, suffers from epilepsy, a condition that brought her into the orbit of Make-A-Wish, an organization that works to grant the wishes of children battling health challenges. Most of the Make-A-Wish kids ask for trips or to meet someone famous. Maria’s wish? To create Maria’s Epilepsy Fund, to help children like her afford medication.

PIONEER OF THE WOODS: The Appalachian Trail, which stretches from Georgia to Maine, was completed in 1937, and by 1955, just five people, all men, had hiked it end to end. Then along came Emma Caldwell Gatewood, a 67-year-old great-grandmother from Ohio who had found solace and escape from an abusive marriage with long walks in the woods. With sneakers on her feet and carrying a few basic items in a denim sack she sewed herself, she walked for 146 days, becoming the first woman to finish the trail. And there was more ahead.

PIGS OUT? California voters in 2018 approved an animal welfare measure that set standards for humane treatment that farmers would need to meet in order to sell pork products, eggs and veal in the state. The measure is scheduled to take effect at the start of 2022, and if it’s not overturned in the courts or state regulators don’t look the other way, there’s a chance that California will lose almost all of its pork supply.

O’ ALBANY! He declared, “I am the Democratic leader of the State of New York.” Fiercely independent, supportive of immigrants and progressive policies, he styled himself as a reformer, cultivated upstate support and threatened to cut off state funding to districts whose representatives criticized him. He so enraged legislators that they began an investigation. The media cranked up the heat, and that’s when the first New York governor to be impeached decamped from Albany.

STEELWORKER’S DAUGHTER: What do Wolf Blitzer, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Terry Gross, Rob Gronkowski, Tim Russert and Mark Twain have in common? They are products of Buffalo, the city that also produced two presidents (Millard Fillmore and Grover Cleveland) and is home to Kathleen Courtney Hochul, who could become New York’s next governor, the first woman to hold the office.  A granddaughter of Irish immigrants, daughter of parents who once lived in a trailer near Bethlehem Steel, Lt. Gov. Hochul’s dad rose from being a steel industry clerical worker to founding an information technology company. She graduated from Syracuse University and Catholic University Law School, worked for Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan, served in Congress and in local government, and is considered a business-oriented moderate who has made it a point to visit all 62 counties in the state.  

THANKS A MILLION: Adam Weitsman is a scrap metal magnate in Central New York and a huge Syracuse basketball fan whose courtside guests in the Carrier Dome have included Tom Brady, Jimmy Fallon and Julian Edelman. He doesn’t stop rooting for the players after they leave the program, either. He was following closely as a team of former Syracuse players calling themselves Boeheim’s Army competed in The Basketball Tournament, a made-for-TV event featuring teams of former collegiate stars. Weitsman pledged to donate $1 million to Syracuse-area charities if Boeheim’s Army won the tournament, and thanks to a game-ending 3-point shot from Keifer Sykes, that’s exactly what they did.

KilleenButterfly.jpgMay the wings of the butterfly kiss the sun and find your shoulder to light on. (Irish blessing). (Jeff Killeen)

THE PLANET

ORIGIN STORY: Today we take oxygen in the atmosphere for granted, but that hasn’t always been the case. Scientists know that oxygen in the air and oceans was scarce 3 billion years ago — “The rise of oxygen is easily the most substantial environmental change in the history of our planet,” a geobiologist told Science magazine — but have struggled to explain why things changed. Now researchers are homing in on a promising theory: as Earth’s spin slowed, the resulting longer days could have triggered more photosynthesis from microbes in the oceans, allowing oxygen to build up in ancient seas and diffuse up into the atmosphere.

COOL IT: Is air conditioning a luxury or a medical necessity? Some physicians believe it is a necessity for people who suffer lung ailments, high blood pressure, heart disease and other diseases and should be covered by medical insurance. In this summer of record temperatures, with the frequency of heat waves increasing, a new debate is heating up: Will the additional use of AC worsen climate change?

STATUS SKIRMISH: New York and Boston — and their progressive Democratic mayors — are taking sharply different tacks when it comes to preventing the spread of the coronavirus and variants. Starting Sept. 13, on the order of Mayor Bill de Blasio, New York City will require people entering restaurants, indoor entertainment venues and gyms to show proof of vaccination. Boston Mayor Kim Janey says “requiring people to show their papers” smacks of birtherism. She says her city will step up its efforts to get people vaccinated.

AVOIDING THE PLAGUE: No, this isn’t another item about COVID-19. It’s about the bubonic plague, the presence of which has caused the U.S. Forest Service to restrict access to some of the most popular hiking areas in California’s South Lake Tahoe region. No need to panic: the bubonic plague is fairly common in chipmunks and other rodents in higher elevations. It can be transmitted by fleas that move between animals and people, though modern medicine is effective in treating the symptoms.

MOUNTAINS OF FOOD: You go to the Adirondacks to bike steep hills, scale the High Peaks, bushwhack in the backcountry and shoot the rapids, right? Not everyone. Some go for the bacon doughnuts, baked camembert, pork bellies, mac’n’cheese and pancakes topped with chocolate caramel popcorn.

TARGETING TARGET: The latest salvo in the unending culture wars is aimed at Target, and its decision to stop selling a pair of books about gender issues after progressive activists objected. Our take: We understand the desire to avoid controversy – we make our living in that aisle – but a private business, even a publicly traded retailer sensitive to boycotts and bad PR, can choose to sell, or not sell, whatever it wishes as long as it’s legal. Customers who object are free to shop elsewhere.

NATIONAL TREASURE: Dolly Parton, we think all can agree, is just that: An iconic figure of American life who never lets us down, always lifts us up, and writes and performs music that stirs the soul. Her $1 million gift to Vanderbilt University Medical Center’s COVID-19 research helped fund trials for the Moderna vaccine. This week, she revealed that she has used some of her royalties from the late Whitney Houston’s cover of “I Will Always Love You” to invest in an office complex in a Black neighborhood in Nashville.

MENTAL HEALTH AWARENESS: Research suggests up to 80% of people will experience a diagnosable mental health condition over the course of their lifetime, whether they know it or not, but most have never spoken about their mental health with anyone at work. Harvard Business Review has advice for what to do if you’re considering disclosing a mental health challenge in the workplace, and a list of resources for navigating mental health at work. Adam Grant, an organizational psychologist and best-selling author, senses there’s something not quite right with a lot of people these days, a joyless and aimless existence that stops short of depression and burnout. He calls it languishing, “a sense of stagnation and emptiness. It feels as if you’re muddling through your days, looking at your life through a foggy windshield. And it might be the dominant emotion of 2021.”

AN EYE FOR RACING: Jutta Fausel-Ward attended her first Formula One auto race in 1961, where she used a borrowed camera to shoot photos from the stands. Not long after, she had earned a press credential, and over the next four decades would become one of the most prolific motorsports photographers in the world, 186,000 images in all. “Her passion for motorsports was obvious and she was doing what she loved — and darn good at it,” racecar legend Mario Andretti told Autoweek. “Even today when I look at old photos, I find myself thinking ‘That’s one of Jutta’s photos.’ I recognize her work and appreciate how good she was at capturing our sport. She is fondly remembered by many, many racers.”

GET OUT: A movement starts with the first step, and it appears Alexa Lastowski, a teacher from Newburgh, N.Y., may have started one. A self-described “plus-size person” throughout her life, she figured there had to be others like her who might enjoy the outdoors, if only they would give themselves permission. “It makes me so sad that there are people that actually avoid joyful things because of their appearance,” she told the Albany Times Union. So she started Plus Sized Hikers of the Hudson Valley, a private Facebook group with nearly 400 members as of late in the week. Member hikes are planned through the end of September.

THE NATURAL WORLD: In footage you have to see to believe, a handful of sharks feasts on schools of Atlantic Menhaden off the coast of Southampton, N.Y., on Long Island. It’s mesmerizing. Meanwhile, a lot of well-meaning people are “rescuing” fawns that appear to have been abandoned. Stop. Chances are, they weren’t abandoned, and possessing them is illegal.

ALMOST FINAL WORDS

The world's a nicer place in my beautiful balloon
It wears a nicer face in my beautiful balloon
We can sing a song and sail along the silver sky
For we can fly, we can fly

—    Jimmy Webb, “Up, Up and Away”

THE SIGNOFF

NATIONAL PASTIME, STATE SPORT: A 4th grade class at Cooperstown Elementary School (where else?!) had an idea during the 2015-16 school year: Why not make baseball the official sport of New York State? Those kids are in high school now, but their idea took root, and last week legislation declaring baseball New York’s official state sport was signed into law.

THANK YOU TO OUR CONTRIBUTORS: Bill Callen, Bill Richmond, Troy Burns, Jeff Killeen, Lisa Fenwick, Claire P. Tuttle, John Brodt, Tara Hutchins, 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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