The Week What Caught Our Eye

September 3, 2022

IMG_6437.jpgSummer’s lease, as Shakespeare wrote, is all too short. And she’s nowhere near ready vacate, as she demonstrates off the coast of Maine. (Tina Suhocki)

Dear Colleagues and Friends:

Happy Labor Day weekend! Farewell to summer, some may say. To that old adage we say nay.

It’s just halftime in a relaxed, beautiful season that has no plans to wind down for weeks: Crisp mornings, warm, sunny afternoons, cool evenings by the wood fire, college football, apple pies and an explosion of color across the mountainsides. The best is yet to come.  

For our money, you can’t beat a stroll through New York City on a crisp fall morning. But fall is just as spectacular in the charming small towns of Upstate New York, as Travel and Leisure discovered.

DIY-FI: Jared Mauch had a dilemma. The internet service in his rural Michigan community was spotty and slow, and a conglomerate wanted $50,000 to extend a fiber connection. So Mauch, a network architect who has worked at home for two decades, decided to create his own fiber internet service provider, a business that has grown to provide high-speed fiber service to 71 customers. He recently learned he would receive $2.6 million in federal funds to continue his work, which he plans to use to connect 600 more homes to the internet.

RETURN TO ME, PLEASE! Movie theaters across the nation are struggling to lure back customers in the wake of the pandemic (Regal Cinemas, the world’s second largest theater chain, is considering bankruptcy), so today, more than 3,000 theaters across the U.S. are offering $3 admission as part of what they’re calling National Cinema Day. That’s about $10 less than a typical movie ticket price and around what moviegoers were paying in 1980.

MEET WALLY: Joseph Henney took in a foster pet a few years ago, and the two have become inseparable. They go for walks in the park together and visit the farmers’ market. They like to watch television together. They even sleep in the same bed. He named his companion Wally. He’s a 70-pound, five-foot long alligator.

PAIN POINTS: Policymakers and elected officials talk constantly about the need to rebuild America’s industrial base, and announcements about new manufacturing jobs inevitably are touted in the news media, but a reporting trip to the industrial heartland revealed deep scars left by the shuttering of auto plants, especially, and persistent anxiety and frustration about finances and the condition of their communities. “The whole conversation about bringing manufacturing jobs back, it’s really political talk,” a pastor in Flint, Mich., told Politico. “I mean, it sounds good, it’s nostalgic, and people reach for nostalgia when they don’t have anything else. But what we need are economic policies that can remove some of the barriers for people to get into the middle class. We know childcare is an issue, affordable childcare. We know that housing is an issue, transportation is an issue, medical costs — all of those things right there. We can do substantive things to address them.”

HEADED HOME: A menu autographed by actor Harrison Ford disappeared last week from the wall of a Duanesburg, N.Y., restaurant where it had hung for more than 20 years. It was more than a memento — it was an essential part of the deal that the owner, who is selling after 26 years as he battles cancer, worked out with his buyer. No signed menu, no sale. The word went out on social media, and soon after the message was posted, the person who has the menu promised to return it. “Having it happen so quickly really makes things better,” Tammy Sigond, wife of restaurant owner Vince Sigond, told the Albany Times Union. “I literally thought I was watching my husband have a heart attack this morning.”

IMG_7598.jpgThe City on the Rise has given rise to its first eye-popping downtown mural, painted by California artist Jesse Melanson, who was hired by the Arts District of Glens Falls and the City of Glens Falls. Downtown murals are another aspect of Glens Falls’ Downtown Revitalization Initiative. Queensbury artist Hannah Williams is now at work on a second mural, and the Arts District is reviewing applications for a third. For more information, follow the Arts District of Glens Falls on Facebook or email artsdistrictgf@gmail.com (Advokate LLC Photo).

RISING FROM THE ASHES: When Notre Dame, the 13th-century Parisian cathedral and world heritage site, was consumed by fire in April 2019, destroying its complex roof structure built in the 12th and 13th centuries, many feared it would be impossible to rebuild as it was. But now 21st-century artisans are re-learning long-forgotten medieval techniques in order to restore the structure and soul of Notre Dame.

WATERING WHILE BLACK: A Black pastor in Alabama said he was watering his out-of-town neighbor’s flowers when police showed up, summoned by another neighbor, an encounter that ended with the pastor handcuffed in the back of a cruiser. Turns out the pastor, Michael Jennings, is also a former police officer. He admits he essentially dared the police to arrest him, insisting he was doing nothing wrong and was there because the out-of-town neighbor asked him to be. “This was not only an unlawful arrest. It's kidnapping,” his attorney told NPR.

GROWING GREEN: Gautam Adani, an Indian businessman, has become the first Asian to crack the top three of the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, a ranking of the world’s wealthiest people. Adani, whose companies have a hand in energy, logistics and real estate, is worth $137.4 billion, trailing only Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos. He has added nearly $61 billion to his net worth in 2022 alone, five times more than anyone else, though one analyst warned that a string of recent debt-financed acquisitions has left Adani and his empire “deeply over-leveraged.”

BAD NEWS, BEARS: With more bears than people, Long Lake, N.Y., leans heavily into its bear country location in the heart of the Adirondacks. The town is practically synonymous with black bears, right down to its logo.  It’s a place where the small year-round population has learned to live happily alongside the bears by taking common-sense precautions like securing their garbage and reminding visitors that the animals are not cuddly neighbors. But the bears are increasingly coming into conflict with people with deadly consequences for the bears, four or which have been euthanized this year by New York State. The issue of nuisance bears isn’t limited to Long Lake — the Albany Times Union reports that the state has euthanized 16 bears in Northern New York so far this year, an eightfold increase over 2021 and the highest number since 2018. Natural food for the bears may less abundant this summer, so the bears and their cubs are in search of new dining spots — sometimes in unlocked cars and porches.

LONG LIVE THE JELLY:  There are types of jellyfish that can cheat death. They have what scientists call “age reversal capacity.” Most jellyfish lose this as they become sexually mature, but one little needle-nosed jelly does not. It can turn its biological clock backward and revert to a clump of juvenile cells. It’s now been discovered off the coast of Italy, a discovery that may offer insights on human aging.

THE RIGHT CALL: The Americans hustled off to Ireland to show the Irish the excitement of college football. When the Cornhuskers of Nebraska and the Wildcats of Northwestern took the field in Dublin, they were supposed to be the main attraction. But suddenly something went wrong with the Internet, and the concession stands got backed up, and that’s when the Irish showed the Midwesterners some true crowd-pleasing Irish hospitality: Free beer for all!  The final score? Nobody remembers.

A VIRAL TRIUMPH: You remember the “ice bucket challenge.” It was the Summer of 2014. An obscure professional golfer started it by making a video of himself dumping a bucket of ice water over his head and challenging others to either do the same or make a $100 donation to a nonprofit devoted to ALS — amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, a progressive, fatal disease that attacks the nervous system and robs patients of their motor function. The challenge took off, raising $115 million, double the ALS Association’s typical annual fundraising revenue. The money is being put to good use, funding critical ALS research and helping patients and their families access necessary mobility equipment without delay.

BUILDING BLOCKS: Legos, the colorful building-block toys that snap together, have found a growing additional market — companies that are using them to stimulate creativity and discussion among work teams. A program called Lego Serious Play is a training tool that has been used by major companies such as Google, Microsoft and Visa, as well as the U.S. Navy and Harvard Business School, among others. The bricks are even used by NASA engineers to model new concepts.

RUNAWAY TOMATOES: A truck carrying tomatoes jack-knifed and spilled its load on a California interstate this week. It happens, you say. But twice in one week, in different parts of the country?

STOP THE PRESSES: Administrators in a public school district in Nebraska cancelled the high school journalism program and shutdown the prize-winning student newspaper after 54 years because an edition in June contained student-written commentary on LGBTQ+ issues, the origins of Pride Month and the history of homophobia, material members of the local school board considered inappropriate. “It sounds like a ham-fisted attempt to censor students and discriminate based on disagreement with perspectives and articles that were featured in the student newspaper,” Sara Rips, legal counsel for ACLU of Nebraska, told the Grand Island Independent.

RISKY BUSINESS: OnSolve, a software company focused on business continuity and critical communications, this week issued an alarming report on global risk impact that seems to confirm people’s worst fears about the unraveling of civil societies. OnSolve analyzed a database of more than 14 million events over the past two years, and concludes, among other findings, that in that timeframe, shooting risks were up 193%, transportation-related risks were up 146% and crime risks were up 141%. OnSolve CEO Mark Herrington told Fortune magazine, “COVID was the focus for a very long time. But now what you are starting to see is that crime and violence, transportation and logistics, the whole social infrastructure, has been incredibly stressed ... It’s reflective of the macro environment we are operating in, politically, socially, and the stress of the pandemic.” “The implications for business are significant,” Fortune CEO Alan Murray writes. “Risk is becoming increasingly complex, which means not just every CEO, but every CFO, every corporate general counsel, and every board member needs to broaden their skill set. These are, indeed, challenging times.”

LIVES

TIM BARNETT knew how to build a good bridge, and over nearly 50 years in the Adirondacks he built lot of sturdy interpersonal bridges as the first executive director of The Nature Conservancy’s Adirondack chapter. He could have been a lightning rod for controversy. Instead, he put together deals that kept timberlands as working forests while preserving vast tracts for recreation, wildlife and biodiversity. He showed by example how land protection and enduring partnerships could be achieved through non-confrontational, collaborative means. He was 82.

JIM HARRIS SR. started Janitronics, a professional cleaning service company, in 1972, when he found that the toll of travel as a national sales director for a janitorial company was too much for someone with a young family. He grew the business by working 50-hour weeks for decades, and Janitronics now serves institutional and residential clients in upstate New York and other nearby areas in the Northeast. He considered Janitronics, a family company, to be more than a traditional cleaning service, focusing on cleaning for health, not just appearances. He worked until falling ill in mid-June and died at 83.

ALMOST FINAL WORDS

“Amateurs sit and wait for inspiration. The rest of us just get up and go to work.”
—    Stephen King

THE SIGNOFF

IN HIS GOURD: A Nebraska man paddled 38 miles down the Missouri River in a hollowed-out, 846-pound pumpkin to celebrate his 60th birthday and set a Guinness World Record for longest journey by pumpkin boat. Yes, that’s a thing.

——

Some of the linked material in Facing Out requires a subscription to read.

THANK YOU to our contributors: Bill Callen, Ryan Moore, Troy Burns, Tina Suhocki, Claire P. Tuttle, John Brodt, Lisa Fenwick, and Tara Hutchins.

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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