It seems appropriate that the USS Comfort shoved off and left New York Harbor a hero and forever a part of the New York legend. It was also right that she left us in the damp, misty fog that engulfed the harbor and the city that day. She did leave behind a black swan, which she could not do anything more about. That is left up to us. Rain or shine, the Pandemic is still very much walking my streets and riding my beloved Q train like a hungry ghost and mass murderer who seems ready to appear at any moment in any household, apartment or CVS checkout line to devour.
Today, Sunday, is a spectacular day. But another strange one. There was no church and even God seems to be at home trying to figure it out. But I believe the governor of New York and the mayor of New York City when they say that the steady decline in new COVID cases and deaths has not happened because this virus is tiring. On the 64th day after the City of New York hung a “Closed for Business” sign, 789 new cases entered our hospitals and 280 New Yorkers died. And as the USS Comfort cuts through smoother waters on her way back to home port, the long trailer serving as a morgue in nearby Lennox Hospital is still double-parked right there. Alternate side of the street rules are not in effect.
Educational systems around the world are struggling to provide online learning to students who can no longer gather in schools. The challenges range from equipping and training teachers to teach online and adapting course materials to the availability of technology and connectivity, especially for low-income families.
We spoke with Rhonda Kadish, Community Relations Manager for the City of Hudson, about that two-time Top7 Intelligent Community’s learn-at-home strategy.Read more
Since COVID came to town, I notice things when I wake up in the morning with an intensity and a clarity that wasn’t there weeks ago. When I look outside of my window, the “worldly dust,” as the Dali Lama once called it, has vanished. I see with terrible clarity. Everything seems illuminated. I have had these moments before. Twice. Both times Death was near and the illusive veil was pierced for me.
What do I see now? The parking garage attendant in a short sleeve shirt waiting for a car to pull in. Bright sunlight. Tulips in front of the Imperial House apartments.
Looking out of my window the world seems normal. There are no viruses flying around with spikes like those animated red balls with the nasty warthog look that the news shows concoct. Yes, there are people being put into refrigerated trucks each day at Lennox Hill Hospital, but you would not know the truck’s cargo unless you knew the truck as it rolled past.Read more
On Good Friday the number of deaths in the state of New York totaled 7,067. By Easter Sunday morning the number was over 9,000. Today there are over 10,000. Each number is greater than the entire population of the village in rural Upstate New York where I was born, and where my ancestors are buried. I thought about that – and the fact that my street fruit vendor did not have her mask on yesterday when she sold me food – and I woke in the middle of the night sweating and nauseous.
Lyons, New York is 40 miles east of the City of Rochester, where ICF held its Smart21 Conference in October in what feels like another era. If there was any good on Friday, when we are reminded that if there were no Cross there would be “no Crown” to gather around, it was the report that for the fourth day in a row, the rate of new COVID-19 cases was lower. The field hospital at the Javits Center is more lightly populated with patients than we feared. New York is using data to manage the crisis, but the crisis remains deep. But we are managing. The curve is levelling. Our healthcare workers are worn to the bone like infantry soldiers on a Pacific jungle island in World War II. They have emerged as heroes – as heroic as the First Responders of 9/11 – and they continue to come from states like Kansas to be here to fight for us.
“Blessed are you when men hate you and ostracize you and insult you and scorn your name… be glad in that day.”
You discover your real friends in the time when you are unwanted by all others. You must naturally go to them then and petition them. There’s an old joke that goes like this, “A woman wants to know who loves her more, her boyfriend or her dog. So, she puts them both in the trunk of her car for 3 hours. When she opens the trunk her boyfriend jumps out first and starts to curse and scampers away, terrified. The dog, however, is grateful. It jumps out happily and begins to lick her face.”
Understandably, no one is particularly fond of loving New Yorkers these days in a way we are used to being loved. Certainly no one wants us to escape from New York. We are in our own trunk. While we typically standout in a foreign city because of a preponderantly higher percentage of wealth, ideas and enhanced vocal chords, no city in the USA is keen to give New Yorkers refuge in this brutal hour.Read more
There is battle underway in New York. With the virus surging toward its peak I am starting to feel like I am living through something akin to what I know of “The Blitz” in the early 1940’s in England, during World War II. A terrifying reign of terror, coming relentlessly at me with no conscience, is what I am feeling. I watch as brave people hold the line and others try to contribute as best they can. People are emerging to whom we owe much. Doctors for sure. Also the delivery guys, most of them Mexican, on their padded bicycles; the cashiers at Citarella and Food Emporium markets. My doormen Javier, Willie, Larry and Tom. Yeah, I am under siege, and the only weapons are a healthcare system renowned for the quality of its research and advances in the most exciting areas of science. But we also have a community hospital system and its challenges, as the world is seeing, are profound. We are also armed now with extreme civic cooperation and access to the rest of the world online. These are useful, but they are inadequate for the real job ahead.
Most of the sirens in my neighborhood tonight carry gasping COVID-19 patients to overcrowded, understaffed ERs at New York Presbyterian and Lenox Hill hospitals. There are medical tents rising in Central Park, although I have not seen them. My brief walk along the avenue revealed only the pink blossoms of the trees celebrating the arrival of Spring. Both hospitals are within walking distance of my apartment (located next door to Trump Palace). We learned a few nights ago that the head of the NY Police Department’s Anti-Terror Department is in Lenox Hill with the disease. And this morning we learned that Harlem-based Detective Cedric Dixon (48 years old) passed away as had one of my favorite playwrights, Terrence McNally.Read more
In this conversation, ICF Co-Founder Lou Zacharilla discusses COVID-19 with Dublin, Ohio CIO Doug McCollough.
So much for the death of distance. Now it’s “keep your distance or get sick and maybe die.”
Social distancing, a new word and the emotional equivalent of a prison sentence for the innocent, descended on us like a sudden iron gate. Here in New York City, where I live, work and, so far, breathe we are the global epicenter for this Michael Jordan of viral diseases. So, I find myself isolated and weirdly unable to do my most simple, pleasurable social transactions and spiritual exercises. It is not losing access to the big stuff that incarcerates me here. Yeah, the restaurants are closed and the theaters are dark, but the fact that I cannot comfortably take an elevator to the lobby of my own building to talk baseball and gather frivolous gossip with my doormen Willie and Javier is killing me.
Nor can I walk down Third Avenue to get tea (and flirt) with the bright, overqualified workers at David’s Tea. This is a total shame because most are big followers of ICF and listen to our podcasts and inquire daily about our work.
And as lunchtime rolls around, I cannot stroll toward Central Park and Hunter College in the early afternoon to talk about Middle East affairs and small business with my entrepreneurial friend from Iraq, whose Halal food carts dish out the best chicken and lamb gyros on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. He has been expanding his empire on wheels the past two years and now owns additional carts, including one that produces amazing smoothies and healthy juices. In between sliding chopped pieces of scented chicken and herbs onto pita bread, he celebrates the reality of the American Dream. That dream is laced with the dread of a nightmare now.Read more
At the beginning of the New Year in 2020 we were looking at the threat of war rising out of the rhetoric coming out of Washington and from Tehran. I had a flight planned to travel to Kuwait in January to give a keynote address as part of the Kuwait Public Policy Center’s Lecture Series at the General Secretariat of the Supreme Council for Planning & Development in Kuwait. See: https://lnkd.in/esEVzzn. As the tensions grew and missiles were fired that downed Ukraine International Airlines Flight 752 on Jan. 8, I debated my flight to Kuwait, which neighbors Iran on the Persian Gulf. Ultimately, I made the trip via Cairo and spent an uneventful, but very enlightening, week in Kuwait. Upon my return we immediately had another crisis to deal with – whether or not the ICF Institute-organized ICF TOP7 event in Taoyuan, Taiwan would continue or not due to the outbreak of the novel coronavirus in Wuhan, China.Read more
In June 2020, ICF will hold its annual Summit in the city of Dublin. No, not the one in Ireland – nor the ones in the US states of California or Georgia, for that matter. I’m talking about Dublin in the midwestern state of Ohio.
Why is ICF bringing the world to Dublin in June? Because we all need to learn what Dublin can teach us about growing an economy, society and culture in a time when those things are under siege around the world. About being, in other words, a model Intelligent Community.Read more