EDITORIAL: This won’t take long

PLEASE PUT THE FOLLOWING NOTE on your calendar, preferably the one you use. We are taking a day off August 26. We will publish what we lovingly call a “double issue” on August 19. It will be marked on the front page “Issue 33-34.”

We’ll resume our regularweekly schedule September 2. For those who are keeping score, that will be Issue 35.

We know that many of you are busy people or have things on your mind more important than remembering this notice of a temporary ripple in our regular publication schedule. You many not get the time to read this editorial or you may be distracted by the shock that summer has gone by so fast! So we’ll print reminders in the paper as we get nearer to the date.

We like to think positively: it’s not that you won’t get a paper on the week of August 26; it’s that you will have received the August 26 paper when you received the issue of August 19. But if you don’t get the August 19 issue, then you really won’t have gotten both papers and you should contact your post office as soon as possible because… we’ll be on vacation.

Confused? For people in the news business it’s an occupational hazard. We intentionally try our best to explain—even make sense of—the world as we find it. And it turns out that every once in a while we need a short break to keep what we do in perspective.

Consider the rainy weather we have all been experiencing. We know the science well enough to understand that the cars most of us drive produce unacceptable amounts of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, which leads to bigger storms with more moisture coming down as rain (and ice and snow), like the destructive flooding in Rensselaer County last week, tearing up roads and, here at our office in Ghent, causing the toilet to cease working. It’s our only toilet.

But aside from the inconvenience and the bill for repairing it, what has the toilet got to do with local news?

It’s news because it reminds us that in addition to the mass media, headline grabbing stories about droughts, and “heat domes” that change the weather, there are other, much smaller and unexpected disruptions that change our lives in ways we didn’t anticipate. Our office toilet isn’t broken. We couldn’t use it because the chain of storms has raised the water table in the soil so high that there’s no place for the water and waste flushed from the toilet bowl to go.

The problem is, in part, a matter of scale. One toilet? No big deal. But a village or a city water treatment plant can be overwhelmed by excessive storm runoff, causing temporary release of untreated sewage into public waterways. Rising water tables can also infiltrate drinking water wells, raising the possibility of contamination.

There’s a local group of climate activists talking about ways to respond to a disaster like the floods that rampaged through parts of Germany and Belgium earlier this month. There’s a lot to do. We will do our best to keep you up to date.

Then there’s the list of ongoing stories: the pandemic; the coverage of local schools and governments, the new policies guiding police, public housing and the economy, the arts, and all the other ways that people here interact. And those are just a few of the items we know need attention.

We are dedicated to reporting local news in print and on the website. Some of us will even acknowledge that we love what we do.

But if you don’t take the time to step back and appreciate how special this place is, you can lose sight of how lucky we are. It doesn’t take us long to recharge, but sometimes we need to do it.

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