Paul VecchioneI caught up with Paul Vecchione straight off an Ironman finish in Coeur D’Alene, Idaho, a town whose name seems to say, “This isn’t Boise.”

Idaho may remind you of a giant potato, but this town, nestled upon an alpine lake near Spokane, is far from middle America. And as he tells me about the race in his downtown Manhattan apartment, Vecchione, whom I’ve known since high school — though not well — keeps impressing me.

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When your cousin Hermine came to visit, I was sitting on my porch and watched how she snapped large branches from our pine trees with her 40mph winds. I wondered to myself what twice the wind speed would do? Little did I know at the time that only a few weeks later much of the East Coast got a taste of that and then some. Your visit did not come unannounced and I kept my eye on you.

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When Hurricane Matthew hit the Lowcountry, Rose Hill resident Amy Harper kept in touch with her neighbors — both those who had stayed behind to weather the storm and those who were scattered across the country — by using an app on her iPhone called Nextdoor.

“At first, we communicated about which stores were open,” said Harper, who has lived in the Lowcountry for almost 30 years, 10 of them in Rose Hill. “Then the conversations turned to lost pets, water pressure issues, who had power and who did not. We’re now talking about roofing contractors and the best place to get hurricane shutters.”

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Ancient lore and modern research suggest early Polynesians migrated to North America following the seasonal flight patterns of the Golden Plover. One generation would row their boats as far as they could keep up with the birds. Then they noted their location and came home. The next year, they would row out to last year’s endpoint, waiting this time with a head start. Over hundreds of years and many generations, through birds and stars, the Polynesians found Hawaii.

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The recipe of how to ruin a great country starts with a political system that is broken and divided into two fractions that seem unable to produce any results for the people who elected them.

Unfortunately, that is happening in a time when decisive actions are crucial for the well-being of the U.S. and when the world needs our leadership to create a sustainable planet.

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More than 10,000 athletes from 206 countries gathered for the Summer Olympics in Rio to compete in 41 sports, and the world was watching. I’m using this global event as a mirror, curious about the image its sends back to us. Here is what I observed:

Rio got it done. If you believed any of the negative hype leading up to Rio 2016, you would have bet that the current state of affairs in Brazil would throw this event into complete chaos. But not so much.

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We are ONE species inhabiting one planet.

Globalization made it true that everybody and everything is connected in some ways, and nothing is going to put this genie back in the bottle. Whether we like it or not, trade, the internet, multinational corporations, people and ideas moving across all borders are simply forces that cannot be contained with walls or increased security measures.

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For a brief window of time on the B train, clanging over the Manhattan Bridge from Brooklyn, you emerge from underground.

If you’re lucky, the sun is hanging mellow, setting slowly in high summer, casting distant transformers in a copper tone, its light bouncing off the skyscraper windows and following you. I climb the stairs of the Grand Street station onto Chinatown’s northern edge, its assortment of fermented market offerings greeting my nose straight on.

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marcofrey1Since 1982, depending how you define them, there have been at least 81 public mass shootings across the country.1

What’s more, this style of shooting, perpetrated by an individual rather than a gang, political group, or criminal organization is largely American. From 1966 to 2012, a third of the world’s mass shootings took place here. What’s difficult to swallow is how random they seem, the motives blurry, and the shooter somewhat ordinary. That’s when you become jaded. But the deadliest mass shooting in the US at the Orlando gay nightclub on June 12 brought a sharp new pain to our hearts — and created a lot of incoherent noise.

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“Dad! I want to play on the trampoline!” yells one of his four kids. “No, not this second” replies Brandon Runyan, and then turns to me: “This is the chaos of my life.” A toddler’s shriek pierces through my computer speakers. We’re on video chat and Isla, age 7, reminds us, “You’ve been on this interview for minutes!” She wants dad to continue their bike-riding lessons. Runyan, still in his scrubs, calmly answers each question, even if delayed by constant, if cute, interruptions. Most mornings, he sneaks out at 5 a.m. for CrossFit. That’s before the kids wake up and must be shepherded through the morning’s tasks.

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marc jun216It is a reality that Hilton Head Island and Bluffton are socially and economically joined at the hip. To get a feel for just how much the two towns are connected, just stand at the bridge at any time day or night and watch the traffic rush by.

It is also a reality that healthy local economies depend on updated infrastructures, which includes the transportation system. Since there is no real viable public transportation in the Lowcountry, roadways remain the only way to get from place A to place B.

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SAVANNAH – HARDEEVILLE - BLUFFTON/HILTON HEAD ISLAND - BEAUFORT

25 years ago, when I predicted that the Savannah, Beaufort and Hilton Head Island triangle would grow into a cohesive population and commerce center, most people looked at me with disbelief.

This was at a time when the Savannah airport was a one-story terminal with only a handful of flights arriving and most things were still done by hand. (SAV is currently offering direct flights to 13 different cities). Driving to the island was via a twolane winding road covered with a canopy of trees. Somewhere on the right there was Bluffton, which was a small, quaint little town that mostly went unnoticed.

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I always called him Tripp. I remember mornings at South Carolina Yacht Club’s summer sailing camp, putting together the boxy Optimists before launching them into the water. The effort of the work was worth it with the release of your boat into the water, yours alone, its one sail getting fat in the wind. Our shared childhood started at Hilton Head Preparatory Academy, trading Legos in the sandbox in a tight-knit trio: me, Prentice “Tripp” Brower and John DeZeeuw. But while my dad always had to pull me back to the water, it was hard to peel Tripp away, his skin growing ever tanner. When I migrated to public school, Tripp stayed at Prep, where he started its first sailing team.

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PROMISES, PROMISES, PROMISES… We heard them all: Affordable healthcare for all, free community college, a 1,900-mile-long wall on the southern border, $15 minimum wage, deporting 11 million hard-working Latinos, strengthening our nuclear and non-nuclear military capabilities, carpet bombing ISIS, etc.

It never fails to amaze me how many things are being promised by presidential hopefuls without telling us exactly how we are going to pay for all of it. If you believe “The Donald,” Mexico will at least pay for the wall (which of course is not going to happen), and if you are feeling “The Bern,” the 1 percent will pay for most of it — never mind that his proposed tax reforms will not pass unless Congress shifts to a Democratic majority.

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