Fly the Friendly Skies – Big Wind Day

Big Wind Day.  #231wind  No, this is not about an airline and the problems they run into with a long history of customer satisfaction issues and overbooking.

The post came about after seeing this meme passed along this morning from friend Lennox Chase.

” Don’t get mad. Don’t get even. Do better. Much better. Rise above.”

stunning first day end broadcast

So, yes, let’s talk Big Wind and a big mountain, affectionately called The Rock Pile. Let’s also talk about the world’s worst weather. The strongest gust of wind ever recorded in a manned weather Observatory. April 12, 1934. Today is the 83rd anniversary of the 231 mile per hour gust of wind recorded at the top of the Mount Washington Observatory in New Hampshire. Sure, another record was set more recently but it was an unmanned location in a typhoon. Sorry Australia, I am talking about everyday conditions. Snow and other stuff – every month. No other location of human activity has seen a recorded speed such as this.

So instead of angry airline meme’s, I prefer to focus on a fun event taking place on Mount Washington today where friends John Donovan and Dan Szczesny are completing their week of volunteerism at the Mount Washington Observatory.  They have been attending to basic human needs by providing food, housecleaning, companionship and other services for the brave men and women who staff this station 365 days a year including those days and nights in the long cold dead of a New Hampshire winter.

john with 231wind cake

John takes the cake

On this, the 83rd anniversary of the Big Wind, Dan and John cooked up a big wind Day celebration. Cake to support the efforts of the people manning the station.

cisse hot cocoa New Heights TWM sign

Dan’s selfie with Cisse



Perhaps served with the hot cocoa from my favorite fair trade cocoa company, Cisse.

After all, it must be nice to kick back with a good cup of hot cocoa when the outside temperature is below zero and the wind is at the higher end of the charts. Hence, we have found another community of all good people doing good things for others.


Dan has published several books including NH 2017 non fiction Literary Award winner, the Nepal Chronicles about his wedding in Nepal and The Adventures of Buffalo and Tough Cookie – hiking, with his foster child, now teenager, New Hampshire’s 48 peaks with a view. Atop the Rock Pile, he is creating an interesting year for his book in progress to be published by Hobblebush in June 2018. Indeed it is part of his 365 days of mischief and adventure on the mountain.

My role as cheerleader and Community Builder is to help them with some amplification of the messages. Adding value where I can because what Dan and John are doing is a lot more beneficial and enjoyable than much of the other stuff we read about online these days.

Want to fly the friendly Skies? Take a look at their video atop the mountain.  Having your feet lifted off the ground by wind forces in excess of 100 miles an hour with temperatures considerably below freezing is the real test of power.

You can help make a difference:

John Donovan is raising funds for the Observatory. You can add to his fund drive supporting the work of the Mount Washington Observatory here; Seek the Peak 2017.

Dan is modest about his need for funds but spending time and travel driving to and from the Mount Washington area isn’t without its expenses.  I convinced him to put a PayPal site so we could all help him out by buying a tank or two of gas and provide some spending money for his research. I like his writing style and I would encourage you to send him $30 to help pay for a tank of gas or two that it takes to get him up there!

Now that you’ve found you way to #231wind day, take a look at these two people making a difference in the lives of others.  And now, when you go online and see all that big hot air out there take a moment to make a donation to things that provide comfort and make a difference.

Please share this post because this is a BIG WIND that matters


Veterans Day: Symbiotic Relationship to the Community The B&M connection

Keith Spiro day in photos

find the full story in the November 2015 CRYER

I was raised in the era of the Vietnam conflict. Love it (the USA) or leave it vs. lots of protests against an unjust war far away from our shores. As a society, we weren’t particularly kind to or respectful of the returning soldiers, the community of combat veterans that risked their lives to protect our freedoms. The peace movement hoped for the day when the schools were well funded and the military had to hold a bake sale.

photo by Keith Spiro

Heritage flights. A vintage P51 WWII fighter paired with the F22 Raptor

Fast forward to September’s Great State of Maine Airshow, a now private enterprise working with members of the military, the community and local organizations. The more than 70,000 attendees spoke with their money and attention on the air show. It was a mixture of entertainment and precision flying by current and former members of the military.

Keith Spiro Photo

For some it was a day at the beach, complete with sunscreen, food, blankets and lawn chairs. For others, it was a day of camaraderie and remembrance. Beyond the nostalgia of older planes flying was the raw power of the Army’s Raptor and the Navy’s Blue Angels demonstration team.

Precision work, flawless outcomes require all hands on deck at the top of their skillset – every time.

For the Southern Midcoast community, and a former military base, it does take all the parts working together to make our community and society a place worth living in and paying honor to those who protect our great nation.Keith Spiro Photo Volunteers were everywhere. Booths selling programs, food and souvenirs were manned by the many different community groups with each getting both visibility and a percentage back on sales for their efforts. In some ways, this is the modern incarnation of that bake sale. Every group is vying for attention and revenue and new people to help.

Recruitment was an obvious activity for the all volunteer military as well as for the Maine State Police. I asked one of the active service members about the presence of protesters outside the gates and got a response worthy of this great country of ours.

“We are here to protect and serve all citizens and it is our service and sacrifice that allows them the ability to share their opinion and feelings without fear of punishment or death.”

Yes, “punishment or death” for sharing a differing opinion or being of the wrong gender or religion. There are many countries and societies, we civilians mostly just read about, where the intolerance of differences subjects one to brutal treatment and death at the hands of the leadership be it military, civilian or radical. But NOT here. Not in the United States of America. To our men and women in uniform, we thank you for your service and the freedoms we receive because of it.

Keith Spiro Photo Patriot Riders of America – supporting yesterdays and today’s military and first responders because freedom isn’t free. Among their volunteer efforts- remodeling a veterans home to accommodate aging and disabilities.

Thank you for your service.

Boston and Maine Connection – The Amazon & Project Piaba

Imagine that if you could buy just one fish, you could save a tree, a way of life, a whole community and contribute to the preservation of nearly one fifth of the world’s fresh water reserves. Would you buy it? Would you spend the $3.79 it will cost you? There’s just one catch and it is actually a very small one; the fish needs to be one of the wild caught ones from the Amazon Rain Forest. Sidestep the cloudy controversy around farm raised vs. wild caught. These fish, if they aren’t harvested, will die off in huge numbers, so you are doing them a favor when you add them to your home or office aquarium where they can live as long as ten years. Last month, I journeyed to THE Amazon, the real and original one, not Jeff Bezo’s online emporium. In the Amazon rain forest in Brazil I discovered the close connection between Boston and Maine and yes, the Amazon Rain Forest. Most folks don’t know this yet, but there are more similarities than you might think swimming just below the surface. Here are two examples of ways to innovate. Entrepreneurship is alive and well there. Piaba festival photo by Keith Spiro  I met the founders of the first air water manufacturing plant in the world. Bottled in the heart of the forest from condensing high humidity air, Amazon Air Water will enter the premium water market while returning 25% of the profits back to the community to fund school supplies, computers, tools and the protection of local culture. They were one of the important sponsors of the Piaba Festival that I met during my travels. Project Piaba itself is the 25 year collaboration between the fishing families of Amazonas, Brazil and a non-profit organization headquartered in Boston and led by co-founder and New England Aquarium biologist Scott Dowd. New England Aquarium Biologist Scott Dowd photo by Keith SpiroTheir focus on the ornamental fish trade in the Rio Negro basin of the Amazon has created some incredible connections, friendships and good business. This region in Brazil once supplied a large percentage of the cardinal tetras and other beautiful fresh water fish for home aquariums, public aquariums and zoos worldwide. Project Piaba has quietly helped build structure and support for the entrepreneurial community of over 20,000 people in a sustainable lifestyle model. With nearly one fifth of the entire fresh water of the planet earth residing within the boundaries of the Amazon, we all have a large stake in protecting this ecosystem which does not rely on harvesting the forest or polluting the water in the pursuit of mineral extraction. These wild caught ornamental fish have a high birth rate and a major die-off in low water season so the capture and export of these live fish have worldwide benefit. Fishermen in Brazil and Maine share similar issuesI found amazing similarities between Mid Coast Maine fishing communities and those in Mid Coast Brazil once you got beyond the salt water ocean of Maine vs. freshwater for as far as the eye can see in the Amazon. The Piaba Festival photo by Keith SpiroThe annual Piaba festival was inspired by Scott Dowd’s project and celebrates the fishermen and women of Barcelos and the Rio Negro region of Brazil. For one long twenty four hour period the population doubles and friendly competitions between cardinal tetra and discus fish groups take place in a performance space built especially for it; The Piabadome. You don’t get to choose the group you represent. You are born into one or the other and you gain or lose points based on how respectful you are of the other group’s performance. Cheer them on and gain points, be passive or leave early and your team loses points! How’s that for collaboration? This August Brazil will honor the Piaberas & Piaberos, officially for the first time, by hosting a celebration the night before the start of their next fishing season. The Amazon is everything you might imagine and nothing like you think and it is at risk of being destroyed by the scarcity of traditional work, over regulation, misunderstanding, and controversy that the locals know is as much myth as reality. Sound like Maine’s fishing communities? It sure does. Want more information? Want to apply entrepreneurship principles to your community? Drop me a line and I can put you in touch with like-minded world citizens to help preserve your unique part of the world. Or click here for more information on Project Piaba.   This article originally appeared in THE CRYER of Mid Coast Maine in Keith Spiro’s Column, The Boston and Maine Connection. March 2015. You can see the original article here:B&M Connection March 2015  Project Piaba