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Tripping the Light Fantastic

A beautifully restored Wichita-built Stearman biplane shoots nearly straight up into the air, stalls and begins to plummet back to earth, trailing a plume of smoke the whole way. It pulls out at the last possible second, of course, and goes on to perform a succession of aerobatic feats.

On an absolutely perfect Saturday, several Greteman Groupers spread a blanket at the Wichita Flight Festival and sat back to watch the amazing performances.

I took the opportunity to see if I could capture even a hint of the excitement with my camera. It’s a challenge. I took dozens of photos, trying to get a feel for the fluid movement of the aircraft, hoping to catch a moment here or there that told a bit of the story.

Those planes are moving. I’m thinking – if it’s this hard just to get a picture, how hard must it be for the pilots to learn these precision moves? In some of the photos, the nose or the tail are off-frame. Or the light isn’t right, or the composition is boring.

Fortunately, I got a few shots that I was happy with. But even if I hadn’t, it would have been a great day with friends who happen also to be colleagues – a group that appreciates the wonder and beauty of aviation at its best, and the joy of a glorious Kansas summer afternoon.

Click here to see a few of the photos from our weekend outing.

Marc’s Picks for Final Friday – August Edition

The weather’s near perfect, so this Final Friday, make sure you get out early if you plan to get anything from the refreshment table. To help you plan your Final Friday in Wichita, I offer this list of must-see shows for August.

Recollect at Trish Higgins Fine Art

Trish is back in her former gallery space, with a group show that includes sculpture by Sarah Kephart and prints by WSU’s Monika Meler.

Trish Higgins Fine Art, 1425 E. Douglas, 7–9 p.m.

Les Voyeurs III at Tangent Lab

Jaki McElroy returns to Tangent with the third installment of her Les Voyeurs series, which portrays work about the female form from a woman’s point of view. Melissa Slates, Zee’ana Lynn and others will exhibit work with Jaki for this provocative show.

Tangent Lab, 143 N. Rock Island, 3rd Floor, 7–11 p.m.

Matthew Hilyard at Steckline Gallery

One of the busiest artists on the local scene, Matthew presents “Icon.” This series of paintings and prints is a celebration of color and composition, all inspired by the common doily.

Steckline Gallery, De Mattias Fine Arts Center, Newman University, 5-7 p.m.

Annual Report’s Evolution Takes It Online

Our agency’s first major project 20 years ago was the Kansas Health Foundation’s annual report. We’ve done every one since. But two decades later, like us, the report has evolved. And the new all-electronic format is getting tremendous reviews.

Sleek. Dynamic. Accessible.

Readers report that they like how quickly they can navigate through and read the report. They appreciate the choice of dropdowns or a more linear page-by-page exploration. PDFs of the major initiatives and finances make critical information easy to access. The report capitalizes on the interactivity this digital format allows. Its style presents an evolution of the brand itself with flash animation, new photography and a simple-yet-elegant design. It’s a progressive piece for a forward-thinking organization.

Spreading the Word

The email distribution provided a similarly themed template with an easily accessed link. It also facilitated sharing the report with others. That’s been a benefit to the Foundation, as well. It’s now a simple thing to fulfill requests beyond the established distribution list.

Improving the Health of the Planet as Well as the Health of Kansans

The Foundation’s health-focused mission supported a more earth-friendly distribution. No printing or mailing had the added advantage of cost savings. No small thing in this depressed economy when every expenditure is scrutinized and carefully thought through.

Changing With the Times

Printed annual reports are facing extinction. The elaborate print piece that so elegantly relayed important information to stakeholders are now a novelty. Kudos to the Kansas Health Foundation for being one of the early adapters.

Simply Inspired

Ever just want to jump and shout? Then you know how we feel. Tuesday we were one of three companies honored with a Working Well award (alongside Westar Energy and longtime client Royal Caribbean).

We love the plaque (office manager Carol Farrow has yet to release it from her grip). Even more, we love the energy that comes from being in a room full of people committed to making their workplaces healthier, happier places.

Our office manager spent most of Tuesday at this, the fifth-annual Working Well Conference; Sonia and I attended the luncheon and keynote speech. Here are just a few motivating employee comments overheard.

“Work will always be there. If I don’t take care of myself, I won’t be very good at work.”

“You have to make a commitment and stick with it.”

“On the days I don’t feel like exercising, I do it anyway.”

“What’s there to lose? There’s everything to gain.”

A Healthy Team Creates a Healthier Bottom Line

Speakers shared motivation strategies and tools. How to change attitudes. Measure and monitor results. Involve families. That latter point really made us think. We focus so much on team members, but they only account for 40 percent of a company’s healthcare benefit costs. The other 60 percent come from spouses and dependents. If we want to maintain affordable coverage, we need to broaden our outreach. And when you think about it, how great is that? Healthier homes as well as healthier workplaces. It’s a win for all.

Learning What Works

Horizon Air was held up as an example of a company that has realized tremendous savings through its wellness initiatives. Maybe it’s because we serve so many clients in the aviation industry, but the phrase they use really resonates with us. “Running out of runway.”

None of us may have as much time – or runway – as we think. If we need to make a lifestyle change – kicking the cigs, shedding some pounds, exercising daily – let’s do it. So we feel so darn good we really can jump for joy.

Fun and Flowers at the GG Garden Party

We admit that last year’s everyone-into-the-pool garden party raised the bar pretty high. While no cell phones drowned at this year’s party, we all enjoyed kicking back and relaxing.

Our garden party started off hot, but ended up being a pretty perfect night. There were conversations and laughs. Hula hooping and white-girl dancing. And a gorgeous full moon lighting our pool time. It was the Greteman Group mental-wellness night.

Even though we now have the image of Todd Gimlin in tight, cut-off Daisy Dukes forever burnt into our brains and suffer feelings of inadequacy after seeing Jenny Wiley demonstrate her crazy-good hula-hooping skills, the party just reaffirmed that, despite workday stresses, we really are a close-knit group who genuinely like one another.

Nationwide Tour Stop in Wichita Finishes Strong

Strong winds and high temperatures didn’t dampen the 2009 Preferred Health Systems Wichita Open. Attendees, media and Nationwide Tour players who descended onto Crestview Country Club this past weekend found a well-oiled event. Preferred Health Systems Wichita Open Director Roy Turner, Assistant Director Debbie Burch and their impressive team pulled it off yet again.

Chris Tidland from California took home the top prize with 16 under par, with Dave Schultz from North Dakota and Chad Collins from Indiana tying for second at minus-15. Up next for the Tour: The Price Cutter Charity Championship in Springfield, Missouri.

Join in the Party on the Greens

We’ve been having a HoleLottaFun at Crestview Country Club during this week’s Preferred Health Systems Wichita Open. If you haven’t made it out, hope you will join in this weekend, August 8 and 9. The third round of competition takes place on Saturday, with the championship round wrapping things up on Sunday.

You can purchase tickets online at Or, you can receive two free tickets when you purchase any QuikTrip sandwich or wrap and a Pepsi product at participating locations.

This high-profile, community-benefiting event is now in its 20th year, making it one of the longest-standing PGA nationwide tour events. This is your chance to see future champions in the making. Hope to see you on the links.