Our Moment of Thanks

By Todd Oppenheimer

It’s easy to see the world as a very troubled place these days, especially if, like us, you are based in the western United States. Record-breaking wildfires have become almost the new norm in this region, to say nothing of the growing vitriol between the political left and right, both here and abroad.

In the midst of so many setbacks, we feel fortunate that our reporters have been able to find some reasons for hope on each of these fronts. And we’d like to use this Thanksgiving Day holiday to mark these rare instances of durable progress.

One example is for communities that will need to rebuild after suffering from wildfires and hurricanes. In “The Ultra-Ecological House,” Mea McNeil brought us an unusually inspiring account of an approach to home-building that can withstand natural disasters better than standard wood-frame houses. And, as surprising as it may be, the base materials are bales of straw.

Here’s another example: Since hot and dry conditions are expected to generally get worse in the coming years, we can be thankful that a few farmers around the globe are forging new, ecological ways to grow food. In The Drought Fighter,” we profiled Paul Kaiser, an unorthodox California farmer who is grossing more than $100,000 an acre with a fraction of the water that most farmers use. Kaiser’s story led Cultivating Craftsmanship,” our inaugural issue, which was devoted entirely to the next wave of environmentally responsible farming, sometimes called “regenerative agriculture.”

And speaking of climate change, while it is tempting to get discouraged about the downward ecological spiral we seem to be in right now, here too we have found a range of promising work being done. Last year, in The New Water Alchemists,” Judith D. Schwartz introduced readers to a fascinating array of agronomists, foresters, and other scientists who are literally creating new water supplies out of thin air.  And in most cases, the changes they’re making are exactly the kind that can slow down climate change.

In fact, if everyone in the world practiced whatever slice they could of the methods Schwartz discovered, many scientists argue that we could begin to reverse climate change.  Now that would make for quite a day of Thanksgiving.

While we all try to get there, we at The Craftsmanship Initiative want to thank you, too, for joining us on these explorations.