Across the U.S., scores of schools and other programs offer courses and workshops in everything from boat-building to glass blowing to knife making. But no one has created an informed guide to all these courses—until now. If you’ve always wanted to become a better woodworker, make and smoke your own sausage, or fix your grandfather’s antique violin, here are detailed descriptions of the nine best programs we could find.
For centuries, spiritual faith has been shaped in part by how its scribes form the letters of their sacred texts. This is particularly the case with Judaism. We visit with three scribes in three very different corners of Jewish faith—Jerusalem; New York City’s Orthodox neighborhood in Brooklyn; and the liberal enclave of Berkeley, California—to understand why people still go to all this trouble. Along the way, we walk across the religious aisle to the Muslim world to see what happens to the Urdu language of India and Pakistan when its script gets computerized.
One would think that the invention of digital lettering for our commercial signs—on everything from shops to billboards—was nothing but an industrial step forward. As it’s turned out, yesteryear’s signs, which were all painted by hand, offered a beauty and personality that today’s automated version has been unable to duplicate; more important, a hand-made sign lasts much longer. Our correspondent explores what’s left of the old tradition, and stumbles on small but lively seeds of revival.
A growing number of researchers and pastoralists around the globe have found remarkable, untapped opportunities in nature’s water cycle. It turns out that animals, plants, soil, and air have long collaborated to regulate our climate through water—until we disrupted their partnership. An environmental author sees a pathway to reconciliation.
Eddie Muller has dedicated his life to finding, and restoring, lost films of the great Film Noir era of the 1940s and ’50s. At this point, Muller is much like one of his favorite characters—a beaten down but determined gumshoe, always looking for a lucky break. At stake: the preservation of our cinematic history, well beyond film noir.
The blind spots in the American West’s water systems are in full display in Ventura County, a coastal region of southern California that happens to hold the most lucrative farmland in the state. Equally abundant, and somewhat in progress, are opportunities for enlightenment. Which path will prevail?
Ross Shafer made his mark creating a popular brand of mountain bikes, called Salsa, and a line of small but crucial bicycle parts that no one had brought to the market before. Now he’s making what might be the world’s most beautiful “pedal steel guitar.” Might Shafer’s relentless eclecticism offer a model for a kind of second Renaissance?
OK, so some of them look silly—brown and fat with oversized joints, like a high-school basketball player who has sprained every limb and wrapped each elbow and knee with ace bandages. But Craig Calfee, the respected (and highly successful) carbon frame builder, swears by the strength, flexibility, and ecological value of the bamboo bicycle.
As the economy’s reliance on innovation grows, the commercial offerings of toys for girls remains, well, somewhat less than innovative. Fortunately, a few women who are educators, engineers, and entrepreneurs are starting to figure this problem out by reviving the time-honored principles of tinkering. But how could we have gotten so off track? One writer goes searching for the answer.
Throughout history vintners used clay vessels to age their wine—until the French discovered the marvels of the oak barrel. Now—for fun, for distinctly different flavors, and to save some fine old trees—a few wineries are giving clay a second chance, Roman style.
A California biologist finds toxic metals in kale, gets slammed for it on the Internet, and then finds evidence that this metal could be more troublesome than he had thought.
In an era of chronic drought, could desert crops become the new sustainable dinner?
No matter how organic your shopping is, when you sit down to a plate of leafy greens, chances are you are supporting farming methods that contribute to global warming. There are, however, other options.
Al Ruozi, age 97, is a high-school dropout whose primary invention was a machine, largely forgotten by now, that can help farmers save water, improve soil quality and fight climate change.
The carbon trading market is heating up again, and a lot of people who have been figuring out ways to grab carbon dioxide out of the air are back in the game. California’s John Wick may well be at the head of the pack.
This time, a revolution that had nothing to do with ideology, and it bore a bounty of fruit. Could the U.S. learn sustainability from its new friend?