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Aya Rokeach: Notes from a Young Oboist

Aya Rokeach is tall and sunny, with long French braids and a gap-tooth smile. She first encountered the oboe at five, while attending a symphony performance with her family. “My dad’s a musician, so I focus on instruments in concerts a lot. I fell in love with the oboe’s sound. I was no more than…

A Traditional Balinese Craft Rediscovers Its Roots — in Leaves

If you’ve ever been lucky enough to visit Bali, Indonesia, you might have fond memories of white-sand beaches, ornate temples, and gracious hospitality. But for many Western visitors, the island’s most striking feature is its rich cultural heritage, including its many craft traditions. From the daily religious offerings made of rice, flowers, and banana leaves,…

Listen to “Straw Bale: The Ultra-Ecological House”

As our environmental challenges mount — from devastating wildfires to hurricanes and floods — one solution, largely ignored thus far, may lie in using an unlikely-sounding material for home-building: straw. Has the lowly straw bale home’s time finally come?

Listen to “The Bonsai Kid”

A young Oregonian believes that he can create a uniquely American form of the Japanese bonsai tree. And he is literally betting the farm on the idea that if he builds it, they will come.

Listen to “When Indigenous Women Win”

In the mountains of Michoacán, Mexico, a band of determined indigenous women led the overthrow of a criminal cartel. Their victory revived the town’s traditional livelihood, and ushered in a model form of self-government.

Listen to “The Drought Fighter”

Could a small, controversial farmer in Northern California have found the most effective way to grow food in a warming world? With gross income of more than $100,000 an acre, Paul Kaiser certainly thinks so.

Italy’s Endangered Violin Forest

Since the 16th century, Cremona’s luthiers—including Stradivari himself—have been using an unusually resonant wood from Paneveggio, known as Italy’s “violin forest,” to handcraft the world’s finest string instruments. Then a 2018 storm decimated the forest. A band of experts in Cremona is now rallying to save this iconic tradition. A documentary short.


Arkansas’ Seedbed of Unique Rice Varieties

  Editor’s Note: This sidebar first appeared in our Winter 2020 issue. It is being republished as originally written, without new reporting.   Chris Isbell’s work to seek out a new market for specialized sake rice is part of a small but growing trend. Some farmers, in the face of lower commodity prices in recent years,…

On a Rugged Greek Island, an Herbal Scientist Follows the Path of His Ancestors

It’s midafternoon on the Greek island of Amorgos on one of the longest and hottest days of the year, and Vangelis Vassalos is headed out to harvest. Vassalos, who is compact and wiry at 61, wears a floppy white hat to protect his bronzed scalp from the midday sun as he walks a few hundred…