In Providence, Rhode Island, Janice McDonnell started one of the unlikeliest of revolutions. On seven empty lots in the inner city, she set up a new kind of playground—places where kids could build anything they want, break anything they want. Her larger goals? To fight the disappearance of free play brought on by the relentless testing that’s become the norm in today’s schools—and to spread playful opportunities to all children, not just those from wealthy white families.
Written by TODD OPPENHEIMER
In the inner city neighborhoods of Providence, Rhode Island, Janice O’Donnell set up playgrounds where kids could build anything they want, and break anything they want. She has been stunned by what everyone has learned in the process.
In an era of chronic drought, could desert crops become the new sustainable dinner?
By CHRISTOPHER D. COOK
California, where much of our nation’s food is produced, is facing a historic drought — again. It’s become a familiar refrain, year after year, and the growing climate crisis is only expected to make things worse. Our food system has to change, and a few forward-thinking farmers are adopting some ancient, low-water agricultural techniques for…
New England’s fabled (and much valued) lobstering industry is struggling with all kinds of challenges: an aging workforce, lobster catches that swing from record highs to depressing lows, new regulations, and warming waters caused by climate disruption. So why would a bright young man in Eastport, Maine, commit to a life fishing the seas?
By BEN SPEGGEN
You may not have heard the term “acequia,” but it describes one of oldest, most common-sense systems of irrigation on the planet. The basic idea is to use, and share, a river’s natural patterns rather than rely on the predominant American system—namely, trap it, pipe it, and race to be the first to use it. Our writer tours the globe to track down the acequia’s history, and its leading practitioners.
Story and photography by ROBERTO LOVATO
The blind spots in the American West’s approach to managing water are on full display in Ventura County, a coastal region of Central California that holds the most lucrative farmland in the state.
In a small, Indigenous community in the mountains of Michoacán, Mexico, a band of determined women led the overthrow of a criminal cartel. Their victory gave the town a new sense of purpose by reviving its traditional livelihood, its capacity for self-government, and its communal spirit.
Story and photography by ANDREW SULLIVAN
Listen to “Paul and Elizabeth Kaiser on Healing our Soil, and Going Beyond Organic,” A Craftsmanship Artisan Interview
In this episode of our Artisan Interview audio series, Todd Oppenheimer sits down with Paul and Elizabeth Kaiser, a husband-and-wife farming team who have been at the forefront of a promising approach to growing food called regenerative agriculture. Hear how the movement they helped start could slow climate change; some mind boggling results from recent…