You’ve probably never heard the term “acequia,” but it describes one of the oldest methods of irrigation on the planet. Too bad American ranchers have largely ignored it.
Animals, plants, soil, and air have long collaborated to regulate our climate by stimulating “the water cycle.” They have also helped control natural disasters, like the wildfires in Australia — until we disrupted their partnership. The good news is that there is a clear pathway to reconciliation.
In a small, indigenous Mexican community in the mountains of Michoacán, 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
While annual wildfires and other “natural” disasters mount in Australia, California, and elsewhere, a growing number of researchers and pastoralists around the globe have found remarkable, untapped opportunities to limit these troubles. It turns out that animals, plants, soil, and air have long collaborated to regulate our climate through their water use—until we disrupted their partnership. An environmental author finds a pathway to reconciliation.
By JUDITH D. SCHWARTZ
You have probably never heard of 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 instead of 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 its history, and its leading practitioners.
Story and photography by ROBERTO LOVATO
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?
By CRAWFORD COATES
While many people in arid regions of the world struggle just to find water, others in rain-soaked developing countries face a different challenge: getting water that is safe enough to drink. What will it take to turn their precious water clean—so they can stay healthy, and we can stop spending scarce resources on mountains of plastic water bottles?
By HEATHER BOURBEAU
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 play brought on by the relentless testing that’s become the norm in today’s schools—and to spread playful opportunities beyond rich white families.
By TODD OPPENHEIMER
Where else would you expect to find a band of techno-scientific beer geeks except in the industrial side of San Francisco, Ground Zero for start-ups? Join our fermentation correspondent as she travels to the outer edges of beer flavors with the boys of Method Beer.
By GRACE RUBENSTEIN