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America’s Black Artisans and Innovators

Over the last year, America has experienced its most profound racial reckoning in decades. To do our part, we have dedicated our Winter issue, guest edited by Melanie Eversley, to the generations of creativity that Black Americans have brought to this country, enriching our culture at every turn. In this issue, we explore their contributions in food, art, and community building; in future issues, we’ll add stories about Black innovators in music, fabric arts, and the myriad other pursuits that constitute a vibrant society. We hope you’ll enjoy these inspiring portraits as they accumulate.

The Architecture of Trust

With only a quick glance at today’s overheated political climate—the balkanized geography between red and blue states, a bombastic former president, the strident social media culture, all culminating in an attack on the U.S. Capitol—you get an unmistakable message: We don’t know how to talk with each other anymore, let alone build common ground. An expert in linguistics explores our new argumentative culture to find ways to revive the craft of conversation, so that Americans of different beliefs can start believing in each other again.


A Black Artist’s Haven on a (Mostly) White Vineyard

Martha’s Vineyard has long been seen as primarily a summer getaway paradise for the East Coast elite. Its reality, however, is far more complex. Dotted throughout the posh homes in this gorgeous island are substantial communities of minorities. One of the biggest and most popular, the town of Oak Bluffs, has welcomed and inspired generations of Black Americans, including an artist and doll maker named Janice Frame.


A Home-Grown Social Entrepreneur

Since 2010, Kelly Carlisle has been breaking new ground—literally— for youngsters in East Oakland and beyond, using an urban farm to inspire them to engage with the world as curious citizens. “Part of my work,” she says, “is to make sure we expand their worldview.”


An Artist Who Listens

Martha Mae Jones, a New York fabric artist, has built a rich (and financially successful) life by traveling to various countries, bouncing between art and political activism along the way. Throughout it all, she says, her creations, as well as her life choices, have come from heeding inner voices.


Soul Food Gets the Vegan Treatment

Driven primarily by health, Black vegan restaurateurs are creating plant-based versions of soul food that avoid meat, salty fats, and other bodily evildoers, while still retaining the succulence and rich memories of those beloved old family recipes. And in some cases, the turn to the vegan lifestyle is also turning some lives around.


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