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Creating a World Built To Last

Despite mounting evidence that our world is on an unsustainable course—illustrated most visibly by today’s accelerating climate disruptions—we see shreds of hope in individuals who are creating products and systems that are built to last. By following the principles of quality and integrity that have long been the hallmarks of craftsmanship, these dedicated souls are leading the way to a sustainable future. Throughout this quarter, we introduce you to some of our favorites.

The Craft of Sustainable Rice Farming

For generations, the Isbell family of Arkansas has been tinkering with innovations in rice farming. They were the first American farmers to grow elite varieties of rice for sushi and sake, and have pioneered rice cultivation methods that can conserve water and slow climate change.

Photography by KAT WILSON

The Human Cost of Recycled Cotton

Everyone in the fashion world wants to find a more sustainable, environmentally friendly way to make cotton clothing—or a benign (and equally comfy) alternative to it. In Scandinavia, an enterprising cadre of materials scientists is on the brink of succeeding. But almost no one appreciates these innovations’ social costs.

Story and photography by ALDEN WICKER

The New Water Alchemists

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.


The Carbon Gatherer

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.

With photography by JAK WONDERLY

Other Topics In This Theme

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.


Real Film Strikes Back

Against all odds, and despite the efforts of Hollywood and Silicon Valley to make movies in digital form, old-fashioned, analog, motion-picture film is hotter than ever. What is it about the mystery and magic of celluloid that digital production methods, with all their high-tech tricks, can’t seem to match?

Written by DAVID MUNRO

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Field Notes

Berea College Students Craft a Bright Future, Tuition-Free


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