Nand Kishore Chaudhary has built one of India’s most successful handmade carpet ventures by forging close ties to a community that most businesses on the continent shun: the poor, largely uneducated caste of citizens long referred to as “Untouchables.” To help his business grow, he’s also had to develop an apprenticeship system around India’s chronic battles with child labor. To Chaudhary, navigating these issues is the only way to honor the true meaning of sustainability. During a visit to the Jaipur Rugs company, our correspondent tries to figure out how all these pieces come together.
By CATHRYN JAKOBSON RAMIN
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.”
By WILL CALLAN
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.
By SKIP FINLEY
With only a quick glance at today’s overheated political climate—the balkanized geography between red and blue states, the bombastic outgoing president, the strident social media culture, all culminating in the recent 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 that Americans of different beliefs can start believing in each other again.
By MICHAEL ERARD
With gumption, insight, and brilliant use of social media, a few guys in Virginia built an operation that makes what could be the world’s finest toolbelts. In the process, they have also built a community that is bringing new respect for those who work in the trades.
Story by LORRAINE SANDERS
Photography by SOPHIA BAIN
While COVID restrictions shutter businesses right and left, a more positive picture is emerging from worker-owned companies like Mondragon, the Spanish enterprise that’s become the world’s largest co-op, and Evergreen Cooperatives in Cleveland, Ohio. Both operations keep proving that, during economic crises, co-ops adapt better than traditional companies, and they continue paying their workers more equitably as well. Why don’t more businesses follow “the Mondragon model”?
By ROBERTO LOVATO
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
For a brief time in the mid-1970s, a British economist named E.F. Schumacher changed the conversation across the Western world with a daring book entitled “Small Is Beautiful.” Schumacher argued that the push for endless growth was destroying the foundations of meaningful work, and it was doomed to fail. Although Schumacher died before he could develop his ideas, a center founded in his name has tried to continue his legacy. Might his message be even more timely today?
By BRYCE T. BAUER
You’ve read the news: traditional 9-5 jobs are in decline; a patchwork, “gig economy” of contract workers is rushing in to take their place; and colleges can’t keep up with these changes. The resulting chaos creates at least one unaddressed challenge: In a world with fewer shared ladders for advancement, how do tomorrow’s workers build pathways to success?
By TODD OPPENHEIMER