The Apprenticeship Ambivalence
Amidst political discussion about expanding apprenticeships in the U.S., two contradictory realities persist. One is a changing landscape, in both school and work, that increasingly needs a sound apprenticeship system; the other is the refusal by many parents to understand why a formal apprenticeship might make more sense for their children—and their finances—than four years of college.
Written by TODD OPPENHEIMER
The Play Gap
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
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
The Healing Power of “Bello”
On the Northeastern coast of Italy, not far from such meccas of refinement as Bologna and Florence, an unusual drug treatment community named San Patrignano has grown and thrived for more than 40 years. The program’s methodology? Teach people who are struggling with addiction high-level artisanal skills, and slowly but surely, confidence and pride fill what was once a desperate void.
By LAURA FRASER
When Indigenous Women Win
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
America’s Military-Industrial Oligarchy vs. Our Small Towns
Two small-town Cold War facilities—one in Maine, another in South Carolina—each attempted to chart a peacetime future. One became a hub for green and high-tech industry; the other turned into a corrupt, nuclear boondoggle trapped in the past. What made them take such different paths?
By TAYLOR BARNES
The West’s Rural Visionary
The town of John Day sits in the middle of Oregon’s High Desert country, threaded by an abused river, surrounded by a dying timber industry, and getting hotter and drier every year. Enter Nick Green, a new city manager, with grand, out-of-the-box ideas about rural sustainability. Can his vision survive?
by JULIET GRABLE
Could Small Still Be Beautiful?
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
Can the U.S. Bring its Supply Chain Back Home?
Most economic experts say the pandemic didn’t cause today’s supply chain disruptions; it simply brought them to the surface—and made them worse. Meanwhile, Harry Moser has been quietly working, for more than a decade, to bring manufacturing back home, with some stunning successes. Could COVID have finally created “reshoring’s” moment?
By TODD OPPENHEIMER