The Secret to Vintage Jeans
Fall 2017

The Secret to Vintage Jeans

On December 31, the doors will close in North Carolina on Cone Denim’s White Oak plant, the first, and now the last, big textile mill in the U.S. to make vintage-style denim. When our correspondent goes visiting, he discovers that the secret to classic jeans has long come from a strange mix of obsolete machinery and American mythology. And their future, it turns out, is not as bleak as you might expect.

BY Brian Howe
The New Water Alchemists
Winter 2017

The New Water Alchemists

A growing number of researchers and pastoralists around the globe have found remarkable, untapped opportunities in nature’s water cycle. It turns out that animals, plants, soil, and air have long collaborated to regulate our climate through water—until we disrupted their partnership. An environmental author sees a pathway to reconciliation.

BY Judith D. Schwartz
The Play Gap
Fall 2016

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 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
Cuba’s madres (y padres) of invention
Fall 2016

Cuba’s madres (y padres) of invention

Since the communist revolution of 1959, Cuba has been on an economic rollercoaster. The country has lurched from dependency to self-sufficiency, in a bubble of isolation where technological time stopped. Our correspondent visits the artists and self-taught engineers who have kept Cuba running throughout its bizarre ride.

BY Rob Waters
Let Tinkerbell Tinker
Winter 2016

Let Tinkerbell Tinker

As the economy’s reliance on innovation grows, the commercial offerings of toys for girls remains, well, somewhat less than innovative. Fortunately, a few women who are educators, engineers, and entrepreneurs are starting to figure this problem out by reviving the time-honored principles of tinkering. But how could we have gotten so off track? One writer goes searching for the answer.

BY David Munro
How Does America “Reshore” Skills That Have Disappeared?
Spring 2016

How Does America “Reshore” Skills That Have Disappeared?

Now that manufacturing wages in Asia are starting to rise, some U.S. industries have started to bring their businesses back to our own shores. Many others remain skittish, however—of our tighter regulatory environment, of the high cost of U.S. labor, and of the paucity of workers who know how to make things anymore. Can that spiral be reversed?

BY Todd Oppenheimer
The Value of Time
Spring 2016

The Value of Time

When an American made, battery powered, quartz watch costs $1,500, and its counterparts from other countries, including Switzerland, range from $50 to more than $50,000, what’s the difference between them all? A dive into the eternal appeal of wrist sculptures.

BY Todd Oppenheimer
The Kitchen Bladesmith
Winter 2016

The Kitchen Bladesmith

When Bob Kramer decided it was time to make his own cutlery, he had no idea that his career turn would take him deep into the secret lives of knives. Now he’s established a reputation as one of the most revered bladesmiths in the world–playing David to the Goliath cutlery manufacturers of Germany and Japan.

BY Todd Oppenheimer
Occupy Your Bathroom
Winter 2016

Occupy Your Bathroom

Every few years, some new razor system hits the market pledging to save your face and your pocketbook. Virtually all of them miss the boat, because the golden age of shaving occurred 50 years ago. The good news is that all that vintage gear is still available, and a few entrepreneurs are now making beautiful modern versions. A visit with the American craftsmen who are making what might be the best of those razors.

BY Todd Oppenheimer
Real Shaving: a Gift Guide
Winter 2016

Real Shaving: a Gift Guide

If you’re curious about the offerings beyond (or before) today’s over-priced, plasticized, landfill clogging shaving gear, we’ve got you covered. A collector of traditional shaving tools, and a prolific writer on the topic, offers a primer—and some very wise buying tips. Male readers in particular, beware: It is very easy to get hooked on this stuff.

BY Michael Ham
Mezcal’s Dance with Extinction
Fall 2015

Mezcal’s Dance with Extinction

By its very nature, mezcal—the precursor and parent to Mexico’s legendary tequila—is an endangered beverage. It must be made from wild agave, which is in increasingly short supply. But a determined mezcal scientist thinks he has an answer.

BY Grace Rubenstein
Rum’s Revenge
Fall 2015

Rum’s Revenge

In Brooklyn, a former nuclear engineer borrows from the Caribbean’s traditional methods of distilling rum, reviving America’s first spirit in the process.

BY Bryce T. Bauer
The Vegetable Detective
Summer 2015

The Vegetable Detective

A molecular biologist is finding what could be dangerous levels of heavy metals in plants like kale, often called the “queen” of the vegetable kingdom. And they’ve shown up the most in organic varieties.

BY Todd Oppenheimer
The Soul of French Invention
Spring 2015

The Soul of French Invention

An American woodworker’s love affair with “the best” (and perhaps least well-known) sculpture museum in Paris – and what the affair taught him.

BY Gary Rogowski
The Drought Fighter
Winter 2015

The Drought Fighter

On a frigid, eight-acre farm just outside downtown Sebastopol, Paul Kaiser has devised a hyper-intensive form of organic agriculture that is grossing more than $100,000 an acre. And, he believes, saving the planet at the same time. Yet a number of farming experts see trouble on his horizon.

BY Todd Oppenheimer
The Many Stripes of Sustainable Agriculture
Winter 2015

The Many Stripes of Sustainable Agriculture

Was Jared Diamond right to call agriculture the worst mistake of the human race? Industrial agriculture vastly expanded the world’s food supply, but it’s also based on a fossil fuel economy that is slowly running out of juice. Are the alternatives like this “permaculture” operation in Wisconsin ready for prime time? Photo courtesy of newforestfarm.net

BY Jessica Carew Kraft
The Bug Whisperer
Winter 2015

The Bug Whisperer

Mark Sturges doesn’t advertise and clients have to find him by word of mouth, but find him they do. He’s become a master of an agricultural art as old as agriculture itself: basic compost.

BY Kristin Ohlson