Summer Workshops for the Aspiring Artisan
Spring 2017

Summer Workshops for the Aspiring Artisan

Across the U.S., scores of schools and other programs offer courses and workshops in everything from boat-building to glass blowing to knife making. But no one has created an informed guide to all these courses—until now. If you’ve always wanted to become a better woodworker, make and smoke your own sausage, or fix your grandfather’s antique violin, here are detailed descriptions of the nine best programs we could find.

BY Natalie Jones
The Architecture of Trust
Spring 2017

The Architecture of Trust

With only a quick glance at today’s political climate—the strident social media landscape, the balkanized geography between red and blue states, the bombastic president—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
The Power of the Scribe
Spring 2017

The Power of the Scribe

For centuries, spiritual faith has been shaped in part by how its scribes form the letters of their sacred texts. This is particularly the case with Judaism. We visit with three scribes in three very different corners of Jewish faith—Jerusalem; New York City’s Orthodox neighborhood in Brooklyn; and the liberal enclave of Berkeley, California—to understand why people still go to all this trouble. Along the way, we walk across the religious aisle to the Muslim world to see what happens to the Urdu language of India and Pakistan when its script gets computerized.

BY Bryce T. Bauer
Tomorrow’s Library
Spring 2017

Tomorrow’s Library

On the leafy edge of residential San Francisco, a simple Greek revival building that once served as a church for Christian Scientists has been transformed into the library of the future. Behold the world’s only Internet Archive—home to 11 million books and texts, 279 billion web pages, 100,000 software programs, and 120 statuettes, just to name a few of its holdings.

BY Tim Redmond
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
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 Shinola Polish
Spring 2016

The Shinola Polish

In the 1960s, Shinola, the venerable American shoe-polish company that became famous for a World War II soldier’s crack, “You don’t know shit from Shinola,” shut its doors. The move was a fitting bookend to the golden age of American manufacturing. Then, in 2011, a Texas developer revived the name as a maker of watches, leather goods, and retro bicycles in the broken heart of downtown Detroit, where, the company says, “American is Made.” Is making things in America again that easy?

BY Laura Fraser
Walmart’s Made-In-USA shell game
Spring 2016

Walmart’s Made-In-USA shell game

After being called out for deceptive advertising by a watchdog organization, and then the FTC, Walmart tries to fix the problem by creating a web of confusion. The watchdog’s legal counsel believes the company’s website still violates a variety of FTC rules. But no one seems to be doing much about it.

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
Can a Colonial Crafts Town Survive Modern Mexico?
Winter 2016

Can a Colonial Crafts Town Survive Modern Mexico?

In the 1500s, a Spanish bishop turned a collection of pueblos around the Mexican town of Patzcuaro into a center for craftsmanship. The people here are still making and marketing their wares in much the same way they did hundreds of years ago. Now they have to overcome tourists’ fears about drug traffickers, real or not.

BY Laura Fraser
Cuba’s Harvest of Surprises
Winter 2015

Cuba’s Harvest of Surprises

This time, a revolution that had nothing to do with ideology, and it bore a bounty of fruit. Could the U.S. learn sustainability from its new friend?

BY Christopher Cook