Jesse and Celine say goodbye at the exact moment that I was craving their kind of future, which I can only now name as freedom, and also at the exact moment that the nature of time and space changed for all of us, and forever.
Recent Work, News & Updates
My article on the challenge of housing the influx of unaccompanied minors, up at The New Republic: "FEMA is Seeking Empty Big-Box Stores to House Migrant Children."
Because the number of children from Central America recently arriving without parents or immigration papers has far surpassed predictions (doubling each year since 2011), the pre-existing detention shelters, mostly along the southern border, are packed to the gills: There is not nearly enough space for the more than 52,000 children who have arrived since October. As the government figures out what to do with all of these children, horrifying photos of unsanitary, unsafe, and inhumane conditions in the cramped facilities have surfaced. In a coordinated effort between FEMA and the Department of Health and Human Services, the government is scrambling to find adequate facilities wherever it can. Read More
My story in VICE about the impact of Uganda's Anti-Homosexuality Act on refugee communities and the organizations that serve them. http://www.vice.com/read/ugandas-anti-gay-witch-hunt-has-officially-begun-627
But now simply advocating for or providing services to a gay person can be interpreted as "promoting homosexuality," a crime with passage of the new law. Already, civil rights organizations are being punished for their advocacy on behalf of gays in Uganda. In two separate letters dated March and May of this year, the government suspended direct service activities of the Refugee Law Project, a Uganda-based pioneer in international migration law and refugee protection, based on allegations that the organization was "promoting homosexuality" in refugee communities.
What, exactly, does the "promotion of homosexuality" look like? It’s a perplexing notion, and the law itself is troublingly vague. "As an organization we already made clear our position that we don't even believe it's possible to promote homosexuality," says Dr. Chris Dolan, the Refugee Law Project’s Executive Director—since homosexuality is not a choice. "Of course we believe it is possible to protect the rights of LGBTI people, and that that is our responsibility." Read More
Photo Courtesy of Wiki Commons
More on unaccompanied minors--and their need for legal support, in VQR.
And here's my feature story on unaccompanied minors from VQR last year, published at the early stages of this current surge.
Due to the overwhelming number of kids crossing the border alone, everyone's talking about unaccompanied minors these days. Having covered this issue for the past year and a half, it's an important one to me. Here's my recent news roundup in VICE: "Unaccompanied Minors: A Growing Crisis."
An article I wrote for Modern Farmer about the reincarnation of the cider orchards of yore. Prohibition killed hard cider, once the household alcoholic beverage of choice--who knew?
My new story about urban farming and neighborhood gentrification is up today at The New Yorker.com.
After months of hard work and collaboration, we've completed Between Meals--a cookbook that features recipes and stories from a dozen refugee cooks resettled to the Bay area. It's for sale here at Lulu.com.
About the Book: An innovative narrative cookbook, Between Meals shares the expertise, recipes and stories of newly-arrived refugee women in the Bay Area. This book documents traditional recipes from around the world--from Burma to Liberia to Afghanistan--from Refugee Transitions' participants, written down with the help of their Refugee Transitions tutors. Between Meals tells the stories of students' exile from their home countries, their journeys to the United States, and their efforts--literally and metaphorically--to nourish their families in their new California homes.
My article on unaccompanied immigrant farmworker youth in California's Central Valley is out this month in the great Vice Magazine: http://m.vice.com/read/the-lost-boys-of-california-0000258-v21n3
This reporting was funded by the 11th Hour Food & Farming Journalism Fellowship at UC Berkeley, where I had the immense fortune of working with Michael Pollan, Malia Wollan, an inspiring team of fellow fellowesses, and guest editors Jack Hitt and Alan Burdick. It was like winning the lottery.
For all its bounty, there’s something about the landscape of California’s Central Valley that feels diseased. Just a few miles from Ernesto’s house in Mendota, the air is a heavy brown-gray, polluted by the trucks that pass through on Highway 99, carrying produce to be packed and shipped and stocked onto shelves at Safeways and Hannafords across the country. The pollution clouds the rays of light that shine on the fields, smudging the horizon lines and the silhouettes of crops. The fields, too, in towns like Mendota and Huron and Raisin City, feel exquisitely toxic. As productive as they are, and as heavy with bloom and fruit, the plants are subtly listless in their rows and rows, lacking vibrancy. It’s a battered landscape, excavated and plucked and pumped for every last bit it can give.
Photo Credit: Matt Black