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Recent Work, News & Updates

Saturday
Mar212015

"The New Farmers" reprinted in The Utne Reader

Happy to report that my Orion story, "The New Farmers," was recently reprinted in the Utne Reader. I'm currently working on another essay about the California drought, so it's nice for me to revisit this more hopeful tale. 

These new farms look very different from the large-scale agriculture that defines much of rural America. California’s Central Valley, for example, is a landscape that feeds millions of people in part by forsaking its own. Although Fresno County gleans more agricultural profit than any other county in the United States, it has some of the most atrocious air quality rankings, highest pesticide poisoning rates, and worst labor exploitation statistics (largely of undocumented Latino workers) in the country. Spend enough time in these pummeled places and one can feel the ecological and spiritual burn of industrial-scale food production. Some also hear a quiet call to arms, the urge to start a venture of one’s own—to do something more than just spend dollars at the farmers market. Read More

Monday
Nov242014

My work with Unaccompanied Minors Featured in NY Times & PBS Newshour

I began covering issues of child migration to the U.S. exactly two years ago, in the Fall of 2012, for VQR. (My resulting piece, First the Fence, Then the System, was published in the Spring of 2013.) In addition to my work as a journalist, I work at Oakland International High School, a school for immigrant youth in Oakland, California. As I wrote in a followup piece for VQR last June, "Though we’ve had a few unaccompanied minors at our school over the years, there were never all that many—that is, until last year, when kids from ages fourteen to barely eighteen, hailing from Central America via shelters in Harlingen and Phoenix and San Antonio, began enrolling by the dozens. With the unaccompanied minor population nearly doubling each year since 2011, these kids were bound to show up at our door."

OIHS is a school made up of impassioned educators and remarkable students--and I'm very proud to work among them. And we were thrilled when the incomparable Jennifer Medina of the NY Times published an article profiling the experiences of unaccompanied minors at our school, during a time when other schools across the country were turning these students away. I'm quoted in this article and in its accompanying video.

Most recently our school was featured on the PBS Newshour, in which I'm also quoted alongside several of our inspiring students (like Carlos, who wrote this opinion piece about Obama's Executive Action on immigration).  I was asked to write a piece about OIHS' work supporting unaccompanied minors for the PBS Newshour's Education Blog. Here it is

Thursday
Oct232014

"The New Farmers" in the Nov/Dec issue of Orion

My article on an emerging generation of farmers--new farmers by choice rather than by heritage--and why they've chosen this vocation, is out in Orion Magazine 

Miller looks out onto her farm. The diminishing daylight suffuses everything with a saffron glow: young apple trees not yet bearing fruit, her husband running the tractor, a shaggy llama, like a gangly guardian, standing attention at the fence. “Here I’m building something,” she says. “And I like that. I like that we’re stewards of this land, that we’re building the soil and taking care of the pollinators, the bees, the birds—it’s just so positive.”

She thinks for a moment. “What’s hard is when you’re so tired, and your body hurts so much, and you’re so poor. We finally figured out we make less than five dollars an hour. How much do you sacrifice for this vision?

“But when I get down, I think about a conversation with my mom that really helped me,” she reflects. “She asked, ‘If everyone was doing what you’re doing, would the world be a better place?’ And the answer is, of course, yes. Yes, it would. And that’s why I do it.” Read more

Friday
Aug152014

Essay on the Before Sunrise Trilogy -- The Weeklings

"Before the Internet," my essay about time machines, Bangkok and the beloved Linklater trilogy is out at The Weeklings, a site I admire dearly. 

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


Tuesday
Aug122014

"Rebirth"

My article in Middlebury Magazine about the resurgence of Midwifery across the U.S.--featuring some remarkable women and friends.Illustration by Jody Hewgill

Sunday
Jul202014

Housing Crisis for Unaccompanied Minors - Article in The New Republic

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

Saturday
Jun282014

Uganda's Anti-Gay Witch Hunt Has Officially Begun

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

Monday
Jun232014

An Urgent Humanitarian Crisis?

More on unaccompanied minors--and their need for legal support, in VQR.

http://www.vqronline.org/essays-articles/2014/06/american-humanitarian-crisis

And here's my feature story on unaccompanied minors from VQR last year, published at the early stages of this current surge.

http://www.vqronline.org/articles/first-fence-then-system

Friday
Jun132014

Unaccompanied Minor News Roundup in VICE

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."

Tuesday
May272014

Napa Valley of Hard Cider

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? 

http://modernfarmer.com/2014/05/napa-valley-hard-cider/