The Dark Political Genius Behind Protecting a Community’s “Character”

A Favorite Phrase of Neighborhood Activists Has Become a Powerful Tool for Obstruction

Are you a Californian looking for a New Year’s resolution?

You might be thinking about giving up sweets or fried foods, or going to the gym more, or volunteering, or cutting your carbon footprint, or otherwise doing right by your body, your community, or your planet. But, from the standpoint of your fellow Californians, the most effective thing you could do is swear off this phrase: “We want to protect the character of the community.”

The expressed desire to defend community character is a staple of California conversations about development or …

Is Slab City, California the Last Free Place in America?

Dwellers of the Desert Community—Both Exiles and Refugees—Are Staging an Experiment in 'Adaptation and Resistance'

When the alert pinged on my phone, I thought of Austin and his house of wooden pallets. A “wall of dust” roiled toward Slab City and other “impacted locations” in …

Excavating the Future City

Through His Camera, Naoya Hatakeyama Reimagines and Rebuilds Our Human Environment

Japanese photographer Naoya Hatakeyama, who was born in Japan in 1958, has spent decades exploring and documenting the human-made environment, with a particular emphasis on cities. He has explored everywhere …

The 1992 Horror Film That Made a Monster Out of a Chicago Housing Project

In Candyman, the Notorious Cabrini-Green Complex Is Haunted by Urban Myths and Racial Paranoia

In the 1992 horror film Candyman, Helen, a white graduate student researching urban legends, is looking into the myth of a hook-handed apparition who is said to appear when his …

Why I’m Staying in Rome, Even While It Crumbles 

A British Novelist Will Remain in the Eternal City Because of What Its Past Can Teach About Surviving the Present

When I tell Romans I have been a resident of their city for the last 16 years and have no desire to live anywhere else, they’re often a little baffled. …