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 …

How Concentration Camp Prisoners Found Comfort in Imaginary Feasts

From Ravensbrück to Mao's Labor Camps, Inmates Recited Family Recipes to Preserve Their Humanity

When the Soviet Union sent Dmitri Likhachev to an offshore detention camp in February 1928, the Russian scholar was crammed onto a train car with other prisoners and handed a …

Turning Low-Income Housing into Art

In Houston's Third Ward, 'Shotgun' Houses Provide Homes for Artists, Mothers, and Anyone with a Vision

Project Row Houses is an art space in Houston’s historically black Third Ward. Its success, going on a quarter of a century, is a powerful argument for committing first to …