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Essay

How Quarantine Has Turned Us Into Gardeners of Our Bodies’ Ancient Microbial Wilderness

As We Separate to Avoid a Virus, We Are Becoming Islands of Social Bacteria, Fungi, and Even Mites 

by Rob Dunn

We may feel isolated now, in our homes, or apart in parks, or behind plexiglass shields in stores. But we are never alone. I’ve spent much of the last 20 years studying the many species with which we live: thousands of them, perhaps hundreds of thousands, including fungi, bacteria on our skin and in our guts, and animals ranging from the several species of Demodex mites that live in our pores to the spiders that ride with us from home to home.
 In ordinary times, no person is an island. We are connected to other people through touch and words but also through the exchange of species, most benign, some even beneficial—on our bodies ...

Essay

Why Today’s Social Revolutions Include Kale, Medical Care, and Help With Rent

In the Pandemic, Community Organizations Have Returned to Their Roots in Mutual Aid and Self-Determination

by Rinku Sen

When I needed to donate a box of vegetables recently, I called a nonprofit in my neighborhood in Queens, New York, that organizes low-wage immigrant workers. As we arranged the pickup, the organizer, Will Rodriguez, said, “You know, Rinku, we don’t usually do this stuff, but we just had to jump in because the need is so great. People are suffering so much.”
 By “this stuff,” he meant mutual aid, in which members of a community work together to meet each other’s urgent needs. Normally, the day laborers and domestic workers who are members of his organization, New Immigrant Community Empowerment (NICE), work together on direct ...

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