What Billie Eilish’s Highland Park Neighborhood Tells Us About 21st-Century California

The “Ocean Eyes” Singer Lives in a Wary Place Where You Must Fight to Keep a Home, and Your Soul

If Billie Eilish lives in the neighborhood, does that make her one of us?

If you follow the music charts, it might seem preposterous to think of Eilish as the California girl next door. After all, the 18-year-old is the first international pop star born in the 21st century, with the best-selling album of the past year, 50 million social media followers, and six nominations at this month’s Grammys, including nods for song, record, and album of the year. And her other-worldly voice, which can sound by turns angelic or menacing, …

More In: Connecting California

The Bad News Behind California’s Good Times | Zocalo Public Square • Arizona State University • Smithsonian

The Bad News Behind California’s Good Times

Economic Busts Are Bad in the Golden State, but Booms Can Be Even Worse

Californians, being tougher than we look, have always found ways to survive our economic busts.

It’s the booms that bring us to our breaking point.

This essential truth is being missed in …

Why the 2020s Were California’s Golden Decade | Zocalo Public Square • Arizona State University • Smithsonian

Why the 2020s Were California’s Golden Decade

A Letter From the Future Explains How a Series of Disasters Transformed the State

January 1, 2030

To My Sons:

I’m so proud of all three of you. I especially appreciate that, now that you’re 21, 18, and 16 years old, you no longer fight with …

Santa, Please Save San Diego! | Zocalo Public Square • Arizona State University • Smithsonian

Santa, Please Save San Diego!

This Christmas, All America's Finest City Wants Is a Bigger Convention Center

Dear Kris Kringle,

This Christmas, can you save San Diego by bringing the city the one gift its civic elite obsessively wants, but doesn’t get?

I’m talking deep obsession. Yes, Captain …

Visalia’s Big, Bold, Beautiful Catholic Church | Zocalo Public Square • Arizona State University • Smithsonian

Visalia’s Vision for a Big, Bold, Beautiful Catholic Church

In a State Obsessed With Shortages and Setbacks, the Central Valley Sees a Future Full of Growth

It’s Christmas, and there’s no room at any of your town’s existing inns. You can’t open additional inns because you’re already running short of innkeepers. What to do?

People in Visalia—who …

Why California Is Stuck in the ‘Gray Zone’ | Zocalo Public Square • Arizona State University • Smithsonian

Why California Is Stuck in the ‘Gray Zone’

Unwilling to Pay for Its Lofty Ambitions, the State Settles for Much Less

California is stuck in the gray zone.

“Gray zone” is a term the military uses to describe the space between peace and war, a time and place that provides opportunities …