California Isn’t the Center of the World—and That’s a Good Thing

For Centuries, the State’s Distance From Traditional Seats of Power Has Forced It to Innovate

The Center of the World is in California. But California isn’t the center of the world.

This seeming paradox goes a long way towards explaining how California became so central to the culture and economy of the Earth. As a matter of planetary geography, our state is in the middle of nowhere, on the hot and dry edge of a lightly populated continent, and thus Californians have always had to work harder to connect ourselves to other parts of the world.

I found myself pondering this while visiting the Center …

More In: Connecting California

Why California Should Close Failing School Districts | Zocalo Public Square • Arizona State University • Smithsonian

Why California Should Close Failing School Districts

Southern San Diego County's Sweetwater District Cannot Escape Mismanagement and Corruption on Its Own

School has begun again for the 40,000-plus students of Sweetwater Union High School District. But the district’s governance crisis never seems to end.

Sweetwater rarely makes the statewide news, but …

In Fighting the Imperial Presidency, California Is Creating a Monster | Zocalo Public Square • Arizona State University • Smithsonian

In Fighting the Imperial Presidency, California Is Creating a Monster

As It Battles the Federal Government, Sacramento Has Gained Power at the Expense of Local Communities

As California builds its capacity to fight the Leviathan that is the Trump administration, does it risk turning our state government into a Leviathan of our own?

This unhappy question—about …

San Francisco Has Never Been More Pathetic—or More Powerful | Zocalo Public Square • Arizona State University • Smithsonian

San Francisco Has Never Been More Pathetic—or More Powerful

Vilified by Both Conservatives and Progressives, This Poor Little Rich City’s Problems Are Now National News

Dear San Francisco,

My heart breaks for you.

My eyes cry tsunamis when I think of you.

But I must stop weeping now, so I can summon the strength to offer …