Out With Mass Incarceration and in With Mass Commerce

Can California Call It Progress When Rural Prisons Are Replaced With Retail Warehouses?

As California starts closing prisons, what might open in their place?

I glimpsed one answer to that question while driving to Deuel Vocational Institution, between the San Joaquin County cities of Tracy and Manteca. The demise of Deuel, which shuts at the end of September, is more than just the first closure of a state-owned prison in a generation. It also opens a prison window on the future of our landscapes, and on the peculiar predations of California progress.

Heeding my phone’s directions from Oakland, I exited I-205 at Tracy and followed …

Colorado River water

When the Colorado River Runs Dry

A Coachella Valley Farmer Reflects on the Water Source He, His Date Palms, and People and Animals Across California Rely On

Even as she was going blind, my mom, ever the poet, delighted in sitting out among the palms and birds, and enjoying and visualizing the scene, as I irrigated my …

The Fires California Grieves—And Needs | Zocalo Public Square • Arizona State University • Smithsonian

The Fires California Grieves—And Needs

In Her Scorched Klamath Mountains Community, a Fire Advisor Contemplates Mortality and Renewal

On a recent Sunday, I lay alone by my favorite hometown swimming hole, taking in the familiar sensations of the South Fork Trinity River. The hot sun, the light up-canyon …

To Beat Climate Change, Rural Towns and Farms Need to Head North | Zocalo Public Square • Arizona State University • Smithsonian

To Beat Climate Change, Rural Towns and Farms Need to Head North

A Policy of ‘Managed Retreat’ Would Move California’s Thirsty Agriculture to a Wetter Part of the State 

Twenty-five years ago, at age 18, I followed my uncle to the top of Mount Lassen for a 10,000-foot view of Northern California’s Fourth of July fireworks. We watched the …

Is Independence Still Worth Celebrating? | Zocalo Public Square • Arizona State University • Smithsonian

Is Independence Still Worth Celebrating?

Contemplating Dependence and Interdependence on the Nation’s Birthday in Remote Independence, California

Why do Californians celebrate Independence Day when we’ve given up on our independence?

That question occurred to me on a recent visit to Independence, California, a settlement of 600 people on …