Why Food Vendors Belong in the Prison Yard

My Fellow Inmates and I Support Local Businesses and Charities—And Make the Case for Deepening These Relationships

magine a big box. You sleep in the box. Eat in the box. Work in the box. Exercise in the box. Your view is confined to what fits inside and a slice of the sky above. On occasion, one of the box’s walls opens, allowing you, for a short time, to step outside, where another, larger box awaits.

That’s my best attempt at describing the separation between the rest of the world, and the inmates here on C-yard at the Substance Abuse Treatment Facility and State Prison (SATF), one of the …

Can a Maximum-Security Prison Be a Place of Connection? | Zocalo Public Square • Arizona State University • Smithsonian

Can a Maximum-Security Prison Be a Place of Connection?

How the Men in Pelican Bay State Prison Impact the Community Outside, One Another, and Inmates Across California

avid stands with his feet in the foamy water, his arms outstretched, smiling face turned up to the February sky. From where I’m standing among the driftwood, the line of …

California Needs an Agricultural Revolution

From the Ojai Valley, I Can See the State’s Post-Carbon Future—And It Looks Like the Ancient Past

The Ojai Valley in Ventura County is a magical place. Consider its elements: the sweet and intoxicating smell of California citrus blossoms in the spring, the open space preserved by …

Lettuce Lands Are Unlikely Vaccination Leaders | Zocalo Public Square • Arizona State University • Smithsonian

Why California’s Lettuce Lands Are Unlikely Vaccination Leaders

The Rural Salinas and Imperial Valleys Have Succeeded in Reaching the People the Rest of the State Can't Inoculate

If demographics and geography really were COVID destiny, then Gonzales—a small, working-class town with a young, overwhelmingly Latino population in rural California—would be a pandemic disaster.

Instead, Gonzales is among California’s …

Deuel Vocational Institution

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 …

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 …