What the Wonkapocalypse Can Teach Us

An Immersive Experience Gone Wrong Shows Us the Perennial Emptiness of Carefully Curated Escapes from Reality

Last month, an “immersive” Willy Wonka event took over my news feed.

Normally, I’d keep scrolling.

Promoters market these voguish multisensory experiences—which are supposed to literally immerse you in an environment through projection mapping technology, virtual and augmented reality, sound, physical sets, and sometimes even actors—as “transformative,” “out-of-this-world,” and “sublime.”

I haven’t understood the appeal. The few I’ve tried out have fallen short of those ambitious statements. Far from offering a transcendent experience, they seemed gimmicky, not to mention overpriced.

But Willy’s Chocolate Experience got my attention, largely because the event, a debacle that …

The Lessons of Fresno’s Ingenious Underground Gardens | Zocalo Public Square • Arizona State University • Smithsonian

The Lessons of Fresno’s Ingenious Underground Gardens

For 40 years, Italian Immigrant Baldassare Forestiere Wielded a Pickax to Dig His California Dream Home

In our search for inspiring new ideas for solving California’s housing crisis, we must dig deeper. We must take our cues from Archimedes, “Give me a place on which to …

How South L.A.’s Parks Help Men Heal

The Region Is Slowly Getting More of the Green Spaces and Gardens It Needs

“Hey man, did you ever just lay in the grass and look at a cloud pass?” said Marlon, a physically fit, 30ish African-American man. He was in South L.A.’s Martin …

In South L.A., a Growing Interest in Urban Gardening

A Place Called Home Offers Local Youth a Chance to Farm in the Middle of South Central Avenue

A Place Called Home is one of the treasures of the South Central Avenue corridor. It’s been so successful at serving young people ages 8 to 21 (they’re called members)—providing …