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 U.S. 395, south of Bishop and north of Lone Pine in the windswept Owens Valley.

Spending the day on the streets of Independence, in the shadows of Mt. Williamson and other Eastern Sierra peaks, got me thinking about how much we talk about independence, and how little we cherish independence as a value.

While Independence is the sort of rural, out-of-the-way …

Small Towns Can Create Big Change | Zocalo Public Square • Arizona State University • Smithsonian

Small Towns Can Create Big Change

From Banning Private Prisons to Universal Broadband and Pre-K, Necessity and Opportunity Allow California Communities to Punch Above Their Weight

Before answering the question of the evening—“What Makes a Good Small Town?”—the panelists at a Zócalo/California Wellness Foundation event had to choose a definition. What, asked moderator and Los Angeles …

What the Fictional Town of Virgin River Gets Right About California’s Future | Zocalo Public Square • Arizona State University • Smithsonian

What the Fictional Town of Virgin River Gets Right About California’s Future

It’s Not Exactly Romantic, but the Golden State’s Urban and Rural Areas Should Embrace Their Shared Destiny 

Melinda “Mel” Monroe, a 32-year-old nurse practitioner and midwife, is working at a major L.A. County hospital when her husband suddenly dies. Grief-stricken and seeking to get away, she takes …

In Search of ‘the Commons’ in Modern America | Zocalo Public Square • Arizona State University • Smithsonian

In Search of ‘the Commons’ in Modern America

My Rhode Island Town Has Had a Communal Green Since 1694, but Today’s Public Spaces Are Complicated and Splintered

“The commons” is a concept, an ideal. The commons are property we all share, property that’s owned not by any one person or group, but that’s held—well, in common. …

Want to Preserve American Small Towns? Embrace Immigrants.

From New York to Iowa, Foreign-Born Residents and Their Families Are Helping to Reinvigorate Rural Communities

Once upon a time the pulse of America beat in its small towns. They were where you took your crops to market, met the trains that brought visits from Aunt …