The Huge Electric Leadership of a Small California Town

By Building Its Own Microgrid, Rural Gonzales Charts a Path to the Energy Future

If California is lucky, our energy future could look like a small town in the rural Salinas Valley.

Longtime readers of this column will not be surprised to learn that the town in question is Gonzales, the California municipal version of the Little Engine That Could. Its small, working-class population of just 9,000, many of them farmworkers, has ingeniously solved tricky local government problems, from universal broadband to health care access, and from economic planning to child development.

Now Gonzales is tackling one of our state’s most stubborn challenges: how to develop …

The Joys of Shearing Ornery, 250-Pound Sheep | Zocalo Public Square • Arizona State University • Smithsonian

The Joys of Shearing Ornery, 250-Pound Sheep

I Left My Tech Job for a Historic Profession That Is Uniquely Egalitarian, Diverse, and Rewarding

My journey to a vocation as a sheep shearer began in 2007 when I moved to California to take a chance on the man who would, happily, become my husband. …

The Ancient Maya Cosmology of Conservation

In Their Worldview, Humans Were Not Superior to Nature. They Were But One Element Needed to Maintain Universal Balance.

In the middle of the jungle in central Belize excavating an ancient Maya water temple, I’m at the edge of a sacred pool, praying to Chahk, the Maya rain god, …

A Killer Weed Finds New Life as Fertilizer, Filter, and Fuel

An Invasive Vine Threatening Nepal's Fragile Ecosystem Becomes Part of the Area's Sustainability Solution

Nepal’s Chitwan National Park, a stretch of grasslands, forests, and wetlands in the humid foothills of the Himalayas, is home to an enormous diversity of plants and animals. A UNESCO …