Ana Cabreira/InOssining.com/AP. Amy Hall, owner of Hudson Valley Books for Humanity in Ossining, N.Y., poses for a picture in her bookstore. Ms. Hall, who offers mostly used books that reflect economic and ethnic diversity, is one of many new bookstore owners who recently opened their own store.
We have a thing for independent bookstores. They are better in several important ways. We have a thing against one particular big online retailer, whose start in books was just one step in the wrong direction. Our thanks to Hillel Italie, the Associated Press and the CS Monitor for this story, and especially to the biblio-entrepreneurs showcased in this article:
The year 2021 saw a substantial increase in the number of independent bookstores in the United States. And a growing proportion of these stores is owned by individuals from diverse ethnic and racial backgrounds.
Laura Romani, a Chicago-area resident with a background in education and library science, had long been thinking of a new career. “I was at home a couple of years ago, reflecting on all the experience I gained and how I wanted to contribute to the Latino community, while also allowing myself to be on my own and make use of my love for books and passion for multilingualism,” she said. Continue reading
Sylvia Earle. Illustration by João Fazenda
Yesterday’s post got me looking back at our attention to marine science over the years, making me wonder whether we have given that topic its fair share. Yes, probably, but more is needed. I already knew this name because it has appeared in our pages a few times over the years. But just recently I heard her name from two different people who have had the chance to know her personally. One of them, when I mentioned the name, replied with Her Deepness replacing Sylvia Earle’s given name. Thanks to Dana Goodyear, who had me at puma, but who also knows a thing or two about water, now this:
Do you like to breathe?” This is a question that the marine biologist and deep-sea explorer Sylvia Earle asks frequently. The ocean produces half of the oxygen on Earth. If it dies, humanity can’t survive, so humans better pay attention to it. Continue reading
A lionfish caught off Venezuela, where the authorities organise sport fishing competitions to curb the dangerous proliferation of the invasive species. Photograph: Yuri Cortéz/AFP/Getty
Lionfish came to our attention in a series of posts starting in 2014. That year we came to see that fighting this invasive species would require innovative entrepreneurial conservation methods. We published more posts and series about initiatives in the years since then, but the problem continued to grow. For some reason the stories about initiatives started fading from our attention and then stopped with a post in 2018. Now, 22 posts since the first post and four years since the last one, lionfish are back in our thoughts thanks to Inversa’s innovation:
Lionfish leather. Inversa says it is helping to solve an environmental crisis by using an invasive species that eats lots of other fish but has no predators in much of its range. Photograph: Inversa
An avid diver saw how lionfish have devastated populations of Florida’s native tropical fish and resolved to help solve the problem
Aarav Chavda has been diving off the coast of Florida for years. Each time he became increasingly depressed by the ever-growing void, as colourful species of fish and coral reefs continued to disappear. Continue reading
Illustration by Michael Dunbabin; Source photograph by Kevin Winter / Getty
Alan Alda was not likely to appear in our pages before, even though we knew about this work that he has been doing starting some years ago. Not likely because celebrity is more often than not a distraction. But this conversation is worth sharing, because we care about science, and effective communication about science:
Few actors inspire the warm fuzzies like Alan Alda. At eighty-six, he’s still the platonic ideal of “nice dad”: the type of guy you’d find in a cardigan, reading a copy of the Sunday Times in an armchair. But the popular image of Alda doesn’t cover the remarkable breadth of his career. Continue reading
Artist-made birdhouses are installed throughout the Garden as part of For the Birds. Use the exhibition map or scan the list below to explore!
Zach Helfand gives us a quick sketch of what happens when celebrities, and celebrity architects, collaborate on behalf of birds. When you next have the opportunity to visit the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, keep this initiative in mind:
100 Martin Inn birdhouse on location at Brooklyn Botanic Garden.
The recent housing market has brought about ruinous price increases, a bidding war over a fifth-floor walkup studio with no oven, and enough of a civic exodus for the Post to declaim, earlier this month, “listen up, new york—florida sucks, and you’ll all be back in five years.” But that doesn’t mean deals can’t be had. Take a unit that just went on the market. It’s a newly built architect-designed twelve-bedroom in shall we say Crown Heights, with finishes by a master carpenter and three-hundred-and-sixty-degree views of Prospect Park. Continue reading
The historian Jill Lepore has only been linked to twice before in our posts. Not more, because her topical variety is constantly beyond the scope of topics we focus on.
But her most recent essay is on topic for us. Bicycles might have been the invention that kept us part way out of the climate crisis, but then came the car.
She uses the publication of the book to the right as a launch pad for an excellent history of the bicycle, combined with personal history:
My first bicycle was not, in fact, a bicycle. I rode it in 1968, when I was two years old and as tubby as a bear cub. It had four wheels, not two, and no pedals: strictly speaking, it was a scooter. But Playskool called it a Tyke Bike, so I say it qualifies, and aside from the matte-black, aluminum-alloy number that I’ve got now, which is called (by the manufacturer dead seriously, and by me aspirationally) the Bad Boy, the Tyke Bike may be the swankiest bicycle I’ve ever ridden. Continue reading
No commentary needed, as far as we are concerned.
This book looks like a must-read for multiple reasons. At least 65. That is the number of writers musing on a simple question: how can an “ephemeral encounter with a stranger leave such an eternal mark?” As someone whose life story hinges on a chance encounter in an airport, and so believes that strangers can make great co-adventurers, I am in. If you want a taste of what is in store, this essay by an author we have appreciated in these pages several times over the years, titled To My Lost Trishaw Driver, is excerpted from it:
Yangon, Myanmar, via Creative Commons.
Pico Iyer on decades of letters to a man he met, once, in Myanmar.
Travel is, deep down, an exercise in trust, and sometimes I think it was you who became my life’s most enduring teacher. I had every reason to be wary when, in 1985, I clambered out of the overnight train and stepped out into the October sunshine of Mandalay, blinking amidst the dust and bustle of the “City of Kings.” Continue reading
Portrait of Frederick Law Olmsted (detail), 1895, by John Singer Sargent (1856–1925); The Artchives/Alamy Stock Photo.
From Hedgehog Review, a bit of scholarly reflection on a man whose impact on the landscape of cityscapes is still worthy of consideration:
On Frederick Law Olmsted’s Bicentennial
What would Frederick Law Olmsted (1822–1903) make of his works today, in the bicentennial year of his birth? No doubt he would be delighted by the survival and continued popularity of so many of his big-city parks, particularly Central Park and Prospect Park, but also parks in Boston, Chicago, and Montreal, as well as Buffalo, Detroit, Rochester, and Louisville. He might be surprised by the bewildering range of activities these parks now accommodate—not only boating and ice-skating, as in his day, but exercising, jogging, picnicking, and games, as well as popular theatrical and musical events. I don’t think this variety would displease him. After all, it was he who introduced free band concerts in Central Park, over the objections of many of his strait-laced colleagues. He would be pleased by the banning of automobiles; his winding carriage drives were never intended for fast—and noisy—traffic. Continue reading
Tourists visiting Tāne Mahuta, the largest known kauri tree, in Waipoua Forest in New Zealand. The tree is named for a god in Māori mythology. Ruth Mcdowall for The New York Times
A former kauri ambassador blowing a conch shell near Tāne Mahuta. There’s hope among advocates that Māori-led interventions have created enough time for scientists to save the kauri. Ruth Mcdowall for The New York Times
Thanks to Pete McKenzie for this story, How Maori Stepped In to Save a Towering Tree Crucial to Their Identity, in the New York Times:
Tāne Mahuta, an ancient tree named after the god of forests in Māori mythology, is threatened by the slow creep of an incurable disease.
WELLINGTON, New Zealand — In an ancient grove in northern New Zealand, the mighty conifer known as Tāne Mahuta, lord of the forest, is threatened by the encroachment of a deadly enemy. Continue reading
So many things to change, so little time. If you are looking for a way to jumpstart a change to the system, consider these six lifestyle adjustments (thanks to the Guardian for the feature story on Jump):
From using smartphones for longer to ending car ownership, research shows ‘less stuff and more joy’ is the way forward
Founder of the Jump campaign Tom Bailey. Photograph: Andy Hall/The Observer
Research shows that people in wealthier, high-consuming countries can help avert climate breakdown by making six relatively straightforward lifestyle changes, creating a society of “less stuff and more joy”.
Experts say if enacted these “shifts” would account for a quarter of the required emissions reductions needed to keep the global heating down to 1.5C and increase pressure on government and the private sector to make the necessary far-reaching systemic change. Continue reading
Diana Beresford-Kroeger at her home in Ontario. “If you build back the forests, you oxygenate the atmosphere more, and it buys us time,” she said. Nasuna Stuart-Ulin for The New York Times
Another round of thanks to Cara Buckley for a vividly written snapshot. Using Science and Celtic Wisdom to Save Trees (and Souls) is about one person’s multi-talented capacity to inspire us in new ways related to trees, and the patience it has required:
Diana Beresford-Kroeger, a botanist and author, has created a forest with tree species handpicked for their ability to withstand a warming planet.
MERRICKVILLE, Ontario — There aren’t many scientists raised in the ways of druids by Celtic medicine women, but there is at least one. She lives in the woods of Canada, in a forest she helped grow. From there, wielding just a pencil, she has been working to save some of the oldest life-forms on Earth by bewitching its humans. Continue reading
The book is not new, but it is new to us. Ben Taub has brought to our attention this stunning portraiture that, like most great photography, makes you wonder how the artist got the composition just so:
If you have visited Costa Rica, or been fortunate enough to live here, you might have already become entangled with the country’s many opportunities to support conservation. For many decades foreigners have been welcomed to join in the country’s marine and terrestrial conservation initiatives. Many of those foreigners adopt the country as home after getting entangled in all kinds of good ways.
The first eight minutes of the video above are bliss: several young people are introduced, each of whom has become entangled. Along with those introductions, some stunning photography and videography showcasing Costa Rica’s nature, helping you to understand the entanglement. At 8:14 you see the dictionary definitions of entangled. The next 17 minutes are a case study in industrial fishing’s unintended consequences. Not surprisingly, this has already received lots of awards, but they ask you to share freely, so please do. And if you want to support financially, that will be appreciated as well.
Mike Gunton, creative director of the BBC Natural History Unit and a long-time collaborator with David Attenborough.PHOTOGRAPH: BENEDICT REDGROVE
David Attenborough has been a frequent feature in our pages over the years. Each conversation with him repeats something we already knew but shares something we had not previously known:
Roses in the cloister. SIMON WATSON
Yesterday’s post linked to earlier ones with rose references, and one of those led me to a small correction. The photo above shows a slightly different angle on the roses in the garden of the restored convent. I had assumed those roses were very old. A bit of sleuthing led me to the fact that they were planted during the restoration, and they are “indeed quite perfumed.” For that and other reasons it is worth taking another look at that project, this time told by Olinda Adeane and with excellent photos by Simon Watson:
In the library, hand-coloured prints stand out against the white walls. SIMON WATSON
Henry James once described his friend Edith Wharton as a ‘great and glorious pendulum’ swinging back and forth across the Atlantic. In a similar fashion, Holly Lueders, a designer from New York, has returned to Greece every year since she first visited the country as an 18-year-old student. Holly grew up in a sleepy town in Missouri with little in the way of culture or local craft, but her family was artistic and good with their hands. ‘Anything we wanted, we made for ourselves,’ remembers Holly. She studied art history and archaeology at Columbia University and completed her studies in Athens. Continue reading
Community gardens have been a regular topic in our pages over the last decade. We never tire of the subject. I personally have a soft spot for roses, especially those found in unexpected places. So, Raúl Laly Fernández, you are my hero. I hope that the next time I am in Los Angeles I will find you in this garden and bear witness to the rose wonders I see in these photographs. Kudos to the writer/photographer Stella Kalinina for capturing this intersection between immigrant culture, working class refuge, and horticultural knowhow:
Mr. Fernández decorates a sitting area in his plot with roses that he grows.
The San Pedro Community Gardens have provided physical and spiritual nourishment for the past half a century to multiple generations of immigrant Angelenos.
Kimberly Mentlow received a plot in San Pedro after three years on a waiting list. “Being able to plant something or see something grow — it’s extremely therapeutic,” she said.
Ten minutes from my home, next to a decommissioned landfill, a freeway and the largest port in the country, sits an unlikely hillside oasis of vegetables and fruit trees.
Emerging like a mirage from its surroundings, the San Pedro Community Gardens occupy a six-acre parcel of city-owned land in the otherwise highly industrialized area of the blue-collar harbor community of San Pedro, in Los Angeles. Continue reading
When I first linked to the work of Richard Powers it was when his previous book was being reviewed. Now he has a new book out, and from the conversation that follows it sounds like this one is a very good bookend to that one:
The Pulitzer Prize-winning author asks whether we can reimagine our relationship with the natural world before it’s too late.
There are certain conversations I fear trying to fit into a description.