The Hills are Alive

May 9, 2018


Hi Mom,

Spring has finally made it to Chicago, and we are all spending as much time as possible outside. We also have a visitor in town, so we are taking the opportunity to visit some of the touristy spots that we haven't seen since we moved here in February.

Here's the latest:

  1. SNAP Back With a bill moving through Congress which could cut as much as $9 billion from SNAP, The Daily Yonder created a map to show which areas receive the most food stamp support. But data doesn't tell the whole story. In this personal narrative, an overweight food access advocate grapples with the connections between obesity, food security and poverty. In the article her dad reflects on using WIC, “Nobody trusts poor people. They treat you like a criminal just for trying to feed your kids.”
  2. Table for two At 57 years old, a man who was adopted by an American family found his Japanese birth mother — and the restaurant that she had named after him.
  3. Hey GooGoo A middle school teacher discusses how Google products are increasingly found in the classroom and what it means for the attention and personal data of kids.
  4. The hills This article in The New Republic asks what it means to be Appalachian and discusses some alternative visions of the region. From the article: "Ask the average mountaineer what it means to be Appalachian, and the answer will almost certainly call back to the land itself. The land is both a source of woe and an identity marker. If there is such a thing as Appalachian-ness, it looks a lot like toughness." Meanwhile, this portrait of coal country looks at people longing for jobs to come back.
  5. Exposed to art We're used to seeing nudes in museums, but typically they are on the walls. A museum in France recently held a tour for nudists and a reporter bared all for the story.
  6. Loneliest numbers Studies show that Americans are lonely and it is hitting young people hard. This is important, because "social connection or the lack of it is now considered a social determinant of health."
  7. Tree-mail When the city of Melbourne tagged trees throughout the city with email addresses for reporting issues, residents began writing love letters, questions and personal messages to the trees.
  8. Deconstructing comedy Structuring a joke with a good punchline is hard, which is why I rely heavily on dad jokes. But to build a narrative arc and keep people laughing over the course of a standup routine is a special skill. This feature breaks down the structure of a recent Ali Wong performance.
  9. Critics of color Last week, I had the pleasure of sitting next to Elizabeth Berry at an event here in Chicago. Shortly after meeting her, I came across an article she wrote, Why Cultural Critics of Color Matter. I found the article especially poignant on a week where my social media feeds were flooded with conversations unpacking a powerful music video that came out this week. Elizabeth's point resonated with me as I waded through the conversations: "Critics can challenge us to become active audiences instead of passive observers, and at their best, critics of color reveal layers that would be invisible without their eyes. Art is our mirror — in which we can confront our beautiful, our bad and our ugly. Critics refuse to look away, and they insist that we join them."

Hope you are having a good week.

I love you,

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