#148: The Death of a Once Great City
I’ve lived in San Francisco for a long time. By no means do I identify as a San Franciscan; that title was my dad’s to claim. But I know the city enough, and over the past few years, like many residents, I’ve witnessed how the city has changed. I haven’t personally felt the effects of gentrification, as my former students have. But there’s a definite void. My brain says that cities change, that this is normal, that nostalgia is living in the past. But reading today’s lead article — a critique of New York — got me thinking again about whether it’s possible for us to rebuild and reshape our communities into ones that are more inclusive.
Public service announcement: Readers have asked me where they should click to read a story. The headline on top is best — not the URL or the talk bubble on the bottom. Clicking on the headline takes you straight to the article for a better reading experience.
Usually I’m not a big fan of one-hour rants. But Kevin Baker pulls it off in this well-written diatribe against New York, which he says is part of a nationwide “crisis of affluence.” Mr. Baker writes, “[New York] is in imminent danger of becoming something it has never been before: unremarkable. It is approaching a state where it is no longer a significant cultural entity but the world’s largest gated community.” Particularly on the subject of gentrification, there are obvious parallels to San Francisco and other rich cities. The worst part, Mr. Baker argues, is that we no longer believe we have the power to stem the tide. (60 min)
We’ve seen the photographs and listened to the recordings of children separated from their families by our government. This emotional piece by Megan Garber asks how our democracy can persist if we’re told that we shouldn’t believe our eyes and ears — that our empathy is misdirected, that our feelings are wrong. (10 min)
I learned about the Stanford Prison Experiment my senior year of high school. It’s the famous study in which psychologist Philip Zimbardo simulated a jail by assigning volunteers as prisoners or guards. The guards became monsters, reminding us of our human nature and capacity for evil. One problem, though: Questions have surfaced about the experiment’s validity. Is this yet another debunked truth in our topsy-turvy time? (29 min)
Chicharito belongs to loyal subscriber Michele, who won the grand prize, a pillow, at Highlighter Happy Hour #6. Want your pet to appear in The Highlighter? j.mp/nominatepet
A number of you wanted more information about Adverse Childhood Experiences after reading “Being Black in America Can Be Hazardous to Your Health” last week. Here’s an excellent four-part series that clearly explains the original ACE study and its central finding — that what we suffer in childhood stays with us throughout our lives. The articles also offer ways to recognize signs of trauma in order to make interventions that can improve the quality of life. (45 min)
Californians love the grizzly bear (see flag), even though it’s been nearly 100 years since they’ve roamed the state. Now there’s talk of bringing the bruins back. After all, they’ve done superbly well in Yellowstone. Plus they would add value to the ecosystem. What possibly could go wrong? Experts say the problem lies not with the bears but rather with the humans. (31 min)
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