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Common Ground: Symmetries of Land and Culture after Economic Change

After living on a farm in Lockport, Illinois, for seventy-three years, Harlow Cagwin sold his family land to a subdivision developer. Shortly thereafter, Amanda Grabenhofer and her family settled into a newly built home upon the land that once housed the Cagwins’ cattle. Together, the stories of these families are the subject of Scott Strazzante’s fifteen-year photography project, Common Ground, in which the juxtaposition of photographs reveals differences, complexities,... Read More

Love and Hope in Benedict XVI’s Vision for Human Development

Since his election to the papacy in 2005, Benedict XVI has written three encyclicals: one on love (Deus Caritas Est), one on hope (Spe Salvi), and one on human development (Caritas in Veritate). Though primarily intended as instruments of official magisterial teaching rather than as forums for one’s personal opinions, these encyclicals nonetheless incorporate elements of Joseph Ratzinger’s thought that had been developing before he was elected pope and adopted the name... Read More

A Tale of Two Cities

There are few air hops that will give you a greater contrast than the four-hour trip from Nairobi to Dubai. Nairobi is the capital of one of the poorer nations in the world, the home of the infamous Kibera slum, and a textbook case of how population growth, rapid unplanned development, and massive environmental degradation result in poverty and human suffering. Flying out of Nairobi, you can see signs of distress in every direction just by looking out of the plane window. Dubai... Read More

A Chinatown’s Chance: Wrestling with Asian Identity in America

After growing up in Berkeley, California, I moved to the East coast for school and then work, as a Generation X Asian American community development professional. Now, every time I land on the West coast, I’m a bit disoriented. I look around and ask myself if there’s an Asian convention in town—there has to be an explanation for all the other Asians walking around the airport. In places like San Francisco, New York, and Los Angeles, Asians represent a sizable minority... Read More

Beauty on the Border

As our two pickups struggle through the grass and mud, it is clear that we are the first to pass this way in at least a few days. In the pouring rain the entire road, what Carlos, Plant With Purpose’s Dominican director, calls the international highway, seems like it could wash down the side of the mountain. Rising thirty or forty feet to our right is a tangle of green. Old tree trunks are visible through the undergrowth, and branches with reddish bromeliads overhang our... Read More

Small Steps – Sustainable Development One Light Bulb at a Time

Like many African countries, São Tomé e Principe (STP) is struggling to stand on her own after being raped by colonization. “Discovered” by Portuguese navigators in the late 1400’s, STP quickly became Africa’s top sugar exporter in the 1500’s due to the colonized slave labor. Sugar cultivation eventually waned, but fortunately for the Portuguese plantation owners (and unfortunately for the São Toméans) two new cash crops, coffee and cocoa, were introduced. By the... Read More