March 13th, 2017
“You know how there’s the eye of the hurricane? You could be surrounded by the storm but there’s a place where it’s quiet and it’s tranquil, where you can still think. Where you can prepare yourself and meet with people, and come up with a strategy for defense and secure yourself. That’s what I think sanctuary really is.”
Trying to understand what it means to offer sanctuary these days is like chasing eels in a mud puddle. I tried my best with this piece, my first for Buzzfeed Reader.
February 3rd, 2017
They all looked tired, but Amirisefat was lit.
“Under the new administration I have to wait in the airport for five or six hours, while my brother in law is detained for no reason? This is insane!”
On Saturday, January 28, I drove out to O’Hare with my friend Andrea (who proved to be an effective fixer) to report on the protests that were blossoming rapidly at airports across the country in response to an executive order banning entry to travelers from seven majority-Muslim countries. This is what we saw. It’s also my first piece for Latterly, a wonderful and small independent publication focused on international social justice reporting. I’m happy to have this there.
December 27th, 2016
“Donald Trump’s upset victory has been held up as—among many things—an alarming triumph of emotion over reason. But what’s less discussed in all the hot takes is the notion that emotion can and should be taken seriously in public life as it is in private. As establishment liberals experience political fear, many of them for the first time, they would be wise to stop attempting to distance themselves from it, however unpleasant it is and however ugly it makes them.”[The Baffler]
Just after Halloween I went to New York to go to a haunted house. I wrote about it over Thanksgiving weekend and now, just in time for Christmas, here it is. Thanks to Chris Lehmann and the Baffler for understanding that fear isn’t a seasonal event.
* PS: The above is the only photo you were allowed to take at Doomocracy. Lay your dystopian interpretations on that as you will.
November 4th, 2016
The “projects” page has been updated. Go there to read all about A Memory Palace of Fear — a haunted house, about housing, that I’ve been working on for the last howevermany months.
August 1st, 2016
In July, I spent a week in Cleveland coordinating coverage of the Republican National Convention for Belt Magazine — and I even managed to write a few stories myself. Our entire package can be found here. For my part, I covered a group of clowns protesting Trump’s denigration of their good name and the toxic crowd scene at an auxiliary event featuring Milo Yiannopoulos and Ann Coulter. I also contributed reporting to this fascinating feature on the strange confluence of Tamir Rice and Pokemon Go, and the evolving ways we mark history.
August 1st, 2016
Bubbles are derided as the refuge of elites who can afford to remain deaf to views and values counter to their own. But as once-marginal hate speech is given a national platform, it’s critical to keep popping the bubble, to step forward and watch the ugliness of the world unspool. It may not lead to understanding, exactly—some of it is simply incomprehensible—but awareness is a virtue in itself.
After a week covering chaos around the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, I offered some thoughts about bubbles, and the merits of popping them, and then blowing them anew, at the Sunday Rumpus.
June 21st, 2016
This time last year I sat for days with my father in his room at Virginia Mason Hospital in Seattle, recording his voice as he narrated the story of his life. “She’s helping me write my memoirs,” he quipped to the endless parade of nurses passing through to change the dressings on his legs, take his blood pressure, administer meds. It wasn’t the first time he’d been in one of these rooms, and it wasn’t going to be the last, but by then he was well known to the staff on the eighth floor, as well as their allies down in the ER and upstairs in the CCU, and they took my winking iPhone in stride.
In honor of Father’s Day I wrote a little bit about my father, and other fathers, and stories about fathers and, well, patriarchy — at the Sunday Rumpus.
May 4th, 2016
“Homeless young people are often stigmatized in ways that veterans, for example, are not: they may be seen as drug addicts or troublemakers, they might be pregnant, they may be gay or gender nonconforming. Chicago’s SHED Studio works with young Chicagoans to creatively address questions of homelessness and affordable housing. Speaking at the summit, people who had participated in a recent series of SHED workshops emphasized the importance of autonomy and choice. They noted that shelters have curfews, and ‘sometimes we want to stay out late!’ as one participant said.
“That may sound trivial, but, added another participant, ‘People don’t understand that being homeless is a psychological thing.’”….
I wrote about a recent Tiny Home Summit at UIC, and the promise and challenges of “tiny homes” as a strategy to address youth homelessness, for the Social Justice News Nexus blog.
April 20th, 2016
Since the advent of health care reform in 2010, Illinois Medicaid enrollment has grown to over 3 million people. The bill for that care came to $14 billion in 2014 alone. But almost half of that was spent on care for just 100,000 people—many of them emergency room frequent fliers who are poor and suffer from high rates of diabetes, kidney disease, congestive heart failure, mental illness and substance abuse. Of those 100,000, an estimated 4 to 5 percent are homeless.
This year, University of Illinois Hospital & Health Sciences System and partners are testing a program to reduce these costs. It is modeled on a strategy known as “Housing First” that is catching on across the county, and it works like this: Take people who are chronically abusing drugs and alcohol, resisting help, unable to keep a job and committing petty crimes. Give them an apartment, no strings attached. Even buy them furniture and appliances. And watch their use of emergency rooms drop. … [Crain’s Chicago Business]
This piece on an initiative to fund supportive housing for chronically homeless Chicagoans was published April 2, 2016, in Crain’s Chicago Business. The story comes out of work I’ve been doing as part of a fellowship reporting on housing issues from the Medill-based Social Justice News Nexus, and I’m very happy it found such a good home.