Ted

Have you wondered why the cast, promos, and maybe even the audiences for the new hit movie “Wild” (based on the 2012 memoir by Cheryl Strayed) include so few nonwhite faces? African-American writer Brandon Harris did; his essay “Why is Camping a White Thing?” poses a question that lingers like the proverbial pebble in the boot. Could Forest Schools offer affordable early learning in settings intended to connect the next generation to nature? Already popular in the U.K. and beginning to appear in the U.S., nature-centered preschools may offer one way to break down that racial divide in relating to the wild.

Meaghan

Earlier this week I stumbled across this essay on gender socialization and the sharing economy, specifically in regard to home-sharing: Women: Claim Your Share of the Sharing Economy.

It’s a personal essay by a woman, Erica Karnes, reflecting on her experiences as an Airbnb host in Seattle. She eloquently offers up several observations, including what she has come to identify as the “spatial tension” that she finds male guests bring to her home:

Visitors, generally in vacation mode, are thrilled with it all—with my home, with my prices, with my stunning city, with my sightseeing suggestions, with my available shelf of gin—all of it. I seem to tread the perfect line between available and invisible, around if needed, but not clingy—and generally not caring. Assuming I can peacefully crawl into bed around 11:00 on a work night, and operate my clunky, roaring juicer around 7:00 the following morning, I’m completely content with the set up. Both on my profile, and within the “Welcome” notes I leave out for new arrivals, I stress the following: What’s mine is yours. Please. Make yourself at home.

That said, there’s a certain tension—a spatial tension—that’s apparent. An irk that’s becoming increasingly difficult to ignore. An itch I’m attempting to scratch. It’s the men I host who fill the space. Who spread their belongings, their energy, their bodies throughout the entire area. Women—spectacular, complicated, creative women—politely enjoy my tour, politely beeline for their room, and politely close the door behind them. Women keep their toiletries and their trinkets within the invisible bubble our mutual business transaction has deemed theirs.

It’s a thoughtful read.

Clark

Vox does the math of driving for Lyft. Verdict: excluding bonuses Lyft is handing out to build its fleet, a new driver will probably earn less than $15/hour.

Anna

“Why Headlines Matter.” “Misleading Headlines Can Lead You Astray.” “How What You Read Affects What You See.” “How Bad Headlines Make Bad Memories.” “Eleven Reasons Headlines Are Important.” “You’ll Never Believe How Important an Accurate Headline Is.” An interesting read can be found in the New Yorker on the way first impressions—even when we’re reading articles—affects how we read, how we think about new ideas, what we remember, and what information we prioritize.

Some good news: Brain research shows that we are biologically set up to care about other people. Being nice is human nature. So, no matter how grumpy you may be feeling this time of year, put the little sensors on your brain and the circuits won’t lie. They light up for kindness, empathy, compassion.

From the Income Inequality Reality Check Desk (a.k.a. Demos—via their Facebook page): Most Americans think CEOs make 30 times more than their workers. They’re way off.

Demos is also doing really interesting work looking at wealth disparities between whites and people of color and the systems and institutions that keep it that way (whites have more wealth than blacks and Hispanics with similar incomes. White high school dropouts have more wealth than black and Hispanic college graduates.) Their report, Stacked Deck: How the Racial Bias in Our Big Money Political System Undermines Our Democracy and Our Economy, uncovers the ways “distortions of money in politics also hold back the policies that would advance racial equity and fulfill the promise of a multiracial democracy.”

And, check out Bill Moyers’ list of top books in 2014.

Alan

We spilled a lot of ink about California’s 12-second rule and toxic couches. Well, nontoxic couches are proliferating in response to the rule change we helped to win. Our friends at Green Science Policy Institute have assembled a list of some. My personal favorite is Cascadia’s own artisanal, responsibly sourced, nontoxic furniture maker Ecobalanza.

Serena

You’d think a tornado had hit: a heartbreaking before-and-after look at how the Wall-Street-manufactured financial crisis very visibly decimated communities in Detroit, thanks to compilations from Google Street Views time machine. Upworthy has some highlights and a good intro to the “Motor City Mapping” project. I wonder what a similar project might look like in Northwest cities and towns.

This year’s Economics of Happiness conference promises to help change makers “connect the dots, get together, translate understanding into action, and build a global to local movement.” Don’t miss the early bird registration rates before January. More info and registration are here.

Eric

Damn the 49th parallel and the strange way it interrupts the flow of important information. The always-excellent Pembina Institute published a trio of op-eds on what British Columbia and Alberta can do to support progress on climate change. Part 1 looks at how the world’s energy mix will change with strong climate change policies in place and what Western Canada should do in light of those changes. Part 2 explores the economic and environmental successes from BC’s Climate Action Plan and how the province could build on those successes in the lead-up to the Paris climate conference in 2015. Part 3 turns to Alberta (aka “the Texas of Canada”) and focuses on opportunities for the province to catch up when it updates its climate strategy in the next few months.

  • Inspectors in New York state found 100 defects on oil trains and tracks. That’s comforting.

    But that’s okay. The entire industry is riddled with design flaws, regulatory lapses, and unsafe practices as InsideClimateNews documents.

    Speaking of oil trains, what’s Tesoro been up to lately? In Washington, its Anacortes refinery shelled out $150,000 in fines for illegally discharging oil into a wastewater system and violating air quality regulations. (Next door neighbor, Shell, got dinged too.) In Utah, local environment and public health organizations are suing over its refinery expansion plans.

    Advocates in Portland are turning up the heat on plans by the Pembina Pipeline Corporation (that’s a very different Pembina from the one above!) to a 37,000 barrel per day propane-by-rail depot in the heart of the Rose City.

    The New York Times reports on some academic evidence that generous social safety nets in Nordic countries don’t impede employment—they boost it.

    Are TGI Friday’s mozzarella sticks really endless, as the company promises? Gawker writer Caity Weaver undertakes a 14-hour vision question at one location to find out.