No. 7: MD's Newsletter
You're a fighter, you just don't know it yet
August is typically a hard month to get through in the desert. It’s peak heat, and you’ve already been worn down by existing across weeks of the triple-digits. But this year, it felt extra long for myriad reasons, not the least of which was closing on a house and beginning the move from Rancho Mirage to Yucca Valley. Each day held some new challenge, some new logistics to figure out, and a whole lot of corresponding expenses. And while I was prepared for the chaos, I wasn’t prepared for my momentum to drain.
As a journalist who has covered a ton of breaking news, I’m the kind of adrenaline junkie who thrives in times of mental challenges. I look back on some of the biggest stories of my career — covering 24-hour run-ups to Pennsylvania budget deadlines, breaking the news of Sen. John McCain’s death, and those frightful first few weeks of the COVID-19 pandemic — and I remember feeling a strange sort of calm. Though surrounding conditions may have been chaotic, the task at hand was straightforward: get the story, write the story, and publish the story. And I’ve become used to switching on that kind of tunnel vision in non-work situations too. Something breaks, someone’s injured, there’s an emergency or accident of some sort, and I go into task-at-hand mode. The emotions of the situation can be processed once the problem is solved, or at least under control.
But with this move, I kept waiting for that feeling to kick in. Maybe it was because there were too many tasks. Maybe it was the enormity of moving into a home that I own (or at least, have a mortgage on). But each day of packing up belongings, dropping off donations and hauling boxes felt longer than the last, instead of getting easier.
It’s easier to reflect on this side of September. We’ve officially moved in, with new and old furniture, fresh paint on the walls, and at least a dozen paintings waiting to be hung. I can feel my energy picking back up as I look around this space and envision the many memories we’ll be making here — the important things in life, like having a safe and stable home, are worth every effort we put in to make them.
What does it look like to be a conscious consumer?
Over at Modern Retail, I’ve been busy exploring sustainability in production and packaging. That results in stories like this one on a push to remove expiration dates from food so it doesn’t get thrown away. It turns out that those dates are causing us to toss food that might be perfectly edible:
ReFED, a nonprofit organization that works to eliminate food waste, estimates that about 90 billion meals are thrown away annually. And, about 7.6% of residential food waste comes from date label concerns.
I’ve been in my new role for about three months and I’ve learned that the retail beat has a ton of angles. Also that founders are fun to talk to — but I knew that already, after years of interviewing small business owners and nonprofit leaders in various municipal beats. There’s just something about talking to passionate people that makes a story that much more fun to write — like talking to Melissa Wirt and Jessica Chang, two founders looking to change the game of how we provide child care in this country by looking at what the private sector can do. I also had a lot of fun talking to Nick Bodkins at Boisson, who’s aiming to help restaurants provide more elevated non-alcoholic drinks.
All in all, this beat makes me think a lot about what we buy, how it’s made, why we buy it, and where it goes once we’re done. I’ve begun posing the question, “What do we do with all this stuff?” to sources to get their perspective on reuse and recycling, as well as supply chain management.
The fight for equity for rural communities
Last month, CV Independent published a piece I worked on throughout the summer about the plans in the works to build more water infrastructure in the eastern Coachella Valley’s unincorporated communities. The biggest piece of news in the story is that CVWD has raised more than $70 million to put towards underground infrastructure that would be safe and stable drinking water resources — but as the story explains, there’s still a long way to go, and a host of immediate dangers to the current water situation that demand solutions. In the course of this reporting, which was supposed by the amazing folks running the Unfiltered IE project from the Listening Post Collective, I spoke with local leaders about how we got here, and what we need to do to remedy the decades of disinvestment that have faced the region.
Stay tuned for more on this topic from me at the Civic Solutions beat — while I’m officially a Yucca Valley resident, I hope to continue chronicling issues that face folks in the desert and the ways that communities are working to solve them.
Thanks for reading MD's Newsletter! Subscribe for free to receive future posts & updates.
Take it like a man
As happy as I am to be in my new house, I know the work is just beginning. So I’m planning on fueling myself through this next phase with lots of Americana music, YouTube lofi playlists and pad kee mow. In particular, Amanda Shires’ latest album “Take it like a Man” is getting lot of listeners, especially since I bought tickets to see her upcoming tour when it rolls through Pioneertown later this fall. Zach Bryan’s pad kee mo continues to be a great listen, it feels like each pass through I notice a new song and it’s been a perfect companion for the drive up the hill.
On a personal note, thanks to all for the support as we begin this exciting new adventure, and as always, thanks for reading.
Thanks for reading MD's Newsletter! Subscribe for free to receive new posts and support my work.