A Story About Once and Future California, Written in the Rings of Redwoods

The core sample from the oldest coast redwood tree ever found is a thin rod of wood the width of a pencil, a couple feet long, and densely scored at irregular intervals by dark brown stripes. In this compact package, exposed to the air and sitting on a table in front of me at the Humboldt State University Institute for Redwood Ecology, lies 1,500 years of history from a tree dating back to 328 CE.

Dendrochronologist Allyson Carroll hand-counted each of the 1,498 minuscule rings in this core. And not just this sample, but hundreds more; in all, Carroll has counted more than a quarter of a million coast redwood tree rings.

She does it because these little rings have immense power. In the labs of scientists, cores like this will have another life. Rings will be counted, measured, and combusted into vapor, and their elemental origins will be tallied, all in an effort to peer into the deep history of the earth.

Coast redwoods (Sequoia sempervirens) are famous for being the tallest trees in the world. Redwoods shoot up hundreds of feet into the air and hail from another age, their ancestors arriving in the fossil record over 200 million years ago. Yet the tiny spaces between the rings – spaces so small scientists peer at them with microscopes – tell big stories about the past that no human alive has seen, and a future we have yet to understand.

Read the full story at Bay Nature.

Does the Homeless Vote Matter in San Francisco?

Kat Callaway doesn’t waste words when I ask her if she’s planning to vote next week. Her answer? Hell yes.

Kat’s enthusiasm is unsurprising. She has been the picture of political engagement since arriving in San Francisco five years ago. She works the polls, volunteers with a local voter organization Tenderloin Votes, and attends Board of Supervisor and city meetings regularly, so often that they “they cringe when they see me coming.” Kat’s hard to miss, with a brilliantly red pixie cut and devilish grin.

Kat is also homeless, which puts her in one of the city’s invisible categories – the homeless voter. While the city will be voting on seven housing and homelessness measures on next month’s ballot, there’s a dearth of information about the group of San Franciscans that arguably has the most to lose or gain from them.

Read the full story at Broke-Ass Stuart.

Yin Xiuzhen: Nowhere to Land

Yin Xiuzhen: Nowhere to Land

It’s a microcosm of how rapid consumer-driven development has taken root in modern China: 798 Art District, once an esoteric artists’ enclave on the fringes of the city, has emerged as a prime tourist destination in Beijing, replete with international galleries.  Fashioned from a former military factory complex from the Mao era, industrial Bauhaus-inspired spaces serve as stark galleries for an array of contemporary Chinese artists.

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Space and Spectacle: The Bangkok Protests

Space and Spectacle: The Bangkok Protests

Bangkok has been rocked with the largest political demonstrations since 2010, with protests escalating into isolated pockets of violence.

Yesterday’s D-Day is part of the “final battle” by the anti-government protesters, with morning marches from all major rally sites converging at Government House. Prime Minister Yingluck announced that she would dissolve the lower house of Parliament, as a reported 100,000-150,000 protesters flooded the streets of Bangkok and members of the Democrat party resigned.

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