We were in Austin for a week and initially I planned to write a lot about all my complicated feelings about home, where I haven’t lived in a decade. In my absence, the city I grew up in (and love a lot) has rapidly gentrified, mass-displaced locals, and changed to an extent where I largely don’t recognize many parts of it. I have so many feelings about what’s happened there (and they range, if I’m honest — not all change is bad, even if I hate it) and that was on my mind all of last week, even on top of the joy of seeing loved ones I don’t get to be around very often.
…but it all got buried by a series of crises! First, it took us 24 hours to get home, with a five-hour delay in Austin, an overnight in Dallas (hi, Dallas, thanks for having us and being 10 Fahrenheit degrees cooler than Austin), a brief flight to Savannah, and then back to D.C. We arrived and it was hot and muggy and awful, but we were glad to be home. Until we opened the door and quickly realized our cat had developed an infection! That subsequently resulted in a series of vet appointments, some of which were very frustrating, and a lot of hassle on our end. American work culture means that working from home should be easy for jobs like mine (where I really just need a computer and a phone), but there’s still a lot of resistance to that, and so this week quickly spiraled.
…made worse by a broken air conditioning unit! Another reason for the work from home needs. I’m not a big a/c person (in that I grew up in central Texas and our a/c was broken a lot and I survived and also I know very extensively what they do to the environment) but to preserve my relationship and also keep my cat alive it’s a necessity. So a lot of this week was spent locked in my room with the cat, trying to keep him away from repair workers, while trying to write stories on a make-shift desk with every window open and every fan going. All while everything else was slowly escalating around me, none of which I can really go into because it involves work and friends and so many other things (minus my toe, my toe is still a mess and that I can tell everyone, it is very gross and I am very sorry). By Friday I finally cried, which is a nod to how long everything had been brewing, as I do not cry, really, at all, ever.
Anyways, it was an abysmal week and there is really no nice way to say that! I’ve been trying to find a silver lining and honestly I am very happy that my cat seems to be surviving everything okay and he is still very annoying, which is promising in terms of his recovery. There are also cherries and strawberries at the farmer’s market now and they bring me great joy. So there’s that, at least.
Me: I spent A LOT of work on this VERY LONG feature about hurricane recovery, examining the experiences of aid workers and impacted communities in Texas, Florida, Puerto Rico, and North Carolina. It can be a challenge to compare recovery experiences, but no matter who I spoke with, everyone agreed: the system isn’t working.
AND, BROUGHT TO YOU LIVE FROM TEXAS: This story about Austin’s climate action plans, including endorsing the Green New Deal in a state powered by fossil fuels.
Others: Wildfire fighting jobs and funding are taking hits as the West prepares for another brutal season. The Trump administration joined energy-rich states in seeking to crack down on pipeline protesters. Biden has a climate plan, but will you love it, not sure! Government intelligence experts are worried about climate change. The DNC nixed a climate-centric debate, even though the issue is almost always ignored during general debates. A majority of 2020 Democrats have signed the No Fossil Fuel Money pledge — but what does that mean?
Elsewhere: Southeast Alaska is experiencing its first-ever recorded extreme drought. The Southeast’s fire recommendations for the West Coast. The Permian is booming, but at what cost to West Texas? Farmers are using Instagram to document climate change. Exxon and Chevron face climate scrutiny from shareholders. Soil health and the climate crisis.
84 environmental rules on the way out under Trump. South Asia boils as another devastating summer heats up. Climate change is causing growth spurts in old trees. Water is breaking the Corn Belt and rain keeps coming. This is an absolutely devastating look at what Hurricane Michael did to Mexico Beach, Florida, where residents are still stuck in limbo. Rain is burying Texas.
“Brooklynization” my ass. On the low, low bar for “good men.” The incredible Kristen Arnett, queen of Florida lesbian literature. This is a fascinating deep dive into the suicide rate in rural East Texas. The ultra-running maids of Hong Kong. How do we reclaim U.S. cities for people who walk? How millennials afford houses (hint: parent money or personal tragedy.) Shifting the Southern narrative. Discussions of the Central Park Five have left out the stories of the women impacted by the wider tragedy.
Spoken & Written
Katherine Webb-Hehn responds to Northerners in the New York Times: “Southerners, mostly those of us with a uterus, are furious. We’re heartbroken and tired. We don't agree with this ban. What we don’t need right now is outsider condescension or dimwitted reactions.”
Becca, a homeowner: “In a better America, with excellent schools and public transportation designed in urban areas that can economically power the nation and leave us more resilient to climate change, we wouldn't be having these conversations.”
Honestly, my main recommendation to everyone is to do the nicest thing possible for yourselves, since I know very few people having an easy time right now. I’m headed to Wisconsin next weekend for a hot second and I’m excited. I’m also pumped to read Kristen Arnett’s new book!