Editor’s Letter

Joshua Neuman discusses the idea of a ‘global citizenship’ that’s rooted in values and transcends geographic borders

The past year all but put to rest the cliché that the millennial generation will only commit to taking action in the form of 140 characters or less. From Ukraine, to Ferguson, to Hong Kong, we saw examples of people—perhaps too young to see a cut-and-dry distinction between our online and real world selves—taking to the streets, taking back public spaces, demanding accountability from their leaders, and justice for crimes unpunished. I am by no means the first to suggest that social media and other contemporary communications amplified these efforts, but there has been little discussion about the ways that those forms of communication have connected us as global citizens with a shared sense of values.

The idea of the ‘global citizen’ goes back to ancient Greece in the 4th century B.C., when the philosopher Diogenes struck a blow against petty provincialism and small-minded sectarianism by proclaiming, “I am not an Athenian or a Greek, but a citizen of the world.”

As the bloody mess that is human civilization can attest, Diogenes’s saber-rattling declaration about the global nature of his identity hasn’t been easy for human beings to embody. But our increased sense of connectedness is now enabling the global citizen to flourish. There is a growing sense that our individual lives resonate with a global dimension and that our interests extend beyond those of our immediate borders. In this issue, we set out to explore that sense.

We started in Argentina where Kurt Shaw sought to better understand a man who we believe is the pinnacle of global citizenship, Pope Francis (“Walking the Maze”). How are we to reconcile the narrow-minded parochialism of the Catholic Church in recent years with the tolerance, cosmopolitanism, and commitment to justice that has defined Francis’s brief papacy? Shaw walks the streets of Buenos Aires and Córdoba to unlock the mystery behind Pope Francis’s distinct blend of faith.

Next, we head to the Yukon, where Tom Clynes paddles down the Snake River and chronicles a legal victory that brought together stakeholders from diverse coalitions, who came together to protect one of the world’s last great wildernesses (“Champagne in the Peel”). The rich hues of the Canadian landscape seem to capture an unusual feeling for those struggling to protect wild places against relentless development: optimism.

Half a century ago, Timothy Leary described a global perspective that was “turned on and tuned in.” In her exploration of the mindfulness movement, Taffy Brodesser-Akner shows how being “turned on and tuned in” has come to be seen as a symptom of an affliction known as “distraction” (“Turbulent Calm”). Brodesser-Akner asks provocative questions about whether mindfulness projects a solitary ideal that isolates us from others instead of connecting us with them.

Speaking of isolation, in new fiction by Darin Strauss, we head to the Emirates for the story of Chuck, (“Chuck Knows Nothing”) an erstwhile web entrepreneur who somehow manages to have a ton of ideas about connectivity without really having a clue about how to achieve it in his own life. The lessons he learns through his failed relationship with Azeeza point to an important distinction between being a global citizen versus merely well-traveled.

And that raises a big point that I’d like to end with: Though this issue takes you to a crack den in Buenos Aires, through the mouth of the Snake River in the Yukon, and to the sun-drenched streets of Abu Dhabi, we don’t want to leave you with the impression that being a global citizen means jet setting around the world and simply learning about other cultures. On the contrary, what makes this time in human history so sacred is our ability to now be connected to people based on shared values and not on mere geography. Today, creativity gets you much further than a passport ever could.

via The Howard Stern Show / YouTube

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Fortunately, you can cut down on the amount of waste you produce by cutting down on disposable products. And even more fortunately, there are sustainable (and cute) replacements that won't damage the environment.

Coconut bowls


Who says sustainable can't also be stylish? These cute coconut bowls were handmade using reclaimed coconuts, making each piece one of a kind. Not only are they organic and biodegradable, but they're also durable, in case your dinner parties tend to get out of hand. The matching ebony wood spoons were polished with the same coconut oil as the bowls.

Cocostation Set of 2 Vietnamese Coconut Bowls and Spoons, $14.99; at Amazon

Solar powered phone charger


Why spend time looking around for an outlet when you can just harness the power of the sun? This solar powered phone charger will make sure your phone never dies as long as you can bask in the sun's rays. As an added bonus, this charger was made using eco-friendly silicone rubber. It's win-win all around.

Dizaul Solar Charger, 5000mAh Portable Solar Power Bank, $19.95; at Amazon, $19.95; at Amazon

Herb garden kit

Planter Pro

Put some green in your life with this herb planter. The kit comes with everything you need to get a garden growing, including a moisture meter that helps you determine if your herbs are getting the right amount of food to flourish. All the seeds included are certified to be non-GMO and non-hybrids, meaning you can have fresh, organic herbs right at your fingertips.

Planter Pro's Herb Garden Cedar Planter, $39.00; at Amazonedar Planter, $39.00; at Amazon

Reusable Keurig cups

K & J

Keurig cups are convenient, but they also create a ton of plastic waste. These Keurig-compatible plastic cups are an easy way to cut down on the amount of trash you create without cutting down on your caffeine. Additionally, you won't have to keep on buying K Cups, which means you'll be saving money and the environment.

K&J Reusable Filter Cups, $8.95 for a set of 4,; at Amazon

Low-flow shower head


Low-flow water fixtures can cut down your water consumption, which saves you money while also saving one of the Earth's resources. This shower head was designed with a lighter flow in mind, which means you'll be able to cut down on water usage without feeling like you're cutting down on your shower.

Speakman Low Flow Shower Head, $14.58; at Amazon

Bamboo safety razor


Instead of throwing away a disposable razor every time you shave, invest in an eco-friendly, reusable one. This unisex shaver isn't just sustainable, it's also sharp-looking, which means it would make a great gift for the holidays.

Zomchi Safety Razor, $16.99; at Amazon

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