Hello, Stranger

I became a reporter when I took an internship, on a whim, at a local weekly newspaper. My first assignment was to fact-check a story about tea parlors. “Do you serve Russian Caravan tea?” I would ask. “Does it indeed come with cream and sugar? Is it indeed $4.95?”

Within a few weeks I had a cover story – the story no one else wanted to do. Every year since the dawn of time the paper had a special summer issue dedicated to nudity. And so it was my job to find out how legal it was to be naked in our neighborhood, and I found myself calling local police stations and asking them to describe the most recent time they had arrested anyone for being naked. I discovered that approaching the world as a series of questions that needed to be answered was, in fact, the best kind of life there is. Even when people hung up the phone on me, it was exciting.

Since then I’ve studied at UC Berkeley’s Graduate School of Journalism, studied colony collapse disorder as a Middlebury Fellow in Environmental Journalism, co-edited a magazine called Meatpaper, and worked as a writer and researcher for a book of maps called Infinite City. Currently, I’m a Knight Science Journalism Fellow at MIT.

I’m interested in how things function. I’ve reported on how cities work, how agriculture works, how our bodies work. To me, they’re all aspects of the same story – how we like to think things get done and how they actually get done.

I recently finished nearly two years as an editor at Mission Loc@l, a startup news lab that rides the line between the 19th and the 21st centuries. It’s unabashedly a neighborhood paper – one that covers the local cops, the local economy, the trouble that the local kids get into. But it’s also a vibrant forum for the neighborhood to write about itself. And so: I covered a beat that consisted of all beats. I chased police convoys on my bicycle. I never took a camera off for a year and a half. I continue to work there in an occasional and advisory capacity, because as much work as it is for all of us, it gives me tremendous hope for the future of journalism.

Being a reporter means never being the expert, and always learning. I hope that my writing shares some of my delight in this work with you.

If you’d like to get in touch: hello [at] strangerworks.com

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