Forty-eight climate activists got themselves hauled away by the cops on Wednesday, part of a Sierra Club action in front of the White House to protest the Keystone XL pipeline. It was the first time in the Sierra Club's 120-year history that the group has sanctioned civil disobedience. As we reported yesterday, those arrested included Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune, Bill McKibben of 350.org (and Grist’s board), civil rights leader Julian Bond, actress Daryl Hannah, Robert F. Kennedy Jr., and his son Conor Kennedy (aka Taylor Swift's ex).
OK, no. We’ve had our fun over the past week hand-picking our favorite stories about bikes, genius kids, cities, and the likes. But this last list is drawn straight from the data, based solely on the number of “unique pageviews” each story received. And let’s just say it doesn’t always leave us feeling optimistic about the future of life on this rock.
Without further ado, the 10 most popular stories from Grist in 2012. If you need us, we’ll be huddled around a bottle of whiskey, resigning ourselves to running more stories about baby pandas and penguin sweaters in 2013 -- and toasting Jess Zimmerman and her crack team of Grist List bloggers who keep the hordes stampeding to our url, despite our best efforts to drive them away.
Looking for a quality way to spend a few hours while the clock ticks down to 2013? We dug back through the cities archives from the past year in search of quality writing that merits a second, or even a third look. Here are our faves.
In which Darby Minow Smith writes about Michael Swaine, who has mended clothing for free on the San Francisco streets for the past 11 years. Here’s Swaine talking about one of his regulars, Veronica, who likes to hang out and chat even when her mending is done:
"The truth is, I love when people stay. I bring chairs out. I never try to kick anyone out. Maybe it’s kind of like a consumer thing. When you go to a restaurant and you finish eating, you should leave. Someone else will want that chair. I think there’s something touching and beautiful about this other function … Veronica has lots of things that she needs mended, but she also really needs someone to listen to her, and someone to talk to."
In which Sarah Laskow takes a walk through New York to commemorate Jane Jacobs -- “writer, grassroots organizer, patron saint of city lovers everywhere.”
"These days, it’s impossible to avoid Jacobs’ legacy when thinking about cities. But it’s almost as tricky to pin down what, exactly, her legacy is. Great American Cities is long (458 pages) and, in places, boring. (Full disclosure: I’ve read about half altogether -- definitely most of Part One, and sections of the other three parts.) Plenty of people who adore Jacobs haven’t read the whole thing, or any of her eight other books. She’s become, for many people, a stand-in for the idea that cities are awesome. If there’s some aspect of a vibrant city that you happen to like, well, you’re pretty safe asserting that Jane would have liked it too."
In April, our Ask Umbra advice column turned 10 years old. To celebrate, Umbra Fisk sat down with an organic carrot cake and compiled the 10 most notable moments in Ask Umbra history. Spoiler alert! Her No. 1 highlight of the decade was you -- her dear readers, whose questions "never cease to perplex, amaze, and amuse.”
Umbra is on vacation this week, so, as we count down to 2013, we rounded up the 10 best questions readers sent in this year. You can read her sage replies by clicking on the headlines.
Grist Senior Editor Greg Hanscom, who is on a campaign to create the best Christmas ever for his wife and two young daughters -- without buying them any presents -- appeared with Velez-Mitchell yesterday on a spot called, “A happier, more memorable holiday?” Here it is:
It’s that season again -- when UPS delivery people work overtime to rush fruitcakes and ill-fitting sweaters to our far-flung friends and relatives, and Americans everywhere get into the holiday spirit by bludgeoning each other to get the bargain smartphones at their favorite big-box store.
This year, Grist Senior Editor Greg Hanscom has decided to fight back. On Black Friday, he penned an open letter to friends and family asking them to get his two young daughters nothing for Christmas, and explaining that he and his wife, Tara, are trying to put the focus on special holiday experiences rather than just amassing more stuff. The letter attracted the attention of the TV news program 20/20, which included Greg and his family in its Friday evening holiday extravaganza. The name of 20/20’s segment: “Christmas Extremists.”
While dastardly adversaries can be a pain, what we really need to do is get more people talking and thinking about the issues that matter most. After all, as the saying goes, it takes a village to combat an apocalypse.
Grist readers, as any climate realist knows, procrastination will get us nowhere. We only have one more day to reach our goal and just 1,000 more donations to go. Make a donation today to help us reach our goal of 2,500 donations by Dec. 11 so we can continue making progress towards a better, brighter future.
David Roberts Grist Department of Reality Checks
When Grist advice maven Umbra Fisk asked the good folks at TerraCycle if they had any ideas for reusing old movie film, they were happy to oblige! Here are their instructions for making filmstrip gift bows -- check out their other seasonal DIY projects to see how to make bows from food packaging, ornaments from toothpaste tubes, and more!