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Articles by Director of Global Policy Initiatives, Broad Institute Bina Venkataraman

Bina Venkataraman is the director of Global Policy Initiatives at the Broad Institute of Harvard and MIT and in November 2019 will become the editorial page editor at the Boston Globe. She served as senior adviser for climate change innovation in the Obama White House.

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The following is adapted from the book The Optimist’s Telescope: Thinking Ahead in A Reckless Age, by Bina Venkataraman. Copyright © 2019 by Bina Venkataraman. Reprinted with the permission of Riverhead Books, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC. Watch Venkataraman’s TED talk on the same topic here.

A few years ago, I visited my grandmother in India. Memories flooded back of childhood trips to see her, of my sister and I pinning jasmine garlands in our hair and filling a bucket to pour water over our sticky bodies in the bath. For as long as I can remember, all have been welcome to pass through the wrought-iron gate into her home: gossiping neighbors, whiny street cats, and droves of mosquitoes with a taste for American-born blood.

On this recent visit, she had something she wanted to give me. She directed me to climb onto a rickety chair in her bedroom and reach above her armoire to bring down an heirloom that she had saved for me. We sat together on the mattress, hard as a coffin, as I unraveled the fraying rope and unfurled the batik cloak that clung to the antique.

The heirloom belonged to my great-grandfather, a music and art critic named K. V. Ramac... Read more