Jorge Otero-Pailos, “The Ethics of Dust: Old US Mint, San Francisco” (2016). Yerba Buena Center for the Arts. (Photo courtesy of Jorge Otero-Pailos). The installation is made of conservation latex that has been used to ‘clean’ the chimneys of the Old US Mint, where the gold from the California gold rush was turned into coins. As one of the only buildings surviving the 1906 earthquake, the pollution from the US Mint is some of the oldest pollution in San Francisco.

Pollution is a blight, right? Not so fast, says architect Jorge Otero-Pailos, whose projects invite us to consider the important history lessons provided by layer upon layer of dirt.

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In this excerpt from her new book, Courtney Martin reflects on the repercussions of a world filled with gizmo-laden gadgets … and shows how a simpler way is both possible and good for the soul.

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Whether or not you believe in it, the zodiac system is a useful way to understand Chinese culture, says writer ShaoLan Hsueh.

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Why do humans often want to create a world of “us” vs. “them”? And what can we do about this unhelpful, often damaging, yet somehow reassuring instinct? Psychologist Robert Waldinger has some useful advice.

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Melissa Fleming of the UN’s Refugee Agency shares some ways to help refugees right now.

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Kio Stark has always talked to strangers, believing it provides new ways to fall in love with the world. She shares 5 ways to spark a meaningful interaction with someone you’ve never met before.

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Forget memorial plaques, tombstones, and traditional funerals. New, high-tech ways to celebrate life and death are emerging, and they’re using your digital data.