Laura Smith

The Berkeley Women’s Canon in 27 Landmark Books

An impressive number of women authors have come out of Berkeley—so many that it was daunting to select titles to include on this ideal bookshelf. Here you’ll find groundbreaking journalists and sociologists, beloved children’s book authors, and some of the country’s sharpest critics. They were on the campus in different eras, some for just a short time (can you guess which author was here only for a semester?), but they all left their mark on our campus and the literary world.

From the Fall 2020 issue of California.

Julia Morgan Changed Architecture and Opened the Field for Women

In late June, visitors find the doors of Berkeley City Club locked, signs imploring would-be entrants to wear masks. The club, originally imagined as a space to foster women’s civic engagement, was designed by the famed architect Julia Morgan (B.A. 1894). There’s a swimming pool inside, its untouched water reflecting the aquamarine, cloistered arch ceiling above. Where there should be the echo of rhythmic splashing bouncing off tile, there’s a cavernous silence.

From the Fall 2020 issue of California.

How to Kick-Start Your Bird-Watching Hobby From Home

Look up! While you were stirring up a tweetstorm on your phone, real (non)human drama was unfolding among the original tweeters—that’s right, the birds. Cooper’s hawks are in hot pursuit of pigeons through the Berkeley canopy. A consortium of bushtits gather on the sidewalk, and a black phoebe lands pensively on your fence post. 

What Comes After the Pandemic?

“The future will not, in crucial ways, be anything like the past, even the very recent past of a month or two ago,” the author Rebecca Solnit, M.A. ’84, wrote of the pandemic in the Guardian in early April. In a crisis, Solnit wrote, “Our focus shifts, and what matters shifts. What is weak breaks under new pressure, what is strong holds, and what was hidden emerges.” 

From the Summer 2020 issue of California.

Q&A: Cameras, Police, the Dangers of a Constantly Monitored Society

In August 2019, it was reported that Ring, the doorbell-camera company owned by Amazon, was partnering with hundreds of local police departments around the country. As part of this new collaboration and an increasingly extended surveillance system, Ring provides law enforcement with the video and audio that the device records outside of residents’ homes.

Alice Waters Talks Food and Hope in Hard Times

Restaurateur and food activist Alice Waters is holed up in her Berkeley home amidst shelter-in-place orders, but she is hopeful about the future. Waters discovered her passion for the culinary arts in the late 60s when she left UC Berkeley to study abroad in France.

What Stockton’s UBI Experiment Can Teach Us About Surviving Coronavirus

Michael Tubbs, the 29-year-old mayor of Stockton, has the kind of life that, if you squint, could convince you the American dream is alive and well. He grew up in Stockton, the son of a single mother and an incarcerated father. He spent his lunch money buying SAT prep books, studying hungry. He eventually attended Stanford and interned at the White House. In 2016, he became the city’s first black mayor.

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