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New England News Collaborative

Shervin Lainez

In 2017, the genre-bending band Lake Street Dive went from a quartet to a quintet. The band members asked their newest musician, keyboardist Akie Bermiss, to come on board with a “marriage proposal.”

Tatiana Johnson

Poet Porsha Olayiwola uses Afrofuturism to look back at history. 

“It’s reimagining, it’s reconciling, it’s inserting magic in a way that feels like something might live forever,” she told NEXT

Olayiwola is the Boston poet laureate and a fellow with the Academy of American Poets. In 2019, she released her debut book of poetry, “i shimmer sometimes, too.”

Dave Wurtzel / Connecticut Public

Editor’s Note: After five years on air, our weekly radio program NEXT is coming to an end. The show focused on New England at a time of change and featured stories from journalists across the New England News Collaborative. 

Laura Fuchs

At first, Rebecca Carroll’s childhood in rural New Hampshire seemed idyllic. But as a Black child raised by adoptive white parents, her life became much more complicated.

“It essentially was the white gaze,” Carroll told NEXT. “It was the world my parents created, the way they wanted it to look, without any indication of race beyond me.”

The country’s first large-scale offshore wind project has cleared its final significant regulatory hurdle, bringing the long-anticipated U.S. offshore wind revolution one step closer to reality.

Alison Bechdel / HMH Books & Media

Alison Bechdel is a popular American cartoonist. She’s best known for her graphic memoir “Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic,” which was later adapted into a Tony Award-winning musical. She’s also a recipient of the MacArthur “Genius” Grant. The Vermont resident's new graphic memoir, “The Secret To Superhuman Strength,” is about exercise and the new fitness trends Bechdel picks up with each decade – from running to yoga to skiing. But it's also about transcending.

Tanya Miller

Cities around New England have declared racism a public health crisis. Scholar-activist Katharine “Kat” Morris is especially interested in the intersection between racism, health and environmental justice -- something she talked about in her 2019 TEDxUConn talk. Morris noted that a fifth of Connecticut’s pollution is concentrated in five cities where the majority of the state’s people of color reside: Bridgeport, Hartford, New Haven, Stamford and Waterbury.

Karin Shedd / Yale University

Yale University psychology professor Laurie Santos says happiness is about having joy in your life and with your life.

“If we’re maximizing you being happy in your life -- that’s lots of positive emotions,” Santos told NEXT.

She says you’re happy with your life when you’re satisfied at a meta level.

Vanessa de la Torre / Connecticut Public Radio

Leticia Colón de Mejias worked for Hartford HealthCare for years. But after seeing a documentary about climate change, she changed the trajectory of her life.

“Boy, I thought I was helping people in health care, but the reality is that if we don’t tackle climate change and change the way we interact with energy and the environment, all this work I’ve been doing is for nothing,” she told NEXT in a recent interview to mark Earth Day.

Joe Klementovich

We heard about Mardi Fuller from an Instagram post. She introduced herself as an outdoor enthusiast and shared how the “white colonial imagination has never created room for Black folk to enjoy Nature.”

Nicole Franzen

In the rural town of Freedom, Maine -- population 700 -- there’s the renowned restaurant The Lost Kitchen. It’s the brainchild of owner and chef Erin French and the crew of women who work with her. During normal times, the restaurant is fully booked for the season -- months in advance. The New York Times has written about it. So has Martha Stewart Living.

President Joe Biden’s energy goals will make significant changes to where New England gets its power. How states choose to embrace these goals as part of their climate change plans could shake up the region's energy market over the next decade. This week, all eyes are on Biden, who will convene world leaders for an Earth Day summit.

Courtesy: Center For Coastal Studies

On a recent cool, windy day, a team of scientists aboard a weathered 55-foot sailboat motored across Cape Cod Bay toward Provincetown, where dozens of North Atlantic right whales had been spotted days earlier.

“A bunch of whales were seen on a line between the mouth of Barnstable Harbor to Wood End off Provincetown. So we’re going to head that way,” said team leader Michael Moore, a veterinarian and scientist with the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI).

Danielle Laws / Baronial Designs Photography

Aigné Goldsby’s mom was a hairdresser. So as a kid, Goldsby would flex a variety of hairstyles. But at her majority white school, kids would do things like pull on her weave, Goldsby recalled.

When Goldsby grew up and became a lawyer, she didn’t feel at ease bringing her full self to work.

“As a Black woman it’s been difficult for me, and it’s certainly been a process for me to feel comfortable in predominantly white spaces,” she told NEXT.

ALONSO NICHOLS

Jennifer De Leon grew up attending mostly white schools in the Boston area, where she tried to fit in.

“I was in this mode of survival and assimilation,” said De Leon, an author and assistant professor of creative writing at Framingham State University in Massachusetts.

Marena Lin / Project Restore Us

What we eat -- and where -- has changed for many of us over the past year. Some people are getting more takeout, while others are spending a lot more time at home, cooking both elaborate and simple meals. The New York Times reported that cookbook sales increased by 127% from 2019 to 2020.

Ben Gray / AP Photo

After the killings of eight people in Atlanta, including six Asian women, Caroline H. Lee wrote a commentary for WBUR’s blog Cognoscenti, responding directly to news reports that said it was “unclear” whether the killings were motivated by racism. Her commentary is titled, “Call The Shootings In Atlanta What They Were: Targeted Violence Against Asian American Women.”

Miseal Martinez

When singer Niu Raza wrote the song “Madagascar,” she wanted to capture the feeling of home through her lyrics and sound.

In an interview with NEXT, Raza said she brought in traditional Malagasy singing from her home country of Madagascar and blended it with the influences of pop music and Afrobeat. “Madagascar” is featured on her first full-length album “Mm-hmm,” which was released earlier this year.

NASA

NASA’s Artemis program plans to land the first woman on the moon by 2024. Half of the Artemis team is composed of women, including Jessica Meir, who grew up in Caribou, Maine.

In a recent interview on NEXT, Meir traced her career ambitions back to the first grade, when the teacher instructed students to draw a picture of what they wanted to be when they grew up. Meir drew herself, standing on the lunar surface in a spacesuit with the American flag.

Charlie Vega is the heroine of Crystal Maldonado’s debut young-adult novel, “Fat Chance, Charlie Vega.” When Charlie describes herself, she uses the word “fat.” She’s learning to celebrate who she is and how she looks -- although her weight still affects her relationships with crushes, her best friend and her mom. 

After three decades of fishing for lobsters in Cape Cod Bay in Massachusetts, Rob Martin knows his boat inside and out.

"It's only 40 feet. It was big when I first got it and now it seems small," he says while warming up inside the cabin on a cold morning.

Just as Cape Cod lobstermen have done for centuries, Martin used to check his traps by looking for buoys connected to cages on the ocean floor by ropes.

But his buoys are gone and he is one of a handful of Massachusetts lobstermen testing ropeless fishing systems.

Since the racial reckoning last summer after the police killings of Breonna Taylor and George Floyd, people are talking more openly about racism and inequality. Many workplaces are prioritizing training around diversity, equity and inclusion, and some people are feeling more comfortable talking about experiencing microaggressions. 

“Microaggressions are things that people often experience daily. And the people who commit microaggressions often don’t realize they’re doing so," said Renee Wells, director of education for equity and inclusion at Middlebury College in Vermont.

Joe Amon / Connecticut Public/NENC

The latest vaccination data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that some New England states are vaccinating against COVID-19 quicker than others, with Connecticut currently ranking as one of the top states in the U.S. and the top in New England.

New England states ranked by the percentage of people who have received their first COVID-19 vaccine dose:

Mark Mirko / Hartford Courant

In 2013, a social worker named Winston Taylor showed up for jury duty in New London, Connecticut. He was being questioned as a potential juror in the murder trial of Evan J. Holmes. When a state's attorney asked Taylor about his perceptions of police, he said he had at times been fearful of cops -- based on his experiences as a Black American. Taylor also said he knew good police officers and would be a fair juror.

Adam Glanzman / Northeastern University

A professor from Northeastern University in Boston is bringing a “justice first” mindset to President Joe Biden’s Department of Energy. Shalanda Baker has been appointed deputy director for energy justice.

Jesse Costa / WBUR

Severe storms. Heat waves. Rising seas. New England is already seeing the impacts of climate change, and scientists project they will become more severe and deadly, shaping how we live and work in the northeastern U.S.

In a special ahead of Inauguration Day, the New England News Collaborative and America Amplified look at climate change in our region and how President-elect Joe Biden’s administration could affect future climate action. Biden has proposed the most ambitious climate platform of any incoming U.S. president in history.

Ski season is beginning to ramp up across New England. Some mountain operators said they're adjusting to more than pandemic-related safety restrictions.

Robin Lubbock / WBUR

Transportation is the biggest source of greenhouse gas emissions, according to federal data. Those emissions have harmful impacts on health and the environment, and it's a problem we contribute to when we drive, fly, take public transportation or buy food that was carted across the country. 

Robert F. Bukaty / Associated Press

Hunting and fishing license sales are booming this year across northern New England.

In New Hampshire, there’s been an 18% increase in resident hunting licenses since last year. Vermont saw its sales go up 20%. The increase was smaller in Maine, at 9%.

NOAA Permit #932-1905

The tension between protecting the environment and people’s livelihoods is on full display in the new documentary “Entangled,” a film that focuses on one of the world’s most endangered species – the North Atlantic right whale – and the lobster industry, which is the most valuable fishery in North America.

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