Newsletter #179: Health As Resistance


We’re in the middle of an age of activism. Teachers are striking, women are marching, people are protesting. Many of us believe that resistance must involve an outward action against injustice. But this week’s lead article, which focuses on one strand of activism among American Indians, explores the power of an inward approach — where physical health and spiritual well-being are at the center. Please read it and let me know what you think!

Also in today’s issue, read great pieces on how to win the lottery, how not to found a school, and whether or not you should come out to your grandmother.

Before you start reading, here are a few quick shoutouts:

Resistance Training in Indian Country

“I make indigenous food,” says Sean Sherman, Oglala Lakota, who grew up on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota. Five years ago, Mr. Sherman, a James Beard award winner, founded The Sioux Chef to revitalize Native American cuisine. This effort is just one example of a new brand of activism among American Indians, who are resisting injustice by promoting health and centering indigenous knowledge. More American Indians are decolonizing their diets, learning tribal languages, and joining exercise groups than ever before, according to reporter David Treuer. He writes, “Our tribes still do battle with the government. Activism is a permanent necessity. But our focus is different now: We’ve turned inward.” (32 min)

Rich Techie Is Surprised When He Finds Out It’s Not Easy to Improve Education

Usually what happens when rich parents don’t want to send their kid to the local public school is that they opt for private school. Not ex-Googler Max Ventilla. His answer was to found AltSchool, a network of private schools that focuses on personalized learning using a software platform. In this scathing profile, reporter Susan Adams details the failure of AltSchool, making Mr. Ventilla look ridiculous in pretty much every paragraph. (15 min)

Why I Won't Tell My Nonna I’m Gay

Erica Lenti lives with her partner, plans on getting married, and writes widely about being gay. But she balks at coming out to her Italian nonna, whom she calls homophobic. Though I agree with Ms. Lenti’s overall point — that sexuality is complicated and that queer people shouldn’t feel forced to come out of the closet — I have trouble with her close-minded assessment of her grandmother. After all, Nonna likely already knows what’s going on. (7 min) 

“The Lottery Hackers” Jerry and Marge Share Their Money-Making Secrets

One of my favorite articles last year told the story of Michigander grandparents Jerry and Marge and how they made millions cracking the lottery. Here they are on 60 Minutes, delightful as ever. When I retire, my plan is to find myself a similar money-making scheme, perhaps with reading at the center. (Please tell me all of your ideas.) (14 min)

+ Loyal Readers RespondLast week’s article on sleepresonated with many of you. Maria, a strong sleeper, felt validated:

I really loved the article about sleep! I love to sleep and feel like I can’t function without it, but it has always felt like that’s abnormal. It’s not.

And Sharon reported that she no longer keeps her phone in the bedroom, thanks to the article. She wrote:

Love the readings you choose, but the one on sleep in this issue had me scared enough to change my sleep habits! Glad I read it during my lunch today!

Thank you for sharing your thoughts, Maria and Sharon. Loyal readers, I’d love to hear from you. Don’t be shy, hit reply!

Unfortunately, you’ve reached the end of today’s issue of The Highlighter. Hit reply or use the thumbs below to tell me what you thought. Also, let’s welcome this week’s 10 new subscribers: Micki, Daniel, Sarah, Nick, and 6 others. Thank you for trying out the newsletter. Hope you like it.

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