The New York Times Magazine Devotes an Issue to California

The New York Times Magazine is doing something this week that it has never done before: dedicate an entire issue to California, where many of its readers live.

When conceiving of the issue, I was thrilled to think more deeply about what’s next for a state that has always seemed to be at the frontier of so much transformation. A state whose entire mythology is wrapped up in the notion of dreaming, of starting fresh, of reinvention.

I’m one of the magazine’s story editors, and I am currently based in San Leandro. But I’ve lived in California many times, and witnessed its rebirths firsthand.

In the 1980s, I spent my elementary school years living in the Oakland hills, when such a thing was more affordable. I remember never being able to plant flowers in our backyard because the deer would devour them immediately.

I spent my college years at U.C. Berkeley and got my first job in the heart of San Francisco, before the electric scooters and delivery robots descended. I eventually moved to New York, seeing California only in short spurts during the holidays, watching the hills roll by on my way to and from the airport. I’ve been back now for about six years, watching my kids develop their own personal relationships with this state.

With every re-entry into California, I’ve encountered a new version of the state. I’ve watched it become drier and more expensive. I’ve marveled at its natural beauty, my eyes never quite adjusting. I’ve watched neighborhoods crop up, spreading deeper into the suburbs, while cities have struggled to build. So much seems to have changed in such a short time: We have been reshaped by fire and drought and tech and money and politics. As someone who lives here, and has lived here before, and before that, I wonder how the state will continue to transform. What Californias will my kids discover as they grow?

That’s the lens through which I envisioned the California issue, which will be published online this week and will be available in print on Sunday. What does the future of this state hold? And what does its future mean for the rest of the country?

I worked with a talented team of editors and writers, many of whom live or have lived in California. The issue explores Silicon Valley’s obsession with A.I., how YIMBY-ism is reshaping housing in the Bay Area and the shifting political landscape in the San Joaquin Valley.

It also dives into the state’s evolving relationship with extreme bouts of wet and dry, the future of California’s ability to set policy in other states, Southern California’s embrace of Latinidad and what the state’s history can tell us about where we’re headed.

Our articles will be published over the next three days. I hope you enjoy reading and thinking about the future of this vast, diverse and complex place.

Read the first few articles from the California issue:

Raha Naddaf is a story editor for The New York Times Magazine, and is based in San Leandro. She was formerly the executive editor of The California Sunday Magazine.

Today’s tip comes from Janet Winsor, who recommends an escape along the Sonoma coast:

“We’ve been vacationing at Sea Ranch for over 30 years. Friends introduced us to this ocean paradise when our children were small, and we still enjoy a spring visit with the same friends every year. We hike along the 12-mile coastline, stroll along the endless beaches and swim in one of the three pools at the resort. This year we discovered the spring flowers behind the lodge; bright yellows, pinks and purples enveloping the hillside.”

Tell us about your favorite places to visit in California. Email your suggestions to [email protected]. We’ll be sharing more in upcoming editions of the newsletter.

Modern Love recently featured reader-submitted stories of 100 words or less. Here’s one of my favorites:

“Windows down, music blasting as we drive over the mountains that divide the Sonoma and Napa valleys. My sister and I have memorized these mountains, as we’ve been making this commute between our two homes for 12 years. Through every life change, this drive has stayed consistent: 30 minutes of forced time together to say anything or simply sit in silence, 30 minutes to strengthen our bond forever. Now, the night before she moves away, I look over at her, wind in her hair, and I hope these drives meant as much to her as they do to me.” — Zoe Holman

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