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Welcome to the July issue of The Highlight

In this issue: How one Florida road became the deadliest in the nation for pedestrians; behind the scenes of a Black rodeo; the rise of the new suburbs; and more. 

Daniel Wagner for Vox

For the past three summers, Americans — desperate to escape pandemic quarantines and still hampered by limited international travel — have spent their summers on the road. The result has meant many more drivers on the nation’s highways, more exploration of our own backyard, and more connection with the geography.

Our summertime jaunts, as well geography and our connection to it, proved the loose inspiration for this month’s issue of The Highlight. Our cover story pinpoints a very specific Florida road, US-19, that has, for years, been a local source of consternation because of the danger it poses to drivers, and to pedestrians in particular. Meanwhile, nationally, evidence is mounting that America is experiencing a pedestrian fatality crisis that has reached a disturbing new peak in the past two years. Vox senior correspondent Marin Cogan visited US-19 to understand how a potent combination of the pandemic, suburban infrastructure, bigger SUVs, and other systemic forces might contribute to the rapidly rising pedestrian death toll — in Florida and across the US.

The West, and the lore around it, was inspiration for photographer Gabriela Hasbun, who, on a chance visit to the Bill Pickett Invitational Rodeo stop in California in 2007, discovered an astonishingly modern, inclusive Black cowboy culture that challenges the image of the white cowboy perpetuated by old Westerns. (In fact, Black cowboys are estimated to have made up a quarter of all cowboys.) Hasbun’s images, taken over a decade, help rewrite our notion of the West, who it belonged to, and what rodeo culture looks like today.

Writer Addison Del Mastro has been writing about urban and suburban change for years; Vox tasked him with thinking about what’s happening in the suburbs now, as newly remote workers inhabit the space around them rather than commute, and as more millennials are turning to the burbs to make their housing dollars go a little further, driving up prices across the nation. He finds that the change prompted by newcomers might point to a large shift in the whole definition of suburban life, one that perhaps we should have seen coming.

Most of the climate solutions we hear about are geared toward property owners, who are free to make all sorts of changes to their land and buildings. But renters are much more limited — they have to rely on their landlords for making structural changes that can reduce their climate impact. There are a few things renters can do, writes Neel Dhanesha.

We also look at land acknowledgments: What are they, and why are they everywhere from movie credits to bar menus? And finally, it’s not just you — the world around us is noisier than ever, and that’s having an effect on your attention span and your life.


Daniel Wagner for Vox

The deadliest road in America

Being a pedestrian in the US was already dangerous. It’s getting even worse.

By Marin Cogan


Two riders on horseback with print skirts that extend over the rumps of their horses. Gabriela Hasbun

A Black rodeo rewrites the story of the West

At the Bill Pickett Invitational Rodeo, Black riders and fans bring a sense of swaggering cool to a culture overlooked by the history books.

By Lavanya Ramanathan, photos by Gabriela Hasbun


Lia Lao for Vox

What if the suburbs were just a first draft?

Remote work, the arrival of homeowning millennials, and other forces can be an opportunity to remake them for the better.

By Addison Del Mastro


An illustration shows a tall apartment building with a heat-evoking orange background and wisps of blue smoke passing in front of it. In the building’s windows, various people look outside or perform chores inside. Shanée Benjamin for Vox

Climate fixes are all aimed at property owners. What about renters?

You don’t have to own a home to be a part of the climate solution.

By Neel Dhanesha


Jessica Rinaldi/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

The rise of land acknowledgments — and their limitations

More institutions are making note of Indigenous rights to land. Does it make a difference?

By Emily St. James


An illustration of a person’s head in silhouette with a hand to the ear and lightning bolts denoting sound causing the ear to turn red. Getty Images

The power of silence in a deafening world

Why there’s more noise, and more kinds of it — and why it might be ruining our focus.

By Leigh Marz and Justin Zorn

Features

The power of silence in a deafening world

Features

The rise of land acknowledgments — and their limitations

Energy & Environment

Climate fixes are all aimed at property owners. What about renters?

View all stories in The Highlight