I've been writing since 1982, when I joined the politics section of the Congressional Quarterly Weekly Report and immediately got tossed onto redistricting stories--a sort of journalistic acid bath where any illusions about sweetness and light in politics get stripped away. My five years there turned out to be a graduate education in American political nuance, studying the historical and cultural differences that make the politics of each state unique. 

In 1987, I left CQ to travel in Southeast Asia, and on returning joined the staff of Governing, a magazine about state and local government. Over the years I wrote well over 200 articles for Governing, focusing on everything from urban development to civic participation to the uses and abuses of power to the impact of the changing media landscape. 

I've spent my freelance life happily exploring the nooks and crannies of American community life. For DoubleTake magazine I wrote about the extraordinary USDA demographer Calvin Beale; renegade traffic engineer Walter Kulash; Laotian and Cambodian meat-cutting families in Garden City, Kansas; the unusual community saga of Tupelo, Mississippi; and the Vermont circus troupe, Circus Smirkus. I was a contributing writer at Mother Jones, and have written for Boston, Preservation, NationSwell, Stateline.org, the Wilson Quarterly, the Columbia Journalism Review, Salon, AARP Bulletin and The American Scholar, and published op-ed pieces in The New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and other newspapers. With the Duke University photographer Alex Harris, I documented efforts involving older American volunteers to improve community life around the U.S. My book on the 25-year history of Circus Smirkus, co-written with its founder, Rob Mermin, appeared in June, 2012. These days, I hang my hat at a small media startup in White River Junction, VT.