Donald Loggins was part of an army of people who went to battle against urban decay in the 1970s. He helped to start the first city-sanctioned community garden, the Liz Christy Garden (originally named the Bowery-Houston Community Farm and Garden), located on the northeast corner of Bowery and Houston Street in Manhattan.

Today, the garden is a lush urban oasis with meandering paths, a variety of plants, flowers and trees, as well as a pond teeming with fish and turtles. But, Loggins paints a much different picture of what the space looked like when he first encountered it. With the garden marking its 50th anniversary, Loggins reflected on its storied history with George Bodarky of WNYC’s Community Partnerships Desk.

When the tour ended in 2010, the piece was returned to Ore-Girón’s studio in South Los Angeles. But, by 2012, the artist, who was bouncing between cities, was finding it hard to hold onto a work that, crates and all, likely weighed somewhere between one and two tons. “It’s huge,” he says. “Just to move it would have cost me like $400 and then I’d need another place to put it.” So, when he moved out of his studio, Ore-Girón told the owner of the building he could sell it for scrap.

  • Erica Schwiegershausen talks with podcast host Virginia Sole-Smith about the fatphobia at the heart of many parents’ relationships with their children’s eating habits — and their own. For the Cut, she explains how to begin moving towards healthier approaches:

Trusting children to listen to their bodies is now a defining principle of Sole-Smith’s work. Having a baby with a feeding disorder, she learned firsthand that “obsessing over it doesn’t fix it — it makes it worse.” Even for parents fighting far more mundane dinner-table battles, research shows that exerting too much control over what your kid eats — whether it’s pressuring them to eat vegetables or restricting sweets — usually backfires. So what does “healthy eating” for kids look like? When it comes to feeding her daughters, who are now 9 and 5, Sole-Smith’s priority is respecting their autonomy.“It’s the power to say no, to be curious and try new things, and to decide when and how much they want to eat.”

  • Author Yashica Dutt has some words for those caste-dominant South Asian journalists who’ve suddenly changed their tune about the discrimination upheld in shows like Indian Matchmaking:
  • For the New York Times, Jenna Wortham profiles pioneering Black studies and English literature scholar Christina Sharpe, whose second book, Ordinary Notes, was just published this week:

The book Sharpe is best known for, “In the Wake: On Blackness and Being,” landed in the fall of 2016, just as the final delusions of a post-racial America were disintegrating amid the rise of white nationalism. The book begins with a stark declaration: Black death is foundational — even necessary — to American democracy. Death, literally, but also spiritually, culturally, socially. Sharpe is not the first academic, poet or artist to assert that the negation of Black humanity that began with the Middle Passage is still animating American life, but she offered a new metaphorical framework for understanding how.

“In the Wake” roiled the academic world. It appeared during a “raging and at times venomous debate between Black optimism and Black pessimism,” says Saidiya Hartman, author of “Wayward Lives, Beautiful Experiments,” who met Sharpe nearly a decade ago at a conference and has become a close friend. “Christina’s work totally unsettles that binary. She addresses the structural conditions of anti-Blackness that condemn Black people on a variety of levels and still attends to the richness of Black social living, and it is an essential contribution.” Sharpe is part of a cohort of thinkers and artists — including Hartman, Arthur Jafa, Fred Moten, Simone Leigh, Garrett Bradley, Ja’Tovia Gary, Lorraine O’Grady and others — who are interrogating the rendering of Blackness in American culture and offering new ways of looking, seeing and being seen.

  • The City‘s Emily Swanson caught up with the owner of Langston Hughes’s Harlem home, where his longtime friend hosts a weekly percussionist group, about her vision for the historical home and the challenges she’s navigated over the years:

Partnering with a nonprofit, she said, would curtail her freedom: “You’re limited in what you can say and do,” which she said is “not real ownership.” 

As the drumming group keeps on its weekly schedule, Swords, Prince, and friends have begun making more plans for the house: They want to host interviews, recorded for YouTube in front of an audience. A book club, writing workshop and art exhibit are other possibilities.

For Prince, it comes down to building a legacy. 

“Owning the building is Black wealth, and if you turn it over to a nonprofit, you’re handing over the wealth model,” she said. “A nonprofit is not Black wealth.”

Whatever happens at the Hughes House, it seems likely folks will gather there again. 

  • Scholar Kathleen Crowther traces the history of medication abortions for Nursing Clio, in the midst of continued threats to its availability:

In his Natural History, the Roman writer Pliny the Elder (23/24 –79 C.E.) noted the abortifacient properties of several herbs, including wild mustard plant and squirting cucumber. As the name “squirting cucumber” suggests, many plants used as abortifacients, or for other aspects of reproductive medicine like contraception or fertility aids, had obvious phallic connotations. In his Gynecology, the Roman physician Soranus (active ca. 1st/2nd century C.E.) provides recipes for compounds to be taken orally or to be administered as vaginal suppositories to induce abortions. The substances in these include rue, myrtle, myrrh, white pepper, rocket, cow parsnip, cardamom, and bay leaves.

  • Following the passing of luminary actor, activist, and musician Harry Belafonte, the Atlantic published a photo essay of scenes from his wide-ranging life and work.
  • A disturbing visualization of journalism layoffs and closures this year:
  • A marketing professional (@marketinginmiami) breaks down the Bud Light “controversy” and what it means:

#stitch with @kev_train2.0 I’m totally straight. Lets be frandsss 🍻 #budlight #joke #gay #gays #lgbtq #fy #fyp

♬ original sound – Christopher Lee
  • And lastly, nothing unites us quite like our collective exhaustion with a certain cinematic francophile. The people have spoken:

Required Reading is published every Thursday afternoon, and it is comprised of a short list of art-related links to long-form articles, videos, blog posts, or photo essays worth a second look.

Hrag Vartanian is editor-in-chief and co-founder of Hyperallergic.

Lakshmi Rivera Amin (she/her) is a writer and artist based in New York City. She currently works as Hyperallergic's editorial coordinator.