What am I doing here?

This is a question that I’ve spent the past three months thinking about. I’ve asked it, my friends have asked it — hell, complete strangers have asked it after they found out where I’m coming from. Elitist attitudes aside (nobody is “above” working a service job), it’s a damn good question.

The simple answer is that I’m bussing tables at a small diner, Priest Station, right outside of the west entrance to Yosemite on Highway 120. I work Friday-Sunday, and have the rest of the week to explore Yosemite and the Sierras. …


As anyone who’s ever strained their neck staring up at the sheer granite face of Half Dome can attest, the national parks are something special. Unique in their ability to connect people and places in a sense of wonder, they’re often described as ‘America’s best idea’ for good reason. Unfortunately (though perhaps not surprisingly), the parks are facing unprecedented threats under this administration, and while it’s clear that the parks need us more than ever, it’s becoming clear that we, the people, also need the parks.

The national parks represent the best of America in their democracy and accessibility. Open…


This summer, I’m working at a small diner outside of Yosemite National Park and exploring the Sierra Nevada in my time off. I’m living in a tent and bussing tables, and perhaps obviously, this is very different than anything I’ve ever done. While the original reasoning behind the decision to spend my summer here mostly centered on Yosemite, it’s becoming clear to me that this summer will be about way more than climbing — I’m seeing a part of America that I’ve never seen before.

To put it simply, I’ve lived my entire life inside a bubble of wealthy educated…


Collab’s winter incubator cohort (photo courtesy Collab)

Collab is a community-focused startup incubator based in New Haven. Founded by Margaret Lee and Caroline Smith (both Yale ‘14), Collab has pioneered a uniquely founder-centric incubator model that aims to use entrepreneurship as an engine of local economic development. Along with Origami, Collab is a part of the Elm City Innovation Collaborative (ECIC) grant, and we’re thrilled to be able to work alongside them.

I had the chance to sit down with Margaret and Caroline to discuss what makes Collab special, the New Haven startup community, and how entrepreneurship and activism can combine with powerful results.

Interview lightly edited…


J.R. in his happy place (photo courtesy J.R. Logan)

J.R. Logan is the Executive Director of MakeHaven, a community makerspace on State Street near the New Haven Green. A native Midwesterner, J.R. came to New Haven after receiving his Masters of Public Affairs from Indiana University, and immediately began to integrate himself into the New Haven maker community. He’s soft-spoken, passionate, and bashful about his role in improving this community, but it’s clear that he’s done as much as anyone to build a strong maker community in the Elm City. I recently had the chance to sit down with J.R. …


Charlie at Stanford’s Medicine X conference (photo courtesy Charlie Blotner/Stanford Medicine X)

Charlie Blotner is a patient and trans health advocate currently pursuing a Master of Social Work at the University of Washington. He started pursuing patient advocacy after his experience with a brain tumor (a topic that he’s blogged about extensively), and he worked alongside Origami’s own Matthew Erlendson at Stanford Medicine X and now sits on the Origami Innovations Advisory Board–helping to elevate often under heard community voices. We’re further excited to work with Charlie on TRANSition Health, a project aimed at advancing transgender health care delivery (stay tuned!), so we talked to him about his background, his past and…


Early on Friday, the Cassini spacecraft will make its final descent into Saturn, ending its 13-year mission to the sixth planet from the Sun. It’s a fitting end for a mission that’s collected a phenomenal amount of scientific data on the Saturn system, including some fascinating details about whether the planet’s moons harbor life — the dive has been carefully planned in order to not contaminate any of those moons. …


I’ve been meaning to write this for a while, and the MAX terrorist attack on Friday made me finally write it. This isn’t necessarily in any sort of order, but I mean every word of it.

I am:

  • male
  • straight
  • cis
  • an American citizen
  • white
  • a student at an Ivy League university
  • covered by private health insurance

What does this mean? In Trump’s America, I’m 100% fine. …


Why do we climb? I’ve wrestled with the question for years, and I don’t know if I’ve ever come up with a great answer, but today, as the world mourns the loss of one of the greats, seems like the right time to reflect.

Climbing lets you become a part of something far greater than yourself. Any illusions you’ve had about greatness or importance don’t last long in the alpine — the mountains remind you who’s in charge. …


America lost a great man today. As the commander of Apollo 17, Cernan was the last man to walk on the moon, and he was also instrumental to NASA’s human spaceflight efforts, flying on Gemini 9 and Apollo 10.

Ever since I read The Last Man on the Moon, Cernan has been one of my heroes. He wasn’t perfect, since he had to spend a lot of time away from his family while training for missions, but he represented some of the best American values. …

Jacob Bendicksen

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