Monday, December 31, 2018

Year in review: freelance highlights for 2018

One of the first pieces I published this year was also my favorite (and for one of my favorite outlets): the story of an inspiring housing cooperative in western Turkey. I learned about the Düzce Hope Homes while reporting a big piece on political urbanism in 2017 and spent a rainy day in January at the construction site with members of the community, who sent me off on my bus trip back to Istanbul laden with jars of their homemade yogurt and preserves:

The 'Most Hopeful' New Housing in Turkey: Twenty years after being displaced by an earthquake, families in Düzce, Turkey, are getting homes that they helped design and build themselves. (CityLab, 23 February 2018)

It's far too easy to waste all day on Twitter, but I wouldn't have published this piece without the social-media platform. Spotting a call for pitches in a tweet led to my first story for Hyperallergic, and my first on performance art:

Artists Fill Six-Story Istanbul House with 672 Hours of Performance Art: The house will become a research space and library in a country where performance art remains underdeveloped, and many artists fear persecution. (Hyperallergic, 15 March 2018)

The always challenging, idea-driven Istanbul Design Biennial is never easy to grasp hold of and digest, but I enjoyed once again wrestling with its concepts and creations and synthesizing them into a review for the design journal Disegno, with which I've been happily developing a relationship over the past few years:

Back to School: The fourth edition of the Istanbul Design Biennial draws on types of knowledge that are generally little-valued in standard design education. (Disegno, 27 September 2018)

I continued my longstanding relationship with Culinary Backstreets this year, writing three pieces for the site: on a project helping refugees become food entrepreneurs, a restaurant serving Istanbul's homeless, and this one, on a new generation of farmers in Turkey. The idea for this story had been percolating in my mind since summer 2016, when I met a woman who'd given up the corporate life to make cheese, and I was happy to be able to take a broader look at this trend:

Back to the Land: Urban Turks Tackle Rural Life: The number of Turks swapping the city for the countryside is multiplying, driven by rising urban stresses and an increasingly stifling political climate. (Culinary Backstreets, 23 March 2018)

An assignment from Korean Air's in-flight magazine to write about Turkey's cherry industry saw me traveling with a photographer to the western city of Tekirdağ for its cherry festival and a tour of a prize-winning local cherry orchard. I also spoke with numerous Istanbul chefs, including Çiya's influential Musa Dağdeviren, about the use of the fruit in both historical and contemporary cooking:

Cherries on Top: Turkey leads the world in cherry production, but the fruit’s role in its kitchens has dwindled over the decades. Now, a culinary rediscovery of this local bounty may be in the works. (Morning Calm, September 2018)

This year, I also continued working with Lonely Planet as both a freelance editor and as the travel publisher's "Istanbul Local," a role that included putting together a neighborhood guide to Fener and Balat, writing news stories about a wildly popular train journey in Turkey and the new Troy Museum, and contributing photos of Istanbul's colorful "semt pazarları" (neighborhood markets) for an Instagram story.

And I traveled from İzmir to Bodrum (and quite a few other places along the way) updating the "Central and Southern Aegean Coast" chapter for the Fodor's Turkey guidebook, to be published in 2019.

Unrelated to work (but helping keep me sane enough to cope with the ups and downs of freelancing), I also ran 1,000 miles this year, and hiked to the summit of Kaçkar Dağ, amongst other outdoor adventures.

I'm still looking for a home for some of the stories I'm most passionate about: If any editors out there are interested in a feature piece about the fight to save one of Turkey's last wild landscapes and the traditional ways of life dependent on it, do get in touch.

Ready to see what 2019 will bring!