Here was a puzzle to solve. You’re starting college in 2020. The pandemic has shut the door on most social interaction. How do you make friends? Experience community? Connect?

The solution, hands twirling and mind racing, was found in a pop icon from the 1980s: the Rubik’s Cube.

Christian Cutter turned to the popular 3D puzzle—which fueled a worldwide craze long before he was born—to build community on his college campus during the height of the pandemic. Fellow classmates—Rubik’s Cube novices and budding experts alike—began to piece together a college social life through fun, laughter, tip-sharing and friendly competition. 

Writer Drew Woolley captures the tale of the enterprising college kid who discovered the familiar six-colored cube contained the power of connection. Along with Drew’s story, you will find tricks of the trade to get started in the art and science of cubing, or Rubik’s Cube solving.

Wonder Turns to Worry

Last month, I shared my childhood wonder of seeing for the first time the towering giant sequoias of Yosemite National Park. Since then, fire has burned thousands of acres, threatening the park’s most ancient treasures.

More than 1,000 firefighters have stood their ground to tame the raging inferno. As wildfires become all too frequent, we should not take for granted the brave men and women who leave their families and risk their lives each summer to protect our communities and natural wonders of the Northwest and West.

These resolute responders are treasures, too.  

The Closest Call of All

Molly Rettig, a Fairbanks author, likes nothing better than to collect and share the stories of Alaskans such as Al Wright, a bush pilot in his 90s who helped open the Alaska skies. In our Up Close feature, you get a front-seat view of Al’s most harrowing moment: “I thought, ‘Well this is it. We’re gonna die for sure …’”

Enjoy the tales of old and young alike.