From The Publisher

I’ve always liked winter. As the season turns and the air grows nippy, our appreciation for simple creature comforts mounts. We pile on the layers of cotton and wool, wrap ourselves in cozy blankets, and sip tea and cocoa by the fire. Families gather for traditional celebrations and Mother Nature sends our gardens into deep hibernation. The pace slows down allowing more time for catching up with friends or curling up at home with a good book.

Of course, many of us also find comfort in food. Whether we’re indulging in carbohydrate- and fat-laden meals or digging up family recipes for the holidays, food has an undeniable ability to connect us to place, to heritage, to family in a way that feeds our soul and nourishes our well-being. It’s that deep sense of comfort that our winter cover story explores.

This year there has been a lot of talk about refugees. When we first started working on this story two years ago, many folks didn’t even realize we had refugees living in Northeast Ohio.

Then a boy’s body washed up on the shore of Europe, and the conversation changed. Wall-to-wall coverage of the Syrian refugees swept through every news outlet, and organizations like Catholic Charities and Refugee Response were called upon to educate and engage those inspired to take action. Then just a few months later, the tide turned again. While we were busy pulling together final images and edits for this edition, news of the Paris events was reported. Overnight, the national dialogue shifted, and those already here and working to build a life were caught in the backlash.

We believe Thomas’ story is as important today as it was the day we started investigating it. The story of one man’s journey to Cleveland and his commitment to building a community that can support others like him. A story that started on a farm and now revolves around a farm, told over homemade long beans and pork, a recipe from a homeland thousands of miles away, and yet right at the center of the hearts of those forced to leave. Those long beans grown in a strange new land and harvested by hand bring comfort to those making a new home here.

On this season’s cover, the steaming hot bowl of long beans, beautifully shot by Laura Watilo Blake, serves to remind us that our personal comforts, whatever they may be, are not something to take for granted this time of year.