Resilience, Ingenuity and Generosity

Photo: Ben Patton, ’03

We started planning this cover story eight months ago. It seemed perfect for the start of barbecue season. Intrepid vegetarian and animal lover Melinda Sacks, ’74, would go inside Impossible Foods and taste a plant-based burger that is designed for and marketed to confirmed carnivores. In the ensuing article, she’d examine our cultural attachment to the hamburger through environmental, health and economic lenses. I’d write a column about the magazine story that changed my life—a 2002 New York Times Magazine piece that converted me to grass-fed beef—and hint that maybe our story would change your life.

Needless to say, this is not that column. Our lives have changed in ways most of us did not anticipate eight months ago. Almost none of us are old enough to remember the last time a deadly pandemic swept the world, in 1918. More than 40 percent of us live in communities—New York, Seattle, Los Angeles, the Bay Area—that are deeply affected as of this writing. We’re learning to live with uncertainty, fear, grief and the knowledge that none of us will remain untouched by this.

And yet I see the Stanford community rallying in so many ways to meet the challenges of the present. Across campus (that is, before I start working from my dining room), I watch scientists rapidly develop and deploy a test for COVID-19. Over the phone, I hear from Kate Knepper, ’93, about the rotation schedule her group of hospitalists has devised so they don’t all get sick at the same time. In my Facebook feed appears a song from children’s musician Dr. Noize, aka Cory Cullinan, ’92; his wife, Janette (Sampson, ’92, MA ’00); and their daughters about how families can be creative while sheltering in place. On Slack, a colleague shares an article on how Kitsbow, a cycling accessory company founded by Zander Nosler, ’94, has pivoted to manufacturing face shields and masks. 

A few such stories of resilience, ingenuity and generosity appear in this issue, and we’ll be bringing you more in the coming weeks on Stanfordmag.org, in the Loop newsletter and on social media. We can’t tell these stories without your help, so when you come across fellow alumni who are making you proud, I hope you will let us know.

And when it’s safe, let’s get together for that barbecue. 


Kathy Zonana, ’93, JD ’96, is the editor of Stanford. Email her at kathyz@stanford.edu.