Issue No. 20 | Money

The Cost of Living

This month, we explore a subject with the potential to make us fume, gloat, or break out in a cold sweat: money. At the center of the issue is filmmaker Nathan Truesdell’s three-part documentary series The Art of Making Money, which profiles individuals who decided to take wealth creation into their own hands. Also inside: a discussion with photographer and Generation Wealth director Lauren Greenfield on the curses of contemporary consumerism; Colin Dickey’s fascinating look at the DIY banknotes of Weimar Germany; photographer Matt Black’s meditation on the elderly poor in Maine; and a story by writer Sheyahshe Littledave and photographer Sarah Stacke on the financial coming-of-age for members of a Cherokee band in North Carolina.

COVER COLLAGE BY MARK WAGNER

Monologue

Lauren Greenfield: How Capitalism Exploits Insecurities

The director of Generation Wealth talks about “the ultimate cost, and degradation, of capitalism”: the toll it takes on human bodies, especially women’s.

In Case of Emergency, Print Money

When Germans started printing their own cash during World War I, they were trying to outrun inflation—and shift the blame for their economy’s collapse.

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The Eternal Allure of Wearable Wealth

Throughout human history, money hasn’t just been used to buy clothing—it’s been incorporated into the very fabric of fashion itself.

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The Art of Making Money

What if the best way to make more money … was to print it yourself? In this new documentary series, meet the folks who created their own currencies.

Hard to Swallow

How the military, a marathoner, and the relentless march of capitalism turned protein bars into an unlikely American staple.

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Cashpocalypse Now

As America creeps toward a cashless future, we make some wildly uneducated guesses about what might help the greenback stay on top.

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Off Topic

For Love and Money: Finding Roommates After 40

What’s it like to take on roommates in middle age? A photographer in Detroit finds something special when she lets other people into her home: intimacy.

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Mixtape

Money Mixtape

Five short films about one of humankind’s most universal, and perhaps most humiliating, traits: the lust for cash.

Left in the Cold

The winter chill feels especially cruel in the New England state with the nation’s oldest median age, where many live in poverty. A photographer meets some of these struggling citizens.

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The Big Money

As soon as they turn 18, some Cherokees living in North Carolina receive a check reaching into the six figures. What’s it like to be young and suddenly flush?

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Off Topic

The Silver Currency of Cannabis Country

When one resident of an isolated California town proposed a new kind of currency, it challenged how alternative his neighbors were willing to be.

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Off Topic

Valentine’s Day Destinations for the Desperately Alone

No sweetheart in your life? Tired of feeling rejected and confused? Luckily for you, the world is full of places that were made for wallowing.

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An Itch You Can’t Scratch-Off

All over the country, there are people who can’t stop spending money on state-run lotteries—and their states are doing almost nothing to help them.

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Financial Windfalls: 15 Stories of the Money That Changed Everything

We asked over a dozen people how gifts, insurance payouts, the MacArthur Genius Award, book deals—ranging from $8,000 to over $1 million—were spent.

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Off Topic

The Hidden History of Holocaust Money

When the Nazis confiscated money from Jews, they replaced it with worthless currencies that could only be used in ghettos or concentration camps.

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About the Cover: Money

Yes, Topic’s February 2019 cover was constructed out of real dollar bills. Meet the artist who turns currency into collage.

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