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Utne Reader’s Most Popular Articles of 2011

For every issue, we at Utne Reader sift through 1,500 periodicals, skim hundreds of websites and blogs, and clamber over a mountain of new books to present the best the alternative press has to offer. All said and done, it’s interesting and often surprising to see which stories readers latch on to and discuss. The following five articles were your favorites from 2011.

5) 25 Visionaries Who Are Changing Your World in 2011 

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Every year, Utne Reader picks a handful of world visionaries, people who don’t just concoct great ideas but also act on them and lay their souls on the line for change. This year’s list included pioneers in the fields of ecology, television, progressive spirituality, linguistics, and more. An excerpt:

4) “The Dude Abides” interview by Katy Butler, from Tricycle 

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Right before his starring role in True Grit, actor Jeff Bridges sat down with Tricycle to riff on meditation, laziness, and his “groovy” Buddhist beliefs. An excerpt:

3) “21st Century Sex” by Ogi Ogas and Sai Gaddam, from A Billion Wicked Thoughts 

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Data researchers Ogi Ogas and Sai Gaddam know that sex was on everyone’s mind this year, including Utne Reader subscribers. Their unconventional study on the nature of human desire provoked immense controversy and debate. An excerpt:

2) “The Art of the Police Report” by Ellen Collett, from The Writer’s Chronicle 

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Collett’s surprising portrait of an erudite beat cop from Los Angeles took us inside the head of someone intensely aware of human pain and how it’s dissolved by government of bureaucracy. An excerpt:

1) “Look God, No Hands” by Blaire Briody, from Bust 

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Perhaps the most salacious story reprinted by Utne Reader this year, “Look God, No Hands” profiled the Dirty Girls Ministry—a Christian group devoted to “cure” adolescent girls of masturbatory habits. An excerpt: