Our lead story on the lower Rio Grande started out as a class project. Writer Megan Lardner, a graduate student in journalism at the University of California, Berkeley, traveled to El Paso and Ciudad Juarez as part of her class with freelance writer and radio producer Sandy Tolan. During his semester as a visiting lecturer, Tolan took all of his students on a road trip to the U.S.-Mexico border, where they got a chance to cover the intricacies of cross-border environmental issues. Versions of the stories were printed in the San Jose Mercury-News in December, and have been translated into Spanish for the Los Angeles-based La Opinion. Victoria Mouleon and Clarence Ting, the authors of the sidebar on page 11, were also in Tolan's class. They are now working on a documentary film about colonias.
Coincidentally, Sandy paid us a visit in Paonia a couple of weeks ago. He may have been planning on just a quick hello, but we took him to a local watering hole for beers and questions.
Sandy has written for HCN, and his radio features air regularly on National Public Radio's All Things Considered and Living on Earth, so he understands the latest challenge faced by our editorial staff. Our half-hour weekly radio program - heard on 18 stations in five states - is helping HCN reach more people, but it's added an extra dimension to reporting assignments. These days, in addition to the usual notebook and pen, we also carry a microphone, headphones and a portable recorder. When we're interviewing sources, we often wonder whether to scribble frantically or fumble with our recording gear.
Sandy said we aren't alone in our multi-media snarls. "Sometimes I feel like a one-man band out in the field," he said. "What do I do next, strap a video camera on my head?" He advised us to make extra time for radio research, good news for radio staffers Adam Burke and Ali Macalady.
It was inspiring to talk with an expert who really understands the evocative power of radio. He gave us his blessing, checked his e-mail, and headed off to cover a story in western Colorado on genetic patenting of beans.
Making you sick
We asked you for suggestions, and boy, we got 'em. Two issues ago, we told you about our conversations with lapsed subscribers, and invited current readers to weigh in with their comments about the paper. Mark Bremmer of Lakewood, Colo., who likes our "fact-based hell-raising," got us fired up about our upcoming April Fool's edition: "There was an issue a few years back that had me laughing so hard I really got sick." One of our former readers told us, "When I get done reading the paper, I feel like God just died." Ethel Marie Bock of Tucson wrote that she's "still laughing" about that comment, and reassures us, "Well, God didn't die! Anyone can find him in the hearts of the mountain states' people." Ken Keller called from Oregon to suggest more coverage of the Northwest, and cautioned us not to turn Dear Friends into a "who's who or society column." Readers from Montana and California told us to keep covering the heavy issues, and threatened to drop their subscriptions if we try to add any "happy-face coverage." Thanks to all of you who called or wrote. You can reach us at 970/527-4898 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Giving us the business
Our former business manager, Janet Kauffman, now setting up accounting systems for the power industry in Pristina, Kosovo, has finally managed to find an Internet connection. She reports in her e-mail that she's been "working around the clock," but says all is well. Also working hard is Val Mundy, who has ably picked up where Janet left off. Val, a native of Toronto, Canada, has been our assistant business manager for the last 10 months.
Joining Val in the business office is Penny Reavley-Smith. Penny went to high school in Paonia, then left for big-city stints in Minnesota and California. She returned to the area seven years ago: "I brought my boys out here for a vacation, and they just fell in love with it," she says. The oldest of her four sons, Mark, is a senior at Hotchkiss High and a state wrestling champ. After 10 years of banking experience, Penny says she's enjoying HCN's "laid-back atmosphere." We hope the stress level stays low.
Congratulations and corrections
Kudos are in order for former HCN intern Chip Giller. Chip, now the editor and publisher of the online environmental magazine Grist (www.gristmagazine.org) was voted the top "New Media Hero" by readers of the independent media site Alternet.org.
Congratulations as well to KVNF Public Radio, our community radio station, which won a Wirth Chair Award for its environmental coverage from the University of Colorado at Denver. The Paonia-based North Fork Coal Working Group, which senior editor Paul Larmer profiled this summer (HCN, 7/31/00: Out of the darkness: A Western Colorado community meets a coal boom halfway), also won a Wirth Award for its efforts.
Finally, apologies for an incorrect e-mail address in a Jan. 15 Bulletin Board item. If you're interested in national park artist-in-residence programs, contact Bonnie Fournier at email@example.com.