Dear friends

by Greg Hanscom and Jodi Peterson

THANK YOU

The cottonwood leaves are piling up along the North Fork of the Gunnison River, not far from the HCN headquarters. Inside, contributions to the Research Fund have been fluttering in. Many thanks to all who have contributed to the fund so far this fall; it’s what pays our writers, editors and photographers to put words and images on these pages.

We’ve also been reading through the more than 1,600 reader surveys that you all sent in over the summer. As always, the responses are full of insight, advice and encouragement. There are lots of "atta-boys" (and girls), and comments like "keep up the good work!"

We got this from a law student at the University of Washington, who is focusing on public lands and natural resources: "Thanks to HCN, I’m often in the position of telling my profs what’s going on in the West!"

Many readers encouraged us to "keep telling both sides of the story" and "reporting the facts" — and a few admonished us to start doing the same. Some readers said they wanted to see less "Bush-bashing," while many urged us to keep following the doings in Washington closely, and report on their impacts on the ground.

And there were these words of wisdom from a Rock Springs, Wyo., subscriber: "I am in no way a Bush supporter … (but) watch your slant on things … Write the stories so they present the facts and allow the readers to conclude whether the policies are in their best interest."

That’s what we always aim to do, albeit with a little spunk — and most readers seem to think that we’re doing a decent job of it. We asked readers to rate the publication’s editorial slant as "too liberal," "too conservative," or "just right." Almost 90 percent of respondents said "just right." Of course, there were those who disagreed; one reader crossed out all the available answers and wrote in "too focused on labels."

VISITORS

The crisp fall weather here in Paonia is beckoning visitors. Caren von Gontard, a biodynamic farmer from Australia who grew up in nearby Aspen, Colo., came in to buy an HCN T-shirt. She needed a fresh one: She’d just hiked 400 miles across Spain.

From Portland, Ore., came Warren and Jennie Schafer. Warren is a native of Paonia’s down-valley high school sports rival, Hotchkiss, and says, "It’s hard to believe that something as good as (HCN) could come out of Paonia."

Bruce Beier visited us from Vail, Colo. Mike Lamp, a Colorado Public Radio News host in Denver, Colo., said hello while en route to Boulder, Utah, to visit Blake Spalding, co-founder of Hell’s Backbone Grill, "a mission disguised as a restaurant" (HCN, 5/16/05: Dear friends). While on his way to a National Outdoor Leadership School reunion, Brian Cove of St. Petersburg, Fla., came by, along with his friend, Linda Sheetz, and their local tour guide, Jessica Loveland.

Beau MacGregor drove all the way from Bellingham, Wash., to an annual apple cider-pressing party with friends in nearby Crawford, and he dropped by to say hello. Beau put himself through school as a Volvo mechanic, and now sells Volvo parts on eBay. His own car has more than 415,000 miles on it, and he says he’s going for a half-million: "This is my protest against a disposable society."

© High Country News