Dear friends

by Greg Hanscom and Jodi Peterson

HOLIDAY OPEN HOUSE

The staff of High Country News cordially invites all readers and friends to our holiday open house. It will be at our Paonia, Colo., office at 119 Grand Avenue on Wednesday, Dec. 7, from 5 to 8:30 p.m. Feel free to bring a treat to share; we’ll provide beverages.

PEOPLE’S CHOICE AWARDS

In our 2005 reader survey, we asked people if they had a favorite story from the previous year. The results are entirely unscientific, and it has taken months to compile them. The surveys went out in April. Nonetheless, it was a tight race — and it’s interesting to see what stories stuck in people’s heads.

And the winners are ...

1st: Matt Jenkins with "An empire built on sand," about Arizona’s shaky water supply, with 65 votes (HCN, 3/21/05: Arizona returns to the desert).

2nd: Michelle Nijhuis with "Written in the rings," about tree-ring researchers’ revelations about global warming, with 62 votes (HCN, 1/24/05: Written in the rings).

3rd: A tie between Ray Ring’s "Where were the environmentalists when Libby needed them most?" about the growing divide between environmentalists and rural people (HCN, 2/21/05: Where were the environmentalists when Libby needed them most?) and Eliza Murphy’s story about roadkill, "Caught in the headlights" (HCN, 2/7/05: Caught in the headlights). Each got 28 votes.

The "Can’t get it out of my head" award went to the oldest story that someone cited as their "favorite story from the past 12 months": Ray Ring’s "The buzz business" about killer bees. It ran on June 24, 2002.

SO LONG, AND THANKS FOR ALL THE MARKETING

Here at HCN, we recently got some excellent advice on how to reach a bigger, broader audience, thanks to the MBA-Nonprofit Connection, a California-based organization run by longtime HCN supporter Alison Davis Her group helps bring business and management expertise to nonprofits around the country.

Consultant Mark Lellouch, a native of France who moved to the American West in 1998, came to Paonia for six weeks to help with our marketing strategy. "(HCN is) already doing all the right things," says Mark. "I’m just here to help you do some of them better."

Mark has consulted for environmental nonprofits in the United States, Brazil and Mexico. After his stint on the Western Slope, he plans to return to the Colorado River Delta, where he’s been working with local groups on ecotourism and ecosystem restoration.

Our sincere thanks to both Mark and Alison.

VISITORS

In early September, Sue Matthes of Bellevue, Idaho, said hello on her way home from the Crested Butte mushroom festival. From Corvallis, Ore., Sandy Bryce and Lynn McAllister came by en route to Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park. They were traveling with Sharon Clark of Redstone, Colo.

Joel Stonington, nephew of HCN board member emeritus Emily Stonington and brother of newly elected board member Dan Stonington, stopped in. He was on a circuitous route back to Seattle after completing an internship at Orion magazine in Massachusetts.

© High Country News