How big should we be?
In late September, the board of directors of High Country News descended on HCN's hometown of Paonia to pass a new budget, look over a new three-year strategic plan and enjoy western Colorado's beautiful fall weather. At the meeting, a lively discussion broke out over how many subscribers our print magazine should gain in the next three years. Veteran board member Andy Wiessner of Old Snowmass, Colo., said he believed that the current number of paid subscribers –– 22,500 –– could be doubled with more aggressive marketing, given population growth in the West and increasing interest in the environment. Other board and staff members cautioned that just holding onto the existing subscriber base is an achievement, given the recession and the decline of print media in general, and argued that HCN has a nonprofit business model that works at its current scale. If you have thoughts on our "growth potential," please drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The three-year strategic plan approved by the board takes the middle road. It calls for increased marketing efforts to grow the print subscriber base by 5 percent a year, along with much more rapid growth in online readership: We hope to increase visitors to hcn.org from 67,000 per month to 107,000 per month by 2012. Our key challenge will be to convert at least some of those Web visitors into paid subscribers.
ARTISTS AND ACTIVISTS
The same weekend the board met, one of our readers was holding an Artposium (a term he coined) in nearby Cedaredge. Grant Pound, who started the nonprofit Colorado Art Ranch after leaving a wildlife biology career, describes an Artposium as an "exploration of the role of the arts in problem solving." The Cedaredge event, which focused on food, brought together some 50 participants, including chefs and farmers, to discuss how food is grown, harvested and prepared, and how it affects our relationships with each other and with the planet. Grant's next Artposium takes place in Salida, Colo., May 21-23, and is titled "Wade in the Water." For more information, go to coloradoartranch.org.
Donna LeFurgey of Taos, N.M., and Brittney Maestas of Albuquerque dropped by our office on their way from Ouray to Vail. The duo, who were first paired up 10 years ago through the Big Brothers Big Sisters program, were wrapping up the summer with a road trip through Colorado before Brittney returned to nursing school.
For more than 40 years, Sibylla and Dean Fleming have been living in the wilds near southern Colorado's Sangre De Cristo Mountains. The artsy couple –– Dean paints large abstract landscapes and Sibylla creates stained glass –– moved from New York City to Libre, a community of 11 people, back in 1968, when they bought their land for $35 an acre. The couple comes to Paonia in the fall to glean fruit from the orchards, but this was their first visit to HCN, although they've been longtime subscribers.
Fresh-faced from hiking in Utah, the environmental activist and barely nonagenarian Katie Lee stopped in on her way to Aspen, where the Aspen Historical Society planned to honor her for her work on behalf of the West's wild places, especially the Colorado River. The last time we wrote about Katie, a former model and singer who lived in Aspen during the '60s, was during the race for the Democratic nomination for president. Katie backed Hillary Clinton with a big sign in front of her house in Jerome, Ariz., but it was no ordinary plug. Along with three giant-size red, white and blue bras, the sign read: "Support Hillary." Before heading to a Mexican lunch in town, Katie reminded us that she remained "frisky, mad and working at it." She was accompanied by her longtime companion, Joey Van Leeuawn, who admitted to being "a mere 77." Katie Lee turned 90 on Oct. 23.