The first snow was fluttering down when High Country News' staff and board members arrived in Hailey, Idaho, for a late September meeting. But the white flakes couldn't quite cover the black tracks left by a summer fire that rampaged down ravines to the edge of town. Signs – many in front of insurance offices – proclaimed, "Thank you, Firefighters!" Gratitude was also expressed that evening at our first-ever "friendraiser" event, at the home of longtime supporters Tom and Molly Page. More than 30 local readers and friends discussed fire, salmon, ranching and many other topics, and we came away with story ideas and insightful feedback. ("It would be nice to read a few more positive stories!" one said, a sentiment we wholeheartedly share.) We left filled with a deep sense of, well, gratitude, for everyone who has supported HCN over the years and made it part of their lives.
Next morning, our hardworking board passed an ambitious budget for the new fiscal year (Oct. 1 through Sept. 30) that includes funding for a website redesign and a push to get HCN into the hands of more college students. In August, our indefatigable marketer, JoAnn Kalenak, tested a free semester-long student subscription program, and 1,800 students from more than a dozen colleges signed up. Interestingly, many professors reported that their students preferred getting the magazine in print rather than digital format. (Take that, "death-of-print" pessimists!) We're so excited that we plan to open the program to 5,000 students in 2014.
Catching up on summer visitors
We're always amazed that people ever find our Paonia, Colo., headquarters, tucked away as we are at the end of a two-block downtown in a tiny town 70 miles from the nearest interstate. And this summer we've met some dedicated – and delightful – readers.
In late July, Daniel Weinshenker left Denver with one plan: Head west. He and daughter Lydia take summer road trips, sketching as they go. After kayaking in Aspen, they drove to Paonia to pick cherries and visit HCN. Daniel, a writing instructor at the Center for Digital Storytelling, sees a lot of overlap with his social justice work and the stories in HCN.
A rainy day brought Glenwood Springs, Colo., subscriber Richard Ivker and his Philadelphia relatives, Stephen and Eileen Feldman, to the office. Richard admires HCN because, he says, it's the "social consciousness of the West." Eileen, a retired art teacher, appreciates the mag's cover art. Doug and Jean Rhinehart, on a camping trip from Woody Creek, Colo., also said hello. Doug's exquisite black-and-white photographs have appeared in HCN; check out his 2009 book, Desert Adagio.
Page Buono and Jennifer Lopez from Durango, Colo., came by in early August. Jennifer, who works on affordable housing access, is excited about involving Colorado in the national 10,000 Homes Campaign. Page, a reporter with the Durango Herald, hopes to one day see her work in High Country News. We are honored by the thought.