Dear friends

  • HCN's new editors: Peter Chilson (L) and Greg Hanscom

    Cindy Wehling
  • HCN's new interns: Jamie Murray and Alan Schussman

    Cindy Wehling


We heard from 80-year-old Nancy Coy of Perry, N.Y., recently, who said our "green Christian" story April 28 made her hopeful, as both an environmentalist and agnostic, about the world again. "Since I have insomnia," she writes, "I listen to late-night talk radio and have to choose between the Rush Limbaugh sort of rhetoric and football talk. Before reading your story, I was getting pretty depressed."

Former intern Jared Farmer, who lives in Provo, Utah, told us during a brief visit that he'd decided the next step in his life, academically speaking. He'll work toward an advanced degree in history at the University of Montana. Jared had just left a week-long float trip put on by the Four Corners School of Outdoor Education, which attracted three people celebrating their 50th birthdays and one other celebrating a 75th.

Jim and Jeanette Barton of Three Rivers, Calif., came by and said they enjoy reading the paper, which they get on a second bounce from John and Sara Elliott, who publish the Kaweah Commonwealth, a weekly in the same town.

We didn't see Hopie or Bob Stevens, who live in Helena, Mont., but we're grateful to them for sending their town's phone book. We could use a lot more from Western cities or towns as our store of phone books is becoming historic. We consult phone directories a lot in an attempt to save money.

Manas: A new life

For an astounding 40 years, Henry Geiger wrote, typeset and published Manas - a journal about the ideas of Plato, Lao Tse, Gautama Buddha, Tom Paine, Abraham Maslow, Thoreau and others. Think of Manas as the kind of weekly that I.F. Stone would have published if he had been based in Los Angeles, if he had become obsessed by the ancient Greeks earlier in his life, and if he had been willing to support himself and his weekly by publishing fine art books.

At its peak, Manas had about 3,000 readers, and in the course of things this idiosyncratic journal, which last appeared in 1988, should vanish from view. But a small, ad hoc group of Manas readers is determined to give it a new life. They are digitizing it volume by volume, so that they can then publish all 41 volumes on CD-ROM. The scanner is good, but not perfect, so the team is looking for volunteer proofreaders. We're proofing 1951, when Geiger was preoccupied with understanding World War II. So we get to read his reviews of new books dealing with that war, such as The Young Lions by Irwin Shaw and The Origins of Totalitarianism by Hannah Arendt. It takes us about an hour to proof each eight-page issue. We could go faster, but we keep lapsing into reading it for content, instead of proofing it for typos.

For information about joining the Manas team, contact Ted Goudvis, Box 3646, Aspen, CO 81612; 970/925-2418.

Stout-hearted men

Along with hay fever, spring brought us high water and intern Jamie Murray from Hartford, Conn. A 1995 graduate of Dickinson College in Carlisle, Pa., Jamie studied English and environmental studies, finding beauty in the works of Jane Austen as well as in sewage treatment plants in central Pennsylvania.

After graduation, Jamie moved to Jackson Hole, Wyo., where a small fortune in snowboard equipment and a chunk of his left knee still lie buried within the snowy vistas of the Teton Range.

Last spring Jamie embarked on a more thrifty adventure, starting a six-month hike from Springer Mountain, Ga., to Maine. Some 2,162 miles later, he hauled his aching body - now 15 pounds lighter - over the granite slabs of Mount Katahdin, and celebrated the trek by drinking a lot of cheap booze. Now, he says he's ready to pound a keyboard.

Alan Schussman, the summer's third intern, comes to Paonia after spending his spring semester in Rome, Italy. A native of Ogden, Utah, Alan is a sociology major at Whitman College in Walla Walla, Wash., studying the relationship between technology and social change.

He will spend part of the summer learning the editorial ropes, and will then shift focus to the HCN Web site (, which already contains more than four years of back issues and a searchable index. Alan hopes to develop the site into a much-used online resource for news and information on the West.

Although he should be thinking about next year's senior thesis, Alan plans to spend his spare time finding rocks to climb on, exercising his minimal fly-fishing ability, and reading through a stack of books, including Vagabond for Beauty, a collection of the letters of Everett Ruess.

- Betsy and Ed Marston, for the staff

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