Dear Friends

 

A-potlucking we go

The far-flung board of directors of High Country News will soon gather in Paonia, Colo., for its second meeting of the year. Following an all-day session with staff on Saturday, June 2, the board will host an evening potluck in Paonia's shady town park on Fourth Street and North Fork Avenue. All HCNreaders and friends are cordially invited to the potluck, which starts at 6:30 p.m. Bring a dish to share, as well as all the comments and ideas you've always wanted to lay on us. To RSVP, please call Robyn at 970/527-4898 or e-mail [email protected]

Storytelling 101

It's a perennial dilemma for High Country News editors and writers: How do we tell a complex, policy-wonkish story in a way that is both entertaining and informative? HCN shies away from fluffy features. We'd rather dive into the hydrological and political details of the fight to save salmon on the Columbia River, or consider the evolving history of fire policy on the public lands.

This week, HCN publisher Ed Marston tackles perhaps the most complex water story in the West: the attempt by the Interior Department and the six states that share the Colorado River with California to curtail the Golden State's voracious thirst for the river's water. And, as usual, the editors here went back and forth on just how much detail to include in this story, which, written longer, could be a chapter in a follow-up book to Marc Reisner's Cadillac Desert.

We know some readers eat these stories up, no matter how much information we pack in; to these hardy souls, environmental impact statements make fun bedtime reading. But many more readers need help staying interested in megawatts and acre-feet. Which is why we are always trying to improve our storytelling abilities. High Country News staffer Michelle Nijhuis recently listened to some advice from one of America's best radio storytellers - "This American Life's" Ira Glass. Speaking at a Las Vegas benefit for Nevada Public Radio in April, Glass said that his mission is to get old-fashioned storytelling back on the radio, so that listeners will actually pay attention and be touched by the issue at hand. "American news journalism has one mood, a kind of grim-faced seen-it-all dunderheadedness," he said. "But life is all mixed together, surprise and pleasure and amusement. Those emotions appear only rarely in traditional news journalism."

To emphasize his point, Glass played a cut of NPR reporter Daniel Zwirdling covering the Exxon Valdez oil spill. The head of a local bird-care center told Zwirdling that Dawn dishwashing liquid was the best way to clean up oily birds. He immediately pounced on this detail and asks her to elaborate on the wonders of Dawn. It was a surprising and funny moment in an otherwise grim report.

Though High Country News is no "This American Life," we'll continue to look for those surprising moments in our coverage of attention-span challenging issues.

New Interns

Growing up in the arid Southwest, new intern Laurel Jones remembers being berated with the constant repetition of: "Turn off the water! Turn out your lights!" It was only after going to college at Tufts University and reading books like Cadillac Desert that she fully realized the importance of these mantras. In the six years since graduating from college, Laurel has followed her interest in conservation issues, working with the Forest Service in eastern Oregon to assess the health of a watershed, and with California Department of Fish and Game to determine catch quotas for the Pacific herring fishery in San Francisco Bay.

While traveling around the Southwest in the summer of 1999, Laurel stopped by HCN to say hello and pick up some back issues of the paper. That brief glimpse of Paonia stuck with her, and when she quit her University of Colorado graduate program in biology this spring to focus on writing, the HCN internship was the first thing that came to mind.

Laurel says the onslaught of new construction and the ever-present hum of traffic on the Front Range were reasons enough to drive her west. She now spends evenings sitting on her front porch in the heart of metropolitan Paonia, listening to the roar of birds chirping and the cacophony of croaking frogs.

Rachel Jackson knows the difference between good drivers and bad drivers - and not just the kind behind the wheel. At her former job in Portland, Ore., she practiced public relations for Microsoft and regularly talked in drivers, betas and browsers. Here at High Country News she still has to contend with computers, albeit machines from an earlier era. But now she has other worries, such as the high country sunburn she got her first day here.

Rachel grew up in Grants Pass, a small town in southern Oregon, where she says her outdoorsy, environmentally conscious family was in the minority. In seventh grade, she feverishly debated the spotted owl controversy with classmates whose parents lost their timber mill jobs; she recalls one boy chanting, "save a logger, eat an owl," and even close friends labeled her a hippie. The experience taught her that environmental issues are "never black and white."

After high school, Rachel retreated to the liberal campus of Lewis and Clark College in Portland. There, an environmental history course curried a passion for writing about the environment; she plunged into a research project examining the effects of the Wild and Scenic Act on the Rogue River near her hometown. Rachel admits she got a thrill out of reading arcane land regulations, poring over local historical files and recording the stories of former placer miners, landowners and river rats.

To maintain the writing fix after graduation, Rachel contributed to the Bear Deluxe and Northwest Woman Magazine while working full time. Now she's keen to officially don the environmental reporter's hat.

High Country News Classifieds
  • STAFF ATTORNEY
    STAFF ATTORNEY POSITION OPENING www.westernlaw.org/about-us/clinic-interns-careers The Western Environmental Law Center (WELC) is a nonprofit public interest environmental law firm with a 25-year legacy of success...
  • PLANNING & BUILDING DIRECTOR
    Searching for candidates with a Bachelor's Degree in Planning, Community Development, or a related field with 7 years' experience in land use planning forums, including...
  • LAND CONSERVATION DIRECTOR
    Manage, develop and implement all stewardship and land management plans and activities on both private and public lands. Guide and direct comprehensive planning efforts, provide...
  • NEWS DIRECTOR
    Based in the state capitol, Boise State Public Radio is the premier NPR affiliate in Idaho. With 18 transmitters and translators, it reaches 2/3rds of...
  • INTERNET-BASED BUSINESS FOR SALE
    Dream of owning your own business, being your own boss, working from home ... this is the one.
  • EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR FOR MOJAVE DESERT LAND TRUST
    Organization Background: The Mojave Desert Land Trust (MDLT) is a non-profit 501(3)(c) organization, founded in 2006. Our mission is to protect the ecosystems of the...
  • EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
    If you are deeply committed to public service and would like to become part of our high performing, passionate and diverse team, NCAT is looking...
  • TRIPLEX .8 ACRE KANAB, UT
    Create a base in the center of Southern Utah's Grand Circle of National Parks. Multiple residential property with three established rental units and zoning latitude...
  • FORGE & FAB SHOP
    with home on one beautiful acre in Pocatello, ID. Blackrock Forge - retiring after 43 years! Fully equipped 5,500 sf shop including office, gallery and...
  • SMALL FARM AT THE BASE OF MOUNT SHASTA
    Certified organic fruit/berry/veggie/flower farm. Home, barns, garage, separate apt, more. Just under 2 ac, edge of town. Famously pure air and water. Skiing, mountaineering, bike,...
  • FOREST STEWARDSHIP PROJECT DIRECTOR
    Become a force for nature and a healthy planet by joining the Arizona Chapter as Forest Stewardship Project Director. You will play a key role...
  • EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
    Ranchers Stewardship Alliance is accepting applications for an Executive Director. This position will provide leadership to RSA, develop a fund raising plan, and effectively communicate...
  • EQUITY IN THE OUTDOORS COORDINATOR
    The Equity in the Outdoors Coordinator will lead community engagement, program implementation and development, and data collection for the Eagle Valley Outdoor Movement (EVOM). EVOM...
  • COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT ASSISTANT
    The Idaho Conservation League is seeking a personable individual who is passionate about conservation to join our Sandpoint Field Office. The Community Engagement Assistant will...
  • LIGHTWEIGHT FLY ROD CASES
    4 standard or custom lengths. Rugged protection for backpacking. Affordable pricing.
  • EXPERIENTIAL EDUCATION INTERN/ASSISTANT
    Actively introduce students to Experiential Education, Outdoor Recreation, and Sustainability while engaging and challenging them to learn and participate in these diverse opportunities. Room, board,...
  • ENVIRONMENTAL INVESTIGATIVE MEDIA SERVICES
    In-depth investigations of polluters, lobbyists, regulators, elected officials and others focused on environmentally damaging projects in the U.S. and internationally. We specialize in mining projects,...
  • UNDEVELOPED 40 ACRES - SOUTHWEST COLORADO
    in beautiful Montezuma County.
  • TRUCK DRIVER
    Class A & B drivers, pass all DOT requirements and clean driving record
  • MARIA'S BOOKSHOP FOR SALE
    - Thriving Indie bookstore in the heart of Durango, Colorado. General bookstore with 34-year history as a community hub for Southwest region of CO. 1800...