« Return to this article

Know the West

Dear Friends


Spreading the News

You may notice that the middle four pages of this issue look a bit different than usual. We're using this special pull-out section to announce our Spreading the News fund-raising campaign, which is designed to support this organization's evolution from a newspaper into a full-fledged multimedia organization.

We're already on our way. Our weekly half-hour radio program - Radio High Country News - now plays on 26 stations in 10 states; Writers on the Range, HCN's syndicated columns service, can be found in 66 of the West's newspapers; and our Web site (www.hcn.org), with its nine years of searchable archives, attracts thousands of researchers and readers every day. Our four-month editorial internships continue to train a steady stream of bright young writers and thinkers, who leave our neck of the Rockies with a deepened commitment to the American West.

We've embarked on this special fund-raising campaign to fully integrate these programs with the paper and to give them the resources they need to become economically self-sustaining. In the next few weeks, you'll receive more information from us about Spreading the News. We hope you'll contribute.

More opinions

Speaking of integration, we've added a new page to the paper dedicated to columns from Writers on the Range. Every issue will now include two thought-provoking columns written by an eclectic group of writers marshaled by New-Media Editor Betsy Marston.Let us know what you think.

On the border

Staff and board members met Jan. 17 and 18 in Las Cruces, N.M., to discuss the budget, fund raising, and new media projects. The meeting was the first for Felix Magowan, who publishes VeloNews and Inside Triathlon magazines from Boulder, Colo. And it was the last for Tom Huerkamp of Delta, Colo., who, with his business acumen and no-nonsense style, has helped push this organization along its current path. Overall, turnout was light, however, with just 11 of the 18 board members attending. One, Brad Little of Boise, Idaho, had a somber reason for not coming: His father, Dave Little, a prominent Idaho rancher and politician, had died the week before. The board dedicated the meeting to Brad and his family.

Las Cruces, located in the northern reaches of the Chihuahan Desert, is a New West boomtown, bulging with new arrivals from both south and north of the border. While Las Cruces is growing, its growth is nothing compared to what's happening just south of it, along the U.S.-Mexico border, where the cities of El Paso, Texas and Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, fairly crawl with humanity.

To talk to us about life on the border, we invited Mesilla, N.M., attorney Fernando Macias to speak during our lunch break. Macias is the general manager of the Border Environment Cooperation Commission, a binational commission set up under the North America Free Trade Agreement to help border towns address problems of sewage treatment, garbage and hazardous waste.

Macias had read our cover story about El Paso and Juarez, which talked about the thousands of Mexicans and Central Americans moving to the border to work in new manufacturing plants, or maquiladoras (HCN, 3/12/01: Divided Waters). "That was absolutely true at the time you published the story," he said. "But not any more."

In the last six months, Juarez alone has lost 50,000 maquiladora jobs, Macias said. Look for more about the quickly changing border region in an upcoming HCN cover story.

Following the meeting, board and staff headed off to a lively potluck dinner with readers and members of the Southwest Environmental Center, an organization dedicated in part to restoring the depleted and over-engineered Rio Grande River, which sometimes flows through town. We thank the Center and its founder and director, Kevin Bixby, for a wonderful evening.

New interns

Perhaps all that Yakima, Wash., has in common with cycling is that it is the home of HCN intern and Tour de France fanatic Julie Elliott. Contrary to popular belief, Yakima is not connected in any way with the ubiquitous bike racks of the same name. "Maybe the company just liked the sound of it," Julie muses.

After graduating in 1999 from Whitman College in Walla Walla, Wash., with a degree in physics, Julie coasted into Boulder, Colo., as an intern with the cycling magazine VeloNews. "The pay wasn't that great, but we got lots of gear," says Julie, a climbing enthusiast and long-distance runner.

After the internship, Julie stayed in Boulder to do some freelance writing and to frequent the running trails, all the while keeping current on environmental issues in the West by reading HCN. Now she and her giant poster of Greg LeMond will spend the winter in Paonia.

Julie's interests extend beyond cycling. She studied catastrophic geology in college and is most at home atop Mount St. Helens. HCN staff and editors anticipate some explosive writing!

Living in western Colorado is nothing new for winter intern Sarah Wright - she spent the past two summers at the Rocky Mountain Biological Lab near Crested Butte, chasing after wood rats and studying plant ecology on ranches.

In between trips to Colorado, she studied English and environmental science at Bradley University in Peoria, Ill. During college, she also researched the architecture of white clover, served as a Greenpeace student delegate to the Kyoto Protocol negotiations at the Hague, Netherlands, and spent a semester abroad in Denmark. After graduating in December, Sarah made a quick trip home to Brookfield, Wis., before returning to the Rockies.

Sarah is glad to be back in the high country, where she hopes to break in her new cross-country skis and use her knowledge of plant biology to raise houseplants in the intern house, a feat few have accomplished.