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Know the West

Dear friends



It takes an adventurous — and dedicated — person to leave behind a bustling urban center and a corporate paycheck to work for nonprofit wages in a small town like Paonia, Colo. But we found just such a person in Jodi Peterson, who started work in January as HCN’s news editor. She comes to us following a 16-year career as a technical writer at Hewlett-Packard in Fort Collins, Colo. You may recognize Jodi’s name: She did an internship here in early 2004, and has been a regular freelance writer ever since.

Jodi will make sure that the shorter stories in the front of the paper sparkle, and check facts, write headlines and perform a host of other duties. This will free editor Greg Hanscom to focus on the direction of the paper as a whole, as well as on cover stories and editorials. And it will allow the other editors to focus on finding (and writing) fresh stories of their own.


Fund-raising guru Andy Robinson spent a few days at HCN in December. Robinson, a resident of Plainfield, Vt., is the author of Grassroots Grants: An Activist’s Guide to Grantseeking, and Big Gifts for Small Groups: A Board Member’s 1-Hour Guide to Securing Gifts of $500 to $5000.

Robinson’s recommendation to HCN was, in a nutshell, to stay in close touch with all of you, our readers. He was wowed (as were we) by your incredible generosity in 2004. You gave a record $400,000 to the Research Fund. Combined with your subscription dues, that adds up to more than two-thirds of our annual budget, allowing HCN to weather the storms in the foundation world and the stock market. A huge thanks, again.

John Nutting, a subscriber from Waterbury Center, Vt., also stopped by. Nutting is an ordained minister with the United Church of Christ, which made headlines recently when CBS and NBC refused to air its ad, which includes a shot of two men, apparently gay, being turned away from a church by bouncers. Nutting is disturbed by what he believes is the religious right’s efforts to undermine environmental protection: "Genesis says God gave us dominion. We do dominate, but the question is, will we be stewards or destroyers?"


Several readers wrote to correct Rebecca Clarren’s essay, "A mountain lifts a heavy heart" (HCN, 11/22/04: A mountain lifts a heavy heart). Contrary to the essay, when Mount St. Helens erupted in May of 1980, it blew to the north. And the recent activity is not "the most fervor the mountain has shown in 24 years," according to Wendell Duffield, an adjunct professor at Northern Arizona University. "Mount St. Helens continued to erupt in fits and starts up into 1986," he writes. "Some of the fits and starts of the early 1980s were considerably more violent that what’s happening now ... at least up to the time that I’m writing this note."

A few readers also shared their memories of the blast. "It was the second eruption on May 25, in the predawn hours, that got me out of bed to get my animals out of the falling slurry of ash and rain," writes Sally Burns of Aurora, Colo. "I’ve never experienced a blacker night."

"I was 20 years old that day, and I missed getting stuck in eastern Washington by a mere 10 hours," writes Matt Withee of Marysville, Wash. "My brother and I had been camping in Hell’s Canyon and had decided to make the long drive home to Seattle a day earlier than planned. Had we stuck to our original plan, we would have been somewhere in eastern Washington when the mountain blew."