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Know the West

Ushering in fall

Staffers get creative with harvest crowns, art openings and personal essays.


The leaves are changing color in Colorado, the air is crisp, and — overnight, it seems — fall has arrived. For a lot of folks in the mountain West, this is leaf-peeping season, with the aspen and scrub oak in full yellow and red regalia. For High Country News, this fall meant a board meeting in Gunnison, Colorado, where we approved our biggest budget ever and began planning for a huge celebration in 2020, when HCN turns 50. Though everyone tells us we still look good for our age. …

To celebrate the September equinox, High Country News staffers — Assistant Editor Paige Blankenbuehler; Associate Photo Editor Luna Anna Archey, Editorial Fellow Jessica Kutz and Editorial Intern Elena Saavedra Buckley — made flower crowns and danced in the streets of Crested Butte, Colorado, to the beat of the Vinotok Fall Harvest Festival.

Paul Larmer

Meanwhile, Paonia, Colorado, where our headquarters are located, enjoyed its own Harvest Fest. Executive Director Paul Larmer took one of his many side talents into the open, exhibiting his photographs of the nearby Adobe Hills, the dune-like land formations he has been photographing for years. And copy editor Diane Sylvain had to copy-edit herself, in order to read an essay at the annual “Harvest of Voices.”

The staff has been busy sprucing up the Paonia office with new paint and carpet, while holding a bittersweet party for the retirement of Christine List, our outstanding development assistant. We’ll miss you, Chris!

Our Los Angeles-based contributing editor, Ruxandra Guidi, has produced a podcast titled South of Fletcher. This six-part series follows the transformation of an old railroad yard in Los Angeles into California’s next urban state park. Rux delves into all the challenges that come with bringing a park into an urban space, including gentrification, urban change, homelessness and land use. Listen to it wherever you get your podcasts. You can also catch Rux moderating a live panel, “A New Home, The Effects of Migration,” on Oct. 18 at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles.

Associate Editor Maya Kapoor traveled to Austin, Texas, in September to hone her science editing skills at a workshop hosted by the Kavli and Knight foundations. Maya received instruction from our own board member, Laura Helmuth, who talked about finding and editing science stories.

In the midst of this bustle, we’ve also had some visitors. Molly and Antonio Manzanares came by the Paonia office, recalling that they were featured in an HCN in 1995, in a story called “In the heart of the New West, the sheep win one.” Mark and Linda Giesecke, from Carbondale, Colorado, stopped by while touring local vineyards. Laura Fowler and Gregory Nelson, who both work for Coconino County, Arizona, took a tour (and some photos) of our offices while they were in town.