« Return to this article

Know the West

Staff dispatch to many destinations

And one gives a major gift of her own.


Gunnison, Colorado, on a day in early June. A scream shatters the peaceful morning: Jessica Kutz, editorial fellow, has awakened to a spider climbing up her leg, uninvited. Later that day, when intern Nick Bowlin sits down on his bed, the frame collapses underneath him. Our intrepid journalists use brick and hardcover books to prop the bed back up, just before editorial fellow Elena Saavedra Buckley trips, forcefully kicking a full mug of coffee under the couch. The three hope the terrors have finally ended, but alas — at 11:30 p.m. that night, the basement toilet begins to overflow.

Is the lovely new High Country News intern house cursed? The flooding has subsided and the bed appears to be structurally sound, but we will keep you updated.

Fortunately, Editor-in-Chief Brian Calvert’s house was still standing when he returned from a well-earned two-week backpacking vacation in Utah canyon country. He jumped back into work by attending HCN’s board meeting in Bozeman, Montana, with Digital Editor Gretchen King, Associate Editor Emily Benson, Development Director Laurie Milford and our Publisher and Executive Director Paul Larmer.

Our staff has dispatched to many other destinations. Assistant Editor Paige Blankenbuehler recently unplugged from email and social media for a writing retreat in the Green Mountains of Vermont at the Bread Loaf Environmental Writers Conference. There, she walked about with her notebook, attempting to be thoughtful, even though the persistent rain blurred the pen strokes on her pages. She workshopped a reported essay on attachment to place, landscape and culture and the question of why, for some, a sense of “home” only comes from ownership.

Lyndsey Gilpin and Anna V. Smith at the top of Angels Rest in the Columbia River Gorge, Oregon.
Courtesy of Anna V. Smith

Our associate photo editor, Luna Anna Archey, attended a photography conference in Denver called The Image Deconstructed. She met photographers she knew through HCN, as well as many potential collaborators. And Executive Director Paul Larmer and Assistant Editor Anna V. Smith held a roundtable in Portland, Oregon, to meet with readers, listen to story ideas and discuss all things HCN.

Anna also had a recent visitor: Former editorial fellow Lyndsey Gilpin, who now runs Southerly, a magazine on the American South, came to Portland. They hiked in the Columbia River Gorge and reminisced about their time in Paonia, Colorado, as interns.

Meanwhile, our Major Gift Advisor Alyssa Pinkerton truly embodied her job title — by giving a kidney to one of her friends. Ever-generous Alyssa hopes her story can help inspire others to do the same through the National Kidney Registry. Visit www.kidneyregistry.org if you’re interested.

By the time you read this piece, the author will have finished her time with HCN. She will spend some time at home in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and then head up to Alberta, Canada, for a month-long writing residency. She will miss HCN’s readers, who display a level of attentiveness and loyalty no other magazine is likely to match. Thank you!

And a final note: Our summer issue break means your next High Country News will arrive around July 22. Happy summer!