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Know the West

Road trips and the Rusty Spur

Editorial staffers take a retreat and speak at several panels.


Most of HCN’s editorial staff piled out of a clown car into Joseph, Oregon.
Elena Saavedra Buckley/High Country News

What does it take to get the widely dispersed High Country News editorial team together? A 10-seater van, a ton of caffeine and an invitation to Fishtrap, a conference devoted to thinking and writing about the American West. Thirteen HCN staffers took part in this year’s Winter Fishtrap, in Joseph, Oregon, where we joined in interesting discussions on the theme, “The Meaning of Refuge,” and our writers and editors got to see each other in person for the first time in months.

Editor-in-Chief Brian Calvert moderated a panel of Associate Editors Kate Schimel, Tristan Ahtone and Maya Kapoor and Contributing Editor Ruxandra Guidi, who discussed the many interpretations of “refuge” and the potential dangers of a separatist state of mind. Brian also spoke, advocating for the development of poetic thinking amid environmental and ecological crises, in his first-ever PowerPoint presentation (though you’d never know it). We’d like to thank the Fishtrap organizers and members of the Wallowa Resource Center for helping us pull this off, not to mention the patrons of the Rusty Spur Bar and Grill, who made room for us at karaoke night.

Beyond crooning at the Rusty Spur, the staff has been busy, especially our assistant editors. Emily Benson recently spoke on a panel at the Idaho Environmental Forum’s legislative forecast event, while Paige Blankenbuehler was accepted to the Bread Loaf Environmental Writers’ Conference at Middlebury College in Vermont. And we are very proud of Associate Editor Kate Schimel, who somehow found the time to report and write a rich piece on community-led conservation from Papua New Guinea, published by bioGraphic in January: “Where the Rainforest Meets the Road.”

The editorial department continues to evolve, and we have a few exciting announcements. Jessica Kutz has extended her editorial fellowship to write pieces focused on social and environmental justice. Carl Segerstrom, a former editorial intern and fellow, has been named a contributing editor, based in Spokane, Washington. And Elena Saavedra Buckley will be moving from her editorial internship into an editorial fellowship, writing for the Tribal Affairs desk.

HCN bids a loving farewell to a longtime friend and reader, Margaret “Peggy” Clements, who died recently at home in Paonia, surrounded by her family and just six weeks short of her 105th birthday. She and her late husband, Ken, spent most of their lives in the West, and Peggy, a devout Catholic, had an endlessly curious, questioning mind and cared passionately about social justice and environmental issues. She was dearly loved and will be missed by everyone who knew her.

We have a correction for our last issue (HCN, 1/21/19). In “Sportsmen flex their political muscles,” we said that camping is banned on Wyoming’s state parks; actually, it is banned on state lands.