Making sense of the West

Why we’ve expanded our coverage beyond environmental issues.

 

There is an important debate unfolding in the pages of this magazine. I read it in your letters to the editor, in online social threads, and in the emails sent to me from readers far and wide. Broadly speaking, the debate involves our mission. Readers’ concerns vary, but they are generally tied to one of three things: our coverage of non-environmental or non-resource-related issues; our coverage of under-represented (or non-rural, non-white) communities; and our coverage of anything outside the Intermountain West. It’s a lively, and I think healthy, conversation, coming at a challenging time for journalism — amid a flurry of “fake news” and misinformation, mass layoffs and budget cuts, and growing threats to our democracy. Given all this, we need a magazine that makes sense of things. A lot of things.

The mission of High Country News is “to inform and inspire people — through in-depth journalism — to act on behalf of the West’s diverse natural and human communities.” It’s a broad mission, but an important one, and it forces HCN’s editors to constantly ask two big questions: What, exactly, is the American West, and what does it mean to act on its behalf? We ask these questions over and over, and sometimes they lead us to unexpected answers and unexpected stories.

We do this because no matter what you love about the West, this place has always been under threat from unethical forces — of greed, oppression, exploitation, or just plain carelessness. To counter these forces requires broad alliances of unlikely partners and a deep understanding of myriad issues. Climate change is tied to economic inequality, land conservation to environmental racism, energy to pollution, and on and on. The West is a vast web of competing values and interests, and we at High Country News seek to cover them all. We do this not from a sense of “political correctness,” as one letter-writer puts it in this issue, but because we believe our readers want to understand the West as a whole.

Brian Calvert, editor-in-chief
Brooke Warren/High Country News
In this issue, for example, you will read about how Chicano movements are beginning to embrace immigration as an issue relevant to their cause. You will also read stories about a major public-lands bill just passed in Congress; a water grab in Idaho; a crackdown on humanitarian aid along the southern border; and a Portland neighborhood that is already adopting the principles of the Green New Deal. Meanwhile, in Pinal County, Arizona, climate change is forcing some tough agricultural choices. We also discuss why environmental victories don’t guarantee economic justice, and we explore the surprising challenges faced by women of color who simply want to mountain bike on public lands. I believe each of these stories is important, and I hope you’ll find them informative or inspiring. It’s up to all of us to act on behalf of the West — however you define it.
High Country News Classifieds
  • GOVERNMENT AFFAIRS MANAGER
    Western Resource Advocates (WRA) seeks a Government Affairs Manager to support our legislative and administrative advocacy efforts in Colorado. This new, mid-level position will report...
  • COMMUNICATIONS MANAGER
    San Juan Citizens Alliance, a leading grassroots conservation advocacy organization for over 30 years, seeks a passionate, dynamic, organized, and technology-savvy communications professional to help...
  • OPERATIONS AND FINANCE MANAGER
    Great Old Broads for Wilderness, a national grassroots organization led by women, seeks a resourceful, self-motivated, team player to serve as Operations and Finance Manager....
  • EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
    ORGANIZATIONAL BACKGROUND Colorado Canyons Association (CCA) fosters community stewardship, education and awareness of our National Conservation Lands with a focus on Dominguez-Escalante, Gunnison Gorge and...
  • WYOMING STATE DIRECTOR
    Save the World ... or at least a piece of it! Join The Nature Conservancy and make a tangible and lasting impact by creating a...
  • PROGRAM DIRECTOR FOR AN ENVIRONMENTAL ADVOCACY NON-PROFIT NEAR YOSEMITE
    Demanding, but rewarding, advocacy work on forest, water, wildland, and wildlife issues. Applicants should have experience dealing with land management planning, public speaking, grassroots organizing,...
  • NEW AGRARIAN APPRENTICESHIP
    Quivira Coalition's 2020 New Agrarian Apprenticeships in Regenerative Ranching and Farming -Apprenticeships run 4/20 - 11/20 Applications accepted 10/15/19 - 12/1/19 NAP partners with skilled...
  • PHILANTHROPY DIRECTOR AT WILDERNESS WORKSHOP
    Wilderness Workshop seeks a full time Philanthropy Director to raise funds for our team. Learn more: www.wildernessworkshop.org
  • EXECUTIVE ASSISTANT WITH WESTERN RESOURCE ADVOCATES
    Western Resource Advocates (WRA) seeks an enthusiastic and organized problem solver to join our growing team as an Executive Assistant. The Executive Assistant is instrumental...
  • WYOMING OUTDOOR COUNCIL
    Two positions: Development Director OR Development Writer, Communications Director. Full job descriptions at https://wyomingoutdoorcouncil.org/careers.
  • CONSERVATION PROJECT MANAGER
    Great Land Trust seeks to hire a Conservation Project Manager. Position is full-time, based in Anchorage, Alaska. First review of applications will be on October...
  • EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
    Eagle Valley Land Trust Executive Director Position Description Summary of Position: The Executive Director, working with and reporting to the Board of Directors, has overall...
  • FINANCE & LOGISTICS COORDINATOR
    The Rocky Mountain Biological Laboratory, founded in 1928 as an independent nonprofit organization, is a biological field station located near Crested Butte, Colorado. Our primary...
  • DEVELOPMENT DIRECTOR
    See Full Job Description
  • DEVELOPMENT COORDINATOR
    Position: Development Coordinator Responsible to: Executive Director Time Commitment: 15-20 hours per week, or as otherwise agreed upon General Description: The Development Coordinator assists the...
  • EDUCATION CENTER MANAGER
    Friends of Cedar Mesa seeks a full-time Education Manager for the Bears Ears Education Center to provide day to day operational and administrative oversight. See...
  • TROUT UNLIMITED SCP SOUTHWEST REGIONAL DIRECTOR
    Seeking to hire an experienced advocate/manager to oversee the organization's sportsmen/women-driven advocacy in Colorado, New Mexico and Arizona. Open until filled
  • PROGRAM MANAGER
    for northern AZ collaborative conservation ranchlands group
  • EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
    Partners are seeking an experienced and energetic Executive Director who is excited about the opportunity to lead our growing organization! A full description of the...
  • EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
    High Country News Seeks an Executive Director to advance its mission, grow its audience and influence, and strategically and sustainably guide the organization through a...