Good news still exists

The West saw many challenges this year, but there were also joys to be found.

 

What does last month’s Election Day mean for the West? A lot happened outside the drawn-out, deeply divisive presidential contest, as our roundup of down-ballot races and measures reveals. Will gray wolves make a comeback in Colorado?  What’s up with guns in Montana, drugs in Oregon and California’s gig economy? Are Westerners really serious about criminal justice reform, or willing to pay more for climate and conservation? Which states flipped blue, or went deep red? Outside the headlines, this election saw many firsts, including an influx of Native women into state politics.

Evanston, Wyoming, where the historic Railroad Roundhouse (curved building, center), built by Union Pacific Railroad in the early 1900s, still anchors the town.
Russel Albert Daniels/High Country News

Our feature takes us to the Wyoming city of Evanston, which is still recovering from a bitter fight over a proposed detention center for immigrants awaiting deportation. Where supporters saw the promise of well-paying jobs, opponents beheld the specter of a system that splits up families at the border. The question “What price for economic salvation?” isn’t a new one in the West, but it’s instructive to look at how abruptly divisions can form between friends and neighbors, in a dynamic that clearly isn’t confined to just one part of the nation.

“What Works” is HCN’s solutions-oriented department, and I like to think it’s near the front of the magazine for a reason: to remind readers and editors that good news still exists. This issue, we learn how health officials in Newport, Oregon, responded once they realized that essential information on COVID-19 wasn’t reaching some immigrant farmworkers, who spoke neither English nor Spanish, but rather an Indigenous Mayan language. Newport’s solution — a hotline that connected people in Oregon with Mam speakers in Guatemala — could prove a boon for the West’s growing number of Indigenous immigrants.

Don’t miss our photo essay on the annual Arizona Black Rodeo in Phoenix, a necessary and joyous correction to the erasure of Black cowboys from standard Western mythology. Then mosey over to our reviews section for new titles, including recommendations from some of the West’s most interesting authors. I defy you to not find at least one volume you’ll long to immerse yourself in.

Katherine Lanpher, interim editor-in-chief

I flat-out love Olivia Durif’s essay about the time she spent working at a rural Washington ranch with a conservation cemetery.  In digging graves for natural burials, Durif discovered the joy and humanity that can be found in mourning. As she writes: “One small cemetery makes death feel human-sized.”

This has been such a challenging year, with troubles that feel supersized, not human-sized. May your own worries shrink to burdens you can carry. May you find your very own “What Works.”  Stick your head in a book or throw your arms around the neck of a horse. Remember that the mysteries of life go beyond politics. We’ll see you next year.

Email High Country News at [email protected] or submit a letter to the editor.

High Country News Classifieds
  • COMMUNICATIONS AND OUTREACH ASSOCIATE
    Communications and Outreach Associate Position Opening: www.westernlaw.org/communications-outreach-associate ************************************************* Location: Western U.S., ideally in one of WELC's existing office locations (Santa Fe or Taos, NM, Helena,...
  • FREELANCE GRAPHIC DESIGNER & PROJECT COORDINATOR (REMOTE)
    High Country News (HCN) is seeking a contract Graphic Designer & Project Coordinator to design promotional, marketing and fund-raising assets and campaigns, and project-manage them...
  • FILM AND DIGITAL MEDIA: ASSISTANT PROFESSOR OF INDIGENOUS MEDIA, CULTURAL SOVEREIGNTY AND DECOLONIZATION (INITIAL REVIEW 12.1.21)
    Film and Digital Media: Assistant Professor of Indigenous Media, Cultural Sovereignty and Decolonization (Initial Review 12.1.21) Position overview Position title: Assistant Professor - tenure-track Salary...
  • REAL ESTATE SPECIALIST
    To learn more about this position and to apply please go to the following URL.
  • ENVIRONMENTAL GEOPHYSICS
    "More Data, Less Digging" Find groundwater and reduce excavation costs!
  • RARE CHIRICAHUA RIPARIAN LAND FOR SALE
    40 acres: 110 miles from Tucson: native trees, grasses: birder's heaven::dark sky/ borders state lease & National forest/5100 ft/13-16 per annum rain
  • CENTRAL PARK CULTURAL RESOURCE SPECIALIST
    Agency: Oregon Parks and Recreation Department Salary Range: $5,203 - $7,996 Position Title: Central Park Cultural Resource Specialist Do you have a background in Archaeology...
  • STAFF ATTORNEY
    Come live and work in one of the most beautiful places in the world! As our Staff Attorney you will play a key role in...
  • ARIZONA GRAZING CLEARINGHOUSE
    Dedicated to preventing the ecological degradation caused by livestock grazing on Arizona's public lands, and exposing the government subsidies that support it.
  • OPERATIONS MANAGER
    Position Summary: Friends of the Inyo (friendsoftheinyo.org) is seeking a new Operations Manager. The Operations Manager position is a full-time permanent position that reports directly...
  • WATER RIGHTS BUREAU CHIEF
    Water Rights Bureau Chief, State of Montana, DNRC, Water Resources Division, Helena, MT Working to support and implement the Department's mission to help ensure that...
  • EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
    The Amargosa Conservancy (AC), a conservation nonprofit dedicated to standing up for water and biodiversity in the Death Valley region, seeks an executive director to...
  • DEVELOPMENT & OUTREACH ASSOCIATE
    Southeast Alaska Conservation Council is hiring! Who We Are: The Southeast Alaska Conservation Council (SEACC) is a small grassroots nonprofit based out of Juneau, Alaska,...
  • DESERT LANDS ORGANIZER
    Position Summary: Friends of the Inyo seeks a Desert Lands Organizer to assist with existing campaigns that will defend lands in the California desert, with...
  • IDAHO CONSERVATION LEAGUE
    Want to help preserve Idaho's land, water, and air for future generations? Idaho Conservation League currently has 3 open positions. We are looking for a...
  • LUNATEC ODOR-FREE DISHCLOTHS
    are a must try. They stay odor-free, dry fast, are durable and don't require machine washing. Try today.
  • EVENTS AND ANNUAL FUND COORDINATOR
    The Events and Annual Fund Coordinator is responsible for managing and coordinating the Henry's Fork Foundation's fundraising events for growing the membership base, renewing and...
  • EDUCATION DIRECTOR
    Position Description: The Education Director is the primary leader of Colorado Canyons Association's (CCA) education programs for students and adults on the land and rivers...
  • 10 ACRES OF NEW MEXICO HIGH DESERT
    10 Acres of undeveloped high desert land in central NM, about 45 minutes from downtown Albuquerque. Mixed cedar and piñon pine cover. Some dirt roadways...
  • WATERSHED RESTORATION DIRECTOR
    $58k-$70k + benefits to oversee watershed restoration projects that fulfill our strategic goals across urban and rural areas within the bi-national Santa Cruz and San...