Paddling Idaho (Falcon Books)

Paddling Idaho (Falcon Books)

Paddling is a way of life in Idaho. The state oozes with huge, unspoiled watersheds full of gentle headwaters streams and challenging, roiling whitewater. Rafts, kayaks and canoes are as common on or behind the cars coursing Idaho’s highways as camp trailers and roof-top carriers. Increasingly there are touring kayaks and stand-up paddleboards plying Idaho’s waterways and lakes—and highways—as well.

“With apologies to the potato,” writes Boise journalist and whitewater kayaker Joe Carberry, “Idaho is arguably most famous for its rivers.”

Western Perspective Principal Greg Stahl has been canoeing, rafting and whitewater kayaking Idaho's rivers and lakes for nearly 20 years and was thrilled to have the opportunity to write "Paddling Idaho," a 296-page guide to the state's best paddling routes.

Newsletter Editor (Idaho Rivers United)

Newsletter Editor (Idaho Rivers United)

A small business’s effectiveness is only as good as its ability to communicate with its constituents about the work it produces, and at Idaho Rivers United a distinct part of that communication comes in the form of a three- to four-times-per year newsletter.

Since November 2008 it has been our responsibility to plan, assign and edit the newsletter in order to make sure that communication happens in a clear and compelling way.

  • Click here to read the December 2015 issue. (Of note, we helped usher the organization through two major redesigns, one in 2010 and another in 2015.)

Website edit (Apex Leaders)

Website edit (Apex Leaders)

A forward-thinking private equity investment firm, Apex Leaders is a staple in the downtown Boise business community. We were excited to be brought on board in 2014 to edit and put finishing touches on the company's year-long website redesign. Click here to visit the Apex Leaders website.

Website copywriting (Thomas Development Co.)

Website copywriting (Thomas Development Co.)

From drafting pithy taglines to repackaging this Boise developer's extensive portfolio of residential and commercial developments, and a whole lot more, we were integral to the year-long process of redesigning the Thomas Development website in 2013 and 2014.

A collaborative project with Ibis Northwest and Consilio Business Managers, the redesign included extensive research and team coordination using the Asana task management platform.

  • Click here to visit the Thomas Development Co. website.

Website copywriting (Northwest Integrity Housing Co.)

Website copywriting (Northwest Integrity Housing Co.)

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Northwest Integrity Housing Co. is an Idaho-based nonprofit working to make the West’s cities more livable by building housing that’s within reach of all of a community’s residents.

For three moths in 2013, we worked as part of a multidisciplinary team to give this budding organization a compelling online presence. We interviewed the company’s board members, sharpened its messaging, wrote website copy and taglines, and managed team tasks using an online task management program.

Listen to the river (Idaho Mountain Express newspaper)

Listen to the river (Idaho Mountain Express newspaper)

In this column for the Idaho Mountain Express newspaper, we discusses the limits of the West’s most precious natural resource.

The summer view from atop Bald Mountain tells the story about the West’s most valuable natural resource. Ribbons of verdant cottonwood trees weave along the valley floor, surrounded by grids of homes and ornamental vegetation pockets and parks. The green valley provides a sharp contrast to the surrounding brown hillsides—a disparity that is the story of water in the West.

“Desert, semi-desert, call it what you will. The point is that despite heroic efforts and many billions of dollars, all we have managed to do in the arid West is turn a Missouri-size section green—and that conversion has been wrought mainly with nonrenewable groundwater,” writes Marc Reisner in his landmark examination of Western water use, Cadillac Desert—The American West and Its Disappearing Water.

Idaho’s streams and rivers are veins and arteries that pump through a parched landscape and give life to its people and creatures. Half of Idaho’s resident birds use rivers for nesting, and riparian areas are home to 70 percent of all plants and animals in arid parts of the state like the Wood River Valley. But water is as crucial to Idaho’s people as it is to its prodigious natural landscape.

Standing on the Shoulders of Giants named Idaho’s top magazine feature of 2012

Standing on the Shoulders of Giants named Idaho’s top magazine feature of 2012

The Sawtooth National Recreation Area of central Idaho is widely considered the Gem State’s crown jewel. On Friday, May 18, the Idaho Press Club honored the story, Standing on the Shoulders of Giants,  as Idaho’s top magazine feature of 2012. The story chronicles the men and women who created the SNRA.

To date, Western Perspective Principal Greg Stahl has been honored 53 times by state, regional and national journalism organizations, and this recent accolade constitutes his fourth such recognition for magazine writing. Meanwhile, the same issue of Sun Valley Guide helped the magazine achieve top honors for the state’s best magazine.

By way of further background, the Sawtooth National Recreation Area is widely considered the Gem State’s crown jewel, and the story is told on the management area’s 40th birthday. It is a unique composite of more than 40 peaks over 10,000 feet in elevation, picturesque valleys, high alpine lakes, forests and free-flowing rivers. It is home to 327 fish and mammal species, including reintroduced gray wolves, endangered salmon, mountain goats, lynx, mountain lions and wolverines.

  • Click here to read Standing on the Shoulders of Giants.

Sawtooth Salmon Festival website (Idaho Rivers United)

Sawtooth Salmon Festival website (Idaho Rivers United)

Each summer, salmon and steelhead travel from the Pacific Ocean to the high elevation spawning habitat of central Idaho, 900 miles inland and nearly 7,000 feet above sea-level. Every summer, Idaho Rivers United hosts a celebration of  these miraculous fish in Stanley, Idaho.

In the winter of 2013, we set out to rebuild the event website from the bottom up, and that included drafting new search engine optimized copy, selecting and editing photographs, implementing a database-driven WordPress website and building the site’s core architecture.

Snow Sense (Sun Valley Guide magazine)

Snow Sense (Sun Valley Guide magazine)

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Every fall for 45 years, Rich Bingham has looked to the skies over Sun Valley in anticipation. As days grow short and trees turn gold, his excitement mounts.

There’s a palpable and understated inevitability to the arrival of winter in the mountains. The cycle of the seasons dictates life here, and no single season is as synonymous with Sun Valley as winter. Snowflakes have been changing lives in Sun Valley since the resort was founded 76 years ago. “I started getting excited a month ago,” Bingham said in early October. “I’ve been doing it so long I’ve learned to be patient, but I’m definitely thinking about another winter on Baldy.”

Bingham has worked on the Sun Valley Ski Patrol since fall 1967. As snow safety department director, his responsibilities include weather and avalanche forecasting, and avalanche control on Bald Mountain, so he’s always got an eye trained on the sky. He’s learned not to get uptight about Mother Nature’s fickle sensibilities. Sometimes it snows, sometimes it doesn’t. But when the jet stream drops out of Canada and begins pumping swirling masses of Pacific-born moisture into the Rocky Mountains, his demeanor changes as he prepares for another winter on what he describes as “a special mountain.”

Plentiful snow equals excellent skiing and snowboarding, but it also means improved spring runoff, and green, healthy forests in the summer. And each falling snowflake translates directly into improved financial vitality for the communities nestled at Bald Mountain’s base.

From its celebrated founding to present day, Sun Valley Resort has been dependent on snowy winter seasons. In a world in which climate patterns are increasingly erratic—exemplified by super storms like October’s Hurricane Sandy, heightened Western wildfire seasons and the historic April 2011 outbreak of tornadoes in the Southeast—most climate scientists agree that change is afoot. What it means for weather-dependent communities and resorts, however, is a plot yet to be completely written. “Long-term trends are kind of all over the place,” Bingham said. “With the influences changing so much, with the arctic oscillation and sea ice and temperatures—the weather is less predictable, with stronger and more erratic storms when they do happen.”

  • Click here to read more of this 2,500-word feature about the tradition of snow in central Idaho–and what climate change could mean for the future of skiing.

The Snow Inside Me (Amazon Kindle)

The Snow Inside Me (Amazon Kindle)

In a fraction of a second at 5:05 p.m. on January 7, 1984, the sleepy Appalachian berg of Huntingdon, Pennsylvania lost a promise: one boy gone, another left behind and the rearranged topography of a moment frozen in time.

Author publicity (Idaho Rivers United)

Author publicity (Idaho Rivers United)

Published by Boston-based Beacon Press in March 2011, Recovering a Lost River is author Steven Hawley’s first book, a volume that chronicles the Pacific Northwest’s politics, economics, ecology and culture. And it’s a book that centers significantly on the state of Idaho.

In 2012, Western Perspective Principal Greg Stahl organized eight speaking engagements and readings for Hawley that included Boise, Sun Valley, Stanley, Salmon, McCall, Moscow and Coeur d’Alene. That work involved booking venues, generating advanced publicity, ordering books, delivering introductory speeches and introducing the author. And, along the way, it involved making a friend in this smart, well-researched and witty author.

Growing With the Flow (Idaho Rivers United)

Growing With the Flow (Idaho Rivers United)

Throughout parts of 2011 and 2012 Western Perspective Principal Greg Stahl worked as Editor in Chief of a 109-page collection of short stories and poetry titled "Growing With the Flow," published by Idaho Rivers United in September 2012.

As project lead, he solicited and edited stories, managed the editing process and designed the book’s cover (as well as contributed a work of fiction).

As with any collaborative project, the collection is the sum of the efforts of its contributors, and there were many. Notably, IRU member Bob Finkbine gave birth to the idea and rallied to make it happen. His expertise from publishing a number of works was invaluable to the process. Also importantly, the project would not have come to fruition without College of Idaho intern Annie Morrison’s excellent copyediting.

In putting the book together, the team set its sights on celebrating the beauty, enjoyment and range of emotions that Idaho’s rivers elicit. Due in no small part to the project’s contributors that goal was achieved.

Homeland chief warns of long fire season (Idaho Mountain Express newspaper)

Homeland chief warns of long fire season (Idaho Mountain Express newspaper)

The nation’s top official responsible for disaster response visited Boise Tuesday, July 3, and said it’s time for Westerners to brace for a long, hot wildfire season.

Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano spent Tuesday afternoon at the National Interagency Fire Center in Boise, where the nation’s leading fire commanders and scientists briefed her and Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack on the conditions that have led to one of the most destructive wildfire seasons in years. Idaho Gov. Butch Otter joined the briefing.

“We were looking at the extensive amount of interagency cooperation that goes into planning for fire season, making…”

Click here to read the whole article, written for the Idaho Mountain Express newspaper.

The Most Interesting Fish in the World (Idaho Rivers United)

The Most Interesting Fish in the World (Idaho Rivers United)

In 2012 Western Perspective Principal Greg Stahl had the great fortune to head up a team of passionate activists working to shed more light on the plight of the Pacific Northwest’s endangered wild salmon. The diverse four-month multimedia campaign included a thorough public relations effort that resulted in stories in the Seattle Times, National Geographic NewsWatch, National Public Radio, Idaho Statesman and Idaho Public Television, among others. It also included creation of a website and implementation of an intensive social media campaign that, at its peak, reached thousands of viewers per day. It also included scripting, editing and production of radio ads that ran throughout the state of Idaho.

To be sure, it was a team effort. Extensive credit is due to copywriter Jessica Holmes; graphic designer Bethany Walter; Idaho Rivers United board members Andy Munter, Tom Stuart and Kathleen Fahey; College of Idaho interns Annie Morrison and Joe Pickett and to all of the staff at Idaho Rivers United who helped make it happen. As project lead, Stahl assigned tasks to the project’s talented contributors, edited website and radio ad copy, drafted and distributed press releases and fact sheets and managed two interns who pounded the pavement to make the project gel.

  • Check out the website.
  • Read the original press release.
  • Follow Lonesome Larry’s Facebook page.

Standing on the Shoulders of Giants (Sun Valley Guide magazine)

Standing on the Shoulders of Giants (Sun Valley Guide magazine)

For the summer 2012 issue of Sun Valley Guide magazine, on the 40th anniversary of the SNRA’s founding, Cannady and Western Perspective Principal Greg Stahl joined forces to retell the story of how Idaho’s most prized landscape was preserved.

Ed Cannady walks on the shoulders of giants.

Sculpted lean by decades of backcountry travel, he’s a man with a passion for Idaho’s celebrated Sawtooth National Recreation Area that weaves through the fabric of who he is.

As the SNRA’s backcountry recreation manager, Cannady has what he calls “an intense 40-year relationship” with the SNRA’s craggy mountains and swift-running streams. What he won’t say is that he knows the SNRA’s subtleties and struggles as well as anyone. He arrived for a backpacking trip in 1973, a year after the 756,000 acres of U.S. Forest Service land were protected, and his heart has been struck through with the place ever since.

“I wasn’t born in this place, but I was born for this place,” Cannady said. “There’s never been a doubt. When I go there and find a nice spot with a view or flowers or whatever, I’m able to slow down, breathe and slow my pace a little bit. There’s a magic quality to that. These places make me want to be better than I am.”

“Better than I am.” A humble man and his place. A place that’s an awful lot better than it might have been.

And that has everything to do with the giants on whose shoulders Cannady walks. Forty years ago this August their efforts fell short of creating Idaho’s only national park while succeeding at protecting 756,000 acres of timelessly beautiful mountains, rivers and ranchland as Idaho’s first national recreation area. In the annals of the United States’ well-documented legacy of public land conservation, they’re some of the most monumental unsung heroes of their time.

“They’re the nobility here,” Cannady said. “I’m just trying to be worthy of their efforts.”

  • Click here to see Cannady’s photographs and read the story, Standing on the Shoulders of Giants.
  • Click here to read the sidebar, How a Photographer Saved a Mountain.

Working Strong (Consilio Business Managers)

Working Strong (Consilio Business Managers)

During winter 2012 Western Perspective Principal Greg Stahl completed a professional, polished copywriting project for Consilio Business Managers, a Boise-based business consultant. The beautifully-designed 18-page report was a staff analysis commissioned by a local business. The report seeks to deliver clarity to the team’s strengths and motivational triggers using analysis and team recommendations on how to adjust team dynamics as the business matures.

The report introduction follows:

It goes without saying that any company is comprised of the people inherent to the organization. Each person is a valuable and constructive piece of the whole, and each person’s strengths lend to the overall strength and success of the company. When strengths are nurtured a business thrives because of the diversity of intellectual and emotional skills at work. Strengths are the multi-colored threads that weave together to form a sturdy tapestry on which a company’s work is built.

When a business’s culture is stitched from a strength based philosophy, its work becomes more efficient and more effective. Staff engagement increases six-fold, and that translates into sustained client relationships, high-quality product delivery, a vibrant and constructive ethos and reduced staff turnover. With the cost of hiring and training a team member between two to five times their salary, the benefits of a strength based approach using existing staff ’s intrinsic assets are conclusive.

Those Dammed Salmon (Voices for Biodiversity)

Those Dammed Salmon (Voices for Biodiversity)

The Tendoy Store on the banks of eastern Idaho’s Lemhi River is a place arrested in time and frozen in the annals of the Pacific Northwest’s rich salmon fishing heritage. Among the small general store’s charming clutter are groceries, t-shirts, tube socks, post office boxes and a small assortment of dry flies mounted to a white sheet of cardboard.

For more than sixty of her ninety-two years, Viola Anglin has owned and operated the Tendoy Store, but those decades have come with unexpected and unwelcome change. Anglin misses the long-ago mornings when salmon fishermen swarmed her wares, buying salmon eggs and filling up on enough calories to sustain them during days casting lines on the Lemhi.

“I was an angry old lady when the salmon fishing was no more,” she said. “I had loved it and made a terrific living in those days. But when it was gone…”

  • Click here to read more of this 5,000-word feature, written for Izilwane, an anthropological e-zine that works on “connecting the human animal to the global ecosystem.”

Broken, An interview with author Lisa Jones (Voices for Biodiversity)

Broken, An interview with author Lisa Jones (Voices for Biodiversity)

In the first chapter of her memoir, Broken: A Love Story, Lisa Jones elicits both laughter and tears. This might simply be the mark of a strong writer’s ability to connect with her readers’ base emotions, but the theme of opposites is something that also threads the book.

The two sides of a man’s personality. Suffering and redemption. Death and life. A face that’s half-burned, half not. And the plain contrast between the comforts of developed Colorado and the stark, windswept poverty of the Wind River Reservation in central Wyoming.

Broken very much incorporates the yin and the yang, but to focus entirely on dichotomies would be to miss the point.”It wasn’t intentional in any conscious way,” Jones said in a March 2011 interview from her home in Boulder, Colorado. “That’s very similar to Stanford Addison’s…”

  • Click here to read more of this story, written for Voices for Biodiversityan anthropological e-zine that works on “connecting the human animal to the global ecosystem.”

Salmon Stories (Idaho Rivers United)

Sometimes we have the great fortune to work with extremely talented partners to make ambitious projects shine, and that was the case with Salmon Stories, an interactive video project I helped complete for Idaho Rivers United.

In Salmon Stories, 11 Idahoans discuss during brief video interviews why salmon are important to their businesses, to Idaho’s ecology and to the region’s cultural heritage. Located at the IRU website, the project can also be accessed by going to www.idahorivers.org and clicking “Protecting Salmon,” then “Salmon Stories: Video Tour of Idaho” and clicking the featured cities.

As project lead, I assisted with video scripting and script editing, and completed copywriting for the website and public relations materials. But the project goes far beyond my writing, editing or project administration. It was conceived and initiated by former IRU staff member Amanda Peacher, and were it not for the superb videography, storytelling abilities and video editing by Skip Armstrong it’s clear it would not have come to fruition.

As with all collaborative projects, Salmon Stories is a success for everyone to contributed to it. But I am proud to have worked on something so creative and compelling.

Click here to go to Salmon Stories.
Click here to read my press release.
Click here to read a feature story, published by Izilwane, that was derived directly from Salmon Stories.

Why Wilderness (Habitat magazine)

Why Wilderness (Habitat magazine)

From an eagle's vantage, it looks like a great, crumpled piece of paper that someone tried halfheartedly to flatten. In the brushed glow of early morning, the wrinkled topography of central Idaho creases the horizon. There's no end in sight. It is big country filled with big mountains and big, wild places.

Like much of the West, Idaho is a land of staggering beauty, but it's also a place of biological and philosophical integrity: intact forest and high-desert ecosystems threaded by clean, cold, free-flowing rivers. It's a land of wilderness and wildness, where man has set at least some of the wild aside so all living creatures might benefit. "Wilderness, in contrast with those areas where man and his own works dominate the landscape," states the Wilderness Act of 1964, "is hereby recognized as an area where the earth and community of life are untrammeled by man, where man himself is a visitor who does not remain." 

What that means is wilderness set aside by Congress is a place where man cannot tread with anything heavier than his boots. He may enter, but his machines may not. Wilderness, then, with its intact wildlife habitats, is a vital ecological reservoir, a spiritual well for those seeking solace and silence and a significant part of the fabric of who we are.

But as the discussion about wilderness continues to mature in the 21st century, particularly in political circles, it is clear that aspects of the Wilderness Act are often overlooked. In setting aside wilderness, humans recognize something of value that's bigger than they are. More than any access issue, this is the foundation upon which the modern-day idea of wilderness is built.

"This ecocentric argument for wilderness centers on the proposition that human interests are not the paramount concern," wrote historian Roderick Frazier Nash in his seminal book Wilderness and the American Mind. "Wilderness is not for us at all. We should allow it to exist out of respect for the intrinsic values of the rest of nature and particularly for the life forms dependent on wild habitats."

One of the last continental states to be settled by Europeans, Idaho is synonymous with wilderness. With 4.9 million acres in 12 congressionally designated wilderness areas, some of the finest and wildest wilderness areas in America are located here. The state's center is a giant doughnut hole of wild land, and only a handful of roads invade its wild heart.

The late Sen. Frank Church, an Idaho Democrat, was a key sponsor of both the Wilderness Act and the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act. The Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness Area, Idaho's 2.4-million-acre centerpiece, was renamed in the senator's honor.

Wilderness, Church told a northern Idaho newspaper in 1961 while campaigning for the Wilderness Act's passage, "has nothing to do with economics. It has to do with philosophy … . It is our moral responsibility that some of the heritage we have had as Westerners is protected for future generations."

This is in line with the stated positions of many wilderness proponents, and is in step with statements issued by Congressman Mike Simpson, an Idaho Republican who has been working for the past decade to designate as wilderness more than 300,000 acres in the Boulder and White Cloud mountains north of Sun Valley.
"I don't believe there's anybody who's seen this who doesn't think we should protect it," Simpson said during an August afternoon near Big Boulder Creek in the White Cloud Mountains in 2006. "The solitude here is just—you almost need to come out from the hustle and bustle of the rest of the world to find yourself … I think the value of wilderness is going to increase over the years. I think future generations will look back and say, ‘Thank God somebody protected these areas so that we could enjoy them.'"

These are the modern manifestations of the long and tangled history that has molded the idea of wilderness, a concept invented by civilization and still rolling across the American psyche in an evolving intellectual wave. It was at the end of the American frontier in the late 1800s that the scarcity of wild country began to increase its value. The intellectual topography was ready for the vanguard of philosophers and activists who began to consider that nature might merit rights to existence completely independent of its use to people.

"The West of which I speak is but another name for the Wild; and what I have been preparing to say is, that in Wilderness is the preservation of the World," wrote Henry David Thoreau in his 1862 essay Walking. "Every tree sends its fibres forth in search of the Wild. The cities import it at any price. Men plow and sail for it. From the forest and wilderness come the tonics and barks which brace mankind."

Wilderness isn't about us or them or whether it's fair that people wearing shoes can access it while those on bicycles cannot. Wilderness is a refined way of thinking about humankind's relationship with nature and offers an alternative to our historic domination and conquest.

"At the heart of the new, ecocentric rationale for wilderness is respect for this larger community of life and process," Nash wrote. "So wilderness preservation has become, finally, a gesture of planetary humility."