Thursday, November 13, 2008

Jim Stiles and Canyon Country Zephyr both enter new terrain

The new issue of Inside Outside Southwest features a lively profile of Jim Stiles, the rabble-rousing eco-muckraker, and his publication, The Canyon Country Zephyr.

Stiles has been the editor, publisher, columnist, illustrator, ad sales guy, delivery man, etc. for the Zephyr since he founded the monthly magazine in Moab in 1988. Since then, the Zephyr has been both bull horn and bull whip in Stiles' one-man-front in the battle for the Southwest and its beloved deserts and canyonlands.

As a career iconoclast, though, Stiles has managed to torque not only eco-bad guys (whether in business, government, or 36-foot, diesel-powered, rear-duellied RVs). The article, by Jen Jackson, explores how Stiles has in recent years also drawn the ire of big environmental groups, including SUWA, the Sierra Club, and the Wilderness Society, for his unabashed attacks on "Big Environmentalism."

Mostly, though, the article focuses on two big adventures: Stiles' getting married, having a kid, and moving from the American Southwest to southwestern Australia; and the Zephyr's move from a print publication to a web-based publication (somewhat ironic for a magazine whose tagline is "Clinging hopelessly to the past") beginning with the March 2009 issue.

Regardless of his relocation and new forum, Stiles has no intention of pulling back from personal jihad against defilers of the earth:

"If you read the very first issue of the paper, I said my goal was to make the Zephyr a forum for different opinions," Stiles says in the article. "I sought out people who had a different philosophy about land issues and politics so we'd have an interesting conversation. And that's what I've always tried to do, and that's what I'll continue to do."

"When we come online, it's going to start covering a lot more issues than just the Southwest United States," he explains. "I'll be living in the southwest of Australia, and it has a lot of similar problems that we have here. My dream is to put out a publication that covers the southwest parts of two different continents at the same time, in the same issue."

Check out the article here

It's worth noting, as well, that the Zephyr isn't alone in seeking a new route across the badlands of quality regional Western publishing. Mountain Gazette has recently been resold -- the second time in as many years -- and, even though a new issue recently hit the stands, its direction remains uncertain. (Its website hasn't been updated since August.)

Even Inside Outside itself, which recently celebrated its 10th anniversary, is moving to a format that will include both a small but more frequent (going from bi-monthly to monthly) print version, and a more dynamic and lengthy on-line companion version. The first monthly issue will be released in January 2009, and the new online Inside Outside Southwest is expected to debut in February.

1 comment:

  1. Ken - have you seen the great new DVD about Stiles called Brave New West? It's also got an hour-long video of Ed Abbey giving a talk in SLC just a few months before he died.