Vail Daily’s 7 questions with Meredith Ogilby |

Vail Daily’s 7 questions with Meredith Ogilby

Bessie Lynch
Vail, CO Colorado

VAIL VALLEY, Colorado –The American West is a place of extraordinary beauty and broad open spaces. It is also a place of complex history and culture, one that is ever changing and evolving with the tides of our nation as a whole.

In more recent times political views are shifting, and changing attitudes about conservation and battles over natural resources are shedding light on our region at the national level. It seems even more important to define for ourselves what the term Western encompasses.

Four years ago, Meredith Ogilby and Corinne Platt, two Western women, set out to create a “panoramic view of today’s West,” to explore the meaning of the West. They traveled more than 1,000 miles in rain and snow, getting lost at least three times, to meet with and interview 49 fellow Westerners. What they created is a collection of narratives and photographs that begins a dialogue about the convergence of past, present and future in our region.

Their new book, “Voices of the American West,” brings together a diverse group of visionary men and women who may differ in politics but remain united in their belief that the West requires inspired action if it is going to endure future challenges.

Meredith Ogilby returns to the Vail Valley on Tuesday for a stop at The Bookworm to talk about “Voices of the American West,” and the challenges our region faces. We caught up with her to talk a bit about what the West means to her.

Participate in The Longevity Project

The Longevity Project is an annual campaign to help educate readers about what it takes to live a long, fulfilling life in our valley. This year Kevin shares his story of hope and celebration of life with his presentation Cracked, Not Broken as we explore the critical and relevant topic of mental health.

1. What prompted you to bring together such an eclectic group of people to portray the Western U.S.?

Many of these individuals are well-known innovative thinkers who are featured a lot in books and magazines, or are leaders in their fields. In addition to these visionaries, we tried to throw in some surprises, curve balls – young voices who haven’t been encountered and who are also doing great things. We tried to capture the great diversity in the West.

2. Did you worry about leaving anyone out?

We could have added so many additional people. We also didn’t cover all the issues facing us in the West – the timber industry, hard rock mining, river restoration, to name a few. It’s important to say that this is just a highlighting, a sampling of all the good work that is being done in the West, not a comprehensive work.

3. Is there one of your contributors who you most identify with?

All of them. Corinne and I would come away from each interview enchanted, full of hope and excitement and inspiration, determined to make each voice heard. I should add that many of these individuals have become dear friends: Randy Udall, Auden Schendler, Katie Lee, Ed and Betsy Marston, Doc and Connie Hatfield, Terry Tempest Williams, Connie Harvey and Joy Caudill, to name a few.

4. When you were traveling, did you come across a place you didn’t know about?

The Malpai Borderlands in Douglas, Ariz., which is the very southeastern tip of Arizona, bordering Mexico to the south and New Mexico to the east. This is arid country yet it has it’s own beauty, framed by the Peloncillo and Chiricahua mountains.

5. What’s your favorite area in the West?

You mean, in addition to the Gore Range at sunset or the back side of Mt. Sopris any day of the week? This changes from day to day, but dropping down along the Wind River into Dubois, Wyo. on Highway 26 in the early morning light is on my top 5 list.

6. The text of your book has a very conversational style and cadence. Was this intentional?

We like the informality of the conversational style vs. the wordiness of an essay. We hoped that conversation, without any editorial comments from us, combined with black-and-white photographs, would speak to the reader on multiple levels. We wanted to give you a sense of the person, not just his or her vision. To paraphrase Terry Tempest Williams, we have always communicated as human beings through listening, conversation and stories.

7. What does your “panoramic view of today’s West” include?

A panoramic view, I think, is an unobstructed view in every direction. By revealing these faces and stories, we have shared that panoramic view with our readers. Our subjects featured here are part of a large community of people on the ground restructuring the way the West works. We have attempted to combine these voices, conversations, visions and solutions in one body of work, hoping that the chorus of these voices will provide a synergy and impetus for others to search and commit to solutions for the future of this region.

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