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The Flat Earth Media 2013 year in review

Flat Earth Media mascot Bode Boyd. Photo courtesy Brian Kraft.

It’s been a good year.

Alexander LaRue Boyd on his birthday.

Alexander LaRue Boyd on his birthday.

Even Bode, the Flat Earth Media mascot, would agree. Like every year, my goals for 2013 included growing the company, but I also sought that delicate balance between personal and professional living. This year I’ve accomplished that goal as well as one could ever hope.

The biggest news, of course, is the arrival of my son Alexander LaRue Boyd, born Aug. 30, 2013. He and I share the middle name, derived from LaRue County Kentucky, where Abraham Lincoln was born and where, apparently, I have some ancestry. He joined his big brother, Tyler Boyd, who turned two Aug. 9, 2013.

Even with two little boys in the family, Bode and I managed to go out bird hunting once or twice this year, and I was able to elk hunt with my brother and dad in our old hunting grounds (read my Rocky Mountain Post version of the story here). My wife, Renee, has been an amazing partner as we moved into a new house, traveled to a remote beach in Mexico, hiked in the mountains, and lead all-around busy lives in 2013.

The Sonoran Institute

It’s a special thing to live in the American West, and it’s the reason I can live the way I do. Dad raised us to have a strong appreciation for the wilderness around us. If we take care of the habitat, we can continue hunting and fishing, and pass on this Western way of life to our children.

That’s why I’m quite proud to be working with the Sonoran Institute. In 2013, I helped create the website, and helped the Sonoran Institute bring people together in communities throughout the West as we face issues of growth and change.

At SI, they understand that there’s no, “one-size-fits-all” way to approach life in the West. At Community Builders, a project of the Sonoran Institute, we provide insight and information that can inform decisions about growth and development, allowing leaders in the private and public sector to do what’s right for the West’s small-town economies. We share stories, we share information, and we work directly with communities that want to strengthen their fiscal foundations while preserving the traditions we all cherish here in the West.

Community Builders screenshot.

Community Builders screenshot.

In short, there’s no reason we can’t have a growing, healthy, economy and still keep our wilderness and ranchlands in good shape. Actually, in the West, healthy habitat and a strong economy are intertwined. By taking care of one, we can take care of the other.

In 2014, the Flat Earth team is redoubling its efforts with SI, bringing on more help from Jeremy, Christina, and others to help tell the stories that inspire us to take care of our unique heritage in the American West.

Valta and Nokero

Building a better future isn’t just limited to the American West. One of the best parts about working with Nokero (in 2010-2012), was meeting some very, very interesting human beings throughout the world, all of whom were focused on bringing renewable energy to the off-grid places that needed it most. Some of these people were famous … and I’ll never forget the half hour I spent on the phone with soccer star Didier Drogba, or the people I worked with on our United Nations subcommittee. I also traveled to the far reaches of Maharashtra, India, and met people whose everyday lives, often in quite primitive conditions, left an indelible mark on me, encouraging me to continue the work of finding real, market-based solutions to our energy problems.

Among the people I met were the folks from Valta. In 2012 I joined the team, and helped bring the Valta product through a critical phase in its development. Although things didn’t go quite as well as we hoped, at least we learned the kinds of valuable lessons that only failure can teach.

Even as the Valta team regrouped, I jumped on board for a quick sojourn with Nokero, helping announce their two latest products, the Huron (N180) and the Start (N180). Solar energy has a lot of momentum right now, but in my opinion, more of this momentum should be directed to small-scale solar like Nokero, which is market-viable, usually does not require government subsidy, and also has potential to lift people from the darkness of energy poverty. More than a quarter of the world’s population live without electricity – which means they burn very harmful, polluting kerosene for light. It was a pleasure to work  again with Nokero (which stands for “No-Kerosene”) and I hope Flat Earth will always play some small role in the company’s work as it seeks to bring renewable energy to some of the most impoverished regions on earth.

The Denver Post

Writing is at the core of Flat Earth Media’s activities. An old friend of mine, now a college professor, used to say that he loved writing in all its forms, from the most complex academic dissertation to the simplest sticky note on the refrigerator. Long or short, simple or complicated, all writing is a form of that lovely communication from one place to another, saying: “I’m here, and this is what it’s like. How is it over there for you?”

My brother's bull elk photo that ran with my story in the Denver Post.

My brother’s bull elk photo that ran with my story in the Denver Post.

This year, I was able to tell a few stories in one of my favorite forums, the Denver Post. During my time at the Rocky Mountain News, I was able to write about most everything, from politics to energy, entertainment to education. These days, I’m limited to hunting and fishing in the big metros but, hey, there are worse fates. Enjoy these quick newspaper stories at your leisure:

Colorado fly tyers are giants in a tiny field

Ecosystems survive just fine after floods, but will look different.

No bull: Hunting elk not just about trophies

The Understories: An adventure in self-publishing

The UnderstoriesFor years, my dad and I have gathered around the table up at his cabin, way up in the woods, and put some of his old stories down on paper. He’s lived an interesting life, migrating from a farm in Ohio to Colorado in the 50s, then moving to Aspen in 1957. Such a move was quite unheard of in those days. Dad joined Aspen ski patrol sometime in the late 50s, and then joined Vail’s patrol in the ski area’s second season, 1963.

There are a lot of tales, tall and short, long and small, that he put together into a book called, “The Understories: A patrolman’s tales of life in the early days of Vail and Aspen.” I gave a “light” edit to the book, so as to preserve the author’s original intent. Then I collected photos and stories from dad’s old patrol buddies, put them together in Adobe InDesign, raised a bit of money (thanks to Weed and Chupa!) and sent them off to the printer here in Denver. We built a website, did a bit of promotion, and voila! Dad’s now a local legend (as if he wasn’t already) and enjoying life as a published author.

The Rocky Mountain Post

RMP logoOnce in a while you have a moment where everything clicks. This autumn I had one of those moments. My old friends at were wondering what to do with our six-year-old news and information websites for Vail and Aspen. In the meantime, I was wondering where else I could/would continue publishing my writing and photography, while at the same time cut loose my web development team on a new project.

The answer was clear:

With a bit of work, and a lot of late nights, the Flat Earth Media team put together and launched a beta version of the site this November. There is a lot – a lot – going on with this site right now, and many paths forward from here, all of which lead to very interesting, engaging places. In the meantime, my partners and I have a place to publish our writing, and other work that we find interesting to folks living, working, and playing in the Rocky Mountain West.

All I can say now is that there’s more to come…

Matt Inden Photography

matt Inden photoIt’s extremely difficult to succeed as a landscape photographer. Each image needs to stand out, light up the mind, and transport a viewer to the exact moment in time and space where the image was captured. To do this, photographer Matt Inden travels far and wide to find those rare moments when light and landscape combine to create some of our planet’s most beautiful moments. He combines vintage, large-format photography with modern digital and print techniques to create images with incredibly detailed resolution.

This allows for quality printing of very large format pictures. It gives the viewer the feeling that you could step right into the landscape before you. Partly because of this, and partly because of his artistic eye, Matt has set himself apart and become one of the Rocky Mountains’ most well-known photographers.

It’s been a pleasure working with Matt, helping present his work in the right context, and building a new website where we can showcase his updated work to his growing audience. Although he’s based in Vail, most of his clients live elsewhere, and discovered his work while on vacation, or visiting a second home. To help Matt stay in touch, we are building a new and improved website at

Peak 7 Vodka

Peak7 Vodka

What’s a toast to the new year without fine spirits? I was fortunate enough to work on the launch of a new, Colorado-made Vodka called Peak 7, and after many, many samplings I can attest that it’s as fine a vodka as I’ve ever tasted. Usually, a vodka of that quality must be shipped from the far side of the planet, burning valuable resources along the way. By supporting locally-made products like Peak 7, we not only allow ourselves access to fine cocktails, we also help reduce fossil fuels used in the shipping process. Distilled in Denver, Peak 7 has quickly become the spirit of choice in bars and restaurants around the state.

Latin Vail Magazine

I have to admit, when I first got a call from Scherezada Milfeld, I spent most of the call trying to figure out how to pronounce her name. After a few more discussions, I knew Scherezada had the energy and flourish necessary to start a magazine in the Vail Valley.

I know from experience that it isn’t easy. I was part of a failed attempt to start a Vail Valley magazine in 2008. But Scherezada had an excellent business plan, and carried through to the very end, creating a very nice first edition that came out this November.

I was happy to be a part of it, and contribute some of my writing and “local” insight to the magazine’s all-Spanish-language pages.

Colorado Tourism Guide

Perhaps the most enjoyable assignments of the year came from Hannah at Miles Partnership, who asked me to once again contribute to the Colorado Official State Vacation Guide. I have a strong allegiance to the state of Colorado, so it’s second-nature for me to step into the role of “guide” and help show people around our state, so to speak, using the written word as my medium. Hannah was merciful and patient with me as I grappled with the scheduling difficulties that come part-and-parcel with a new baby, and in the end we managed to put together yet another set of stories that will help the state of Colorado put its best foot forward.

Students Shoulder to Shoulder

The faculty at my small, K-12 school, were an extension of my family, and they remain so today. Peter Abuisi, Bob Bandoni, David Schindel, Oliver Compton, Steve Gordon, Bill Haft, Dr. Numerof, Janet Corbin, Jeanne Macsata, and many others provided me with a lifelong love of learning and a strong ethical foundation. Only now, looking back, do I realize how fortunate I was to have this kind of education as a youth.

That’s why I jumped at the opportunity to work with Bob Bandoni and his organization, Students Shoulder to Shoulder. The only thing more enjoyable than reminiscing about the past is talking about the future with Bob. He is without question the most charismatic person I’ve  ever known personally, and to help him in any small way, as he and his team take on the monumental task of preparing youths for a future in global citizenship, has been one of the great joys of this past year.

This website

And, of course, I finally managed to get this website up and live. Updates are coming soon, but at least we have a basic framework up and running for the time being.

What’s up for 2014?

How could we possibly top such an interesting, fruitful year? Well, I have a few things in mind that could lift Flat Earth media up to the next level. Bode and I make a great team, but we wouldn’t have been able to do all of the above without the excellent work of my colleagues. We’ll see how things shake out over the next few weeks and months – and hopefully our next announcements will involve new projects, and new team members, who will be part of the great stories of 2014.

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