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  September/October 1997 Features:
Hold Nothing Back
Heat Wave
Pockets of Paradise
Field Guide
Ways & Means
Good Going
Way to Go
Hearth & Home
Lay of the Land
Home Front
Natural Resources
Last Words

Sierra Magazine
Field Guide: A Full Palette

By Editor-in-chief Joan Hamilton

We've been redesigning Sierra over the past six months, and with this issue our work is nearly complete. We've added new departments such as "Lay of the Land," "Home Front," "Natural Resources," and "Photo Op," and reinvigorated our type and art to make a better, more contemporary magazine. Everyone on our staff has contributed ideas, as have dozens of readers. But the bulk of the work has fallen on the Sierra art department.

The term "department" is a little misleading. Sierra's look is crafted by a part-time staff of two, art director Martha Geering and designer Nina Moore. Geering's challenge was to figure out how to translate vague editorial exhortations (Make it more daring! And more lively! And easier to read!) into vivid images. Moore's task was to help with the production of the new design, making sure all the details were carefully executed.

You may recall our old "Priorities" department: three environmental news articles, well written but sparsely illustrated and loaded with grim, gray type. The stories tapped the power of words, but seldom the power of images, saying in effect, "Only the most dedicated shall enter here." Geering and Moore helped us devise a news department that is just as informative but more inviting. "Lay of the Land".

In our travel and domestic-ecology departments, "Good Going," "Hearth & Home," and "Way to Go", Geering and freelance designer Dian-Aziza Ooka concocted eye-pleasing ways to satisfy hurried browsers by incorporating bold titles, more colorful type, and illustrated information boxes. New hues also add to the lively look: a slate blue, an earthy red, a beaming yellow, and a fresh bright green.

To help you take a stand, we've introduced "Crimes Against Nature," a column that will alert you to a top-priority conservation battle each issue. Our new "Natural Resources" department provides activist tools, too, in the form of reviews of Web sites, videos, and books, plus a column called "Mythbuster" that dissects conventional wisdom about environmental issues. Throughout, we are highlighting the fascinating people who enjoy, explore, and protect the planet, whether they are the activists heralded in "Home Front", the luminaries quoted in "Last Words", or the magazine-makers described here. Saving for last what you may have noticed first, we have a taller, stronger Sierra logo on our cover, devised by Geering and logo designer Jim Parkinson.

Magazine guru and former New York magazine editor Clay Felker warns that a headstrong art director can take a magazine "right off a cliff." That may be true at some publications, but here, Geering routinely moves us to new heights.

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