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Desert Companion

Home bound

I don’t imagine him as the biggest fan of spring, that T.S. Eliot, famously bumming on April as the cruelest month for nudging us with its primeval mandate for seasonal metamorphosis. Growth is hard. Change is tough. (Why you do us like that, April?) Particularly when it comes to our zones of comfort, our soft spots where a shell of sturdiness and stability matters: You know, like our homes.

I’m not talking about the hassle of breaking out the Swiffer for a session of spring cleaning, but something more fundamental. Still bobbing in the wake of the housing bubble’s big pop — what’s it been, five years now? — the idea of home seems to be on our minds a lot lately, as investments (and as liabilities) both emotional and financial. With spring, construction machines tentatively wake up at the valley’s edges; the urb pioneers continue to seek shelter close to the city’s center; and recent seances among real estate experts produce prognoses refreshingly void of any freaky, suspect exuberance. (Though, as Eliot wrote, with spring comes uncomfortable change, too: In legislative offices and the hallways of local governments, there are murmurs about budget shortfalls due to the property tax cap, and discussions of whether we tightened the spigot too much, securing our homes but shortchanging the future.) Considered in that context, our feature “Room with a you” (p. 71) is more than a virtual tour of novel Nevada homes. Instead, it’s a tour of ideas about what else a home can be — an art museum, an archive, a laboratory, an architectural commentary. The spirit of spring is present elsewhere in this issue as well: in new scientific discoveries by a UNLV researcher (p. 36), in the sometimes harrowing personal discoveries of an avid hiker (p. 56) and, most beautifully, in our “In bloom” fashion spread on p. 82. Also, there are lots of plants to eat on p. 64. Whatever, Eliot. More like the coolest month.

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In our own house, so to speak, we’ve been doing some sprucing up as well. You’ll notice a new look in this issue. That’s the fruit of the tireless work of Art Director Christopher Smith, whose redesign of the magazine is much, much more than just a new coat of paint. You’ll see at once that our new design is fresher, bolder and more emphatic — and, best of all, more readable — reflecting Desert Companion’s own continuing growth and evolution. (And to those vocal readers whose campaign of complaint about our possibly overzealous use of light cyan type threatened to reach a pitch of savage Euripedean frenzy: We have heard your pleas!)

Calling all pro photo hounds, hobbyist shutterbugs, casual point-and-shooters and hopelessly addicted Instagrammers who see the world through the storm-cloud cast of a Sutro filter: May 5 is the deadline for our second annual “Focus on Nevada” photo contest. Last year’s inaugural contest was so successful, we decided to change everything. I’m kidding! But we did do some tuning up: We introduced subject categories — such as People, Landscapes and Artistic — to help inspire your photographer’s eye. This year, we’re also conscripting a diverse group of judges to determine the best shots in every category based on their visual impact, technical skill and creativity; the judges represent a broad swath of visual savvy in the valley, from photographers and designers to artists and architects. Finally, for would-be entrants who are afraid of signing their images’ lives away by entering the contest, we’ve tweaked the fine print; see the official rules for all the legalese-drizzled details. But what hasn’t changed: Great prizes, a chance to share your personal vision of the visual increditude of Nevada, and publication in our June photo issue. Questions? Email us at

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