New Hats in Elko

Hi, I’m Devon the intern. I’m not from around here.  You might not guess it from my Taft-esque moustache and brass Wild Turkey belt buckle, but if you ask me, sure, I’ll admit it: I’m from California. San Francisco even. I’m no gold miner, buckaroo or anything close to a cowboy poet. But I am a fan of interesting slices of American culture and a pretty adaptable dude. Maybe that’s why I finished college, packed up and moved to Elko, Nevada for an AmeriCorps internship with the Western Folklife Center.

I’ve only been here since August, and I’ve never even been to a Gathering, but – from the WFC to the NCPG, the poetry to the music, my coworkers to the townsfolk, and the nearby ghost towns to the all-night local karaoke dives – this place has made me into something of an Elkoholic.

I’m here thanks to the gov’ment. When the economy went south, Nevada’s Great Basin Institute harnessed some AmeriCorps coin, teamed up with the WFC and rescued me from a post-graduate life of Segway tour guiding and Awful-Awful gobbling in Reno.

Since arriving, I’ve tried on quite a few new hats. Working mostly alongside Meg and Tamara on our programming, I’ve had tasks as diverse as working on contracts and grants, organizing an Energy Symposium, selecting photos for the NCPG program book and packing saddles (well, to be shipped).  Whatever needs to be done, really.

It’s been nice acquiring new real-jobbish-type skills, as well as being around people who like to work good, long and hard every day of the week. Consequently, it’s also been nice having a bar downstairs.

Best of all so far, though, has been all the great people I’ve met here. Or at least talked to on the phone. With many of the artists, I expect no shortage of shaking hands and hearing “Ohhh! So YOU’RE that guy!” And now, after reading this, I guess you can do that, too.

For the Gathering, when it comes to education, I’m your man. If you’ve received an email about a workshop you’re attending, probably one with – to Tamara’s chagrin – a handful of exclamation points and lame jokes, it probably had my name at the bottom. And if you’re a local student yodeling with Riders in the Sky at the Cowkids Stampede or discussing songwriting with Corb Lund in your school’s band room next week, I’ll be the scrawny moustachioed dude running around making sure everything works.

In fact, I’ll probably be that dude all over town this Gathering. So if you see me, feel free to flag me down and remind me that I’m the intern and make me do something for you. Or to say hello and sneak me a quick nip of Wild Turkey. You know, whatever you prefer.

Either way, I’ll see you at the Gathering – my first, as I already can tell, of many.

-- Devon Blunden, The Intern aka Programs Assistant aka AmeriCorps/GBI Volunteer