The Helena Vigilante is a news and entertainment source for Helena, Montana and its surrounding hills and valleys.
Publisher/editor Shane Castle holds to a fairly basic belief that people will always enjoy reading about their own communities and people and things they recognize. No matter how technology changes, people still want to feel connected to the places where they live. Ergo, The Helena Vigilante will feature news stories, editorials, profiles, reviews, pictures of weird stuff, off-beat narratives and other Helena-centric miscellany.
Shane Castle, publisher/editor — I’m a fiction writer, technical writer, adjunct English professor and hobby farmer in Helena. I’ve had stories published by Indiana Review, Black Warrior Review, Salamander, The Humanist, Iron Horse Literary Review, McSweeney’s Internet Tendency, Annalemma and a few others. My non-fiction has appeared in community newspapers in Seattle and Anchorage, Alaska and on Alaska Public Radio.
Here is the rundown on some of my core beliefs: People can get along if they try really hard to do so; people of most faiths are talking about the same basic thing in different ways; we should never give in to those who would enshrine prejudice of any kind in law; we should err on the side of caution where the environment is concerned because we aren’t getting a second chance; there are times when violence is necessary, but many of us have a tendency to lash out unnecessarily, prematurely or inordinately; we shouldn’t give up on Utopian dreams just because cynics say it’s naive; humans are no more or less important than the rest of the living things on this planet, but we bear a special responsibility since we have the ability to consider ethics and imagine the future; our current food-production system is cruel, disgusting and unsustainable; good art makes life better; we would be better off if there wasn’t such a huge financial gap between the top one percent of earners in this country and the other 99 percent; we would be better off if we didn’t equate happiness with material goods; we would be better off if we began teaching critical thinking and media literacy at a very young age.
Sam Lavin, business manager/nonsense correspondent — I am a person who is fascinated by the behavior of the American public. I am a part of it, but I don’t get it. I feel like we have lost our way. We have modern devices to help us work less and make more money but we seem to work more, make less and spend what money we have on more modern devices. Wait… What? Enter The Helena Vigilante and, more specifically, Consumer B.S. I like finding things that are available for purchase and saying, “Holy hell! Who spends money on this?” The junk I find is not kitsch. It is not art. It is mass-produced junk that is diabolically marketed to the dwindling American middle class. I write to help myself understand the consumer phenomena and perhaps persuade a few people to skip over that latest and greatest piece-of-crap bathroom decor and buy something they actually need.
Jesse Lee Varnado, photographer/outdoors columnist — Montana native Jesse Lee Varnado lives his passion by tracking, climbing, walking and stalking through mountains and forests with his camera. Through quiet observation, care, respect, patience and persistence he strives to accurately portray the natural behavior of the wilderness and its inhabitants. Ultimately hoping to encourage conservation and appreciation of our incredible planet.
Larry Kline, writer – Larry Kline worked in the newspaper business for six years – first in Ohio, then Havre, and then here, where he covered local government and politics for the Independent Record. Like all of us, he has problems, and for a time those issues grew too large for him to continue his work. But he’s putting himself back together, and he loves writing again. He’s interested in truth. Sometimes he wants it straight, and sometimes he knows it’s weird. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Lacey Middlestead, writer — Lacey Middlestead is a Montana native who graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in English Writing in 2009 from Carroll College. She has a great passion for writing, and since graduating, has picked up any and all freelance opportunities she can find. She loves meeting new people and helping share their story. When she’s not busy writing articles, she can usually be found whipping up a batch of cupcakes in her kitchen or indulging in her second greatest passion–playing in the Montana wilderness. She loves skiing and snowmobiling in the winter and four wheeling, hiking, boating, and riding dirt bikes in the summer.
Chelsea Carlson, illustrator — Chelsea creates illustrations for The Helena Vigilante. A cappuccino aficionado, Chelsea majors in media studies at the delightful Scripps College. Interests include Uno, nostalgia, horseback riding, hyperbole, and Earl Grey tea. Check out her work at www.artgeeky.com or give her a holler @artgeeky.
Jasmine Lamb, writer – Jasmine Lamb is a writer and an English/Creative Writing instructor. When Jasmine isn’t writing, she can be found enjoying outdoor activities with her family and friends.
Lisa Kunkel, photographer– Montana native Lisa Kunkel works in the Helena area shooting editorial assignments,commercial productions, sports, weddings and portraits. Her photographs have been published in numerous local and national publications including Sports Illustrated and TIME. She likes to play in the outdoors and thanks God everyday for her wonderful husband J.D. and their daughter Adeline Grace.
Sarah Swan, writer — Sarah Swan is a Montana native who graduated from the University of Montana’s School of Journalism in 2007. She picked up freelancing to keep her sanity and fuel her passion for writing. When Sarah isn’t writing, she enjoys spending time with her family, eating cupcakes and traveling around the state. Sarah has a family/lifestyle blog that she updates almost daily. If you’re interested, check out www.whatgoodarethewords.blogspot.com.
Sven B., of Sven B. Misses the Point — Few reviewers have the nerve to do what I do, which is precisely what makes me Helena’s premier avant-garde reviewer. Some people say you can’t review a tree, or that you shouldn’t, but I’m just like You call that a tree? I mean, Helenoids have this vain tendency to believe they know what a tree is and that’s exactly why they need someone like Sven B. to set them straight. Hey, genius, that’s not a tree. It’s a ponderosa pine — or, if you prefer Latin, e pluribus unum.
Slim, cartoonist — The purpose of my comic strip is nothing more than social commentary. Observations made by me and my terrible dog. I like to make fun of people but it seems that the people I make fun of never know that I am making fun of them. And so I press on. I enjoy making fun of myself. I have been described as a “stick figure on crack” which is not entirely accurate. The way I explain it is this: the figures you see on paper are reflections of how I feel on a daily basis. This is how I view myself. One dimensional though they are, my characters are capable of abstract thought and a wide range of expressions. Basically, it makes me laugh to make these cartoons and I hope it makes you laugh too.