Editor’s Page: Interesting Times

In the garden with Jack and Kim Johnson.
Singer Jack Johnson with editor Robbie Dingeman, cameo stand-in for Kim Johnson.
Photo: Ryan Foley

Setting up an in-depth interview with an internationally famous singer and his influential wife can be daunting, even when he’s a low-key guy from Hawai‘i. Our people needed to consult their people here and in California, then agree on a good time in between tours, commitments, life.


When we first started working on this story, Jack Johnson was on a global tour. His wife, and manager, Kim Johnson, is well-known as an environmental advocate and the executive director of Kōkua Hawai‘i Foundation. And they have three kids. So that’s a busy schedule to wrangle, getting everyone on the same page.


Happily, once we got past the logistics, telling the story, “Always on Track,” ended up being the easy part, with our senior editor David Thompson meeting several times with the Johnsons to bring us a story we haven’t read before, one that tells us a little more about the North Shore power couple next door and how they see their environmental work as a natural extension of the beliefs they’ve held all along.


For the cover shoot on the North Shore, Jack and Kim rolled up on their well-worn bicycles, ready to pitch in. Kim picked fruits and vegetables from the garden to use in the photos. Jack helped photographer Ryan Foley set up and offered some good tips for dealing with the lighting. Turns out he went to film school. I even got to stand in for some of the photo prep. Everybody helped make it go smoothly.


With this issue, we say aloha to David Thompson, who has moved on to other writing pursuits. We thank him for his three years of work at the magazine, where he wrote a mix of informative, compelling and quirky stories, large and small. They include a look at the island of Lāna‘i in the wake of billionaire owner Larry Ellison coming to town, profiles of the Big Island residents who choose to build their houses on the lava flow, and a farewell to the late, sometimes great International Market Place.


We’re happy, at the same time, to officially welcome a key member of our editorial team: Katrina Valcourt. After serving in a variety of temporary positions to fill various vacancies over many months, Katrina has accepted the job of associate editor, to which she’ll bring her many talents, including a sharp copy editor’s eye, a detail-oriented zeal for verifying lists of professionals, a bright voice in writing stories, short and long, and much more.


And we welcome back writer Catherine E. Toth, who delved into “Beyond Beautiful,” page 46 in the magazine, to tell us more about what keeps ethnic pageants in Hawai‘i popular and relevant. Toth is uniquely the best person to write this piece on the evolution of the pageants. She was the first Cherry Blossom queen with a non-Japanese last name. And her spunky, journalist/surfer/foodie persona definitely defies most stereotypes of pageant contestants.


Also returning this issue: author/political analyst/former political science professor Neal Milner. You may remember he wrote our cover story on Daniel Inouye shortly after the late senator’s passing. This time around, Milner has penned  a thoughtful essay about moving to the Islands decades ago, and the push-pull he still feels of belonging here, and not. “What I Learned from Potluck,” page 40 in the magazine.


We include the popular Best Dentists list. While many folks complain, joke or whine about going to the dentist, we know you want to see a good one, page 68 in the magazine.


It’s a diverse collection of stories, but, looking over this issue, the theme seems to be appreciating the multifaceted community where we live. We’re glad to be a part of it.


Read More Stories by Robbie Dingeman