Editor’s Page: Wait, 2015?

It’s hard to believe it’s been a year already.
Photo: Adam Jung

My first year at HONOLULU Magazine zipped by. Although somehow I leaned on life’s fast-forward button without meaning to, I feel fortunate for the journey.


Working here offers an amazing opportunity to tell the stories of a place we love. Sure, Honolulu has big-city problems, including crime, the cost of living, urban sprawl and concerns about education, the environment and jobs. But we have them here, in what Mark Twain once called “the loveliest fleet of islands that lies anchored in any ocean.” We have an intriguing mix of culture, arts, history and breathtaking natural beauty.


Looking back on the year, I’m proud of our team and the work we’ve done. We’ve covered the changing face of energy in the Islands (something we will surely be writing more about), residents moving to the Mainland, the path to same-sex marriage and development across O‘ahu. We’ve probed important changes in public schools and looked at gender differences in education.


We have taken a look at the increasingly young faces of gun ownership, reported on some of the hottest political races and written about challenges and controversy at Hawai‘i Pacific University. Food and dining editor Martha Cheng has kept us on top of food news in our community: including the expansion of 12th Ave Grill, Kualoa Ranch’s new crop of home-grown oysters, Kaka‘ako’s new Highway Inn, Sun Noodle’s growing empire, the everything guide to coffee. Our fashion editors Brie Thalmann and Stacey Makiya took us deep into the world of Hawai‘i fashion, from the folks who established the aloha shirt as a classic genre to Project Runway standout Ari Southiphong’s latest designs and local manufacturing advances pushing Hawai‘i fashion forward.


We were honored to work with author Lee A. Tonouchi and artist Solomon Enos to tell an original tale of a Hawaiian Santa. We pulled together a summer’s worth of books to read. Our managing editor Michael Keany has brought wisdom and wit to the last page of each issue, including an ode to the fading art of hand-painted signs, Maui memories of a first job picking pineapple and an enlightening look at some Yelp reviews of Hawai‘i landmarks (gulp!).


With the help of all members of our team, we accomplished more than we could easily list here. And there’s always more to do, stories that can make a difference, make us think and laugh and cry. And inspire. When readers tell me that we gave them a magazine that feels like it’s written for people who live here, that they took time to read it all the way through, that we shared stories that resonated with their lives or we helped them discover new ideas and experiences, then we feel that we’re on the right track. Not everybody likes everything we do, but we won’t flinch from controversy and stories with an edge: whether it’s a gritty excerpt from Hell-Bent: One Man’s Crusade to Crush the Hawaiian Mob (page 48) or putting a chef and a piglet on the cover. But we aim to reflect life in Honolulu for better or for worse. And reality rarely fits in tidy categories filled with straight paths and easy answers.


We’ve had a full year. I’m fortunate to work with a talented team, those I share an office with, our writers and editors, the art directors who bring the words to life, the sales people who make our jobs possible, other creative, marketing, accounting and circulation folks, the many people it takes to bring the magazine to our readers.


And we do have fun. While we sometimes clock long hours, we also get to walk in other people’s shoes and learn what inspires them. When we scouted the possibilities for our “Get Out” feature of Hawai‘i’s best outdoor adventures, we got to hike up the cloud-tipped Ko‘olau range and into a bamboo forest. During business hours, no less. We should have brought proper hiking shoes. At a photo shoot with Koko Head Café’s charismatic chef Lee Anne Wong, we watched her whip up tasty and stunning food while learning why she sources 60 percent of her food locally. And when we wrote about tiki drinks, we surely had to drink some. A year has sharpened my fashion sense: I can pick out a Sig Zane AND a Tori Richard creation from 25 feet away. I seem to have doubled the number of work shoes I own (all purchased at substantial discounts by consulting our fashion experts). And I can rattle off a growing list of restaurant tips.


I am grateful for all who work with us, and all who come along on the journey as readers.


Hau‘oli makahiki hou!


Read More Stories by Robbie Dingeman