Issue 30: Sacred Spaces

Published May 2017

What makes a place sacred? In this issue of FLUX, stories revolve around hallowed lands, ideas, and elements.

Editor’s Letter: “What do people gain from all their labors at which they toil under the sun? Generations come and generations go, but the earth remains forever. The sun rises and the sun sets, and hurries back to where it rises. The wind blows to the south and turns to the north; round and round it goes, ever returning on its course. All streams flow into the sea, yet the sea is never full. … The eye never has enough of seeing, nor the ear its fill of hearing. … I have seen all the things that are done under the sun;
all of them are meaningless, a chasing after the wind.” -Ecclesiastes 1:1-8, 14

A couple years after launching the first issue of FLUX in 2010, my father, an avid supporter of my new business endeavor, asked me a devastating question: “If FLUX went belly-up tomorrow, would anyone care?” I struggled with an answer, unsure how to respond when faced with the possible demise of what had become an extension of myself. Then, more pointedly, he said: “Odds are FLUX will fail.” I sucked in my lip, trying to keep tears from spilling.

What was the point of it all, then? Was it all meaningless, a futile chasing after the wind? I had gone into journalism because I loved telling stories. I started FLUX because I wanted to change the world with my writing. In the intervening years, life became an exhausting race to keep up. I blinked, and the world did indeed change. New technology altered actions and long-held beliefs. The world grew increasingly flat.

Today, information shoots across the stratosphere in a frenzied pace. Men are murdered in the streets. Mountains are pockmarked by eager travelers. Missiles are paraded, bombs are dropped. This flood of information has produced citizens that are more aware than ever. And yet, we respond with a “WTF,” then shrug and go about our day.

Earlier this year, in March, the New York Times ran a piece by Wells Tower titled “The Hawaii Cure.” It was about the writer’s “first trip to the island, in a desperate attempt to escape the news.” Tower made some missteps, calling the “most Hawaiian” thing about a commercial luau “its proficiency at extracting tourists’ dollars.” Needless to say, people everywhere with love for the islands were miffed.

However, for all of Tower’s crass ruminations, I can’t blame him for wanting to escape his world and set foot into ours. His simplistic character tropes and hope for a paradisiacal Eden—these have all been parts of the selling of Hawai‘i since aviation innovation enabled mass travel here decades ago. Yet Tower stumbled upon a bit of magic, too. “The magic has to do with the moon, the thud and rustle of the surf,” he writes. “The magic is working on Jed, my 1½-year-old son. He is … trying to seduce a girl of 7 or so. She is engrossed with her tablet. A cultist of the night sky, Jed touches her wrist, points overhead and says, ‘Stars.’ The girl’s eyes do not flicker from her screen.”

There is something to be learned from Tower’s son. He has not yet been drawn to consume life online, to frivolously trample revered sites in order to attain the perfect posts or promote commercial endeavors. He has not yet been exposed to the flippant dissemination of information that threatens to undermine what I have worked so hard to create: media that seeks not only to create more informed citizens, but to better the world in which we live. Instead, he still can simply enjoy the stars.

It has taken me five years to come to terms with my father’s statement, to be OK with the fact that what I hold sacred may be taken from me. Recognizing this, we continue to adapt and evolve FLUX in today’s changing media landscape, incorporating new sections that celebrate the good things in life and prompt dialogue about cultures around the world. Rather than focus in on the clamoring around me, I look up, marveling at the stars.

What Lies Beneath Red Hill

Hidden within this landmark are 20 massive tanks, 16 of which hold nearly 190 million gallons of petroleum. Underneath them is Honolulu’s main source of fresh water.

Let the Earth Sprout

Images by Bryce Johnson Steve Perlman punches the spikes of his hiking boots into the face of a vertical cliff. Spread beneath him is Kalalau Valley, a dramatic landscape spectacularly wrinkled by wind, water, volcanic lava, and the spines of soaring peaks. Hidden within this 5 million-year-old topography are wild plants that exist nowhere else on earth[...]

In the Light

Images by John Hook Protected by massive cliffs, Green Sands Beach, the gleaming bay at the southernmost point of the United States, emits hues of sage and citrine when the sunlight hits its sand. Heralded for its beauty, and for the sense of peace it instills in those who visit its shoreline, this Big Island beach boasts a glimmering display of one of Ha[...]

Body Language

Images by John Hook Kaori Ukaji’s home is an exercise in eclectic, artistic delight. A colorful woven rug is splayed across the floor, and a merry assortment of tchotchkes invites inspection. Paintings, sketches, and photographs texture the space with a well-worn cheeriness, while a spherical, metal-wire ovum nearly 5 feet in diameter, created by Stephen [...]

It's All Roses

Images by John Hook Arvo is a physical manifestation of the Rose family. Set in the burgeoning neighborhood of Kaka‘ako, the café is a picture of Australia in the heart of Hawai‘i—the take-away coffee window, the beachy umbrellas, the loulu palms. It is unquestionably stylish, but not in an off-putting kind of way. The employees are busy but cheerful, b[...]

Living Water

Images by John Hook “Architecture is a visual art, and the buildings speak for themselves,” the pioneering architect Julia Morgan once said. Which is true, but buildings can be lost in translation, too, becoming as unintelligible as an ancient dialect. Thurston Memorial Chapel, which sits at the center of the Punahou School campus in Honolulu, speaks as[...]

Making Room

Images by John Hook By the age of 12, Michelle Jaime liked to regularly rearrange her bedroom, drawing up furniture plans and, as a self-proclaimed Virgo, neurotically trying to find the perfect, tidy place for everything. One of eight children, six of whom are half-siblings, Jaime grew up in Hawaiʻi Kai among a sprawling yet close-knit family drawn to [...]

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