Issue 4: Commodity

Published October 2010

To disregard Hawai‘i as a commodity would be to our detriment, as commodities have the potential to benefit and to profit our islands. To say that the culture of Hawai‘i, our way of thinking and our way of life, is a commodity, is to say that our culture inherently has value.

The threat of commercialization and corporate takeover in Hawaii is constantly forboding. Big-box retailers like Walmart and Target have inundated our skylines. A massive Forever 21 looms in the distance. All kow-towing to the money-making giant known as tourism.

Tourism, to be sure, is what drives our economy, but what really defines our commodity as a place? Is it our white sandy beaches (now overwrought with plastic floaties and people) or our world-class skyline (soon to be desecrated with elevated rail)? What happens when all of what we know to be “Hawaii” looks no different than any other large metropolis? Where then do we find our commodity?

The question that often drives our editorial discussions is always the same: What can we do as a city do to ensure our young and talented are cultivated in Hawaii? What can we do to foster the arts, help artists, musicians, designers, filmmakers and small businesses to succeed?

It took a six hour plane ride to the mainland before we realized that it’s not what we can do as a magazine or what government should do in providing more funding, but it’s what you can do as the musician, the artist, the designer, the filmmaker, the small business. In examining the commodity of Hawaii — in attempting to decipher what makes our islands so bankable — we realized, it’s you. It’s YOU that is the commodity of Hawaii. You are what makes our islands so freaking awesome.

The phrase New Yorkers famously throw around, “If you can make it here, you can make it anywhere,” frequently comes to mind. I’d change that phrase to say, “If you can make it there, you can make it here,” and subsequently, “If you can’t make it here, you won’t make it anywhere. It isn’t place that determines success, it’s perseverance, hard work and a bit of collaboration.

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