There are lots of good reasons for this long association. First, I believe that as “regional” magazines go, TOTI is a cut above the rest. This genre, which includes city mags and competing publications in tourist areas, is usually all about the advertising. That’s understandable, because that’s where they make their money. But it also means that the magazine’s content is often skewed toward the moneymakers. “Features” focus on the businesses that advertise and are upbeat to a fault about big developers and any idea that comes out of the Chamber of Commerce (or tourist bureau). Some of these magazines have no firewall at all between advertising and editorial, and require writers to allow their material to be edited by the advertisers themselves.
“Times of the Islands” goes beyond that tit-for-tat arrangement, offering readers a look into island life that doesn’t involve dollars. Sure, there are upbeat reports on new resorts and some articles submitted by advertisers, but TOTI also has real articles about islanders, entrepreneurs and island history and folklore. Each issue includes the Green Pages, focusing on environmental issues, and the Astrolabe, the newsletter of the Turks and Caicos National Museum. There is a depth to this publication that rivals miss.
I have also stayed with TOTI because it has been good to me and for me. Its longtime editor (though not the first), Kathy Borsuk, has always treated me with professional respect. She pays me in a timely fashion (believe me, this is important to a freelancer!), doesn’t ask me to travel among islands without reimbursing me and thinks of me when ideas come up that are suited to my interests and style. It’s a good relationship that has blossomed into a friendship as well.
And being good for me? Wow! Because of TOTI, I have been able to see island life so much more deeply than I could when I first started visiting and writing about the Turks and Caicos. I got to meet so many islanders through my writing, and each one was a window into my new adopted home. Kathy said, “Hey, there’s this woman on North who’s a fisherman” … and Tom and I ventured into the Pink Squeeze and finally convinced Dar to let us tell her story. Because of my “Day in the Life” column that ran for a while, I ended up one day on South Caicos talking my way onto Ba Parker’s boat, then getting stuck on island and enjoying the hospitality of the School for Marine Studies. I’ve tromped through farms and gardens, warily handed over my credit card at Parrot Cay and bicycled to Bottle Creek (when I was younger) in pursuit of island stories.
I know that TOTI isn’t perfect (what business is?). It has standing sections that sorely need updating, there may be too much kowtowing to resort developers and its picture of the Turks and Caicos lacks any of the political conflict that certainly exists. But it keeps asking the important question: What is your story?
Because of this magazine, I have learned to ask that question, even when I’m not working, and even when I am not in the islands. That’s the question that allows us all to get to know people and places. Anyone attempting to live in the islands should burn that question into his or her heart. It is your entry.
Postscript: Times of the Islands is published quarterly. It is available at many places in the TCI and as a subscription. Visit www.timespub.tc for more info. The spring 2019 issue is now available.