While planning our fourth issue during the hectic start of the summer season, we Hollie Witchey in Highland Lake, New York. Photographer Matthew Scrivens.kicked around the idea that it had to be “fun”—without knowing quite what that meant. And so we looked for subjects who would inject that element, like actor/comedian David Cross of Arrested Development and indie-rock singer Eleanor Friedberger, known for her quirky, upbeat music videos. We organized a swimsuit photo shoot with model Hollie Witchey set around a friend’s gorgeous lakefront property. (What could be more fun than that?) We collaborated with upstate travel guide experts And North and Escape Brooklyn, who covered a fun road trip story on both sides of the river. We set one writer loose to explore retro diners in and around Sullivan County. We covered a local BBQ chef—thinking, yeah, BBQ sounds like fun. As the issue came together, the stories definitely added up to summer fun, but they also revealed something else.

The common thread that runs through all the stories in this issue—through the subjects, the writers, the photographers—is a shared interest in, and a love for, our little neck of the woods. Despite trying to steer things in a lighter direction, what came out of each interview, each moment, was something completely different. These stories are introspective, thoughtful and quiet, yet dappled with optimism. I had envisioned Norman Rockwellesque stories that evoked the season with classic images of swimming, friends shared food and laughter. This is not that issue.

But I think that’s okay. While I had hoped to create an issue that was anchored by a strong, definitive theme, what’s ultimately more important is that we had fun creating it. I am often leery of the outcome of each issue, but I am pleasantly surprised by this one. The stories, the photography and the subjects have all aligned. It really feels like DVEIGHT. And that’s it’s own kind of fun.

Nhi Mundy