Editor in Chief Matt Bean on what Covid-19 means for Sunset magazine’s coverage—and how we’ll all get through it, just as Westerners have always done

1906 Earthquake Cover Resized

Illustration by Maynard Dixon

In 1906, with the tremors of the catastrophic San Francisco Earthquake still reverberating throughout the West Coast, an intrepid group of Sunset writers and editors banded together to put out an emergency edition for a shocked region. Entitled “Spirit of the City,” the issue featured a cover illustration from famed artist Maynard Dixon showed a woman rising, phoenix-like, from the ashes of the fires that engulfed the city—and laid waste to the magazine’s offices.

The exponential spread of Covid-19 couldn’t be more distinct from the geological upheaval that rent the Bay Area more than 100 years ago, and our means of communication any more otherworldly. I’m writing this now on a glowing screen in Los Angeles after having held a videoconference with our team from across the country, for example–something our predecessors in the carriage horse era might have thought bizarre. 

But the life-altering aftershocks of 1906 and today share much in common. And just like then, we’re here to help you through this time. We’re not a breaking news publication, but we’ll do our best to help you decipher your best options for staying safe and strong amidst the confusion. We’ll let you know what you can do to help the Western businesses, institutions, and workers drastically impacted by the virus.

Throughout this time our essential mission remains the same: to help you live your best possible life in the West. But for now, our lives have changed.  While we’ll still be writing about food and drink and design and home and gardening—we’ll be doing it a little differently. For the time being we’re pulling back on travel content and emphasizing how to make the most of life at home. We’ll be sharing more simple, comforting recipes that offer respite and nourishment and rely on ingredients you might already have on hand. We’ll publish DIY home and garden projects that will make your home feel more like a haven.

And you’ll be seeing a lot more of us, too. Heather Arndt Anderson, our garden editor, might invite you along as she transfers her starter sprouts to the back yard. Travel editor Kate Wertheimer might share secret hikes away from the crowds. Sally Kuchar may share hacks on setting up a serene home office while Ellen Fort hosts a “Sunset Supper” cook-along from her home in Oakland.

Because more than anything, we want to help you achieve a sense of togetherness in this time of isolation. We’ll get through this, and just like in 1906, we’ll do it together.

Reach out as always at matt@sunset.com or instagram.com/mattbean, and follow along at instagram.com/sunset.

Thanks everyone,