The modern American bathing suit was born in Portland, Oregon, and a swim in the Willamette River offers a dip into history. It’s a story of American pluck, entrepreneurship, and cultural migration—all collapsed into one little red logo, worthy of being blown up into a giant fiberglass store-top mannequin.
Read the story, one of the most-read in The New York Times the weekend of September 8, 2019, here.
I spent a few months with the incredible pilots of Cal Fire to learn about what they’re facing in the age of the megafire. Longer fire seasons, bigger blazes, and urban encroachment into the wilderness pose new challenges for those charged with fighting flames from the sky.
Read the feature here, in the July/August 2019 issue of The Journal of Alta California.
The Paleo Climate of California
Deep-sea corals off the coast of California live for hundreds of years—and they record a ring for every year of their growth, just like a redwood. What their growth rings tell us about past ocean conditions can also illuminate our planet’s future.
Read the essay in Sierra magazine, August 7, 2019.
What—and who—does it take to raise a family? We asked six families—as well as their nannies, day-care providers, extended family members, and “mother’s helpers”—to explain how they’re caring for their children and how much they’re paying to do it.
Read the story here, photographed by Audrey Trinnaman, in the August 2019 issue of California Sunday magazine.
You Are Doing Something Important When You Aren't Doing Anything
Fallow time is necessary to grow everything from actual crops to figurative ones, like books and children. To do the work, we need to rest, to read, to reconnect. It is the invisible labor that makes creative life possible.
Read the essay, one of the most shared stories in The New York Times the weekend of June 21, 2019, here.
Queens of the Kitchen
There is a moment when the kitchen reliably fails women, and particularly women of color—when the kitchen becomes a place of business.
Read the essay here, part of the Antiracism & America series for The Guardian, April 11, 2019.
My Artist Father Taught Me the Art of Vanishing
My father was missing. How could I put him back in the picture?
Read the essay about my dad, love, art, and near death here in Catapult Magazine, February 6, 2019.
At Surf Camp 2.0, Data Rules
“It’s as if the N.F.L. postgame practice met your honeymoon and they had a baby.” What happens in a week at the Surf Simply coaching resort in Nosara, Costa Rica.
Read the cover story here, in The New York Times, February 3, 2019.
Plastic thank-you bags have a special history in Chinatown. It’s changing.
As more cities restrict single-use plastic bags for environmental reasons, designers offer durable alternatives to a familiar icon.
Read the story here, in National Geographic, January 7, 2019
'Entering Burn Area': Yosemite After the Fire
America’s national parks are increasingly bearing the burden of climate change, as rising temperatures and new weather patterns create mega blazes. A report from the burn zone.
Read the cover story here, in The New York Times, November 5, 2018.
Female big-wave surfers prepare to compete on Mavericks’s 50-foot waves for the first time.
Read the cover story here, in the August/September 2018 issue of California Sunday magazine.
The Balm of the Baking Show
I don’t actually bake. But lately I’ve fallen into the habit of watching baking shows, as an end-of-day balm for the caustic world at large.
Read the essay here, in The San Francisco Chronicle special MATRIARCHY issue, October 26, 2018.
The Long In-Between
“There are signs around town that say, Thank you for saving us,” one victim said. “But what happens when you weren’t saved?” Five fire refugees describe their lives in limbo.
Read the story here, in the February/March 2018 issue of California Sunday magazine.
The Poet Editor of West Marin
Tess Elliott didn’t set out to run a newspaper. At the legendary Point Reyes Light she’s learned a lot about conflict, transparency, and endurance.
Read the profile here, in Spring 2017 issue of The Columbia Journalism Review.
Why Is Asian Salad Still on the Menu?
I found myself face to face once again with the curious modern-day ubiquity of the Asian salad.
Read the essay here, in The New York Times Sunday Review, April 27, 2017.
Hong Kong's Skyline Farmers
It was a breezy afternoon in Hong Kong’s central business district, and the view from the roof of the Bank of America Tower, thirty-nine floors up, was especially fine.
Read the story here, in The New Yorker, March 13, 2017.
Eleven Thousand Bowls of Soup
What happens when Michelin recognizes street food?
Read the story here, in the February/March 2017 issue of California Sunday magazine.
Drinking By Numbers
I live at the place where these circles meet: I am the Venn diagram of drinking as habitual and easy entertainment.
Read the essay here, in The New York Times Sunday Review, June 18, 2016.
The Bionic Woman of Good Science
How an ecologist of tidal communities became a global diplomat for the ocean.
Read the profile in the May/June 2016 Water Issue of Pacific Standard magazine.
The Little Boat That Could
Most of the boat is asleep when we pass through Ballard Locks in Seattle shortly before midnight.
Read the cover story on small ships here, in The New York Times, March 15, 2016.
Trick Your Brain and Smile
When an artist of optimism is cruelly taken away, what remains of her message?
Read the story of Susan O’Malley here, in the January 2016 issue of San Francisco magazine,
Choose Your Own Identity
I never realized how little I understood race until I tried to explain it to my 5-year-old son.
Read the essay here, in The New York Times Magazine, December 14, 2015.
The Undress Code
I wore a sweater with holes in it. It’s this sweater he refers to, in an email that shows up in my inbox nearly 15 years later.
Read the essay here, in The New York Times Sunday Review, November 12, 2015.
What It's Like to Be Chinese in America's Chinese City
This story was published as part of an entire issue dedicated to “The Chinese City” that was nominated for a National Magazine Award.
Read the essay here, in the April 2015 issue of San Francisco magazine.
Souring on Shark Fin Soup
Success in China would be an important step toward saving sharks from extinction, but also toward showing how changing mass-consumption behaviors could benefit the environment.
Read the essay here, in The New York Times Sunday Review, June 29, 2013.
Bonnie has also written for The Atlantic, Outside, The Los Angeles Times, Smithsonian, WIRED, Food & Wine, Travel + Leisure, O the Oprah Magazine, Condé Nast Traveller, ELLE, Salon, Sunset, The Wall Street Journal, Mother Jones, National Geographic, and more. This is a selection of her work.