Whidbey newsletter turns 10

Whidbey Island’s ultimate event calendar is officially a decade old.

Whidbey Island’s ultimate event calendar is officially a decade old.

Amy Hannold, the Oak Harbor resident behind Whidbey Island Macaroni Kid, will publish her 513th weekly newsletter this week. Hannold said one of the best parts of her 10-year journey has been becoming deeply embedded in the community.

Hannold grew up in Langley, where community service was always one of the central values of her family. She first began compiling and distributing a regular list of local events when her children were young. She called it “Amy’s List” and would email it to friends and neighbors, who quickly came to regard her as an encyclopedia of island happenings.

In 2012, she discovered Skagit Macaroni Kid. Macaroni Kid is a nationwide organization, originating on the east coast, that provides local publishers with the tools and platform to distribute information about their towns and regions.

While Hannold is a wealth of information, she admits her early “Amy’s List” didn’t have much flare. When she learned about Macaroni Kid, she decided to become a publisher with the organization, taking advantage of the resources to make her list more visually appealing.

It was slow-going at first, she said. There are only around a dozen Macaroni Kid lists in Washington state, and since the organization was founded on the opposite side of the country, not a lot of Washingtonians were familiar with the platform. Most of her site visitors came to her looking for information about where to send their kids for preschool.

But as she grew her following through consistent publication, more and more Whidbey residents began to look to her to find out about events and attractions on the island.

Now, Hannold spends at least 24 hours a week on her Macaroni Kid publications — and that’s just the time spent sitting at her desk, updating the website. That doesn’t include the time she spends out in the community networking or searching the internet for local events.

“It’s my love language,” she said. “It’s just the way I communicate and interact with people.”

Hannold publishes her free weekly newsletter on Thursday evenings or Friday mornings to allow folks to prepare for the weekend and the coming week. She maintains an online event calendar, and during the COVID-19 pandemic, she started publishing a series of online guides for residents on a number of topics, including a summer camp guide, a Little Free Library guide, a “Get Active” guide and a thrift store guide. She also regularly updates the website with local news.

Most recently, she has been working on an island directory that includes businesses, parks, nonprofits and other organizations.

“The information that I place on (the website) is to inspire people to make great memories with one another and to connect with their community,” she said.

Hannold’s list is not geared exclusively toward kids. She posts events and activities that appeal to people of all ages. Her goal, she said, is to dispel the myth that there is nothing to do on Whidbey Island.