Inspired by a project in New York City, Times correspondent Bella Bennett photographs and interviews neighbors and strangers she encounters on Martha’s Vineyard.
Location: Outside Saturday’s Farmers Market, West Tisbury.
What are you most passionate about?
The whole thing. As an artist on the Island, the whole thing. Teaching, painting, showing, interacting with the community. The whole thing.
How long have you been on the Island?
I’ve been here since 2000 in the summers: working, teaching and enjoying. I teach at Featherstone. It’s fun to be on the street and interact with people and have them observe and comment. It’s great.
Location: The bus stop opposite Alley’s General Store.
How long have you been on the Vineyard?
I’ve been here for three months.
What do you do when you’re not working?
I go to the gym and run. I’m a gym fanatic. Everyday I get up at four, take the boat over from Falmouth, get to work by 7:30 and I work until 7:30 at night sometimes, it all depends.
Do you ever have leisure time on M.V.?
You’ve got to put leisure time in your life! I like the beach, and I like music; you know I like to dance, I’m originally from Jamaica.
Which beach is your favorite?
Whichever is clean. Lambert’s Cove. I’m a beach person.
Location: Alley’s General Store Porch, West Tisbury.
I know that you grew up on the Vineyard. What keeps you here?
I like it here. I’ve never lived anywhere else. I tried to move off Island once before and I just ended up staying here because I realized that I just like it here. I like the peace and quiet in the winter and the crazy in the summer. And the fact that we do get that peace and quiet to ourselves every so often.
What do you do that makes you happy?
Horse stuff — even if it’s just cleaning stalls. I like being around animals.
Location: Behind 7A, West Tisbury.
So your name is Music?
It’s actually Musica — music in Spanish.
Is there a story behind that?
My parents are hippies. My mom speaks Spanish.
What’s your favorite thing to do?
Ride my bike. I ride everywhere.
What is exciting about riding your bike?
Seeing everything in a different perspective than if you’re in a car. You can smell things way better and see more things, you can interact with way more people, and it’s exercise.
What do you do in your leisure time?
Play the guitar. I’m always playing the guitar.
Do you write songs?
I do write songs.
What’s your best line?
I can’t even think of a line… ‘hiding behind the surface of reality.
Location: Outside of Fella’s, West Tisbury
What do you do that is fun for you in the summer?
Interact with the people on the Island, see what is going on with the community — it’s a pretty changing community with all of the stuff that goes on, like all of the farming, and all of the stuff
here changes from winter to summer.
And you grew up here?
Born and raised. Home grown.
What was your favorite part of growing up on the Vineyard?
The seclusion from the rest of the world. You’re kind of on your own little island. It’s cool to interact with people on a more personal level; you know everyone that comes and goes — except in the summer, so it’s cool.
What grade will you be starting in the fall?
Im going to be a sophmore in high school.
Do you want to travel when you get older?
I went to Italy in eighth grade and ever since then I’ve wanted to go all across the world — it’s a really big thing I want to go do after high school. I want to take a year off before I go to school, I think.
Location: Up-Island Cronigs porch, West Tisbury
Are you visiting or do you live here?
No, I’m a J1 student. It means that I am student from another country — I’m from Russia. There is type of Visa, J1, for only the summer. After the summer, I will go back.
Is this your first time on the Vineyard?
No, I was here last summer.
What was your first impression of Martha’s Vineyard?
I didn’t have a place to live. I was disappointed. I didnt know that the Island was overcrowded, I didn’t know what was the place. I just had a job offer and I thought that I could find a place to live in the same day when I came.
Do you like Martha’s Vineyard better now?
I liked it last summer right after I found housing. Yes, now I love this place.
What’s your favorite part about being on Martha’s Vineyard?
I don’t know, I think I love Aquinnah. Actually, I like all the Island. I think it’s not America.
Is that why you chose to come back?
Yes, that is why I returned. I like it. The people are so friendly, like nowhere.
Location: Private garden, Chilmark
What do you do that keeps you excited?
Well, I work at Martha’s Vineyard Community Services, and I’m always excited about new theories and techniques about counseling and how to help people help themselves.
When you’re not working, where’s your favorite place to be on Martha’s Vineyard?
It depends on the time of year, but I actually really like to be at my house, out in Katama, especially in the summer time, or swimming in the ocean.
Do you have a favorite place to swim?
I really like to swim at State Beach. It’s the most consistently clear of seaweed, easy to swim — you’re never going to get there and be like, ‘Oh my gosh, the waves are too big: I don’t want to swim, or, I’m gonna get crunched,’ like South Beach. Though I do love South Beach. But you can just always swim at State Beach.”
What keeps you on Martha’s Vineyard?
My house.. My house definitely keeps me on the Vineyard.
What’s your favorite thing about your house?
Well, it’s, I think, in a very unique part of Katama called Forever Wild, and my grandparents bought it in the 40s and I inherited it from my dad, so it’s my connection to my past, but it’s also just very peaceful and secluded, and close to the ocean. It’s on Edgartown Great Pond, so if I don’t want to fight crowds I can just jump in the pond. And it gets so green and beautiful in the summer and I have a garden. I love my garden! It’s therapeutic and there’s always a breeze!