Island is worth saving

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To the Editor:

Whit Griswold’s essay about picking up litter on the first Vineyard Earth Day, April 1970, was a vivid reminder for me of that time when our parents could not understand our self-expression, which often meant defying the courteous, conservative values of the time.

Many months back, Megan Alley wrote in her Oak Bluffs column how in 1973 my husband Ed and I arrived in Oak Bluffs to live across from them on Wing Road, a house with some serious hippy experiences before we settled in. We were 27 and 29, full of enthusiasm for working within the system, believing we are all in this together to make our communities healthy, committed to sound government, ecological dedication, inspiring schools, and making friendships that last.

What a timely essay Whit has written, now that we feel the cold shoulder from climate deniers, and witness the deregulations from the Trump administration that will impact so many of the smart decisions our leaders and citizens have made over the past 50 years.

Megan wrote that initially her family and friends were worried we would not respect their value systems, that, as Whit recalls, there was a fear that the young people arriving on the Island shore to live year-round were not going to pull their weight, shake hands with their neighbors, offer their skills to improve the Vineyard way of life. In fact, we who have stayed have worked to instill in our own adult children the resolve to use their talents to better our environment. We expect them to energize those who feel threatened by the super-wealthy landowners, to pull them into the fold, reminding them we must feel equal in improving the Island we share.

The Island is very different in 2017 from what it was in the early ’70s. There is the gnawing fear that we are losing our young professionals because we do not provide affordable housing. There is an anxiety among those who cannot handle one more tax raise, an anxiety that threatens our mutual trust.

I salute all the 60- and 70-year-olds who came here with good intentions and made good on their promises. I am reassured by the growing numbers of young parents who believe like we did back then, that this Island is worth saving for the worker bees, the retirees on fixed incomes, not just the owners of second homes.

Picking up nip bottles, cigarette stubs, those dreadful plastic teeth flossers: It’s all in a day’s work. Like holding open the door to the Post Office, and making sure we drive with caution. Like we teach our grandchildren how to be patient in line, and then say thank you.

Liza Coogan
Vineyard Haven