Edgartown: Officially on summer vacation

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I try to start my weekly columns in a thoughtful manner. I ponder and contemplate what’s going on in my life or in town. But I cannot tell a lie. School finished up on Thursday. I turned in my report cards that night, completed my end-of-the-year tasks, and I’m on summer vacation. And I’m just so darned giddy at that fact that I don’t have much else that I’m thinking about right now. I’m just jumping for joy because the weather is beautiful, I’ve got lots of time with my kids, and I’m hanging at the beach. I even had a visit from my niece Abby this weekend, to make it even more perfect. My idea of Heaven on earth. Soon I will start a professional development course or two, work on next year’s curriculum and lessons, and work part-time. But for now, I’m thankful for a break.

Happy birthday wishes go out to my friend, Amy Baldino, who celebrated on June 28, and to Jessyca Hernandez, who celebrates on June 29. And although he doesn’t live here anymore, I’d like to wish a very happy birthday to my (much) older brother, Bob Gardner, who celebrated on June 25.

The Island Wide Youth Collaborative invites parents and caregivers to a support group on July 1 from 11 am until 12 pm for parents and caregivers of transgender young people. This monthly drop-in group is designed to provide an open opportunity for parents and caregivers of trans and genderqueer young people to ask questions, get information, and build a supportive community. The group will provide a space for nonjudgmental and uninhibited conversation, support, and resources.

Boston-based entertainer Jungle Jim will launch the summer reading program with an event for kids at 11 am on Saturday, July 1, at the Agricultural Hall in West Tisbury. Jungle Jim will present a program with a Minecraft theme, featuring a mix of balloon artistry, magic, comedy, storytelling, and improvisation, with young volunteers taking part. Admission is free. This event is jointly sponsored by the Martha’s Vineyard Library Association and the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners.

Did you know there is an upcoming blood drive at the P.A. Club in Oak Bluffs on Wednesday, July 5? It is from 11:30 am until 4:30 pm. I encourage you to donate if you are able. It’s the summer, and that means far fewer blood drives take place. In addition, many donors go on vacation, which all adds up to a potential crisis. Help the Red Cross avoid a blood shortage that could affect patients in our community and beyond. Sign up to donate blood today. I did!

On Monday, July 3, 2017, there will be the fourth annual reading of the Frederick Douglass Speech “The Meaning of the Fourth of July to the Negro.” The program will start at 12 pm and end around 1:30 pm, in the Meetinghouse of the Federated Church at 45 South Summer St., Edgartown. This is a free community event, cosponsored by the Friends of the Edgartown Library and the Federated Church.

The speech was originally given on July 5, 1852, to the Rochester Anti-Slavery and

Sewing Society. Five years later, in December 1857, Mr. Douglass gave his speech “The Unity of Man” to an audience at the First Congregational Church, now known as the Federated Church, and at the Edgartown Town Hall. “The Meaning of the Fourth of July to the Negro” is an incredibly moving presentation of the viewpoint of black society, responding very differently than the white society, in celebrating the Fourth of July. “Independence” protected the rights of white citizens, but not black citizens. Very powerfully written, the presenters include Island residents from many different backgrounds. For more information, call 508-627-4421, email admin@federatedchurchmv.org, or check out our website at federatedchurchmv.org.

The Martha’s Vineyard Book Festival returns to the island this summer on August 5 and 6, for its seventh extraordinary season. With a stellar lineup of some of the country’s leading authors, the festival highlights great books and great writing while promoting discussion on the leading issues of the day. The festival features two days of readings, panel discussions, author interviews, and book signings.

The festival takes place in two locations on the Island, with Saturday held down-Island in Edgartown, and Sunday up-Island in Chilmark. On Saturday, August 5, the festival features authors speaking on panel discussions at the Harbor View Hotel. On Sunday, August 6, the festival moves to the grounds of the Chilmark Community Center, where it is held in tents. In Chilmark, each author will have an individual discussion, often in an interview format, about his or her work. Hours each day will be 9 am to 4 pm. For a list of authors and the schedule, check out the website at mvbookfestival.com. The festival is free and open to all.

I wish you all a wonderful, safe week. Please drive carefully. I’m particularly aware of the crazy driving out there, now that my kids are driving and out and about without me. Riley’s accident a couple of weeks ago was a huge wake-up call for me. Last week, I saw a fancy SUV pull up on the lawn in front of the Square Rigger to go around a bus waiting to turn left into Dark Woods. The girl crossing the street in front of the bus, whom the driver of the SUV could not see prior to his reckless maneuver, had to run the rest of the way across the street. And just yesterday I watched someone pass multiple cars on Beach Road in the middle of the afternoon. It was very scary to witness, knowing that at any moment a child could jump out from between the cars. I know it tries our patience to get stuck in traffic. I know we all still have our day-to-day lives here, with work and appointments and the rest of the stuff built into daily life. But if you can, be patient. Be cautious. Leave 5 or 10 minutes earlier, if possible. Take back routes. Just be safe. For you and for others.

Islanders: looking for fun in your own backyard? Check out vineyardvisitor.com