Authors Posts by Pat Waring

Pat Waring

Pat Waring

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In a bittersweet change, Mr. Waters will pick up the gavel Pat Gregory wielded so adroitly until his murder last year.

Dan Waters will step to the podium Tuesday in his first annual West Tisbury town meeting.

Dan Waters knows he will be filling some big shoes when he steps to the podium to conduct his first West Tisbury annual town meeting Tuesday. Being a novice town moderator is challenging in any circumstance, but Mr. Waters will be taking the gavel wielded by the late Francis “Pat” Gregory since 1992 until his murder last year.

On May 16, 2014, Mr. Gregory, 69, and a 76-year-old friend and hiking companion from the small nearby town of Manton, Calif., were not far from a trailhead just off heavily traveled Highway 36E, north of the county seat of Red Bluff in Tehama County, when they encountered a man who robbed and then shot them. The men did not resist, police said. There have been no arrests.

In this file photo, Pat Gregory stands in his familiar place at the town meeting podium.
In this file photo, Pat Gregory stands in his familiar place at the town meeting podium.

The news shocked the Island community. His family and friends were devastated. West Tisbury and Island residents had lost a friend, neighbor, colleague, teacher, and a community-minded business leader.

West Tisbury’s well-liked and respected town moderator was gone. Voters had come to appreciate his gracious, measured, and knowledgeable style at the podium. Many found it hard to imagine a town meeting without him, and doubted that anyone could take his place.

Last fall Dan Waters came forward, expressing his intention to run for moderator. Although widely known as a poet, printmaker, and musician, Mr. Waters has been long involved in West Tisbury community life. He served on the cultural council, working to join six town councils into a regional body. Elected library trustee in 2007, he worked tirelessly on the expansion and renovation project, often serving as public spokesman at forums and town meetings.

“I was the person least shy about talking in front of a group,” he said.

He has served as development director for the Martha’s Vineyard Museum for two years.

Born in New Jersey, raised in Brazil, and educated at Wesleyan University in Connecticut, Mr. Waters has lived on the Vineyard since 1977, moving to Oak Bluffs with his partner, Island native Hal Garneau, who would become his husband in 2004. They built a home in West Tisbury in 1984, and established the small Indian Hill Press, which Mr. Waters now uses for his own work.

Kicked in the gut

When Mr. Gregory was murdered, Mr. Waters grieved with his neighbors. Soon he began searching for ways to help the town heal.

“We all felt we’d been kicked in the gut,” Mr. Waters said. “You could not believe what you were seeing in the news. There was no way that could be true. How do you respond to this?”

“Someone needed to step up,” Mr. Waters recalled thinking. “We are bigger than this. We will rise above this somehow.”

Mr. Waters thought for a long time about what could be done to begin alleviating the widespread despair and disorientation. He believed he could play a part by running for moderator, a significant role.

“A moderator’s job is helping people work through problems and come to a consensus as a town as to the best way forward,” he said. “The moderator is a lens that helps people focus on their thoughts.

“Pat was a wonderful man. He was generous and fair. He was part of our identity. He made town moderator a job you’d want to do well. He brought pride to it.”

Mr. Waters said many others in town were well qualified, and he would have welcomed competition, but none appeared. He was grateful to receive a number of appreciative notes and calls from residents when they heard he was a candidate.

“I am not a genius, I am not great at math, or law, and government, but I am a writer, and that helps a little,” Mr. Waters said. “I have brought people together over some issues. I am determined to be the best moderator I can be in my own way.”

Mr. Waters was elected, running unopposed on the November ballot. West Tisbury had its new moderator. And Mr. Waters had a lot of preparation to do.

Preparing for the role

He had the advantage of knowing many residents from living for years in town and working on the library project. Learning the nuts and bolts of the moderator’s job was another hurdle.

Mr. Waters said Town Meeting Time: A Handbook of Parliamentary Law, published by the Massachusetts Moderators Association, has been a valuable resource. He noted that Robert’s Rules of Order are not as applicable to the unique New England town meeting, “a particular kind of animal.”

“There are things you can’t do at town meeting you can in regular organizations,” he explained.

“Tradition is more important than a manual,” Mr. Waters said, adding that even the book advises moderators to follow what their town meeting has done in the past, “because that’s how people are used to governing themselves.”

Mr. Waters familiarized himself with current town affairs and projects and the budget. He attended a board meeting to hear details on one issue slated for consideration at town meeting. He joined the Massachusetts Moderators Association, and attended his first meeting.

Recently he has been carefully watching a decade’s worth of West Tisbury town meetings on DVD, faithfully filmed by the late Jonathan Revere for MVTV, footage he calls “an incredible resource.”

He said he wishes he could have prepared for the job by working with Mr. Gregory, but that watching the longtime moderator on film has been instructive and inspiring.

“He had a combination of tact and humor and humility that built trust,” he said. “He could make a mistake, he would readily admit it, do a hand count, be corrected, laugh it off, and be perfectly on his feet for the rest of the meeting. That kind of grace is something I can only hope to achieve.”

Now that he has the job, Mr. Waters said, many townspeople are anxious to share their ideas and opinions.

“I get a lot of advice from people in Cronig’s,” he added with his characteristic wide smile.

With April 14 approaching, Mr. Waters reviewed the warrant with selectmen and town counsel to consider major articles and those that may engender debate, identifying individuals who can be called on to answer questions.

Mr. Waters said it is unpredictable which articles will pass readily and which will bring controversy. It may not be a major expenditure, but an inexpensive measure that is hotly disputed on principle, he observed. He is determined to be sensitive about managing discussion.

“I’m happy to give people time if they’re making a new point,” he said. “But I don’t want a talkative person to discourage a shy person from sharing what may be the telling point of the evening. An important point can be made in very few words.”

Mr. Waters said no amount of homework or memorization can prepare a moderator for everything that may come up.

He recognizes it may be challenging for him when articles require a certain percentage in favor and votes must be counted, when discussion wanders outside the scope of an article, when one item is contingent on another’s passage, when voters amend an article from the floor, which invariably leads to a struggle over wording.

“A room of 200 or 300 people room really can’t put two words together,” he quipped.

Mr. Waters said he is very thankful that town counsel Ron Rappaport has pledged to be at his side, helping sort through any knotty legal or procedural details.

“I’m looking forward to the moment when we adjourn and it’s before 11 o’clock at night and everybody goes home relieved,” Mr. Waters said with a slight chuckle.

“We’ll get through this together, we will,” pledged Mr. Waters. “I think there will come a moment in the night, probably early on, when we realize it’s going to be OK.”

Despite the preparation and guidance he has received, Mr. Waters is mindful of the weighty significance of stepping to the podium and calling the West Tisbury annual town meeting to order Tuesday.

“I’m sure my heart will be in my throat,” he admitted.

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Lessons from Organize MV on how to control the paper population.

Kim D'Arcy of Organize MV, and three of her four children (from left) Teagan, Colby, and Devyn. — Photo courtesy of Kim D'Arcy

“Do you ever feel you’re losing your battle with paper?” Kim D’Arcy of Organize MV asked participants at her “Paper Spaces and Places” workshop on Feb. 11 at the Vineyard Montessori School.

Participants nodded knowingly as Ms. D’Arcy offered encouragement that the flow of paper into our homes can be controlled. “‘I’m drowning in paper'; I hear that a lot,” Ms. D’Arcy said. But she emphasized that success takes determination, planning, discipline, and most important — a system.

During her 90-minute PowerPoint presentation, Ms. D’Arcy explained how incoming paper becomes a seemingly unmanageable deluge, and suggested steps for stemming and organizing the tide.

After startling stats about paper clutter and its cost in time, money, and peace of mind, Ms. D’Arcy offered facts, insights, and detailed instructions about gaining the upper hand.

Paper comes into homes daily — bills, brochures, invitations, children’s artwork, school schedules, appointment cards, coupons, newspapers, dreaded catalogs.

If you’re still battling your paper piles despite your New Year’s resolution, it’s time to take action.

“Paper is stressful because you need to make so many decisions,” said Ms. D’Arcy. “Paper clutter is no more than postponed decisions!” Get started with today’s paper, she urged. Set up a system now. Leave backlogged paper for another time. “Every piece of paper in your home needs its own place!”

Minimize: Eliminate paper before it arrives. Presort and toss at the post office. Limit magazine subscriptions to two or three. Use web sites to manage catalogs.

When paper arrives: Create and consistently use an “in-box.” Leave paper there until you are ready to handle it. Deal with paper daily.

Categorize: Action (e.g. bill to pay, invitation needing reply), reference (e.g. sports schedule, recipe, appointment card), archive (e.g. old taxes, paid bills). Create a place for each category. It can be a box, basket, notebook, or bulletin board — whatever works for you.

Ms. D’Arcy, a mother, teacher, volunteer, and member of the National Association of Professional Organizers, offers services to homes and small businesses. She will present a workshop in the Oak Bluffs library’s Fit in ’15 series this spring. For more info, visit

Each week there is a plethora of cultural events to take advantage of around the Island, and we’d love to hear what you chose from the local Calendar listings. Whatever it is, we challenge you to do it and share it with us at

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After two weeks of renovations fans and friends of the Martha’s Vineyard Community Services (MVCS) Thrift Shop attend the reopening party.

From left: Thrift Shop employees Zachary Sawmiller, Sandy Pratt, and Noavakay Knight in the newly renovated store. – Photo by Michael Cummo

After two weeks of deprivation while renovations were underway, fans and friends of the Martha’s Vineyard Community Services (MVCS) Thrift Shop in Vineyard Haven turned out for the reopening party last Saturday afternoon. Giddy from melting temperatures and delighted for an outing, visitors welcomed the bright walls, the airy, uncluttered new space, and the gleaming, colorful floor.

“It smells good!” said one woman, breathing deeply.

It being February, familiar faces were everywhere. Visitors and volunteers enjoyed snacks, music, and socializing. Sandy Pratt, thrift shop manager, assistant manager Noavakay Knight, and assistant Zachary Sawmiller greeted well-wishers.

“It took a village to do this,” Ms. Pratt said, grateful for those who worked.

Ms. Knight’s tiny dog, a fixture at the shop, happily accepted pats and compliments.

Chicken Alley Thrift Shop hosted a reopening party last Saturday. – Photo by Michael Cummo
Chicken Alley Thrift Shop hosted a reopening party last Saturday. – Photo by Michael Cummo

Furnishings were minimal, but the few racks and shelving units offered enticements. Amid the revelry, partygoers took the chance to shop. Browsing was better than ever in the uncrowded display areas. Happy customers left with clothing, kitchenware, appliances, and books.

Anna Marie D’Addarie, program coordinator at the Oak Bluffs library, arrived promptly, and within minutes was heading to the cash register with a set of English china flowered demitasse cups and saucers.

Island newcomer Rizwan Malik, administrative coordinator at the Martha’s Vineyard Museum, clutched sturdy white soup bowls. He and wife Allyson had already purchased many necessities here.

“I love the floor, I think it’s great,” said Jim Pringle from Oak Bluffs, a 25-year veteran of the MVCS Possible Dreams Auction Committee, as he considered a Crock-Pot.

Taking in the scene, professional organizer Noreen Baker of Vineyard Haven, a.k.a. the Clutter Queen, said she often recommends the shop to clients for shedding unwanted belongings.

“It’s really inviting,” said Ellie Bates, adding that she visits frequently. “I like those empty shelves. It means they’ll be taking new donations.”

Zephir Plume of Vineyard Haven came to see, not to buy, despite leaving with a new pair of leather gloves.

Even this reporter, determined not to shop or spend, couldn’t resist two quality sweaters — J.Jill and Eileen Fisher! — and three wineglasses.

A long set by singer-songwriter Jemima James, performing with Goodnight Louise, was a highlight. Between tunes, band members appreciated the stylish footwear displayed nearby.

Patrons pulled up chairs, and 8-year-old Connecticut Langhammer twirled around the floor. At 14 months old, even little Ivy Korba took bouncy steps to the beat of the music.

Later, Jeff Pratt used his well-honed DJ skills to keep the energy festive.

Though stock was lower than usual, thanks to sales and free days before the closure, staff had no doubt shelves would soon be packed again.

Doors shut on Jan. 23, and workers kept up a feverish pace. Fondly known as the Chicken Alley Thrift Shop, the 50-year-old enterprise earns needed funds for MVCS. Ms. Pratt proudly said gross income for 2014 neared $500,000. This was the first major facelift since the “Thrift” moved here from Main Street 11 years ago.

The project was massive, from moving everything into storage pods to dealing with extreme weather. Volunteers painted walls, and a professional crew did the floors with industrial-grade Rust-Oleum epoxy.

The clean, bright space was ready Feb. 4. Staff took the opportunity to reconfigure the layout for better flow and organization. Fitting rooms moved, and the front counter now faces the door so volunteers can better greet customers and donors.

Relieved and pleased, Ms. Pratt said the thrift shop is moving ahead with a strong presence on social media, an increasing involvement of youth and young adults, and may even host occasional musical events.

“It’s a community space,” she declared emphatically.

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The ceremony Friday night included the presentation of the first Pat Gregory Award to Beka El-Deiry, owner of Island Window Design.

Award winner Beka El-Deiry, flanked by Shannon Carbon, left, and Dorothy Gregory. –Photo by Angelina Godbout

Youthful pride and exuberance was in the air for the fifth annual Martha’s Vineyard Youth Leadership Institute (MVYLI) Job Shadow Day reception at the Harbor View Hotel in Edgartown Friday evening. Proud family members and friends filled the hotel’s dining room to cheer on 10 regional high school students, and hear them and their mentors describe the work they had done together so far, and their plans for the future.

From left, award winners Avery Hazell, Kelsey Moreis, Noah Kienhenz, Elijah LaRue, Lila Norris, Lucie Dougherty-Soares, Taynara Goncalves, Maisie Jarrell, Benjamin Nadelstein and Kristine Hopkins.
From left, award winners Avery Hazell, Kelsey Moreis, Noah Kienhenz, Elijah LaRue, Lila Norris, Lucie Dougherty-Soares, Taynara Goncalves, Maisie Jarrell, Benjamin Nadelstein and Kristine Hopkins.

Students came from every class, freshman to senior. The mentors, who generously dedicated their time to introduce the youths to a potential career, represented many fields, including medicine, publishing, small business management, counseling, event planning, and much more.

An especially moving moment was the presentation of the first Pat Gregory Award to Beka El-Deiry, owner of Island Window Design. She was honored as a small business owner and for service to the community. She serves on the MVYLI Advisory Council, and works on the American Heroes Saltwater Challenge.

Mr. Gregory, a well-known and widely liked and respected businessman and community activist who was West Tisbury’s town moderator, died last May, robbed and shot while hiking with a friend, who was also shot but survived, in California. He had participated as a mentor for the MVYLI Job Shadow Day. Ms. El-Deiry had been Mr. Gregory’s student at the West Tisbury School, and he would often check in with her after she began her own business.

Student Maisie Jarrell, right, with her mentor Megan Honey.
Student Maisie Jarrell, right, with her mentor Megan Honey.

Ms. El-Deiry fondly recalled days in Mr. Gregory’s classroom, and how he inspired students with his passion for computers, which were new at the time.

“He is a model for all things we all strive to be,” said Ms. El-Deiry. “I’m very honored. He will be in my heart forever.”

Dorothy Gregory and their daughter, Shannon Gregory Carbon, watched from their table as the award was presented.

“My father believed in giving one’s time and the power of a guiding hand,” said Ms. Carbon later. “He would have loved seeing Beka honored for her work.”

Patti Leighton of the Martha’s Vineyard Savings Bank served as emcee, welcoming the audience, thanking the hotel, and speaking briefly about the Job Shadow program.

“It gives the student a leg up, not only educationally but as a person,” Ms. Leighton said.

She added that the program provides a valuable growth opportunity for the students, and for the entire community, which will benefit from their contributions as they mature and participate as adult citizens. Ms. Leighton called each pair to the podium for a photo, and presented students with certificates of achievement.

Students with aspirations

First up was Ben Nadelstein, briefly abandoning his video camera to receive his certificate. Ben had been busy videotaping the event and interviews with each student-mentor duo in the Harbor View’s lobby.

Ben, a sophomore, said he hopes to learn all about video work during his mentorship with Kevin McGrath, high school librarian.

“I had heard that Ben was the next Jon Stewart,” quipped Mr. McGrath, saying that he was looking forward to working with the enthusiastic young videographer.

“Elijah is a model young man!” said businessman Norman Hall of his mentee, Elijah LaRue.

Elijah had explained his goals briefly, saying that he had already gained valuable insights about business management from Mr. Hall, and was excited to learn more.

But Mr. Hall said the high school junior had shared other aspirations when they met that impressed him deeply. Elijah told him he was once a member of Young Brothers to Men at the regional high school, and that he and his friends want to revive the group. He also wants to mentor young people when he gets older.

“Here’s a young man who wants to help other people,” said Mr. Hall, “and I want to help him.”

Senior Kristine Hopkins visited Leslie Hurd Tully’s publishing office when staff was immersed in the final magazine-production process.

“Kristine really observed and asked good questions,” said Ms. Tully.

“She has such love and care for each of her patients,” said Taynara Goncalves, a junior, who spent a day shadowing family pediatrician Julia Stunkel, M.D., at her Martha’s Vineyard Hospital office.

When junior Lucie Dougherty-Soares shadowed Jennifer Neary, program director at Connect to End Violence, she was struck by the challenges staff face in working with clients in difficult situations.

As her mentor, Ms. Neary offered practical advice: “Regardless of what is going on in everyday life and work, it’s all about self-care. Take care of yourself.”

Junior Maisie Jarrell was bustling around during the reception, trying out skills learned while mentoring in event planning with Megan Honey, Harbor View special events manager.

“I really love weddings,” she confided. “I think it’s magical how they come together. I felt event planning would be a great career.”

But Maisie said despite her positive experience, she wants to explore many other careers before choosing.

Noah Kienhenz spoke about his future plans and hopes.
Noah Kienhenz spoke about his future plans and hopes.

Other participants included student Kelsey Moreis with psychology professional Grace Burton-Sundman; Noah Kleinhenz, who pursued his interest in environmental engineering by studying with marine biologist Emma Green Beach of the Martha’s Vineyard Shellfish Group; Emily Hazell explored small business ownership with Beka El-Deiry. Freshman Lila Norris joined Maisie Jarrell in learning the basics of event planning.

“The more experience you get when you’re younger, the more you know what you want to do when you’re older,” said Ms. El-Deiry about the value to students of working with a mentor.

“When we invest in financial world, we see good dividends,” said Ms. Leighton as the event wound down. “But when we also invest in our youth, it comes back twofold.

“This can let them try a career path without costing their parents money. By the time they get to college, they have a better idea of what they want to do.”

MVYLI is a project of the Stone Soup Leadership Institute, a nonprofit educational organization founded on the Vineyard in 1997 by Marianne  Larned. It is dedicated to developing tools, programs, and community initiatives that inspire young people to address the critical issues they face — personally, locally, and globally.

According to Ms. Larned, Job Shadow Day is one aspect of a year-round program for MVYLI participants. Students are nominated by individuals or organizations in the community, and gather for a weeklong Youth Leadership Summit in June. Activities during the school year include weekly meetings, community service projects, and college visits, and students may receive help with college and scholarship applications. Vineyard youth ages 14 to 22 are welcome to apply, and all activities are free.

For more information, go to For details on how to nominate a young person contact:

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Martha's Vineyard Family History Open House connects the past to the present.

Bill and Aubyn Veno of Edgartown get assistance from Kelton Truscott of Bellingham (pictured in orange) conducting research on their genealogy. — Photo by Pat Waring

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church) in Vineyard Haven was a warm, bright oasis in the midst of the damp gray chill of a late January Saturday. The daylong Martha’s Vineyard Family History Open House, on January 24, co-sponsored by the church and the Vineyard chapter of the Massachusetts Society of Genealogists, drew some 50 Vineyarders, who ducked in from the rain and immersed themselves in fascinating explorations of Vineyard history and their family backgrounds. The M.V. Family History Center operates as part of the church.

The welcome was warm too, as church representatives greeted visitors at the door and invited them to tour the informative displays, or to sit down and get started on family research.

The spacious facility took on the atmosphere of a busy classroom or library, humming with activity, as visitors paired up with host experts at several computer stations. Members of the LDS Church and the genealogists’ society guided attendees through the daunting steps of launching a search for long-lost relatives or family details. The guides were patient and thorough, prompting visitors to ask the right questions that could provide a key to gaining basic information needed to get a family search underway.

Brent Brown of Oak Bluffs, president of the Vineyard LDS Church congregation, worked with Susan Fraser of Chilmark as they tried various spellings of her mother’s name, hoping to locate her on a long-past census record. Nearby, Sister Virginia Flores assisted Barbara Armstrong of Menemsha in exploring early family details.

The scene was repeated around the room again and again throughout the day. Visitors left with new information and newfound confidence about continuing their family research.

Sister Jessica Bentley was one of several youthful church missionaries assisting patrons. She said that after fulfilling 18-month missionary assignments, these young people will return to daily lives and work.

“Family is central to everything we believe and do in our church,” Sister Bentley said. “So from a young age we’re taught to search out our ancestors.”

Along with opportunities for hands-on personal research, there was more to learn in displays of books, brochures, and illustrated family history charts by local genealogists.

Island author and genealogist Alfred Woollacott III was brimming with enthusiasm about his latest volume, The Immigrant, the historical saga of his early Scottish ancestor, John Law, who became an English prisoner of war. (See review of The Immigrant on C5).

Mr. Woollacott, who has focused on genealogy since 2006, said the work is captivating. When he teaches the subject at Adult and Community Education of Marthas Vineyard (ACE MV), Mr. Woollacott said he issues a warning: “Caution: Genealogical research can be addictive, and may even lead to compulsive, obsessive behavior.”

Kay Mayhew, M.V. Museum’s longtime genealogist, shared information on Vineyard genealogy and oversaw a table of museum resources. The Massachusetts Society of Genealogists offered materials with research tips and membership benefits. The group’s president, Pat Stano-Carpenter, traveled from Marlboro for the event.

Nearby, Marna Waller, president of the society’s Martha’s Vineyard chapter, said the local group boasts some 20 enthusiastic members who gather at the LDS Church for monthly meetings. “We have a good ongoing relationship,” Ms. Waller said gratefully of the church. Meetings feature occasional guest speakers or workshop sessions where members share and seek input on their current research projects.

Elizabeth Villard presided over a table heaped with compelling information on her gravestone-restoration project. Ms. Villard, an Edgartown cemetery commissioner, was promoting her determined effort to preserve ancient gravestones in Edgartown and Vineyard Haven. The project has already received $5,000 in Community Preservation Act (CPA) grants from both towns for assessment by an expert, and she hopes that voters will pass another $10,000 each in CPA monies to begin the actual restoration work.

The bustling activity continued all afternoon, with attendees sitting at computers and exchanging ideas. Mr. Brown said he was delighted with the turnout for the church’s first-ever family history open house. He said that because of its popularity, the group will likely offer another next year.

“I think our big success is helping an individual find another date or name or piece of important information to help continue their family tree,” he said. Mr. Brown explained that the LDS Church highly values family history and connecting with one’s forebears. “We believe that by seeking out our ancestors, we can connect with them and help them out in the hereafter,” he said.

Mr. Brown said that knowing family history can have an important impact on an individual. “It grounds them, it steadies them, it gives them the ability to overcome,” he said. Mr. Brown explained that someone going through a life crisis could look back at how ancestors coped.

“Hey, if they can do it, I can do it,” can be the positive response, he said.

The LDS Church in Vineyard Haven offers genealogical research consultation and guidance free of charge. Those seeking assistance may make an appointment by calling 508-693-8642. The LDS Church also provides an online search of the millions of names in its International Genealogical Index, available to members and nonmembers, at


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Novem, from left: Dorian Lopes, Brad Austin, Shelley Brown, Julie Williamson-Moffet, Jenny Friedman, Joyce Maxner, Ken Romero and Kevin Ryan. (Accompanist: Peter Boak) —Photo by Michael Cummo

Trinity Methodist Church in the Oak Bluffs Campground was all aglow on Wednesday evening, December 17, a welcoming haven of serenity and loveliness for the 18th annual Reflections of Peace Concert. Held every Christmas season, the well-loved concert gathers many of the Island’s top musicians performing to benefit Hospice of Martha’s Vineyard.

Audience members arrived early, filling the pews, and quietly greeting friends and neighbors. The 1820s vintage church with its white walls, dark wood trim, and tall Tiffany-inspired windows, was adorned simply but brightly for the season. Candles glowed, an angel-topped tree sparkled with white lights, and evergreen wreaths, red bows, and a bouquet of red and white roses added Christmas color.

For many audience members, the concert is a yearly tradition, an evening of contemplative and uplifting music and community during the busy season. Many come not only for love of music, but also for love of Hospice, which has touched so many families.

Hospice director Terre Young welcomed the appreciative crowd, thanking all who contributed to the evening. “We couldn’t do it without you,” she said. “We make an important difference, and you are part of that difference.”

She reported gratefully that since its beginning Reflections of Peace has raised $50,945 for the organization, and she emphasized that all Hospice care is given for free.

“What makes this concert so special is the collection of beautiful musicians who work very, very hard at such a busy time of year to bring the community to a special place and give us this music with an intention of peace and calm,” Ms. Young said the following day. “They do it for Hospice; they understand how important we are to this community.”

The annual concert is a gift of love to Hospice and the community through the dedication of founders and producers Kevin and Joanne Ryan, and the generosity of the musicians who play for free.

Mr. Ryan, who also sang in the performance, said their intent is to benefit and bring public recognition to Hospice. He said that Hospice has been invaluable to his family during deaths of loved ones, so he knows its importance well. He added that musicians chose the selections with care, to fit the theme.

“This is a message of hope, a message of peace,” he said.

Many guests of the Reflections of Peace concert attend year after year. —Photo by Michael Cummo
Many guests of the Reflections of Peace concert attend year after year. —Photo by Michael Cummo

Lynne Whiting shared rich Hospice experiences as a recipient of comforting bereavement support then as a volunteer, deeply honored to care for her first patient. Later, the understanding she gained through Hospice helped during her mother’s death.

“I could not have done what I did with such grace if it had not been for Hospice training,” she said.

The exquisitely performed music expressed the caring and gentleness that is the essence of Hospice and it soothed the soul.

From the tone-setting meditation on “Of the Father’s Love Begotten” played by the gifted Brown brothers, Garrett and Wesley, effectively pairing the woodwind-voiced organ with bright, clear piano,to whispered notes of “Still, Still, Still” suspended in the air like snowflakes, the program was striking for its unusual selections. Many were refreshingly unfamiliar even to dedicated lovers of Christmas music. Those better known were set to innovative arrangements, making them shine like new.

Novem, the polished vocal octet was the mainstay of the program with guest musicians. The group opened with “Torches,” a rousing call to the manger on Christmas night in Bethlehem. For “Lo, How a Rose E’er Blooming,” Peter Boak twined piano lines from Beethoven’s Pathetique Sonata through the verses, a surprising and perfect match.

Mr. Boak, whose piano accompaniments were at once unobtrusive and glowing performances in themselves, sang in the first concert. He has taken part ever since, inspired by the joy the music brings to audiences, and the important work of Hospice.

“We’re walking in the air, we’re floating in the midnight sky,” fanciful lyrics from “The Snowman,” shimmered. Scored for four women’s voices, they conjured dreamy visions of a boy’s journey with the friendly snowman.

Shelly Brown and Joyce Maxner’s tinkling, delicate “Flower Duet” from Delibes’s opera Lakme was breathtaking, their clear voices joining with easy grace in close harmonies and challenging runs.

In “Wondrous Star” Jenny Friedman’s bell-like soprano floated around Brad Austin’s bass, conveying sweetly mysterious Christmas enchantment.

Other Novem artists included Julie Williamson, Ken Romero, Dorian Lopes, and Kevin Ryan.

Brian Weiland and his talented teens, Liam playing cello and Avalon harp, offered a trio of carols arranged by Mr. Weiland himself. “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel” was haunting, men’s voices trading lines, Liam’s cello a rich complement to his father’s guitar. Ms. Weiland’s harp added delicate texture to the Scottish “Aran Boat Song,” a modal, dance-like instrumental. “I Wonder as I Wander” evoked that night sky, long ago.

“Wassail” promised old-fashioned Yuletide revelry; “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” melded memory with hope. John Rutter’s lovely “Christmas Lullaby” was a sweetly sacred cradle song, a gentle, angelic hymn to the blessed mother and baby.

Finally, musicians and audience joined in a hushed, companionable singing of “Silent Night,” holding a promise of “heavenly peace” as they filed out into the Vineyard evening.

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Vineyard calendars by local photographers make great holiday gifts. —Photo by Michael Cummo

The turning of the year is always a momentous event, leaving the old year behind and embarking on the adventure ahead. It may be exciting; it may be daunting. But we all deserve a fresh start, and an inspiring picture to look at when we wake up New Year’s morning. So what better way to mark this bright beginning than with a bright new Island calendar?

Whether the calendar offers a colorful tour through Island landscapes or takes a close-up focus on wildlife and pets, there is one for every inclination.

When it comes to last-minute gifts, a Vineyard calendar is a tasteful choice, and easy on the budget. Buy them for friends and family, but don’t forget to buy one for yourself.

As he has for more than 25 years, Peter Simon captures just the right image to convey the feeling of each month, each Island season. It is always a perfect match. For many who wait for his iconic Vineyard Calendar, no other will do. Some images are surprising, some witty, some quintessential Vineyard vistas. Musings by writers from the Island and far beyond pair with Mr. Simon’s images to set the monthly mood.

The cover shot exudes a palpable sense of hot, dry summertime with a pile of sandy beach rocks soaking up sun. But before we grab swimsuits, check out the icicles festooning a Vineyard Haven Harbor pier. We shiver at the deep chill in the air as the ferry glides away.

Children dance through daffodils in April, all springtime exuberance, as is May’s lush froth of apple blossoms. Art lovers will blink twice in June where a soft-focus flowery seaside scene with masts filling the harbor could be an impressionist painting. A secluded South Shore beach beckons, a white horse grazes by a stone wall. And come December, the Ocean Park Gazebo sparkles with little lights.

New last year, the Vineyard Colors Calendar has an unmistakable look and personality. It was launched when Moira Fitzgerald and Yann Meersemman got the idea to gather into a calendar the early-morning scenes they shot while delivering newspapers.

From January surf crashing on Squibnocket Beach, coating the rocks with ice, a March full moon floating in just above the Aquinnah horizon, glassy water at Nashaquitsa, the landscapes are breathtaking and filled with atmosphere. Fleecy spring lambs explore a farmyard, Edgartown celebrates summer with the Stars and Stripes, the August Campground is a riot of color, lanterns, and sunshine.

Dan Waters sums up each month’s view and vibe with spare and supple poetry. Images are echoed below the month for a colorful layout, and fanciful icons mark important Island events.

Our feathered and furry friends in their natural environs fill the popular Wildlife of Martha’s Vineyard Calendar. Originated 12 years ago by photographer and conservationist Penny Uhlendorf, the compact calendar is now produced by the Felix Neck Advisory Committee. It features work by a half-dozen photographers, and sales benefit the sanctuary’s Natural History program.

On Tim Johnson’s cover, purple sandpipers burst skyward as a wave crashes. Inside is a majestically soaring osprey, a large marbled godwit spreading golden brown wings, a delicate little brown sparrow on the beach.

Ken Magnuson captures an image of a bright-eyed chipmunk on a boulder, ready to scurry. Shiny river otters doze in the sun.

Not forgetting our insect neighbors, the calendar includes Bill Bridwell’s leggy praying mantis and Lanny McDowell’s close-up dragonfly with iridescent wings.

Sarah Mayhew’s young turkey fluffing soft feathers will win over the most determined turkey detractor. Tim Johnson’s December gift is a large snowy owl atop an evergreen, peaceful and magical as befits the season.

After 10 years of producing her well-loved Vineyard Seadogs Calendar, Lisa Vanderhoop is as enthusiastic as ever about capturing the cutest photos of the most appealing canines living the life that only lucky Island dogs get to live. And she has not run out of dogs or bright ideas yet.

These engaging canines deliver a meaningful New Year’s message. As they live life to the fullest — exuberant, taking risks, enjoying every effervescent, water-splashed moment, then relaxing in the sunshine — they encourage us to do the same.

Bodhi, the soft golden retriever pup in the dunes, will win every heart. A festive red “Box of Chocolates” brims over with chocolate lab pups. These seadogs dive, dig, go fishing, and two graceful collies pose by the Gay Head Light, urging us to help save it. Older dogs are wise, reflective, walk the beach, take their time.

German shepherd fans will love the litter of fluffy shepherd pups, exploring the shoreline with innocent fascination. For sheer elegance, there is Millie, a white German shepherd on the snowy beach, a holiday treat for next December.

New to us this year are captivating calendars by Lynn Christoffers and Sarah Mayhew.

Ms. Christoffers, whose Cats of Martha’sVineyard (Vineyard Stories, 2013) is a must for every cat lover, combines images from the book with some new pictures in her calendars. Hang the traditional wall calendar, or keep your kitties up close and personal in a handy desktop format. A specialty edition features Cats of West Tisbury.

A silver-grey green-eyed tiger stretches in the grass, prickling with energy. Languorous Betty lounges on a polished table. Kittens snuggle, loll, and cavort; serene Daphne, a calico tiger, suns herself in the driveway. There is robust marmalade Kitty, a willowy Siamese, and Bear, a sturdy black fellow stalking the beach. Mouse, a mischievous little “tuxedo cat,” balances on a tree branch, just out of reach.

Longtime wildlife photographer Sarah Mayhew, who divides her year between California and her family’s West Tisbury home, has been producing a bird calendar for several years, selling it at summer markets and by mail.

One need not be an avid birder to admire this charming calendar with its many Island scenes and West Coast views.

Beginning with a soft snowy owl on the cover, the birds are noble and graceful, delicate and perky. A white common tern soars in a clear blue sky. Great blue herons perch, spectral, on bare tree limbs. A plump little barn swallow opens his beak wide, like any baby, waiting for mom’s food delivery.

Most of these calendars are available in Island shops and can be located online. For information on purchasing calendars by Lynn Christoffers and Sarah Mayhew, contact or

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New shelf stable chocolate bars by Not Your Sugar Mama's are debuting stores around New England. —Photo by Michael Cummo

Two idealistic young Island women, both committed to healthy food, clean living, and “kick-ass chocolate,” launched Not Your Sugar Mamas (NYSM), a tiny, homegrown enterprise, in 2011.

Now, only three years later, NYSM has grown through trial, error, and remarkable success. The line has expanded and been refined. Products are sold in 130 shops across New England, including 19 Whole Foods branches. With their new tempered raw chocolate bars added to original favorites, owners Bennett Coffey and Kyleen Keenan are gearing up for nationwide distribution.

Owners Kyleen Keenan (left) and Bennett Coffey with Ms. Keenan's daughter Francesca at their Vineyard Haven chocolate factory. —Photo by Michael Cummo
Owners Kyleen Keenan (left) and Bennett Coffey with Ms. Keenan’s daughter Francesca at their Vineyard Haven chocolate factory. —Photo by Michael Cummo

But they are not neglecting their Island customers. NYSM is opening its chocolate factory in Tisbury Market Place for a “Pop-Up Shop” December 15 through 19, and December 22. This Thursday, Dec. 18, 4 to 7 pm, chocolate lovers are invited to enjoy samples and healthy, festive beverages, music by DJ Pretty Ninja, and browse the array of scrumptious gift choices.

Nor are they abandoning their original mission: to “spread health, happiness, and love through powerful superfoods.”

It may sound like a fun project, beginning a friendly little health food chocolate business on an Island with a like-minded friend. But although the owners have always maintained their excitement and enthusiasm about the enterprise and the products, they are quick to explain that NYSM is not a casual candy-making pastime. It is a serious business requiring hard work, from planning and production, to packaging and marketing.

The Times talked with the two women last week in Ms. Keenan’s comfortable living room, sampling the newest chocolate bars while Ms. Keenan’s baby daughter napped nearby.

Change has been a constant as the business grew. While some new ideas were discarded as impractical or not productive, every experience provided learning.

“We thrive on seeing growth and progress,” Ms. Keenan said. “The business looks different every year. So much changes. That makes us happy, that’s what we want to see.”

Asked whether they were surprised at the success of NYSM and the leap to selling nationwide, both said no.

“We always thought about the business in a big way,” Ms. Coffey said. “We wanted it to be something that sustains us here.”

The duo started with organic raw chocolate and a commitment to natural, sustainable, healthy ingredients. Ms. Coffey was the kitchen wizard, experimenting with combinations and techniques, perfecting the original raw chocolate refrigerated bars.

A holistic nutrition counselor, Ms. Coffey studied at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition in New York City. Discovering the delights of raw chocolate, she began working on recipes. Ms. Keenan, who had graduated from Bentley University’s School of Business, took on the business and marketing aspects of the company.

Many Vineyarders were won over, entranced by the unique flavors, creamy texture, and high-quality natural, organic ingredients. Customers were happy to pay a little extra for a super-healthy bar made with love and care. Plus, the products were delicious.

It began with three all-organic flavors, based on the same combination of raw cacao, cacao butter, and coconut butter. The bars rely on organic maple syrup for sweetening; some also include agave, honey, and coconut nectar. Add-ins included essential oils, herbs, and spices. The basic Be Original bar includes cinnamon, Madagascar vanilla bean, and Himalayan sea salt. Be Cool added lavender, peppermint, and St. John’s Wort to “soothe body and soul.” Be Sexy boasted extra maca, and a flourish of Skye Botanical’s love potion.

Ms. Coffey came up with delectable new creations. Be Jolly arrived for Christmas. With pomegranate, nutmeg, and antioxidant-rich ingredients, it remains a yummy pick-me-up for the busy season. Be Fresh hit the shops in spring, emphasizing superfoods for the changing season: camu camu, mesquite, African baobab, and organic lemon verbena. The partners were delighted to launch Be Local, using Vineyard sea salt and lavender, and Massachusetts honey.

Off-Island marketing was next. Ms. Keenan said introducing the unique chocolate to retailers was challenging, but soon it was being sold in dozens of small venues like spas, health food stores, and yoga studios. When Whole Foods in Hingham agreed to carry the products, it was an exciting coup.

The first retail shop and chocolate factory opened in Vineyard Haven in 2012, a step up from the borrowed commercial kitchen where Ms. Coffey first made chocolates.

With a talented baker on staff, the company turned out a variety of pastries — cookies, muffins, scones, cupcakes — all healthy and natural, of course. The Edgartown shop opened that summer, both sites offering chocolates, baked goods, and innovative beverages, including shakes, smoothies, and the Dandelion Latte, a cult favorite.

New products proliferated: smoothie mixes, Be Cozy hot chocolate, Be Saucy (guilt-free hot fudge), pastries, truffles, and energy balls. Many are being phased out to streamline the business and focus on chocolates. The toothsome Be Kookie chocolate chip cookies remain available, to the relief of fans.

“It’s more efficient to just narrow it down and just be good at making one thing,” Ms. Coffey said.

A revolutionary change was this year’s introduction of raw chocolate bars that need no refrigeration. Employing a tempering technique and eliminating soft coconut butter enabled Ms. Coffey to create a durable smooth-textured bar. It can be more safely stored, shipped, and displayed, critical for nationwide marketing.

Some flavors echo the originals, others are new like Rose Maca, and immune-enhancing Ginger Pomegranate with cacao nibs. Top seller Salted Caramel features a rich vegan caramel layer.

But recognizing the allegiance (and addiction) of customers to the refrigerated bars, the company is keeping them available on a limited basis at the factory and by mail.

There has been lots of hard work, some ideas that didn’t succeed, but there have been many rewards, achievements, and milestones.

Most recently, NYSM won the Star Chefs 2013 Rising Stars Award in the Best Concept category, a significant accomplishment. The company has received favorable write-ups in many local and off-Island publications.

Now that production has geared up and the kitchen staff has expanded, Ms. Coffey no longer makes every chocolate bar, but she oversees quality control. Off-Island demonstrations keep the product in the public eye. The mail-order business thrives.

Daunting as all this may seem, Ms. Coffey and Ms. Keenan were relaxed, all smiles as they munched bites of chocolate and looked towards the sweet future.

“It’s come a long way from making 10 chocolate bars at a time in my Mom’s kitchen in a wooden bowl with a wooden spoon after teaching yoga,” said Ms. Coffey with a laugh.

For more information, visit

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Diego holds Lorena and Mirella totes newborn son Jose Augusto. — Photo by Susie Safford

In the bedroom of their small Edgartown apartment, Mirella and Diego Mendes sit on the bed, caring for their two small children. Ms. Mendes, 24, soothes and cuddles their tiny new son, Jose Augusto, born on Nov. 13.

Across the bed, Mr. Mendes, 29, holds 19-month-old Lorena across his lap. Looking like a delicate, pretty doll in her pink and white outfit, big pink bow in her short black hair, dark eyes fringed with long lashes, the little girl lies quiet and unmoving in her father’s embrace. A strong-looking young man with muscled arms, Mr. Mendes holds the child gently, watching her face with close attention.

“I have my daughter here, I don’t need any more,” he says in clear, passionate English, although he usually speaks only Portuguese. “I don’t have a car, house, money. It’s more important to have my daughter.”

This could be an idyllic scene, a happy family portrait. But all is not well. These young parents are struggling with challenges far beyond their abilities to handle, and must rely on community help to get them through the difficult days and weeks ahead.

Friends are rallying around them, lending a hand, bringing meals. But this is far from enough to fill their practical needs. And nothing but a miracle can soothe the ache in their hearts.

Lorena does not have long to live. She is the victim of an extremely rare genetic abnormality with wide-ranging destructive effects. It impacts her liver, heart, brain, spleen, and muscle tone. She cannot move normally or hold her head up. Although her eyes are bright and lively, the child cannot see.

Since the diagnosis less than two months after her birth, Lorena’s condition has deteriorated. An allergic reaction to medication made it worse. Recently she developed apnea, and often stops breathing. She is connected to a monitor; her father must administer emergency CPR to revive her when her breath falters. Doctors have told the family that Lorena’s health will not improve, that she will never have a normal life, and that she is unlikely to live beyond 2 years old.

By contrast, their baby son is the picture of health. He nurses enthusiastically, squirms and kicks, lets out a robust yell.

“He is a miracle, this one,” says Meirelucea Nunes, a good friend who often helps. The couple told their story through Ms. Nunes and her son, Heyttor, 9, who shared interpreting duties.

Even after receiving the bleak news about Lorena, the couple maintained a fairly regular life. Mr. Mendes worked; his wife cared for Lorena. And eventually there was a new baby on the way.

But now regular daily routines beyond childcare have fallen away. In late pregnancy, Ms. Mendes dislocated her hip while attending to Lorena, and had to go on bed rest. Lorena’s breathing problems increased, requiring constant surveillance and frequent CPR. Mr. Mendes left work to take over Lorena’s care.

Ms. Mendes had stopped working during her first pregnancy due to extreme nausea, and could not start again because of Lorena’s needs. With both out of work, there is no income.

Mirella and Diego Mendes had been married three years when they moved to the Vineyard from Salto de Pirapora, São Paulo, Brazil, in 2012 after a friend here encouraged them to come. Although there was a strong Brazilian community on the Island to welcome and support them, they left parents and large, close-knit families behind.

Mr. Mendes got a carpentry job, and cooked at the Ocean View evenings. His wife worked at the same restaurant, and cleaned houses.

Although Ms. Mendes had difficulties while expecting Lorena, the pregnancy was otherwise uneventful, delivery normal, and the infant girl appeared healthy.

“We were given a gift from God with the birth of our beautiful baby girl, Lorena,” the parents said on the GoFundMe website.

But six weeks later, ominous problems arose. The baby developed a fever, and blue spots appeared on her body. When the conditions persisted, mother and child were taken by ambulance to Massachusetts General Hospital. Doctors found Lorena was infected with cytomegalovirus (CMV), a not terribly uncommon condition, and administered medicine. But further grueling tests on the infant and parents during many subsequent visits to the Boston hospital revealed a devastating situation.

“Every day they found a new problem,” Mirella Mendes recalls sadly.

Lorena was diagnosed with GM1 gangliosidosis, a disease that destroys nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord. Each parent had a mutant gene, not a serious problem when someone has a single one. But Lorena had inherited two such genes, an extraordinary and deadly combination. Although medications were prescribed to keep Lorena comfortable, there is no cure. Nothing more could be done.

Because her immune system is weakened, Lorena cannot be taken to the hospital or doctor’s office. Her pediatrician, Dr. Melanie Miller, makes home visits to monitor her condition, for which the parents are deeply grateful.

Learning of Lorena’s illness, Ms. Mendes was scared about losing her daughter and felt great pain in her heart. But although she understands the severity of the problem, she holds out hope.

“She believes in God, that God can change the situation,” translates Ms. Nunes. “God gave a life, but can take a life if he wants. Every day she believes God can heal Lorena. They still believe.”

When Ms. Mendes, a tall, extremely slender woman with large, thoughtful eyes, returns her son to his bassinet, she moves haltingly because her hip hurts. The parents seldom leave this room to go downstairs or outside. Lorena cannot be left alone; walking is painful for her mother.

Mr. and Ms. Mendes, although visibly fatigued, seem strikingly serene despite their tribulations. They speak gently and affectionately to each other, share a smile from time to time, and lavish loving attention on the baby and Lorena. They are doing all they can do now — take care of their children, one day at a time.

Even in the face of heartbreaking difficulties, they chuckle to recall bright moments in the past when Lorena could still respond. Her daily bath made her happy, and she loved it when her father played and sang Brazilian country songs. Videos show her singing and laughing with the music, reaching for a toy.

They call Lorena “our little fighter” for all she has endured.

Throughout the two-hour interview, Mr. Mendes holds Lorena, responding to her movements, shifting her position, raising her head when she becomes congested. This continues day and night. She cannot be left by herself, and must be fed every two hours.

How did he learn to take such good care of his daughter?

“His whole life he’s been dreaming about being a dad,” explains Heyytor.

Asked what tops their wish list, the parents respond without hesitation: a miraculous recovery, a long and normal life for their beloved Lorena. They yearn to travel to Brazil so their many relatives could meet Lorena. But even if they had the money to make the trip, they would not dare risk Lorena’s fragile health with travel, nor take her away from good medical care here.

Their third wish would be to bring all those family members here to meet their daughter, something far beyond their financial ability.

Such dreams aside, the family has countless needs — money for their hefty rent, utilities, medicine, food, ingredients for Lorena’s special formula. They must get baby clothes, supplies, and gear for Jose Augusto. A comfortable reclining chair would enable Diego Mendes to hold his daughter with less discomfort.

They rely on only food stamps and friends who occasionally bring meals. Sophia’s One-Stop Mart in Edgartown provides takeout dishes. During the interview, their friend Nelly Peters bustles in the kitchen, preparing a simple supper.

Friends created a GoFundMe page that has raised some $4,000. Collection boxes have been placed in Brazilian businesses and churches. Ms. Nunes hopes that more Island neighbors will be moved to help when they learn of Lorena’s and her family’s plight.

To donate funds or supplies to help the Mendes family, visit or call Meirelucea Nunes, 508-692-1224.

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Artist, Rex Williams, stands between two of his pieces "English Lit" and "No Mass Communications." —Photo by Siobhan Beasley

From paintings, photos, and sculpture to jewelry, feathers, plants, and storytelling, the Personal Altars II show at Featherstone Center for the Arts is an eclectic mélange of heartfelt inventiveness.

“We got a good mix for sure,” Veronica Modini, an assistant at the gallery, said.

Ms. Modini said this show was inspired by the first Art of the Personal Altar in 2011. Unlike that earlier exhibit, this version is much more varied. Though the show fills only a single room, there is more than enough to keep viewers engaged.

Several intriguing and personal installations and collections are displayed. Patrons at Sunday’s opening lingered before them, interpreting and analyzing, or chatting with their creators to learn the story behind the assemblages.

Minor Knight packed a corner with a display as exuberant as the artist and fashion designer herself. A giant succulent overflows its ornate planter, a painted screen, and behind, fabric-covered lamps. Above hangs a fanciful canopy of bright cloth strips, with a photo of Mick Jagger.

Minor Knight, "Chez Moi" Mixed Media, NFS. —Photo by Siobhan Beasley
Minor Knight, “Chez Moi” Mixed Media, NFS. —Photo by Siobhan Beasley

“The eye has to travel,” said Ms. Knight, quoting celebrated fashion icon Diana Vreeland. “It’s important to feed your spirit by being surrounded by things that inspire you.”

“Expressing gratitude for the natural world and our interaction with it” was Giulia Fleishman’s goal in creating an array of her favorite things — feathers, straw flowers, coarse green yarn, a basket her great grandmother made, even a mummified starling found in her fireplace.

Mary Thomson’s “Spring Shrine” echoes her jewelry maker’s craft with beads, shiny strips, and tiny images in a wooden shadow box.

In “Nature-Nurture,” seaweed artist Kathy Poehler combined coral, a fossil, a jawbone, a wildflower book, and more to recall meaningful moments in a tribute to her father.

Ceramicist John Robert Hill displays personal items from gold-bordered formal religious icons to faded photos, a shiny paper angel, a diving porcelain mermaid, a little whale figurine, all on an antique étagère. A vintage Diana Ross poster tops the mix.

Many of the 15 contributors chose very different forms of expression. Ms. Modini said that artists were invited to submit items or collections “that represented something of importance to them — anything that was meaningful and special, if they wanted to convey a certain feeling or message.”

Visitors are greeted by Chetta Kelley’s arresting “Balance,” an oil painting in lush, deep tones of gold, brown, red, and rust. In this otherworldly scene, slender forms approach a massive, round rock that seems to teeter on the edge of a cliff. Pilgrims in Burma visit this rock, believed to be steadied only by a hair of the Buddha, Ms. Kelley said. Her scene suggests the fragility of life, how fate can be changed by something as small as a single hair.

Mary French shared a seascape, a sailboat diminutive beneath the wide blue sky with racing clouds, a place she had enjoyed with her husband. In her mixed-media monotype with linear shapes and warm hues, Wendy Weldon recalls a garage from her childhood whose memory has endured.

Harry Seymour’s painting “Haitian Rosary” is meditative and serene, a dark-faced man intently clutching beads, the cross gleaming front and center.

Rick Brown’s photo in a handmade wooden frame titled “Wellspring” shows a sailboat he built, covered by an open work shed.

“Soil Magician,” a captivating audio-visual portrait of legendary Edgartown gardener Paul Jackson by Alan Brigish and Susan Klein, drew admiring visitors to a computer monitor. Ms. Klein’s carefully crafted narrative introduces the gardener, his family, history, wisdom, and dedication to the land.

Kathy Poehler stands next to her alter, dedicated to her father and their shared interests of honoring nature and nurturing the body, mind, and spirit "Nature-Nurture Body and Soul" —Photo by Siobhan Beasley
Kathy Poehler stands next to her alter, dedicated to her father and their shared interests of honoring nature and nurturing the body, mind, and spirit “Nature-Nurture Body and Soul” —Photo by Siobhan Beasley

Brilliant images by Mr. Brigish depict a year in the small but magically prolific Jackson garden. Snow gives way to fresh-tilled earth, green shoots emerge. Then harvest bounty is captured in fine, crisp detail: fresh-shelled peas, golden corn, greens, carrots, plump tomatoes.

Richard Dunstan Hamilton’s shimmering silver “Procrastination Chalice” stands starkly elegant, with details of Niobium, moonstone, a single amethyst. Explaining the title, Mr. Hamilton, a goldsmith, admitted he created the bowl in 1971. Slowly, the piece came together, incorporating other elements and stones, the base once part of a church’s chalice. His bejeweled “Soft Landing” rests perkily on three little legs like a silver mini-spaceship setting down, not surprising as Mr. Hamilton is a lifelong science fiction fan.

Rex Williams uses found objects in three quirky assemblages. One, “English Lit: dedicated to the librarians of Martha’s Vineyard,” aptly recycles typewriter parts — a roller, keys, a handle, with a scholarly-looking bust.

A herd of giraffes cavort delicately on black-painted spiral stairs. Only a few of writer Kate Hancock’s vast collection, they range from a well-worn plush giraffe to a willowy carved wood African one more than three feet tall, and several smaller renditions. Above hangs a photo, a giraffe with soulful eyes. Ms. Hancock, giraffe pendant around her neck, said her love for the gentle creatures began with a childhood gift, a giraffe on wheels once played with by her father. Now she owns more than 400, including gifts from school children she once taught.

Offering a feast of visual images and plenty of food for thought, the show continues through November 19.