Letters to the Editor
A tireless friend
To the Editor:
A modest man with a gentle nature who tirelessly advocated for the people of Martha's Vineyard. That was Jack Ware. A man who served the Island for 20 years with quiet energy and generosity of spirit and left behind a legacy that will live forever.
On June 30, Jack Ware passed away at the age of 90. All of us at the Permanent Endowment are greatly saddened by the loss of the man who brought to life the Vineyard's community foundation, the Permanent Endowment for Martha's Vineyard, 26 years ago. Jack recognized the many different needs of the Island and created the Endowment as a way to help meet those needs. He was our founder, our leader, and our friend, and he will be greatly missed.
Jack Ware retired to the Island in 1981 but certainly did not retreat from public service. In establishing the Permanent Endowment Fund in 1983, he recognized that a community foundation would provide an effective means of bringing together the generosity of many to help meet the needs of all of the Island community. In his words, "Men and women who live on Martha's Vineyard; visit here, leave and return; spend summers and then retire here; all share the belief that this Island is a unique and precious place in which to live, work, and play. With their love of the Vineyard, they also share care and concern for its people and its beauty, and a sense of its abiding and special qualities in a setting where winds and waves remind us all of eternity. These men and women, wherever else they may go, never forget the Vineyard. And it could mean much to many of them if the Vineyard never forgot them either."
For 16 years, Jack Ware guided the growth of the Permanent Endowment with patience and care. In his lifetime, the Endowment has grown from an initial gift of $60,000 to almost $6 million in assets. It has supported the work of Island nonprofits through 785 grants totaling over $1.5 million and awarded more than $1 million in scholarships to over 500 Island students pursuing higher education. Quite a legacy for a humble man who never sought accolades for his efforts on behalf of the community.
As announcements of his passing have noted, it was Jack's wish that gifts in his memory be made to the Permanent Endowment Fund. The Endowment has established the Jack Ware Fund for Martha's Vineyard in his honor and already is welcoming gifts from those whose lives he touched. Once again, we thank Jack for his love of this Island, his devotion to the service of others and for the better life he has helped bring to all of us.
Permanent Endowment for Martha's Vineyard
A setback for neighborliness
To The Editor:
Skip Gates is my neighbor. He doesn't live next door or even on the same street, but anywhere I see him on the Island, I know him just the same. I see him at Slice of Life having lunch. I see him politely stopping his car on State Road, letting the backed up vehicles on Edgartown-Tisbury Road turn. I see him vacationing with his children and his wife. I've watched how he respectfully observes the crosswalks in OB that give hundreds of pedestrians the right of way. He's patient when waiting for the boat just like the rest of us. He even opens his house in the summer for Vineyarders of all backgrounds to share in the publications and achievements of his colleagues.
So what surprised me most about the arrest of Dr. Gates in Cambridge in his own house and neighborhood on Ware Street is that those year-round neighbors who, living within throwing distance of Harvard University, do not know who he is.
Perhaps people in Cambridge do not watch PBS or Oprah or read the New York Times editorials or the Boston Globe. Maybe they don't subscribe to the New Yorker or follow any of the published works of this pre-eminent scholar. Those of us who see him two months a year at most may, in fact, know him better than those who have lived near him on his beautiful tree-lined street. What one person on Ware Street has resurrected is a primal fear that any person, but especially a man of color, can still be cuffed, fingerprinted, and removed from his home by his own neighbor.
It reminds me of another neighborhood a few years ago where I was carrying a heavy tray into my house. As the hinged door sprung shut, my neighbor on the other side of the fence heard breaking glass and yelled, "What's going on over there?"
"I broke my door," I said. "It's just me being clumsy."
He recognized my voice and came over to help clean up. No police were called. But then again he knew me. He recognized my face and my voice. Not because I'm famous, but because he knew my name. Neighborliness means knowing your neighbors, checking next door when their mail piles up, returning packages that mistakenly get delivered to your house instead of theirs, and watching over each other's pets and plants; but no neighbor I ever knew called the police when I returned from a trip and couldn't unlock my door.
The inauguration of President Barack Obama signaled a hope in this country that suddenly we knew each other. That we would suddenly begin recognizing one another on the street and say, "Hey."
The arrest of Skip Gates has set that hope back a bit by offering help as a way of life for everyone in America - not just for those of us lucky enough to name one another.
Fix the Edgartown P.O.
To the Editor:
This is a copy of a letter addressed to John E. Potter, Postmaster General.
Please fix the troubles, which have gone on for years, at U.S. Post Office, Edgartown, MA 02539, on the summer resort Island of Martha's Vineyard, off Cape Cod.
The cordial and well-intentioned folks at this Post Office have to endure constant customer complaints and outright ill will about slow mail delivery in the extreme. They, no less than the community, deserve a solution to at least two problems in particular, supposedly imposed from above:
1) The population of the Island varies, according to the Vineyard Gazette, from 15,007 in winter to 105,624 in the summer. But the Post Office is allowed little or no additional staff for realistic peak month requirements.
2) All mail, most oddly including all locally addressed mail, is required to be bagged and taken all the way to Providence, R.I., and only then sorted and sent out.
Without having direct knowledge of the other three Martha's Vineyard Post Offices, I assume they are similarly hobbled.
Certainly, there are many "horror stories" in Edgartown.
My latest: Two pieces of First Class Mail addressed to me as above were dropped sometime in June, by local Edgartown senders, into the separate wall slot still labeled Edgartown delivery. But they went, not 40 feet or so to my box, but instead all the way to Providence, where they were postmarked June 27. Then they took a 19-day trip back to Edgartown, finally getting to my box on July 16.
Please consider the following steps:
a) Revoke at once that most peculiar directive that stops locally originated mail from going straight to local P.O. boxes.
b) A thoroughgoing outside inspection and audit of the Edgartown Post Office to identify and cure all resources problems, routing eccentricities and work rules now preventing timely mail processing at all stages.
Let's finally get a good curative look at these extremely dysfunctional circumstances. Neither the Edgartown Post Office staff nor your customers deserve to be treated this way any longer.
Arthur Yorke Allen
To the Editor:
I would like to thank you and Nis Kildegaard for the wonderful cover article about the visit of the Moon Rocks to the Island libraries. I was so excited to share the information about the rocks that I omitted to tell your reporter that Emily Levett, from the Vineyard Haven Public Library, and Colleen Morris, from the West Tisbury Public Library, went to a later training to be certified for Moon Rock borrowing privileges.
If you missed seeing the Moon Rocks in Edgartown Tuesday or Wednesday, please remember they will be in West Tisbury, Saturday, August 1 at 10 am; Edgartown, once more on Saturday at 3:30 pm;
Chilmark , Wednesday August 5 at 10 am; and Vineyard Haven, Thursday August 6 at 2 pm for adults and 3 pm for the Drop-in-Crafts for children.
Edgartown Public Library
Cats and tularemia
To the Editor:
As a serious, self-published, lay student of ticks as vectors of disease, I want to commend the local press for its recent articles.
I hereby take a cue from the late, distinguished, Alexander Langmuir, M.D. for his brilliant and correct diagnosis of a number of years back (see New Yorker article) of airborne tularemia in humans at a Chilmark, Abel's Hill, summer camp during another rainy summer, when the family dogs had apparently rolled on a wet, dead rabbit then come inside and shaken their wet fur.
This had stumped the medical community, especially the Mass. Dept. of Public Health and its then director, despite the Langmuir analysis!
I would like to suggest that another possibility of airborne tularemia in humans may be the family cat. How often do we bury our faces in their fur and smell as we cuddle them?
I live next door to a small, grey, tiger, 'killer' cat, a pet. Besides birds he routinely brings down full-grown rabbits twice his size. There hasn't been a rabbit in my yard in years, and they used to "mow" my lawn. I rest my case.
Peter Colt Josephs
To the Editor:
This is a copy of a letter addressed to the Unitarian Universalist Church and to Cronig's Market.
Congratulations and thanks for your new food collection project at the market.
I am sure that many other shoppers have found it easy and convenient to put an item in the basket for the Food Bank as we shop on Saturday afternoons.
Our best intentions often do not survive the trip to the church basement on another day, but this arrangement is an incentive to "do good".
Thank you for a practical way for us to carry out those good intentions.
To the Editor:
We are teaching free classes in English to the fourth, fifth, and sixth grades of the poor, rural elementary school in Pacayita, Masaya, Nicaragua. We teach every Saturday and have 48 children in our classroom, all hungry to learn, and all arrive to class, hair combed, ragged clothes, but so clean. There are also two professors, one of whom walks six miles to the class and six miles home afterward.
We gave each student a pen, donated to us by Robert Rippcondi of the MV Savings Bank, and a notebook from donations from Lori Perry and her parents. Our classes will run in six-month increments.
We are in need of English grammar books and English-Spanish dictionaries. If anyone has grammar books from their school days, sitting unused, we would gratefully accept them. Dictionaries too. We will use the grammar books for our classes as resource material, and after each term, we will leave a dictionary at the school. Maybe the schools have English grammar books they would like to recycle. We will be in the area towards the end of September.
Times are tough for everyone, and Omar and I can not continue to build schools and clinics like we did before, but we can use our time and knowledge and energy to give the gift of education.
If you have books that you are not using, we sure can put them to very good use. Children are so precious, and they are our future.
To the Editor:
I totally agree with the statements that William Stump wrote ["Bad SSA behavior", July 23] on his commentary about the workers of the Steamship Authority. After years of living and working on the Island, I have been a frequent customer of said ferry line, and I shared the same sentiment as what the couple from New Jersey had experienced from these rude and unkind people.
I thought all the while that I have to swallow this kind of issue and brush it off, as we are at the mercy of their service, because they are our lifeline to the mainland. However, I want to substantiate these similar complaints. This is serious now and the management should do something about it.
To SSA management, maybe this is the time to revolutionize your work ethics and corporate philosophy. Go re-check your vision, mission and goal as this kind of behavior is a misrepresentation of the warmness attitude of local Island people and its businessmen. Employees performing badly should never be pampered or tolerated, and need to be corrected. Inappropriate public relations is not good for your business.
Although some behave repulsively, I would like to commend those workers of the Steamship Authority who gladly provide their service with a smile and friendly mindset. You know who you are, keep it up and stay loving your job. To those discourteous workers, if you are not happy with what you are doing, better leave. Find yourself somewhere else where you can fit your unpleasant attitude, before such a negative standpoint becomes contagious to your other good co-workers.
I hope this letter will help improve your customer service and that you would take such constructive criticism as a reference point.
To the Editor:
This is a copy of a letter to the Environmental Defense Fund.
I have just received a reminder to renew my membership in the Environmental Defense Fund. I have been a member for a number of years and have made donations from time to time. I admire EDF's work and look forward to your continuing success.
But I have a problem. I live in the same town on Martha's Vineyard as Laurie David and am well aware, as are other Islanders, that Ms. David has been building over wetlands on her property. She has been cited by the Town of Chilmark for violating the Town's wetlands regulations and was fined for doing so and told to correct the violation. The story of her violations has been covered by the Vineyard newspapers. In addition, Ms. David has brought legal charges against a whistle-blower who drew the attention of the town to these violations. The judge dismissed those charges twice.
These facts speak for themselves. I believe that Laurie David is on the board of the EDF and a major fundraiser for the organization. If this is so, doesn't her behavior contradict the mission and values of the Environmental Defense Fund?
I'm curious to know your thinking about this situation. I hope you will take my comments as those of a strong supporter of the organization.
Speaking for the planet
To the Editor:
Walter Cronkite: "We are here this evening, not only to protect our own interests in the bountiful sea - but to represent the interests of those who could not be here tonight. Creatures with eight legs, shiny scales, striped feathers, and funny-looking faces. We have a responsibility to represent the interests of other living things with whom we are sharing this planet."
It was Walter's fascination with the natural world that won the hearts of scientists. By luck, I had the honor of writing scripts like the one above for him that heralded the earth. In 1981, at Scripps Institute of Oceanography, we were delighted to hear that Walter Cronkite would produce the CBS Cronkite Universe Series upon leaving the newsroom for good. Greeting him in our lab, I met a talented gentleman who shared a passion for broadcasting the wonders of our planet. We coined it 'Earth' advertising.
Once on location for the Universe Series, Walter descended into the submersible Alvin to eyewitness bioluminescence in the sea firsthand. He paused on the ladder as I held up his script cards. It was then when I first noticed he wasn't looking at the camera like most newscasters, nor did he appear to be reading the script. He poetically rewrote it in his head as he spoke from his heart. His mind was more of a marvel than his subject matter. The man was talking directly to the people of America. He addressed them as though engaged in lively dinner conversation, unaware that the world sat on the edge of their seats, waiting to hear what he had to say.
As a young radio announcer back in Kansas City, or elsewhere along his way, Walter became the one in a million, authentic voice that could cut through the clutter. Maybe it was when he met his wife Betsy, a beautiful quick-minded advertising copywriter to whom he often gave credit. As a team, they experienced the power of media to influence people's thinking. Though he never got into advertising, he had a lot to say about it. Mainly that news had been cut to the bare bones to make more room for commercials. When they posed as content, it was an insult to our collective intelligence.
"The nation whose population depends on the explosively compressed headline service of television news can expect to be exploited by the demagogues and dictators who prey upon the semi-informed," he wrote in his 1996 memoir, "A Reporter's Life."
Once, I gave Walter a lift to La Jolla from the Coastal Processes Lab where I worked at Scripps, and we stopped at the grad student weekly TGIF. It dawned on me at the age of 22 that everybody worshipped this man, not just my dad's generation, but people of all ages, from all walks of life. We drove on up the hill and along La Jolla Cove in my old rust bucket of a car. Pedestrians swarmed us at a stop sign, but with a reverence I hadn't seen before. It wasn't like the Beatles, or even a president. It was more like a pope.
Stuck in the traffic, our conversation turned to how we might best translate and prepare scientific knowledge for public consumption. How to engage Homo sapiens in the healthy future of all species, including our own. How to share the enormity and complexity of nature as a force to believe in, rather than reckon against. He was mesmerized by the planet, and the universe beyond. To the very end, Walter's curiosity had the innocence of a little boy with a magnifying glass.
For the next 20 years, we'd make time to sail out of Edgartown harbor and brainstorm how to harness curiosity about the natural world, to keep up the spirit for seeking the truth. He believed that people would align with their belief system when it came to the environment if the path was laid out, and that advertising had to take that bull by the horns because maybe nobody else would. This is how Walter was with people. Some say it was his depth of conversation that spurned the Egyptian Israeli Peace Treaty.
The struggle between news information and advertising may be age-old, but Walter got to see a shift, a new chaotic order. The great melting pot of new media leaves no place for information to hide from those willing to seek it out. This is why responsible brands will shine through the eco-darkness. There are signs all around us that "green" is now getting a little more popular, greenwashing aside.
A year or so ago, I called Walter to find out how he wanted to be listed on a project we were working on together. "How about executive producer?" I asked. He countered with the word "journalist," and we pondered adding the title of "explorer."
As Americans, we'll always remember the newsman who was at once the keel of the ship, the wind in the sail, the tiller on course, and our moral compass for a time. We stand here on this humble shore, shining a lantern upon him as he disappears into the fog, out of our world and into that one frontier we all can't explore together. Goodbye to Walter from the advertising world. We'll try to keep it honest.
New York and Los Angeles
Just a willingness
To the Editor:
Windemere has been so fortunate the past two summers to have the Island community embrace our Visiting Animal Program.
We have had visits from Island Alpaca, miniature horses with Laurie Clements, lambs from Clarissa Allen's sheep farm, goats from the FARM Institute, and Gus Ben David and his animals.
In two recent issues of The Martha's Vineyard Times (one in the annual report) there have been photos of the alpacas at Windemere with the caption saying that their visit was paid for by the activity fund. This statement is incorrect.
All of these people have donated their time, free of charge, and brought these animals to Windemere to enable our residents to get close to them, pet them, and learn more about them.
We are very grateful that the animals (and their people) came to the Windemere garden, and we appreciate all the effort it took to bring them here.
We all enjoy them so much and look forward to their visits every summer.
We are sorry for the misunderstanding.