Letters to the Editor
Thanks from Red Stocking
To the Editor:
It's that time of year again when we at Red Stocking make our feeble attempt at thanking the Vineyard community for making it possible for us to provide food, clothing, and toys to 275 children from 189 families. The number of children served this year is exactly the same as last year, indicating that while the need is not increasing it is also not decreasing. We also had a much larger number of children below the age of two, compared to prior years. Consequently, Red Stocking will have to be around for several years to come. This huge task was smoothly and successfully accomplished last week through the efforts of our volunteers, vendors, donors, and supporters in general. They always, always, always come through for us.
We have chosen this year to specifically acknowledge two groups without whom we could not do the job. These groups are our very hardworking shoppers and wrappers. Beginning in early November, as soon as the applications start coming in, our corps of volunteer shoppers heads out to buy whatever clothing articles each child needs. This is a steady job for six weeks and they never complain. Even at the very end when everyone is exhausted, they will shop for late applications, often putting aside their personal holiday chores.
Our volunteer wrappers work steadily the week before distribution. Some pre-wrap at home; others appear with scissors and tape and man their "wrapping stations," still smiling after wrapping several hundred toys and clothing articles of all shapes and sizes. Some are first-timers; others are veterans who have been doing this for years. We sincerely thank both of these groups for their selfless efforts.
The Vineyard community should be very proud of its continued tradition of "taking care of its own''. Those of us at Red Stocking are humbled by your enabling us to be part of this tradition. We thank you all.
Kerry H. Alley
Red Stocking Fund of M.V.
To the Editor:
My mother died on Nov. 5, and as soon as we heard the news we jumped in the car and drove down to Vineyard Haven. We were desperately trying to make the 9:30. We pulled up just as they were closing the doors. Bridget did her magic and then told me if it hadn't been for Tommy Marks it wouldn't have happened. But the man obviously has enough compassion to have had three cars back out, reposition themselves, squeeze us in sideways and hold up the boat by six minutes. I don't know how they made up the time. We even got there by 10:15. We cannot thank you enough.
With enormous gratitude,
Nancy and Joel Aronie
To the Editor:
It's such a wonderful time of the year. Each night my family is treated to one of the most special sights of the holiday season. Since we moved to our home 15 years ago, Bob, Lynn, and Kyle Gatchell have treated not only us, but the entire Island to the most delightful Christmas display I have ever seen. Each year it gets bigger, better, and more enjoyable. From Thanksgiving through the New Year, our neighborhood shines with great delight and families young and old from across the island stop by with their children and grandchildren to experience some Christmas magic. The Alosso family wishes to thank their neighbors for making our lives brighter and happier during this special season.
Joe, Evelyn, Tony, Emily and Dominic Alosso
To the Editor:
Just want to say thank you for the webcam. I go to it daily and it "makes my day" to see a live shot of the Vineyard. Thank you ever so much.
Goffstown, N.H., and Oak Bluffs
To the Editor:
Thanks to local broadcasting, I just watched the report of the West Tisbury Space Needs Committee held at Howes House on December 13, 2006. I was unable to attend that meeting but wish to publicly commend the members of the committee for their dedication and hard work on behalf of the citizens of West Tisbury. These folks met at eight am each week for months and gave many additional hours to address the problems of how to manage growth and change in the town.
Among the issues discussed were options related to the development of the town hall, the police station, and the public library. The presentation included hypothetical design sketches with detailed square footage that will help clarify cost implications. Weeks earlier, the Space Needs Committee mailed a report of its findings to all residents.
Public hearings on this effort will continue in January. The meeting that took place on the thirteen was a thoughtful, rational approach to huge issues of change that affect the history, the culture, and the finances of the town of West Tisbury. Instead of railing against change as many do, this committee grasped its challenge and set an analytical process in place for which we all should be proud, a model to which we should adhere as we move into the future. This citizen says a loud thank you.
To the Editor:
This letter is in response to the Dec. 7 editorial, "Islanders pay the freight for private carrier,"? which was critical of Hy-Line's efforts to promote year-round, high-speed ferry service from Hyannis to Martha's Vineyard. We at Hy-Line Cruises are as disappointed as anyone that we have had to adjust our high-speed schedule to Hyannis to more accurately reflect the reality of the Vineyard market.
Our expectation, as stated in our first license request for this service, was to create a new market by "appealing to and attracting commuters and frequent travelers who otherwise won't travel to and from the Vineyard and the Mid-Cape because of inadequate and unavailable service." Contrary to the editorial, which stated, "There is no evidence that Hy-Line extended itself to promote or encourage the service," Hy-Line did, in fact, incorporate a multi-faceted marketing campaign aimed at cultivating awareness both on-Island and on the mainland. We undertook this challenge with the same commitment we bring to promoting all our business ventures. This commitment included a comprehensive, well-rounded marketing campaign that applied significant resources to market development, public relations, advertising and sales promotion.
We used our own experience, garnered through more than 45 years in the passenger vessel industry, and in addition called upon the expertise of various independent resources to open the process to new sets of eyes. We began with an extensive market survey, done by a third party, to further educate us about the Island and its residents. The survey focused on the possibility of operating a schedule outside of the seasonal service we had been running, as a grandfathered carrier, since 1971. With the accumulated data, we built a marketing plan using three basic tenets; public relations, advertising, and sales promotion. The public relations segment included attending Business After Hours meetings sponsored by the Martha's Vineyard Chamber of Commerce, donations to and sponsorships of events organized by the Oak Bluffs Association and many Island non-profits and charitable organizations. We also solicited the input of all Island residents by asking them to "Name That Ferry." The advertising portion of our budget was built on a strategy of diversified media to reinforce the message on multiple levels. Included was print material distributed throughout the Island and mainland, weekly ads in the Island and Cape newspapers, radio and cable TV schedules which incorporated local programming and Martha's Vineyard High School football broadcasts and a variety of web site banners and listings.
The final aspect of the plan was sales promotion. This involved direct mail and cooperative ad campaigns promoting hotel, restaurant, car rental and shopping giveaways along with special rates to commuters and Islanders day-tripping to Hyannis. Despite our best efforts, ridership in the winter months failed to materialize. The average number of passengers we carried from December through March was less than four per trip, with most of those passengers originating from the mainland. In light of these numbers, it would have been fiscally irresponsible for us to continue to operate during those winter months. The losses would have jeopardized the entire service. Our new eight-month schedule remains quite aggressive with several months of deficit operation while still affording the public a much greater level of service than our historic seasonal schedules.
We will continue to assess demand during the shoulder seasons and happily expand our schedule if warranted. Could we have done things differently? Perhaps. Did we make some mistakes? Possibly. But to infer that Hy-Line did not "extend itself to promote or encourage the service"? is untrue, misleading, and patently unfair. In regard to your comments on the Authority's licensing powers, we fully understand and are sensitive to the difficult job the Steamship Authority faces when considering license requests. Over the years, we feel the Authority has balanced the criteria of protecting their financial health (through licensing fees) and weighing public convenience and necessity. They acknowledge that the private carriers play a useful and necessary role augmenting their service and offering Islanders options that otherwise would not be available and that the financial health of all carriers is important to maintaining a viable public/private ferry transportation system.
It has been our pleasure and privilege to have been your mid-Cape ferry connection since 1971. We appreciate your patronage and look forward to working with and getting the support of all Vineyarders to help us provide the best service possible as an integral part of the public-private transportation system servicing the people of the Cape and Islands. We welcome your questions or comments.
The Scudder Family Hy-Line Cruises
To the Editor:
A good deed should shine more brightly than a candle, so I want to thank Anthony Guyther for all his help managing house and errands. He is a ray of sunshine.
To the Editor:
Regarding Steve Maxner's rant, I suggest he ask Danny Pearl's family, about the peacefulness of Islam. A Muslim boy urinates and spits on the Bible, and there is a normal, guarded response from the Christian community. Yes, the outrage was made known; nobody was hurt. A simple cartoon was published in a Scandinavian newspaper, questioning the peacefulness of their precious Mohammed (oops, There I go again), and people die. The Pope quotes a Middle Age sage, referring to the violence of Islam, and more people die, in the name of showing how the sage was wrong; Islam is very peaceful. Things are said, like death to America, death to Israel, and the Holocaust never happened, and people like Mr. Maxner refuse to listen. Unfortunately, there are many like him, and more unfortunately they have a say as to who our leaders are. I consider this group and their gospel (political correctness) the greatest danger we face today. An unwillingness to identify things as they actually are, even if it may not sound good, or fit their preconceived notions of what the perfect world would be.
I am no fan of the Crusades, but look at history. When the Moors invaded the Iberian peninsula, Islam swept across southern Europe like a plague. Christendom had to act to save itself. Make no mistake, however, the first move was Islamic.
We don't have to send gifts to the extremists; the Madrassas are turning them out prolifically. We are dealing with a seventh-century mindset, whose adherents are gaining an ability to acquire 21st-century weapons. Doesn't that frighten you, Mr. Maxner?
Richard S. Binder
To the Editor:
I really liked reading Dan Cabot's essay last week discussing the resurgence of same-sex classrooms. The summary of the essay, as I read it, was "We used to have a lot of same-sex private schools, but in the 1960s, most of them changed into coeducational schools. Now some schools are experimenting again with same-sex education, and I don't understand why they're going down that road again."
I do understand why some schools are experimenting with same-sex education. It's because a lot of research has been completed in the last 20 years studying the biological differences of boys and girls. This research has shown that boys and girls learn differently, especially at critical junctures of their education.
For example, the areas of the brain responsible for language and fine motor development mature six years earlier in girls. On the other hand, the areas of the brain responsible for targeting and spatial memory develop four years earlier in boys. These studies suggest, first of all, that many boys might not be ready for reading and writing the alphabet in kindergarten, because the language area of their brains haven't developed sufficiently yet.
Also it is now well known that girls' hearing is more sensitive than boys'. If a boy is sitting in the back of the class and not paying attention to the teacher it might not be that he has ADHD, it might just be that he needs to sit in the front half of the classroom. (Letting children decide their own seats is not a good idea.)
A third example involves stress. While boys are motivated by moderate stress (time limits for exams, for example, or Jeopardy-style quizzes), stress impairs learning in school-aged girls. So in an all-girl classroom, before starting a text the teacher encourages the girls to relax, take off their shoes, and the teacher might give the girls as much time as they need to complete the test.
These are just a few examples of what we now know about gender differences and their effects on education. The National Organization for Women doesn't want to recognize this research, because they are deeply committed to male and female equality. The important point is this: There are no differences in what girls and boys can learn. But there are big differences in the best ways to teach them.
Good luck on civics
To the Editor:
Isn't it strange how things work in this electronic age? Still being interested in civics (as a retired social studies teacher), I was led to your newspaper as I followed the trail of Richard Dreyfuss in his quest to improve education. Since it seems that your local school district might be a test site for his civics concept, I thought I might appeal to the local population with some thoughts.
To begin with, I think it is imperative that we shift to a new name for the exploration of our responsibility as citizens. "Civics" has a deadly boring connotation. Call it something like "Exploring Politics," "Citizen Action," or "You and Your Government," but not Civics! There should be something in the title of the course that demonstrates the necessity of student involvement in the studies.
Secondly, I would urge any discussion of our political history to begin with a brief overview of classical Greece. Let the students know that this whole thing is ongoing. We are still involved in an experiment that began with Athens in about 500 B.C. (and don't get caught up in dates!). My students were always wowed by the Greeks at Marathon and Salamis.
The students must realize that our present-day government traces its roots back to a novel experiment in ancient Greece. Use Edith Hamilton's brilliant writings to set the stage. In "The Greek Way," she states in the best possible way what was transpiring and its importance to us today (and this was written in 1930!). Let me quote. "Five hundred years before Christ in a little town on the far western border of the settled and civilized world, a strange new power was at work. Something had awakened in the minds and spirits of men there which was so to influence the world that the slow passage of long time, of century upon century and the shattering changes they brought, would be powerless to wear away that deep impress. Athens had entered upon her brief and magnificent flowering of genius...." p.2 Time Inc.
Stress to the students that we have an obligation to the early Greeks to take this system of government and improve upon it where possible. Improvement can only come from those with knowledge of the past. We must be involved as students in order to be involved as citizens. In order to make democracy function we must be aware of what is happening around us, and within us. Then we must take that awareness and apply it to citizenship through debate and the vote.
In closing I would call to the attention of all the admonition of Pericles during the Greek Golden Age. He stated that the Greek word for those who do not participate in politics and self-government was a term we are familiar with today. That word has changed little from the Greek to modern English. It was "idiots." Good luck with your endeavor.
Camano Island, Wash.
Thanks, from the heart
To the Editor:
On behalf of all the people we serve who face advanced illness and loss, the board, staff, and volunteers of Hospice thank the very generous community members who baked, cooked, sewed, knitted, crocheted, painted, assembled, and otherwise created so many lovely items for our Handmade from the Heart Hospitality Cafe and Bazaar. Thanks, too, to the Preservation Trust for hosting our bazaar in their beautifully decorated Dr. Daniel Fisher House. And, of course, we appreciate all the people who came to buy these lovely items. Hospice of Martha's Vineyard offers its care free of charge, which is possible only through the incredible generosity of our community. If we have forgotten a single soul, know that our thank-yous are there. Thank you all.
Terre Young, Nancy Whipple, Linda Hughes, Ellen Richardson, Judy Williamson, Noel Bagnall, Elaine Eugster, Debby Hilton, Melinda Loberg, Nancy Kelly, Rosemary, Cathy Lewis, Joyce Currier, Karen Child, Polly Brown, and Sofia Anthony.
Good choice for
To the Editor:
Governor-elect Deval Patrick's appointment of Cape Cod native Ian Bowles as Massachusetts Secretary of Energy and Environmental Affairs is good news because it will combine both of these important activities in one cabinet office. Mr. Patrick's comment that "Energy independence is going to be a top focus in the coming years" will facilitate providing good new jobs from the Cape Wind and other renewable energy projects, as well as reducing harmful emissions into our environment. It also indicates the state will work smoothly with Minerals Management Services' review of the Cape Wind project; MMS's first report should be issued in February.
In Denmark, government agencies recently released their very extensive findings from an eight-year study of the effects of their Horns Rev and Nysted offshore wind farms. Detailed data on these wind farms' effect on birds, fish, benthic organisms, seals, porpoises, etc. found no problems. For example, radar tracking and visual observations showed birds altered their direction to avoid the wind farm, or flew between turbine rows. The turbines were even near special protection areas with an abundance of birds. Overall, the Danes are fully satisfied with the wind farms' effect, and concluded wind turbines operate in harmony with the surrounding environment and have become "the power source for the future." They also found that residents of nearby communities like the wind farms (by 90 percent near Horns Rev, and 75 percent near newer Nysted).
Onshore, an innovative approach is being used by Portsmouth, R.I., to erect wind turbines on school property and the Narragansett Bay Commission to place a turbine at its Fields Point wastewater treatment plant in Providence. Both will use the Internal Revenue Service program, created by the 2005 Federal Act, to issue interest-free bonds. This Federal program provides up to $800 million for 610 U.S. renewable energy projects.
Statewide, Mass. Technology Collaborative (MTC) announced that $3.5 million of grants will be available to fund solar and other large distributed renewable energy projects; applications are due by Feb. 28.
Developments like these will reduce our electricity costs, and make our air and water safer for our families and neighbors.