Board game tests Vineyard knowledge

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Ah …er… hmm.

My not-so-illuminating answer to the question: “Illumination Night was originally known as………?”

(The correct answer is below.)

The question is one of hundreds developed for the Trivial Pursuit-type board game designed to smarten us all up about the Island, how to enjoy it, and to take care of it. Could also be an antidote this winter to “Vineyard midnight,” (aka 9 pm,) when we tend to turn out the lights.

How Green Is Your Vineyard is the brainchild of Geoff Rose, former TV exec turned entrepreneur since his arrival on the Island 10 years ago. Mr. Rose is the man who developed and marketed The Island Club Card six and one-half years ago with Jonathan Bernstein, and an online gift certificate program for the Cape and Islands, over the past decade.

The card provides discounts for Island residents at local businesses. Twenty percent of membership fees, which range from $59 to $109, go to Island charities.

You’d think, given his entrepreneurial bent, that perhaps Mr. Rose produced TV game shows, but he ran TV stations across the Northeast before moving to the Island. “No, [games] were never part of my background. I just wanted to create products and services that had a community service aspect to them,” he said.

The game retails for $34.95 and is available online at greenvineyard.net and is now at 25 Island retail outlets including, Rainy Day, Midnight Farm, and Mardell’s in Vineyard Haven, the Edgartown Bookstore, Morning Glory Farm, and Blue Buoy in Edgartown, The Lazy Frog and Secret Garden in Oak Bluffs, and up-Island at Alley’s General Store in West Tisbury and the Chilmark General Store.

How Green is bright, well-designed, boxed with a board for playing, one die, two sets of mostly multiple-choice question cards, scorecards, and player icons. The object is to move around the board and be the first player to reach Peaked Hill and victory.

Question categories include: Conservation, Sustainability, History, Arts & Culture, Commerce, And More — a general information category.

Waystops along the board include Island businesses, such as Waterside Market, Squash Meadow Construction, and Cronig’s, as well as a myriad of Island green spaces and conservation areas. An index with short, mostly green, biographies of participating businesses and organizations is included.

One welcomed feature is the game’s version of Monopoly’s “Jail.” Called “Recycle Bin,” escape is possible quickly — if you’re smart enough — by answering questions as opposed to Monopoly’s pesky requirement to match the number of a previous dice roll.

“My definition of ‘green’ is something which promotes our natural resources (conservation) and has the potential of long-term maintenance of well-being (sustainability) and [is] benign to the environment,” Mr. Rose explains in a personal statement included with the game.

While not describing himself as “a purist or a teacher,” Mr. Rose said the more than 1,300 questions are intended to be “entertaining, educational and thought-provoking.”

Mr. Rose will donate $.50 from each game sale to both the Vineyard Conservation Society and Polly Hill Arboretum. Mr. Rose had help developing the questions, enlisting the help of Island businesses, organizations and residents, including Tom Dresser, Diana Lyon, and Gwyn McAllister, who are savvy about at least one of the game’s six category topics.

Gwyn McAllister, an Island freelance writer, took on the search for the art and entertainment category questions. “I wanted to develop questions for residents and for visitors who could have a fun and painless way to learn more about the Island. Accuracy was important, and I conferred with a lot of people who’ve been involved in the entertainment business for a long time here, and I spent a lot of time researching potential question topics on the Internet,” she said.

“We tried out questions at every MV Sharks baseball game. The Sharks [The Island's entry in a summer wooden bat league for top collegiate players] gave out tee shirts for the correct answers,” she said.

(Answer: Illumination Night, an annual August tradition in Oak Bluffs, was initially called “Grand Illumination.”)