Activists work toward self-sustaining Martha’s Vineyard

Getting involved in shaping their future early in life are, from left, Emmett Taylor, Madison Pittman, and Ada Coffey. — Photo by Lynn Christoffers

More than 30 people turned out for an alternative transportation parade through Vineyard Haven on Saturday, September 24, followed by an open forum at Grace Church on how best to address climate change. Known as Moving Planet, Moving Island, the event was organized by a newly formed group called the Island Climate Action Network (ICAN) in coordination with the global effort of Bill McKibben’s organization, Rallies big and small were held in more than 2,000 communities in 175 countries around the world on Saturday.

To demonstrate their commitment to moving beyond fossil fuels, participants traveled by bicycle, unicycle, velocycle, on foot, and in strollers and backpacks along the parade route from Veterans Park up along Main Street and on to the church.

Moderated by John Abrams, the forum included Oak Bluffs Police chief Eric Blake, Ewell Hopkins, Director of the Island Housing Fund, and Bill Veno of the Martha’s Vineyard Commission — all avid cyclists.

Wild weather, including this year’s record flooding and massive wild fires have inspired many people to join the local effort to fight climate change. Many attendees pointed to pollution and too much corporate money from fossil fuel companies in politics as reasons for getting involved. Marnie Stanton, for example, became active in climate change many years ago when she began feeling like the best place to start change was with herself.

Matt Coffey, a founder of ICAN, said, “Improving cycling conditions will benefit everyone while reducing carbon emissions, moving us away from fossil fuel dependence and setting the groundwork for a more resilient future for our Island.”

Some Islanders, like Genevieve Jacobs, an artist, attended Saturday’s event because they were curious. “I’ve never been involved in something like this before,” she said. “It seems that something is happening and I wanted to come and learn something and be a part of it.”

ICAN will meet in coming weeks to focus on how to help the Island transition to a future free of fossil fuel. To join ICAN or learn more about the group, inquire by email —