Become a visionary

We ended 2019 by asking some Islanders to look ahead beyond 2020, to see how we saved Martha’s Vineyard in 2030, 2040, and 2050 — from climate change and sea level rise to housing, to ticks, to taking a more regional approach.

Some of you took us up on the challenge, and we were both inspired and enlightened. From the wild idea of “Vexit” offered by Geraldine Brooks to the hopeful outlook of Doug Ruskin about the Island’s housing crisis finally being solved, there were a lot of ideas and approaches offered.

Some of the pieces ran in last week’s newspaper; others will run in this week’s newspaper and over the coming weeks. And we’re still open to more ideas, more visions for how we protect and improve on this precious Island.

During the process, we met Bob Johnston, director of Vineyard Future Works. The nonprofit is also looking ahead, and attempting to rally Islanders to face some of these issues in a planned, one-Island approach.

Johnston is an eager and confident leader, the type of person who commands an audience and keeps things in focus. At a meeting at Martha’s Vineyard Museum, just before the holidays, he did just that with a room filled with about 20 people going through brainstorming exercises on what the future holds for the Vineyard, and what can be done to solve some of the problems staring us in the face. Ages at the event ranged from children as young as middle schoolers and old-timers with more salt than pepper in their beards.

There was agreement — electric ferries!

There was disagreement — regionalization!

But, most important, there were a lot of thoughtful ideas.

What Vineyard Future Works is hoping to do is to coordinate some of the efforts that are already in play. For example, there are a half-dozen groups that are looking at climate change/sea level rise in some form or fashion. Johnston likes how those groups are coordinating their efforts, and would like to see that same approach with other issues of importance.

“We’re looking into the future for how we can bring organizations together, towns together, leaders together to address different common issues,” Johnston said in an interview with The Times.

He’d like to create a One Vineyard Summit, modeling it off the Cape Cod Commission’s successful One Cape Summit that has brought all 15 towns together each of the past six years to talk about key issues, such as water quality, on the Cape.

Johnston is looking for more people to get involved — and he understands that past efforts like the Island Plan failed because Vineyard leaders weren’t consulted, and there was no buy-in. He doesn’t want to repeat those mistakes.

On that day in December, Vineyard Future Works had a diverse group of people, but there was certainly room to spare in the conference room at the Martha’s Vineyard Museum. The museum’s executive director, Phil Wallis, has been an early supporter of Vineyard Future Works, providing space for the fledgling group to meet and plan and, hopefully, grow.

Next week, Johnston will take the message of Vineyard Future Works to the Martha’s Vineyard Commission. He’s on the agenda for the commission’s Thursday meeting at 7 pm at MVC headquarters in Oak Bluffs. Also, to get involved, write to

We’d like to see more of you sharing your vision and join the effort to save Martha’s Vineyard. We can’t afford not to get involved.