Aquinnah: Plans for area near Town Hall

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It feels strange to be writing this from the peaceful confines of my kitchen while large parts of America are in tumult over years of systemic racism and police brutality. Again. The riots over the acquittal of the police officers who beat Rodney King happened while I was in college in New York City. I remember thinking at the time that I was not part of the problem. I was a nice white liberal girl. I know better this time around. My health and safety in this country is all but assured by the color of my skin, and aided by the money in my bank account. The same is not true for all black- and brown-skinned people living here. What I just said is not news for any of them, but it might still be news to some people with white skin. To those people I will simply say, take a close look at how you benefit every day in a myriad of unearned ways by the color of your skin.

If this question makes no sense, there are many books that can help explain it; Google “anti-racist book list” and pick a couple of the titles, order the books — locally from Bunch of Grapes or our library — then read them with an open mind. Afterward, ask yourself what you can do to start holding the powers that be accountable and/or create power structures that include and value everyone. Find organizations that help support a more equitable America, get involved with them. We have a system in this country that is separate and unequal, and it costs a lot of lives that matter. Black Lives Matter.

I’m not sure if everyone knows this, but there are plans afoot for the land behind Town Hall. There was a virtual community planning meeting in May with Aquinnah townspeople and graduate students from the Conway School of Landscape Design to discuss the options. The Community Preservation committee, affordable housing committee, parks and recreation, and food forest working group are hoping to develop an integrated plan to place affordable housing units, a new playground, and a community food forest on this land. The Conway students have developed draft plans they’d like to review with anyone in town interested in participating in the process this Thursday, June 4, at 6:30 pm via Zoom. Please email nolihoye@gmail.com for the Zoom link if you are interested.

The Aquinnah Cultural Center is hosting a virtual talk with Dr. Elizabeth Hoover this Saturday, June 6, at 6 pm. Dr. Hoover will speak on “Farmers, Chefs and Water Protectors: Food Sovereignty in Indian Country.” She is associate professor of American Studies at Brown University. Email aquinnahcc@gmail.com for the Zoom information.

Phase two of Operation Massachusetts Reopening will begin on June 8 or 15. Phase two will allow limited dining options in restaurants, and lodging in hotels and inns. As of this writing, the guidelines are not yet complete, but they will be posted on the town website, and you can contact the board of health with any questions. With that in mind, the Outermost Inn is aiming to open on June 18. They will have curbside picnic basket pickups, and they are planning to create an exciting outdoor dining option involving a grill. There is also a promise of kimchi oysters.

When taking your garbage to the Aquinnah dump, you will need to pay. Vehicle stickers are $10; free for seniors. To help prevent the spread of COVID-19, you can only put checks or cash into the cash box, you cannot make change from it. If you need change, Natalie will have “clean cash” for you. The dump is open regular hours, Thursday 8 am to 2 pm, Sunday 10 am to 4 pm and beginning on June 13 (until Oct. 17), Saturday 9 am to 1 pm.

The annual town meeting will be held on Tuesday, June 23, at 1 pm. The meeting will be held in front of the Aquinnah Fire Dept. The annual town election will be held Wednesday, June 24; the polls will be open from noon to 4 pm at the Aquinnah Town Hall. Do your civic duty, wear your mask, and vote. The last day to register to vote or to change party enrollment for the election is next Friday, June 12. Both early voting and absentee ballots are available for the annual town election. The town is encouraging people to vote early, which will be by mail, to limit exposure to COVID-19. All Aquinnah voters qualify to vote early; simply go to bit.ly/2TZ5Ch0. For more information, call the town clerk at 508-645-2304.

Happy anniversary to Walter and Clara Ricciardi, who celebrated their 40th wedding anniversary on Saturday. They were planning to go to Maui, but instead celebrated with their son, Harry, and his girlfriend, Ana. Happy birthday to Roxanne Ackerman, who celebrated on Sunday with some of her wonderful grandchildren. Happy birthday to Emily Vanderhoop, who celebrates Thursday, June 4, and to George Baird, who follows suit on Friday.

If you have any Aquinnah Town Column suggestions, email Molly Purves, mlpurves@yahoo.com.