Edgartown: Coming together in strength


I find it almost impossible to write this column this week, as I find it almost impossible to do anything right now. I am so disheartened and dismayed by the state of our country. How is it that we just don’t seem to have made any progress in 50 years? Why do we still have race wars and issues? Why are we still protesting the same things, and singing the same songs of protest? Why do people of color still have to feel afraid? Why do my friends who are mamas like me have the extra fears about their child not coming home simply because of the color of their skin? Isn’t being a parent scary enough without adding fears about being born the wrong color? The video of George Floyd’s death has struck a nerve like none I’ve seen thus far, as it should. The nonchalance with which that officer ended that man’s life, with his hands in his pockets while someone died beneath him, is appalling. And the fires, violence, and looting during the protests are devastating as well. I just can’t believe that we haven’t come further than this since the ’60s.

Please know that I am a firm supporter of police officers. Good police officers. My kids’ dad, Jamie, is a good police officer, as are the other police officers here that I am lucky enough to know. My cousin is a retired officer. My son plans to become one after the military, and his girlfriend is an officer. I know, love, and support officers. I fear for them, particularly during tense times like this. And I feel badly for every good police officer in our country, whose safety and well being, as well as their reputations, are tarnished by the actions of bad police officers. It is possible to support and respect the police and the Black Lives Matter movement at the same time. I am desperate for peace and kindness everywhere. My mind is taken up with my new mantra: How can I help? What can I do?

I did take part in the peaceful protest in Waban Park on Sunday, organized by my friend and co-worker, Kiely Rigali. Kiely has worked with high-risk, minority kids in Western Massachusetts for years, and now leads our Special Education program here. It came about quickly and without prior planning. I posted something on Facebook. She commented, “We should do something, maybe get together in a protest somewhere.” As is the case with social media, it took off rapidly. So many people got in touch with me, thinking I was organizing it. I expressed that I was just the go-between, and relayed messages back and forth to anyone interested. I went. And it was beautiful and peaceful. Everyone wore masks and socially distanced, more so than I’ve seen on the beach or the street corners. No hugs. No hand-holding. Things you would expect to see at such a rally. I gathered with teacher friends that I haven’t seen in person since February. People that I hug every day normally, and after months apart, we walked up and stopped short and said our hellos. It was safe. If it wasn’t, I wouldn’t have been there. And while it in itself doesn’t solve things, we all took solace in bringing our heavy hearts together for a couple of hours. It’s the first time in ages that I haven’t felt alone in my sadness.

So life does go on during all of this, which is hard to believe sometimes. But it’s important to share the good as well as the bad here, to keep us hopeful.

So I’ll start with happy birthday wishes for the week. I want to send big happy birthday wishes to my FB friend and political foe, Pat Johnson, on May 31. We battle back and forth like crazy on FB, and then see each other in person and smile and laugh. Isn’t it great that we can do that? We don’t like each other’s politics, but we also agree on other things. We need more of that these days. Others who celebrated on May 31 were Bob Brown and John McCarron. Best wishes for the rest of the week go out to Amanda Sullivan on June 1, Caitlin Beckman on June 3, Amy Morgan (who will forever be about 9 years old in my head) on June 5, and Julie Lively and Donny Benefit on June 6.

Hey! Take note. The P.A. Club needs our help. The P.A. Club does so much for so many. How many fundraisers have been held there for those of us in need? I’ve lost count. But the past few months of being closed have really taken their toll on the P.A. Can you help? The Holy Ghost Association of Martha’s Vineyard is an organization established in 1926 by the descendants of Portuguese immigrants that is dedicated to the social, educational, and civic interest of the Island’s community. Through the years it has developed into an ecumenical, multicultural representation of Island inhabitants. They are currently a 501(c)(4) organization that greatly depends on contributions to ensure they can continue with their good works for our community. And of course, now the feast has been canceled, making them even harder-hit. If you can help, they have a GoFundMe fundraiser going, which you can access here. I’m sure you can also mail them a check, made payable to the Holy Ghost Association of M.V., at P.O. Box 2203, Oak Bluffs, 02557.

The League of Women Voters of Martha’s Vineyard will sponsor a candidate discussion via Zoom in collaboration with MVTV prior to the local election this year, due to restrictions caused by COVID-19. The Edgartown discussion will take place on Saturday, June 6, at 3 pm. Invited are candidates from contested races for board of selectmen, board of health and planning board. The public will be able to view this discussion during a live broadcast on MVTV, channel 15, and it will also be available on demand at mvtv.org up until the June 18 election.

On June 22, “The Rise of Tourism on Martha’s Vineyard” will be published by the History Press. This is author Tom Dresser’s latest book about the Vineyard, and looks very interesting. He’s been forwarding bits and pieces and pictures to me, and I look forward to seeing the book. For more information, visit thomasdresser.com.

I guess that’s about it for the week. I wish I had a magic wand to take away all of our troubles these days. All I can do is tell you to stay safe, and ask you to be kind to others. We truly are in this together.

If you have any Edgartown Town Column suggestions, email Gail Gardner, ggardnermv@gmail.com.