A little-known, important collaboration

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To the Editor:

Collaboration, in all areas, is a key to a promising future for Martha’s Vineyard. Fortunately, a longstanding collaboration does exist between the Martha’s Vineyard Land Bank Commission and the Island affordable housing groups, although it does not seem to be well-known or understood. The M.V. Land Bank Commission recognized early on that the Vineyard is continually experiencing a shortage of affordable, year-round housing, and it wished to help. Since 1989, it has been collaborating with the local affordable housing entities whenever the land transaction is advantageous and workable for both groups. In that time, 15 projects have been completed that benefit both the needs of the land and the people, the last one occurring this autumn with the Island Autism Group.

The housing needs are clear but, you might ask, what are “the needs of the land?” The land that makes Martha’s Vineyard is the foundation to all our experience and enjoyment here. It is the ground beneath our feet, so it literally supports all that we do. It nurtures our trees, our flowers, our farms and fields; it supports our houses and protects our aquifer, and on and on. The Island is a finite resource, and as the population grows steadily and the sea level rises relentlessly, it is essential that a healthy balance is maintained between the needs of the land and the people. Whereas people can speak for themselves, the land, which speaks through its beauty and variety, cannot talk. Those who love it must advocate for it. That is the Land Bank’s job, and with its periodic collaboration with the affordable housing groups, Martha’s Vineyard is particularly fortunate.

Tess Bramhall
West Tisbury

Bramhall is author of “In Praise of Protected Lands and Special Places on Martha’s Vineyard.”