Act in the present


“The Vineyard Way: Connected to Our Past, Committed to Our Future,” is the theme of a Climate Action Plan being developed by dozens of Island residents through the Martha’s Vineyard Commission. 

Next week (May 8 – 14) is Climate Action Week, a community engagement piece of the Climate Action Plan. The goal is to inspire each of us to act, to make a positive difference on this fragile, finite Island. 

Over 40 events will take place across the Island, including an action-packed finale at the Grange on Saturday, May 14. A list of events can be found on the Climate Action Plan website,

Some events connect us to our past, like gardening with native plants to protect biodiversity, a film on indigenous climate change perspectives, and a look at the changing shoreline and human ambition over the past 200 years.

Other events look at the present to protect our future: kicking the fossil-fuel habit, coping with eco-anxiety, climate-friendly cooking tips, and why we should all consume less stuff for the sake of the planet.

There are poetry readings and movies, guidance on home energy assessments and discussions on coastal retreat, climate health impacts, and food waste reduction. There are tours of oyster aquaculture, regenerative farming, and the U.S. Coast Guard station in Menemsha. Featherstone’s annual “The Art of Flowers” exhibit will focus on native flowers, and the Ritz is hosting an artists for climate action night of music. 

At the finale event, electric vehicles will be on display after touring around the Island. Molly Conole and Mark Lovewell will perform a song called “Mother Earth,” written especially for Climate Action Week. There are children’s activities and talks by our own student climate activists, as well as loads of climate action information to inspire you. 

Climate change is affecting every aspect of our lives. We need to be prepared, and we need to act, individually and collectively. The Climate Action Plan will address six themes:


  • Land use, natural resources, and biodiversity
  • Public health and safety 
  • Economic resilience
  • Transportation and infrastructure
  • Energy transformation
  • Food security


At the Grange, you’ll be able to provide input on the plan’s draft goals and objectives. Right now, you can take the Climate Action Plan survey ( and join the Island Climate Action Network ( 

I find climate action inspiration everywhere. My favorite song lyric is the Beatles, “Take a sad song and make it better.” My favorite quote comes from a Harry Potter book, when Harry’s beloved Professor Dumbledore tells the young boy, “There comes a time when each of us must make a choice between what is right and what is easy.”

I am inspired by the Wampanoag tradition of respectful care of the land and water, and by the passion and insight of our Island youth.

A most heartening Climate Action Week event is the ringing of Island church bells 40 times each day at noon, to support climate action and the local commitment to become a 100 percent renewable energy Island by the year 2040. 

To have faith in the future, we must learn from the past and act in the present. I hope you will take part in Climate Action Week. It’s the Vineyard way.


Liz Durkee is the climate change planner for the Martha’s Vineyard Commission.



  1. One hour on a private jet gives us 2 tonnes of CO2 whereas an individual gives us 8 tonnes in one year. Have fun but some Hollywood type coming here will zero our everything you have done. By all means do your part but have no illusions.

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