Chilmark: A Long Talk, summer dance party, author talk, Flea Market, and lobster rolls

—MV Times

On the eve of July Fourth week, memories of elders reading aloud the Declaration of Independence return. Stuck in my memory are the beginning, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness,” and the end, “we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.”

Can we honor our founding pledge and remain silent? How many times have we looked down or the other way when we heard someone make a racist joke or disparaging comment? Racism, ableism, sexism — the list is large. I know I was afraid to speak up. Believed peace meant silence. Believed saying the wrong thing made you complicit. The opposite is true. The reality about silence is that it has a way of disempowering your power and emboldening the other. Silenced words corrode, eroding us physically and emotionally. Silence in the face of vitriolic words and actions emboldens people of ill will. It preserves ignorance and prejudice. Human progress rolls on the wheels of challenging questions. Silence is not a gift. Speaking is a skill, not a talent.

Last week’s A Long Talk About Uncomfortable Truth’s antiracism empowerment workshop, sponsored by the Community Center and the town of Chilmark, gave a training. Clips, playlists, and articles bring history to the present, and lived experience stories from prior participants overcome silence; the coaching on how to speak up and ask questions empowers. Creator Kyle Williams’ goal is to empower 500 active, antiracists on the Island through participation in A Long Talk. Establishing an alliance of citizens who are committed to the work of racial reconciliation on Martha’s Vineyard empowers. I encourage you to visit their website,, for more information and dates for online workshops.

Let’s pledge to stand up, speak up, and clean the air between us. Strengthening one another in becoming all we are meant to be.

Tuesday, July 11, 6:30 to 7:30 pm: Chilmark Summer Dance Party at the Yard with Johnny Hoy and the Bluefish. They’re back! Join the Yard and the Chilmark Library for a free night of outdoor music and dancing with everyone’s favorite band. Bring a picnic, or just come for the show, but be sure to wear your dancing shoes!

Weather-contingent. Bring your own seating. Parking at the Yard is limited to handicapped spots: Parking is available at the Chilmark library and other places around Beetlebung Corner. Picnicking is welcomed, but please carry in, carry out. Sponsored by the Yard and Chilmark library.

At the library on Wednesday, July 12, at 5 pm: “What Ben Franklin Would Have Told Me,” an author talk with Donna Gordon. The book explores the story of Lee, a vibrant 13-year-old boy who is facing premature death from progeria (a premature aging disease); his caretaker Tomás, a survivor of Argentina’s Dirty War, who is searching for his missing wife, who was pregnant when they were both “disappeared”; and Lee’s single mother, Cass, overwhelmed by love for her son and the demands of her work as a Broadway makeup artist. When a mix-up prevents Cass from taking Lee on his “final wish” trip to Washington, D.C., and Philadelphia to pursue his interest in the life of Ben Franklin, Tomás — who has discovered potential leads to his family in both cities — offers to accompany Lee on the trip. As one flees memories of death and the other hurtles inevitably toward it, they each share unsettling truths and find themselves transformed in the process of change. Donna Gordon is a fiction writer and visual artist from Cambridge. The program is free, sponsored by the Friends of the Chilmark Library. 508-645-3360 or email for more information.

We are encouraged to join the M.V. Garden Club! Private garden walks, sunset get-togethers at the Old Mill, winning a ribbon at the fair. Lots of fun activities and volunteer opportunities, with members from all six towns. For information contact Chilmark VP Irene Ziebarth at, or the Garden Club website.

The Chilmark Community Church’s Flea Market continues Wednesdays and Saturdays, 9 to 2 pm. And Lobster Roll Tuesdays, 4:30 to 6:30 pm! The church sends apologies to those it disappointed, because it sold out in 45 minutes last week.

If you have any Chilmark Town Column suggestions, email Claire Ganz,