Chilmark: Pathways, ‘Critical Hope,’ Tending Our Grief, tennis courts, and North Tabor Farm

—MV Times

How lucky are we that nature’s first golden greens have begun to drip like stars down branches of the willow? The sun heats the sand, and the still, cold water beckons.

This past weekend was full of contrasts — starting in Vineyard Haven for Friday Reset at the museum with Don Groover and Missis Biskis, where the audience was large and included many familiar faces. My cousin and I wanted to double-dip, so we left early to dash back up to Pathways to hear Setsunai followed by Allison Roberts. I was tired and missed the Outskirts, am grateful that Pathways recorded the event, and am eager for it to be posted on its Vimeo site. Thanks to Marianne Goldberg, Pathways founder, and to her family for continuing the funding. I am most grateful to Keren Tonnensen and Scott Crawford, who are the ones who gather amazing, generous local talent that inspires and supports so many of us. I appreciate that the season ends with dancing, cake, and champagne. Thank you for keeping the lights on in Chilmark all winter.

“Without a minimum of hope, we cannot so much as start the struggle. But without the struggle, hope, as an ontological need, dissipates, loses its bearings, and turns into hopelessness. And hopelessness can become tragic despair. Hence the need for a kind of education in hope.” —Paulo Freire

Kari Grain writes in her book, “Critical Hope: How to Grapple with Complexity, Lead with Purpose, and Cultivate Transformational Change,” “Critical hope is a type of hope that grapples with its own political, emotional, relational, and experiential dimensions in order to enact change … To engage with critical hope is to uphold multiple conflicting truths simultaneously.”

Last weekend, Rebecca Gilbert hosted in the hoop house at her Native Earth Teaching Farm, one of her profound “Tending Our Grief” guided ritual gatherings, led by remarkable people. I missed earlier offerings, but was determined to show up. It was comforting, moving, and profound. I wish I had more time with each participant and leader. Thank you all. To Marcia Conlon, who came from the mainland and brought with her experience and heart, a profound sense of safety and comfort. To Kathleen Ruleau, who also came from the mainland, and brought openness and honesty, along with sacred rituals that touch and inspire us to look for opportunities to create them for ourselves. To Anna Marden, for the many ways you provide supportive structure and depth, including your singing healing bowls. Hospice and Palliative Care of Martha’s Vineyard are lucky to have you. To Maggie Craig, a Vision Fellow, who is bringing biochar to the Island. And thank you to those who showed up on the cold and rainy day to transform feelings and experiences into something wonderful.

“Just as rustic mother-wit has a charm and a dignity that education too often spoils, so the whole problem of culture is really the familiar problem of horticulture. It is in fact the problem of how to graft the subtle and the exquisite upon the deep and the vital. For by this grafting alone can the sap of the natural give life and strength to the unusual, and the roots of the rugged sweeten the distinguished and rare.” —John Coper Powys, “The Meaning of Culture,” 1929

I don’t know what will happen at our town meeting, but it is clear that we have a vibrant and committed community of tennis players who want every child at the Chilmark School to have the opportunity to learn how to play. We have a large community of players who have directly experienced Eddie Stahl’s expertise and compassion on the tennis court, and feel he is the heart of Chilmark tennis. Great teachers who carry wisdom and compassion are rare, and once we’ve experienced an authentic relationship with such a teacher, we become hungry for it not merely because of the skills we learn, but because of what we learn about ourselves. I see a community who loves the sport and community of tennis, and the courts that lie literally in the heart of town.

Help celebrate Earth Day with the Beach Cleanup this Saturday, April 27, at Menemsha, Lucy Vincent, and Squibnocket. Volunteers will be served a free lunch at the party and festival at the Martha’s Vineyard Museum from 12 to 3 pm.

North Tabor Farm piglets arrived, and they have onion starts. Wishing everyone a good week.

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