Aquinnah: Emergency response, town election, lighthouse, variety show, and writing workshops

—MV Times

I attended two wonderful Aquinnah events last week. The first was a gathering of almost all of the core movers of the Aquinnah Community Emergency Response Team (Aquinnah CERT). We hadn’t met for a long time, and felt the need to gather to get ready for what is predicted to be an active hurricane season, just to make sure we are ready to help if called upon. It is the job of the CERT to back up first responders when called in times of emergency. In response, we created a handout to help residents and visitors know what to do to prepare for major weather events (you can find yours at the Town Hall when you purchase your parking pass, or at many of the vacation rentals in Aquinnah). We have stocked and planned for opening a warming/cooling center at the Aquinnah Town Hall to provide a place for comfort, information, charging of cell phones, flushable toilets, and warm (or cold) snacks, if Aquinnah loses electricity for a long period of time. Together with Wampanoag staff, we have prepared and planned for an overnight shelter at the Wampanoag Community Center if the situation calls for that. We have trained in first aid, CPR, fire safety, Red Cross shelter management, and food safety. We are all volunteers, with guidance given to us by Chief Randhi Belain and safety director Forrest Filler. We are in need of people to help us if called upon to open the shelters, so if you are an Aquinnah resident and wish to join us or take part in planned trainings, please let me know. It’s a great group of caring and savvy people, and you are sure to be welcomed with open arms.

The other event was the League of Women Voters forum for candidates running for office here in Aquinnah. It was a weeknight, and I expected to find a small group of folks there. Instead, there were about 50 people sitting quietly and waiting to hear what the candidates had to say. It was good to be there, listening to each candidate explain why they were running for office, explain their thinking, and respond to questions from the audience. I am struck at the courage of the presenters, and by the seriousness of purpose expressed by the voters. Our community is in good hands. The Aquinnah town meeting is scheduled for 7pm on May 14 at the Town Hall. The election is on May 16. Deadline to apply for a mail-in ballot is May 7 (apply with a signed letter to our town clerk).

Two pleas for help have been issued to our townspeople. One is from the Lighthouse coordinator, Deborah Medders, who is looking for guides to help greet people at the Lighthouse this summer. Contact her for more information at 508-693-1039, or The other plea is from Laura Jordan-Decker and Kate Taylor, who are coordinating and directing the Aquinnah Variety Show, which is slated for Saturday, May 11, at 5 pm at the Town Hall. They are looking for stagehands, ushers, and snack-table tenders to help the show run smoothly. If you are interested, they welcome people of all ages (10 and up). The commitment will include three rehearsals and the show itself. If you are interested in helping out, please contact for details. I’ve seen the list of acts, and it’s a winner.

Meanwhile, time is moving fast. Several of the shops are already open up on the Cliffs, and it is rumored that the Aquinnah Store was seen to be selling snacks out of its window. The Outermost Inn will start accepting reservations on May 1, and plan on opening in early June. Charley’s pottery is selling from his outhouse gallery. License plates from distant states have begun to appear. Summer is definitely peeking at us.

The Chilmark writing workshop is announcing its summer schedule. Nancy Aronie says she’s only doing two workshops this summer: July 1 to 4, and August 12 to 15.
I took her workshop several years ago, and rejoiced in the creative juices she inspired in every person there, including me. Check her website,, then text and register at 508-274-4296. She’ll help you get that writing project flowing.

And before I finish this, I want to give a shout-out to my grandson, Emmett Taylor. This guy, a talented graphic artist, rapidly growing teenager, and loving and smart person, has joined the multigenerational family ranks of celebrated writers. The Chilmark library sponsored the Elisa Brickner Poetry Contest. They received more than 70 submissions, and Emmett received one of two honorable mentions. He is humble about this, but my grandmotherly heart is proud.

Give birthday greetings to Isaac Vanderhoop on May 5, and a great big birthday hug to Alex Taylor on May 6.

If you have any Aquinnah Town Column suggestions, email Kathie Olson,