HOUSE OF HEALING
Editors, Vineyard Gazette:
I am writing this letter to make our community aware of Vineyard House, an organization that may not be widely known, but whose existence is so crucial — not only to the individual who is personally struggling with drug and alcohol addictions, but also to the people in the lives of the afflicted. The residual damage of these diseases has a trickle-down effect on the entire community, especially one as unique and isolated as Martha’s Vineyard.
I have a friend who has been haunted by the demons of drug addiction and alcoholism for years. He has suffered from depression for much of his life. It has been a long and difficult road. Last year he went to a detox facility off-Island. He made progress at this institution but at the end of the six-week treatment period he was terrified to come home to the Vineyard. He did not feel ready. He knew he would be coming back to an environment filled with the same stressors and triggers he had previously been unable to manage.
Fortunately he was able to secure a spot at the Vineyard House. He has been a resident in the safe, supportive atmosphere for a number of months. He has been able to slowly transition into his old job. He benefits from the unity felt with the others who are fighting the same battles — others he can relate to. He is healing and moving in a positive direction, slowly — day by day.
I can honestly and sincerely say that the Vineyard House saved my friend’s life. The environment has offered him a safe haven with stability and support. These insidious diseases are all consuming, unpredictable and continually threatening. Success can only be measured one day at a time. Hopefully this friend will continue to recover. Hopefully he will be able to look back on this part of his life as the distant past. Hopefully he will remember how the people affiliated with Vineyard House reached out to him, making it possible for him to gain confidence and eventually start believing in himself again. Success can only be measured one day at a time. Whatever my friend’s future holds, Vineyard House was there to hold his head above water in his most dire time of need — and that is commendable.
Vineyard House benefits not only the people struggling with addiction, but also those who are connected by six degrees of separation — all the other victims of the disease. I thank them for their dedication in offering this parachute for a soft landing.
NOT SO FAST
Editors, Vineyard Gazette:
I hate being referred to as a conservative Democrat. When I grew up in the South, we were all just Democrats. Here is why I am writing:
I know Jenny Allen is a comedian, but there is some truth in comedy. In her article Take My House: Please . . . (July 6 Vineyard Gazette), which had some very funny parts, she says, “Republicans probably kill skunks and raccoons with poison, but we Democrats do not!”
I voted Republican in the last few elections and would never do that. I even found her description of the black ants lurching in slow motion on her kitchen countertops after being poisoned with the clear goo that can be bought at the grain stores disturbing. I study religion and recently have seen a distinct similarity in what would be considered highfalutin Jesuit doctrine and Pentecostal values according to a Garrison Keillor description of Pentecostals.
My favorite article in the paper (I read it stem to stern) was about the regeneration of the Polly Hill Arboretum without it being “fixed.” I am 64. This is what terrifies me so about the world today — how fast things are fixed.
Editors, Vineyard Gazette:
The following letter was sent to Oak Bluffs harbor master Todd Alexander:
I’d like to bring to your attention an issue of the utmost importance that you have authority in: the Oak Bluffs Monster Shark Tournament. While it may be a major tourist attraction, it is, in my humble opinion, a vicious slaughterfest and extremely demoralizing toward sharks. This contest is encouraging people to violently dismember creatures for glory, and generally okaying violence. In this society with blood and gore splattered on every aspect of the media, do we really need more violence? And it’s not as if we’re killing them for food; we’re just killing them because we can. Are we any better than cavemen?
Furthermore, this tournament is confirming the stereotype that sharks are vicious killing machines. This is untrue. Sharks do not maliciously search and destroy humans like the monster shark in Jaws. The four species of sharks that are known to occasionally attack humans (the great white, tiger, bull and oceanic whitetip) are all open ocean predators and only rarely come near shore. Can you even recall the last shark attack that happened on the Vineyard, or in Massachusetts for that matter? Also, sharks are necessary creatures in the process of natural selection. Can you imagine what would happen if every egg laid by every cod (each female can lay up to nine million) were allowed to reach adulthood? So long, ecosystem.
The last things sharks need at the moment is hunting. In recent years, shark stocks have plummeted. It is so dire that they have lost 70 per cent of their worldwide habitat in the last 50 years. To say that this is disastrous would be an understatement. Although this is a catch-and-release tournament, exactly how many released sharks survive being caught? Also, it seems impossible to me that 97 per cent of the caught sharks are really being released, as the Boston Big Game Fishing Club Web site states. The Web site also reports that in 2008, 202 boats took in 26 sharks by the end of the tournament. If this really was just three per cent of the total, then did the fishermen really catch 900 sharks? In just two days? Obviously less than 97 per cent of the catch is being released.
As a concerned high-schooler, I hope I have convinced you. Thanks for your time.
THE ELIAKIM’S WAY
Editors, Vineyard Gazette:
There is a serene easiness among the recently completed cluster of homes at Eliakim’s Way in West Tisbury. Neighborly introductions have been made, the hammocks are hung and the community of new homeowners is planning its future. At a recent homeowners association meeting and potluck dinner the first orders of business were reviewed. A shared garden, community compost and landscape plans were discussed among neighbors. It was also decided that a formal gesture of gratitude was in order to all parties involved in making this project happen.
First a bit of praise and reflection to help orient those who are unfamiliar with Eliakim’s Way. A series of eight homes, formerly referred to as 250 State Road, were designed and built as part of the Island Housing Trust’s efforts to provide affordable housing to the year-round community. Set among the bucolic farms and trails of West Tisbury, a parcel was developed with an insightful approach to land planning. Two and three-bedroom homes were grouped tightly around a shared commons, leaving the remaining landscape in a perpetual state of conservation.
The generosity of West Tisbury, the clever design build strategies of both South Mountain Company and Habitat for Humanity and the diligent efforts of the Island Housing Trust have culminated in setting a new standard for progressive housing on the Vineyard.
With 10-inch thick, super-insulated walls and triple-glazed windows, our homes are tight and temperate. Their solar orientation and thoughtful design offer an appropriate response to the sun and wind. The prevalence of nontoxic, low maintenance and local materials highlight a sense of care and thought for the long-term health, the well-being of residents and the planet. Each home is equipped with a grid-tied five-kilowatt photovoltaic array to provide sufficient electricity for heat, hot water, cooking and power in the homes. These systems were designed to fully offset the conventional reliance on fossil fuels for these needs.
The project has been recognized by the U.S. Green Building Council as a LEED Platinum project, meeting the highest standards for sustainable design criteria. In an effort to learn from our experience as residents, South Mountain is compiling the energy data from each house for the first year of occupation. The company has also posed a challenge for net-zero energy use over the course of the first year with a CSA farm share prize as an added incentive for living lightly.
Our neighborhood is a setting for dignified living and an unparalleled opportunity for home ownership. For some it will be a place to raise the next generation of Island residents. We take pride in place, aiming to live according to the same enlightened ideals that make this place exemplary. The town of West Tisbury has promoted a model of progressive social and environmental design, making way for the lives of our year-round residents while preserving land and fostering stewardship. The Island has an ally in the residents of Eliakim’s Way.
From our new community to all those involved we offer our deepest gratitude and respect. For your insight, care and dedication you are to be commended. Thank you.
The Vineyard Gazette welcomes letters to the editor on any subject concerning Martha’s Vineyard. The newspaper strives to publish all letters as space allows, although the editor reserves the right to reject letters that in her judgment are inappropriate. Letters must be signed, and should include a place of residence and contact telephone number. The Gazette does not publish anonymous letters.