Thirty intrepid folks, comprising VCS members, friends, staff, and board got together on a chilly day in early December for one of our more arduous walks. Led by naturalist Soo Whiting and VCS staffer Jeremy Houser, walkers followed a circuitous path around Black Point Pond (a fairly large salt pond between Chilmark Pond and Tisbury Great Pond), traversing the farm fields and the roads, trails, and beaches of the Quansoo area, before returning to the historic Whiting farmhouse. Thanks to all who attended, and we hope to see you next month at the Woods Preserve in West Tisbury!
Slideshows of some of our other walks can be found at the Events page.
Walking at Sea Level: Winter Walks Return
Building on the VCS climate change awareness work of recent years, the theme of this year’s walks is “Living at Sea Level.” Each month we hope to combine an exploration of issues impacting our island with an invigorating walk at (or near) sea level. This year's itinerary presents a strong collection of old favorites (the Frances Woods Preserve), new traditions (a kids' event at Sense of Wonder Creations), and little-known Island history (the lost Bass Creek of Vineyard Haven).
Check out the Events page for this year's schedule!
In support of their ongoing coverage of coastal erosion
and shoreline change on the Vineyard, the VIneyard Gazette recently ran a story focusing specifically on the impacts of sea level rise due to climate
change. Borrowing extensively from the sea level rise portion of our new report
on climate change impacts on our island, as well as quotes from author and VCS
staffer Jeremy Houser, the story is a nice introduction to the science behind
sea level rise and what more we can expect in coming decades. See our climate change page for more on the
report, or view the sea level rise section here.
Note: if printing, be sure to download the .pdf files from our Climate Change page. Print quality from the online viewer can be very poor.
Conservation and Restoration
Renovated Farmhouse Serves as Setting for Conservator Appreciation Event
This year's annual thank-you event for our Conservators was graciously hosted by Jeff Scheuer and Heidi Rotterdam at their home on Tisbury Great Pond. A writer by trade, Jeff contributed the following piece describing the methods and motivations of their home's recent renovation for a past issue of our print newsletter, Vineyard Conservation. All VCS members receive the newsletter (past issues can be read here) twice yearly. For information on becoming a Conservator, please contact our office at (508) 693 9588.
A friend of mine who was passionate about preserving the Vineyard used to say that an environmentalist was “someone who built a house last year.” It’s a weak definition, though; one that speaks only to interests, not to larger arguments or values. Surely it can’t mean we all have a right to do and to build as we please, or that law is the only guide. We’re still responsible for our footprints.
Environmentalism is a prism of many facets, however. It’s partly about conserving what is ancient and good – old things, old ways, nature itself – an idea that isn’t new or unique to this island. But change isn’t always bad, and sometimes it’s necessary. The problem is heedless, tasteless, selfish, and disrespectful change. We’ve all seen it.
We conserve in order to retain our civility in the broadest sense: our connections to the past and the future. Environmentalism is about connections and relationships, not absolutes. And since land and old houses, especially on islands, are inherently limited quantities, and getting more limited all the time, we must balance the imperatives of land, history, community needs, and sustainability.At least, that sounds reasonable. And I’m generally in favor of balances – which doesn’t mean granting equal weight to all claims. But I’m also an environmental radical, with a lifelong penchant for older and quieter things and places. I just prefer them – period. But I’m also radical in the belief that, whatever balances must be struck, certain things are constant: Nature doesn’t return where it isn’t wanted. Old houses aren’t built anymore, and new ones are often unsightly. Everyone needs both dignified shelter and open space. Continued here, second column
Biological Diversity on Display at VCS Annual Meeting
Prior to the annual meeting, VCS board member Phil Henderson gave an encore of his popular Rising Seas presentation, a look at local impacts of rising sea levels. You can view an earlier version of the presentation by simply clicking the play button at right. (Special thanks to Martha's Vineyard Productions for creating the video.)
Phil discussed a variety of issues relating to climate change and sea level rise, but the most attention grabbing element was a series of maps specifically outlining what areas of our island will be completely submerged in the future. So attention grabbing, in fact, that the Gazette’s coverage of the meeting includes reproductions of the maps on their website. Depicting areas inundated at both 1 meter (yellow) and 2 meters (red) of sea level rise, the maps paint a stark picture of valuable land and critical infrastructure lost outright in the not-too-distant future. What the maps do not reveal is the much broader area subject to flooding due to storm surges and the ongoing effects of coastal erosion.
Special thanks to Chris Seidel at the MVC for creating the map projections.
21st Annual Earth Day Beach Clean-Up
Biophilic Design: The Architecture of Life
How can humankind manage to balance our needs for basic shelter and the experience of living in a natural, biotic world? Can it even be done in an urban area, with high population density, or in a rapidly developing rural area such as our island? This March, VCS, in collaboration with the M.V. Film Society, presented the new film Biophilic Design, which seeks to answer these questions and more.
We were joined at the screening by Executive Producer Stephen Kellert, who is the co-originator (along with E.O. Wilson) and a primary developer of the Biophilia Hypothesis, a broader theory describing the interactions between humans and nature that draws on biology, psychology, anthropology, sociology, and other disciplines. The concepts of biophilia form the underpinnings of Professor Kellert's study of architecture and design presented in the film.
In an effort to dig a little deeper into the world of biophilia, VCS staffer Jeremy Houser recently conducted an interview with Dr. Kellert. Check out the interview to learn more about biophilia in general, Dr. Kellert's efforts to develop a code of ethics drawing on biophilic theory, and even why we are (perhaps unreasonably) afraid of spiders.
Edible Wild Plants of Martha's Vineyard
Now back in stock!
Back in stock after a year's absence, new VCS members can choose to receive a free copy of Edible Wild Plants of Martha's Vineyard by Linsey Lee when they join. This beautifully illustrated guide to our wild bounty of edible plants includes descriptions of plants and their habitats, with fascinating information about traditional medicinal and folklore uses.
There's never been a better time to join than today!
Edible Wild Plants is also available for purchase at Alley's General Store, Bunch of Grapes, Felix Neck, Morning Glory Farm, the M.V. Museum, and the VCS office.
Walking Martha's VineyardGet outdoors this off-season and enjoy the tranquility with the new 4th edition of Walking Trails of Martha's Vineyard featuring several new trails!
Available for $15 at many Island locations, including The Bunch of Grapes Book Store, Edgartown Books, Alley's General Store, Cronig's, Brahmhall and Dunn, The Secret Garden, Felix Neck, Allen Farm, and the Vineyard Conservation Society office. Or, order through our donation page (by choosing the $20 option) and have it shipped to your door.
You can find the book at many Island stores and farms, including Bunch of Grapes, Cronig's, Larsen's Fish Market (Menemsha), Allen Farm, Morning Glory Farm, Mermaid Farm, Nip N' Tuck Farm, and Fiddlehead Farm Stand
Two locally produced videos help make sense of this complex issue ---
Building and Island Understanding
Video of the entire presentation was recorded and professionally produced by Martha's Vineyard Productions for VCS and MVTV. Click the link below to watch!
An Island in Conflict:
What to do about Climate Change
Longtime VCS friend Marnie Stanton has produced a new video, funded by the Edey Foundation, that looks at some of the most important local climate change issues. Marnie's 15-minute video features an extensive interview with Islanders Chris Murphy and Liz Durkee, along with shorter excerpts from other local opinion leaders. She touches on a variety of issues, but really focuses on the difficult decisions the Island faces as sea level rise and increased erosion complicate the business of coastal planning and managing development. Where should hard armoring of the coast be allowed, and where should we allow beaches to grow and recede naturally? How do we manage the competing interests of private business and property with the public good?
The most important, longest running, and most costly campaign in the Vineyard Conservation Society’s 45-year history involves environmental legal defense at Moshup Trail. The lawsuit isn’t over, but we have registered a significant win.
On August 12, 2010, Judge Charles Trombley, Jr. of the Land Court Department of the Trial Court ruled in favor of VCS and co-defendants in a long-running case involving developers’ efforts to force access through conservation holdings at Moshup Trail, Aquinnah.
VCS has always taken the long view of land protection in this area.
For more, click HERE