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Almanac Archive for May 10, 2016

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Nature as Inspiration
an environmental film festival
Memorial Day Weekend

This Memorial Day weekend, join VCS for the second edition of our collaboration with the Martha's Vineyard Film Society. Across four days beginning on Thursday the 26th, we combine environmental films, discussions, and art at the MV Film Center in Tisbury Marketplace. A Q&A follows each film with experts, community members, and special guests. In addition, the winning works from our 3rd annual high-school art contest, the Art of Conservation, will be on display in the Feldman Family Art Space. Read more about the films and buy tickets at the MV Film Society.
Quote of the Week
"We are all consumers of oil, not to mention coal and natural gas, which means that we’ve all contributed to the latest inferno. We need to own up to our responsibility, and then we need to do something about it. The fire next time is one that we’ve been warned about, and that we’ve all had a hand in starting."
--Elizabeth Kolbert on the Fort McMurray fire, in last week's New Yorker
Conservation Calendar

Cleaning up our Waters: Innovative / Alternative Wastewater Solutions
Thursday, May 12, 9:15 am to 3:00 pm, West Tisbury.
The Martha's Vineyard Commission hosts a conference on alternative technological solutions to the nitrogen problem facing our ponds. There will be presentations on the Mass Estuaries Project and exhibits on various denitrifying and alternative septic systems, wastewater infrastructure, and alternative options such as shellfishing. For more info, see agenda. At the Grange Hall, free, but RSVP because space is limited: email or call (508) 693-3453.

Ag-Tivist Potluck Festival

Saturday, May 14, 5:00 to 8:00 pm, West Tisbury.
Share your ideas and engage in change! Charter School students invite you to celebrate local stories, ideas, food, and people through conversations with a diverse community. Please bring a dish and your own place setting. At the Charter School in West Tisbury, near up-island Cronig’s and the Fire Station. See poster above for more info, and come join the fun!

Seed Library Seedling Swap 
Sunday, May 15, 2:00 pm, West Tisbury.
The MV Community Seed Library hosts a seedling swap at the West Tisbury Library. Bring seedlings to share (or just come and pick up some), help the library grow and develop locally adapted varieties, and share in the joy of producing locally grown food. For more information, call (508) 627-7007 or email.

Beach Tracking

Saturday, May 21, 9:00 to 10:00 am, State Beach.

Walk the beach with a Felix Neck shorebird biologist to record field data, search for birds and nests, and identify bird and mammal tracks in the sand. Meet at the State Beach access trail on the Oak Bluffs side of Big Bridge. All ages, free, no registration req'd, but for more info call Felix Neck at (508) 627-4850.
Understanding the New Lawn Fertilizer Rules

The VCS Homeowner's Guide
Passed at the 2014 Town Meetings and taking effect in 2015, there is now a bylaw in all six towns limiting the usage of fertilizer on lawns. The regulations apply to everyone: homeowners as well as professional lawn care companies. While the technical language of the law may be confusing, have no fear! Simply follow these six guidelines and you can be sure to be in compliance with the law, and have a healthy, non-polluting lawn.

This information was adapted from a print brochure created last year. We still have many copies remaining, so please contact us if you would like to help spread the word! Whether you need a bunch for your homeowner's association, library, church, town office, etc., or just one for your neighbor, send us a message or come on by the office!
Local News

The 2016 Beach Clean-Up Wrap-Up

Argh! The legends of buried treasure be lies! (Sword photo by Melinda Loberg; 2015 booty photo by John Best)

Thanks in no small part to the beautiful late April weather, the 24th annual VCS Earth Day Beach Clean-up saw a record number of volunteers. In just two hours, 300 people spread out over 24 beaches, collecting 150 bags of trash, plus 3 truckloads of larger and/or more toxic debris (like still-full oil containers). The most common items found were the usual suspects: plastics of all kinds (bags, bottles, wrappers, etc), balloons and their strings, beer bottles and nips, cigarette butts, and fishing gear.
Nothing too strange turned up this year, apart from a pirate sword and some crime scene tape, but there were some interesting patterns. At Squibnocket, the most common item was not cigarette butts, but lighters – lots and lots of lighters! The most highbrow trash was found in Edgartown, between Fuller Street and the Lighthouse: very little plastic of any kind, but many beer and wine bottles.
Thanks to all who attended, the volunteers who helped organize the event, and our sponsors. For the fourth year running, the after-party was hosted by the Harbor View Hotel, featuring treats from the Scottish Bakehouse, chowder from Square Rigger, and pizzas from The Pizza Place, Edgartown Pizza, and Rocco’s. Other sponsors included Vineyard Grocer, MV Savings Bank, and MVY Radio, broadcasting live from Eastville Beach.

See photos and the full list of supporters at our Beach Clean-Up page, and learn more about the history of the event, what we find, and why we do it.


Let's Make it Five-for-Five: Aquinnah Votes Tonight on Bag Ban Bylaw
Annual Town Meeting
7:00, Old Town Hall, Aquinnah

On April 25th, Chilmark voted overwhelming to join the other towns in reducing the proliferation of plastic shopping bags. Tonight, Aquinnah has the chance to make it five-for-five for the "Bring Your Own Bag" bylaw, a clean sweep in all the towns that were allowed to vote on it.

To our Aquinnah voters: Feedback we've received over the past few months indicates that there is some degree of opposition in town, so passage of the bylaw is far from a sure thing. Please come to Town Meeting and vote!
Other News

Imminent Danger Subsides in Alberta, But Fires Rage On

Fire came dangerously close to the highway and smoke clouded the air as the entire city of Fort McMurray was evacuated (photo by Scott Olson).

Thanks in part to better weather conditions, there is finally some good news regarding the devastating wildfire in northern Alberta. The fire is now spreading less quickly than feared, and away from the now-evacuated Fort McMurray, so the imminent threat to human life is much reduced. However, the disaster is already likely to be the most costly in Canadian history, and the fire probably won’t be completely extinguished for months.
In a “Daily Comment” for The New Yorker, Elizabeth Kolbert does a wonderful job explaining the inescapable connection between this fire and climate change, as well as the strange politics of “sensitivity” that has bubbled up around it. A longer piece by Eric Holthaus for Slate offers a similar (though more insensitive) discussion of sensitivity. As for VCS, we’ve previously cautioned against the tendency to blame catastrophic weather events on climate change (see, e.g., stories on Haiyan and Sandy), but that was mostly because it’s scientifically unsound and counterproductive to the goal of doing anything about the problem. If nothing else, conflating weather with climate lends credibility to those who like to sneer “where’s your global warming now?” every time it snows in March.
But what of this idea that it’s insensitive to talk about climate change (but, interestingly, not the price of oil) in the context of the Fort McMurray fire? There’s definitely some truth to that, but it seems like it’s giving those affected by the disaster far too little credit. These are people who just escaped a life-threatening situation while leaving pets and photo albums behind, and who now have to answer such basic questions as where they will live, much less find a job. They probably have more important things on their mind than insensitive statements about climate change. In short, the charge of insensitivity itself smells a bit like a cynical PR strategy: surely, some climate activists are using the tragedy to advance their agenda – while those on the other side are calling for “sensitivity” to shame them into silence, all for similarly political purposes.  

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Copyright (C) 2016 *Vineyard Conservation Society* All rights reserved.

Original content by Jeremy Houser unless otherwise noted.