Tuesday, August 12, 2014

A vacation paradise -- that year-round residents call home

An Oak Bluffs welcome
Yes, the Prez and family are on Martha's Vineyard. We were stopped in traffic tonight by what seemed to be a 12-car presidential motorcade. But mostly the visit causes little disruption; the first family is doing what most people do here in August: having a good time.

In the summer, a year-round population of about 16,000 swells to 100,000 with all the visitors. The editor of the Martha's Vineyard Times took the occasion of the Obama's visit to remind tourists of what they don't so readily notice:
... if August visitors, including President Obama, members of his coterie, and the visiting media want to take a vacation detour, they could catch a glimpse of the other Martha’s Vineyard, the one more recognizable to the majority of Americans than the celebrity media tripe.

At the offices of the Dukes County Regional Housing Authority in Vineyard Haven, executive director David Vigneault could describe the plight of some of the more than 270 people currently on his waitlist for an affordable rental.

In the adjacent office of the Island Housing Trust, executive director Phillip Jordi can describe the challenge to provide homeownership opportunities on an Island where the average median income for homeowners is $64,000 and the median cost of a house is more than $500,000.

More than one waitress or waiter would likely be able to describe what it is like to work several jobs and shuffle between affordable winter and excessive summer rentals just to survive.

Sarah Kuh, director of the Vineyard Health Care Access Programs, could describe the effort to provide quality health care on an island where many people are self-employed. ...

Six Islanders have died of opiate overdose since August 2013, according to Dr. Charles Silberstein, psychiatrist and addiction specialist at Martha’s Vineyard Hospital. Island-wide, there was one heroin arrest in 2012 and 10 heroin arrests in 2013; in 2012 there were 13 arrests for oxycodone and percocet pills, in 2013 there were 15 arrests.

The national political debate about drug policy and punishment has real meaning to Island families affected by this scourge. A day spent in Edgartown District Court speaking to those on the front lines of the battle would provide some perspective. ...
There's at lot more to his catalog of "real life" woes that you can find at the link. I've spent just enough time here at other seasons to be very conscious of what the summer frenzy obscures. Life here is much more complicated and interesting -- and sometimes harsh -- than the pretty beach pictures that visitors take home.

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