Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

The Island community recently suffered a tragic loss with the death of a young woman. No one denies this. But in the aftermath of the accident, some members of our community began to talk in disparaging and mean-spirited terms about other members of our community.

The Island Diversity Council would like to speak out in support of the Brazilian members of our community. Living together on a small Island, residents of Martha’s Vineyard have a unique opportunity to bring people together from all walks of life. We are a microcosm of the larger society and we have the opportunity to make our community one that is welcoming to all. Our mission is to keep “diversity” on the minds and voices of our community by providing safe forums where people can “think out loud” about these sensitive and difficult topics.

In an article entitled Black Man vs. White Woman in the Feb. 17 edition of the Boston Sunday Globe, the author explains that when psychologists talk about bias, they use three technical categories: stereotyping, prejudice and discrimination. Stereotyping is the tendency to ascribe people a set of traits based on the group to which they belong. Prejudice is an emotional bias, disliking someone because of their group identity. And discrimination is how we act on the first two.

Let us work together to make the Vineyard a place without stereotyping, without prejudice, without discrimination. Please help us make our mission a reality. Come join us at our public meetings, events, and discussion groups which will be advertised in a future edition.

We welcome the Vineyard community to join us on Monday, March 24 at 6:30 p.m. at the West Tisbury School for our monthly meeting.

The members of the

Island Diversity Council

Paul Bracy, Sheila Bracy, Michelle Jasny, Bob Lane, Kim Lawrence, Monica Miller, Al Schackman


Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

A copy of this letter has been sent to the members of the board of assessors in West Tisbury:

I have been watching the difficulties of some of our townspeople caused by the recent increase in real estate taxes and herewith propose a solution:

What makes sense to me is, instead of driving small landholders out of their homes because of the recent doubling of real estate taxes, why not allow these taxes to remain at the level they were last year?

Here is what I propose:

Abatements will be allowed to two classes of residents: Year-rounders with holdings of minimum acreage or less and who can demonstrate a real financial hardship caused by these tax increases, and seasonal (summertime) residents whose similarly small land holdings have been in the same family for at least two generations and can similarly demonstrate financial hardship.

Please have concern for those who fall into either of these two categories. What sense does this sweeping tax policy make when it only creates hardship for the people with modest incomes whether they be year-rounders or seasonal?

Vision Appraisal Technology may be good at what they do when it comes to financial matters as applied to the rich and the developers, but I think that the West Tisbury assessors can see the problems of some year-round residents and some old-timers who have come here for generations. I hope that our assessors can show a concern for those who will suffer greatly unless there is some provision for relief.

Heidi Schultz

West Tisbury


Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

Thank you for Jack Shea’s article covering the West Tisbury town hall renovation committee’s presentation before the town’s historic district commission. I would like, however, to clarify one issue.

We are not proposing to replace the cedar shingles with AZEK. We will replace the shingles with new white cedar shingles with five inches of exposure, exactly as is on the building now. The painted wood window trim and corner boards will be removed and have custom molds made to replicate the exact size, shape and contour of the originals in AZEK; these will then be put on the building and painted to look as before. AZEK is a cellular PVC product that does not rot or get moldy, and needs less frequent painting than wood.

We invite people to come to a public forum on Wednesday, March 26 at 7 p.m. in the Howes House to learn more about the plans for the building, the site, the financing, and to have their questions answered.

Beatrice Phear

West Tisbury


Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

The Irish History class at the Regional High School had some Irish luck this week. They found a community of friends who helped them on their way to Ireland. The Irish tradition was celebrated in style at the Cornerway in Chilmark and a capacity crowd ate corned beef and cabbage and raised money for the trip with amazing generosity.

This evening solved our financial worries and set us on the road to Ireland, but more than that, it showed us they we live in a loving and supportive community . . . one that values all of our children.

Slainte, and health and long life to you all.

Elaine Cawley Weintraub

West Tisbury