Looking across Vineyard Sound from Woods Hole it’s hard to imagine that Vineyarders could have anything to wish for in the coming century.

To the mainland resident, the Island looks peaceful and perfect, a little slice of paradise in the midst of a breezy New England December.

If they only knew.

Just like anyone else, Islanders are looking forward to the new millennium with a mix of trepidation and optimism. The residents of this tiny chunk of land do have dreams for the coming century, albeit modest ones.

There is the desire for improved Islandwide cooperation and there is the wish for a stable and sturdy Steamship Authority. Not all the wishes are political in nature; some are wishing for nothing more than a successful hockey season and some are wishing for the advent of giant robots and personal spaceships to ease the burdens of Islandwide travel.

It is a diverse and interesting place.

The following is a sampling of thoughts from Island residents, ranging from the cliffs of Aquinnah to Vineyard Haven harbor, and their hopes, dreams, resolutions, wishes and desires for the coming years.

Lorraine Clark, director of Red Stocking Fund

Most Islanders can’t remember the Red Stocking Fund before Lorraine Clark began her involvement with the Island institution.

Even she can’t.

“I can’t even remember how long I’ve been involved,” she says. “Thirty years ago I was just wondering if I’d be alive in 2000. I wasn’t keeping track of numbers.”

The Red Stocking Fund was created in 1938 by an Island woman named Addie Crist and has since grown to be an irreplaceable Island tradition. Mrs. Clark has helped carry on the tradition for some 34 years.

“In the last few years the number of kids has dipped a little from 260 to about 207 or so this year,” she says. “And that’s good news. The economy is good. But even if it goes bad, we’ll be here.”

“One thing that’s improved is that in the past we used to have street kids come in,” she says. “We don’t really see that now, which is another good thing.”

Mrs. Clark says she isn’t the least bit worried about the survival of the Red Stocking Fund in the distant future.

“It will always be here,” she says. “It doesn’t matter what millennium it is, someone will always give toys and someone will wrap them.”

As for her personal goals?

“I don’t really have any,” she says. “Mostly I want to stay alive. That’s it.”

Margaret Regan, principal of the Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School

You can call her Peg.

She’s been the principal at the high school since September and as the second marking period of her first year nears it’s end, Mrs. Peg Regan is beginning to feel at home on the Vineyard.

But feeling at home means it’s time to step back for a second and assess the first few months of blissful adjustment, before looking into the distant future. Mrs. Regan isn’t one to make predictions, but her experience at the high school is coming into focus — at least enough focus to plant the seeds of direction for the coming years.

“I would really like to develop and spend more time developing programs for kids who are falling through the cracks of our rigorous college preparatory program right now,” she says. “Everything we have learned about the way people learn has taught us that sitting in a chair all day is not necessarily the best way for everybody to learn.”

She says that focusing efforts on students who fall behind in regular course work can provide a learning experience even for the teachers and administrators in the education system.

“I believe that the kids who need something different teach us about good teaching,” she says. “They challenge educators and force us to examine our methods and come up with better ways to teach.”

Unfortunately, in an environment dominated by standardized test scores and college entry concerns, Mrs. Regan says it is often more than the students who get left behind.

“We tend to forget, as teachers, students, parents and citizens, what we do well in the schools,” she says. “There is a tendency to focus on the negative, the things that we aren’t good at. But as much as we can learn from our failure, we can learn from our successes too. We learn what we do right and we learn how to keep doing it and expand our success in other areas.”

As for the personal side of the millennial changeover, Mrs. Regan says she will enter the new century with security and satisfaction in both her professional and personal life.

“I feel challenged and fulfilled by my job, and very happy in my personal life,” says Mrs. Regan, whose husband and 10-year-old daughter live in Brewster on Cape Cod, where her husband is a fifth-grade teacher.

“I’ve found a new focus,” she says. “Being able to see my family on the weekends has brought my job into perspective and allowed me to really concentrate my efforts to get things done so that I can have the weekends for them.”

“As far as the millennium thing goes, I’m not that big on it,” she says. “I enjoy New Year’s, but I think of it as more of a contemplative holiday than a big celebration.”

Chuck Noonan, senior class president at Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School

“I’m not worried about the Y2K thing,” says Chuck Noonan.

He is the president of the senior class at Martha’s Vineyard Regional high school and he is a man of opinion. From Y2K to land use issues to the availability of personal spacecraft, Chuck Noonan has something to say.

“As far as New Year’s is concerned, I don’t think it’ll be that big of a deal. People might be more more apt to do something they might not normally do, but that will just make 2000 a year for getting some rest,” he says. “I think a lot of the hype comes from computer companies trying to cash in on software upgrades.”

He pauses and just as he is about to continue to assess the Y2K hype, he stops short. The word “media” is on his lips and then he remembers he is talking to the press. Truly a politician in training.

Mr. Noonan says he hopes to go to Emerson College in Boston to study video and television production. His opinions will come in handy. Looking back on his high school education, he assesses the strengths and weaknesses of the regional high school.

“If I came back in 10 years I’d like to see more programs offered,” he says. “At schools that have smaller budgets they have radio stations and television studios. But it’s a good school and I think the new principal will be good. She’s already been pretty active. She’s teaching our English class for a few weeks because she likes what we’re reading.”

“When I come back, I hope things haven’t changed that much either,” he says. “In terms of development and population, I think we’re at a good point now. Not too quiet and desolate and there’s still open land you can find.”

As for the distant future, Chuck says he hopes to see scientific advances in the fields of personal spacecraft and lasers. He doesn’t skip a beat when he says these things. Must be the video games.
“I’d like to see advancements in lasers and personal space crafts,” he says. “We need more Star Wars stuff. Maybe even some giant robots.”

Berta Welch, member of the Aquinnah Cultural Council

It was a good year for town-tribe relations in Aquinnah, but Berta Welch isn’t satisfied.

“There’s a long way to go,” she says, assessing the current state of affairs at the opening of a new millennium. “But there has been progress and if the trend continues, more hope for improvement.” 

Mrs. Welch looks back on the historical meetings between the tribal and town governments in late summer as a sign of progress yet to come.

“It’s a tedious process and it’s not going to happen overnight,” she says. “But that is my greatest hope for the coming years, that the tribe and the town will continue to work together and improve relations.”

In addition to improved communication with the town of Aquinnah, Mrs. Welch says she would like to see another positive trend take deeper root up-Island in the new century.

“There has been an increase in cultural awareness and pride in the native people’s heritage not only in Aquinnah but all over the country,” she says. “I would like to see that pride and awareness continue to grow.”

She points to events like the Leonard Peltier awareness night at the tribal center in November. A big crowd attended the event to hear a group of speakers that included Cape Cod activist Jack McGee and Harvey Arden, editor of Mr. Peltier’s newest book, Prison Writings.

“It’s a sad case,” she says. “It seems like the FBI has President Clinton’s hands tied. I guess in a perfect New Year Leonard would be released.”

As for personal goals and resolutions?

“I just take everything one day at a time,” she says. “I try not to worry about the future.”

Jim Fuller, economic development director for the Wampanoag Tribe of Aquinnah

“It’s that silly time of year, isn’t it?”

That was the first thing Jim Fuller said at the mention of the word “millennium.” For Islanders like Mr. Fuller, the pomp and circumstance surrounding the beginning of a new century seems a very off-Island idea.

But when pressed, even the most reluctant millennial participant is bound to reveal some kind of hopes for the 21st century, or at least the new year.

“It would be nice if all of the towns on the Island could work together and cooperate on all projects of mutual interest,” he says. “It’s a huge list, but these are hopes. The building cap, the hospital, the ferries, health insurance, to name a few.”

But wishes are wishes, and Mr. Fuller knows that it will take more than a few dissenting voices to prompt Islandwide unity.

“It seems that for all the talk and good intentions before the fact, there is an inordinate lack of togetherness when the towns get together to deal with an issue,” he says. “I’d say in the last 50 years the process of development and construction and all those financial influences have influenced the Island community in a way that has actually made it less of an Island family.”

Amidst all the millennial buzz, Mr. Fuller says he would actually like to see the Island community turn back the clock.

“It would be nice to reverse that trend,” he says. “I’d like to figure how we could get it back to being like it was at the beginning of the 20th century.”

On the professional front, Mr. Fuller says he is eager to watch the continuing progression of the Wampanoag Tribe in the Island community.

“I think the tribe to some extent in the last few years has developed a presence on the Island which is getting down to basics with various projects like the hatchery being implemented,” he says. “The tribe has been a presence on the Island, as far as we know, for about 10,000 years. And I think that individual tribal members and the tribe as a whole will continue to play a big part in the Island’s growth and progression through the years.”

And on the personal front, Mr. Fuller has a simple goal for the new year.

“I can’t wait to collect my social security next year,” he says.

Priscilla Sylvia, teacher at the Oak Bluffs School and Land Bank Commissioner

Isn’t it like a teacher to use her millennial wish for someone, or something other than herself?

Priscilla Sylvia isn’t praying for the new century to make her rich or famous, she’s simply asking for a break for the Martha’s Vineyard Land Bank Commission.

“I’d like to see some kind of present given to the commission by the powers that be that determine the price of land on the Vineyard,” she says. “That’s really my major hope. I guess I’d like to see the Steamship Authority left alone to function as well as it can. It seems like everybody’s trying to get their hands on it these days.”

“And I hope those MCAS tests die a slow death,” she says. “There’s got to be a better way to test kids than those things.”

Aside from the SSA and land bank concerns, this elementary educator isn’t all that worried about the turning of the calendar.

“It’s just another day to me,” she says. “Right now, I’m hoping that the fifth graders will finish painting their pigs.”

But she did let slip on her one personal desire for the coming century.

“I’d like to retire,” she says.


“Sometime in the next millennium,” she says.

Edmond Coogan, chairman of the Tisbury Selectmen

Edmond Coogan leads a busy life.

He runs a law practice in Tisbury and moonlights as the chairman of the selectmen governing the Island’s busiest year-round port. And after 12 months spent juggling everything from the Martha’s Vineyard Commission concerns to local dog complaints, Mr. Coogan needs a little diversion in his new year.

“I would like to see the high school girls’ hockey team win the Massachusetts championship,” he says. “I have a niece on the team and I’m looking forward to the season.”

Mr. Coogan also includes a few wishes for his own children, who have left the nest and moved into the adult world.

“I hope my one son finishes law school; I hope my daughter has a successful semester studying in New Zealand, and I hope my older son gets another part in a movie,” says Mr. Coogan, whose oldest played the bully in There’s Something About Mary.

With regard to his political life, Mr. Coogan says he wishes for nothing more than a stable Steamship Authority and Islandwide cooperation on issues of regional impact and interest.

“I would like to see the towns work together in the future,” he says. “I think there’s a need for some kind of cooperation if we’re going to make any kind of change. And sometimes it seems like we’re going to do it, but when it comes to crunch time, everybody disagrees and does their own thing.”

While Islandwide cooperation may seem like a pipe dream today, Mr. Coogan says it may soon become essential to the Vineyard’s political survival.

“We have to do it,” he says. “We have to come together to make regional decisions or somebody will make them for us.”

Paul Condlin, Edgartown Police Chief

Policeman aren’t the types to look into the distant future to predict the coming of a utopian society filled with peace-loving, law-abiding citizens. They live in a grounded world where an eight-hour shift is an accomplishment unto itself.

So it comes as no surprise that Edgartown Police Chief Paul Condlin chuckles when he asked to discuss his dreams for the new millennium.

“I don’t know about dreams,” he says. “But I’m looking forward to the new Islandwide computer system for law enforcement coming together. That will be a big plus for the community.”

The system Mr. Condlin is discussing comes as a result of a state grant received by local agencies this year to implement a regional database-sharing computer network, which will make it much easier for local police to share and process information.

It may not sound flashy, but for a police department mired in the muck of out-of-date technology, it will be as welcome a gift as any in the new century.

“It will make communication among the departments much more efficient,” Chief Condlin says. “We hope to have it running before next summer. It’ll be nice when its working.”

And although he probably can’t imagine a crime-free community, Chief Condlin says he hopes the Island will be able to maintain its character as a tightly knit community.

“I’d like to see the Island maintain the small town atmosphere where people know each other and where people can feel comfortable having a dialogue and address concerns with the police department,” he says. “I’d also like to see our involvement with the schools continue. We’ve developed some successful programs and I think it’s important to continue to address issues with juveniles before they become legal issues.”

As for himself?

“Good health,” he says. “That’s all I ask for.”