Thirteen point seven billion years, cosmologists now feel, is the time it took for our universe to get its act together and produce the primordial ooze from which intelligent beings eventually emerged. Our universe had needs and wants which were met and allowed to develop and prosper. It had the sun in the morning and the moon at night and creme-filled Twinkies and schools and hospitals and Monday night football. Some descendents of these intelligent beings are known to have survived to this day in West Tisbury.
The intelligent beings inherited their ancestors’ affinity for needs and wants. What was not inherited, however, is a suitable tax base to fulfill their wishes. Human needs and wants have changed in recent years. Citizens are demanding acquisition of more of these comforts and satisfying those demands has become more difficult and costly.
Pity poor West Tisbury. It has needs, wants and aspirations but does not have a stable renewable source of funds. It can’t keep taxing the same fat cats forever. Innovative alternatives must be developed.
In bright, sunny New England towns, motorists are often drawn to the bright red and gold colors of the autumn leaves. This is no longer a seasonal activity since the stretched blankets of fire department volunteers having a blanket drive have supplanted the autumn leaves. Stretched blankets are held by the side of the road into which passing motorists toss their donations. Of course, the Vineyard is more upscale, so spinnakers from 12-meter yachts would be used at the runway approaches to Martha’s Vineyard Airport. Weighted envelopes for this purpose will be provided by the airlines imprinted with their logos and ads (for a small fee, payable to the town coffers).
West Tisbury has long been an agricultural area and that heritage can be put to good use. It is all the rage now to consider ethanol conversion for automobiles and to plant vast areas of corn in place of existing crops to provide the raw materials. The Vineyard is not Iowa; it is a compact Island better suited for compact crops like winter squash and black-eyed peas. They are unfortunately not crops that have high financial return per acre. The ideal choice would be the hardy, easy-to-grow cannabis plant. It has been said that a market already exists in major urban centers and reportedly a number of highly skilled specialist farmers are already on the Island. Of course, the product would not be sold locally at Cronig’s or the farmers’ market but would be only for export. A few years ago in Bogota, Colombia, there were meatless days so more of their high quality beef could be sold abroad. Not only was their national debt reduced, but their cholesterol level as well.
The diversity of the Vineyard, both physically and in its population is its most valuable resource. There are white sandy beaches, thick tick-infested undergrowth, ponds and sandplains. Its inhabitants are found in every size shape and color, from Thumbelina to the giants in Wagner’s Das Reingold, from little old lady white to the darkest of black, from the Slim-fast skinny to the hippo-like. Among their professions are singers, dancers, actors, theatrical agents, lawyers, composers, lyricists, audio experts, advertising and publicists. Its ethnic diversity runs the gamut from Native Americans almost to Zulus. The tales these people have to tell contain romance, hardship, celebrations, pathos and unrequited love — in short, all the stuff musical comedies are made of. Its book and lyrics could out-poignant South Pacific and West Side Story. It would almost be guaranteed a long and prosperous Broadway run after out-of-town tryouts at Gosnold and Noman’s Land.
Broadway can be the Vineyard’s angel. One can almost envision the final curtain falling to the rousing refrain of the selectmen’s chorus:
We are Selectmen three
Of West Tisburee
And we talk of ecology
But when we think of green
It is money that we mean.
Lee Mogul is an architect and occasional contributor to the Gazette who lives in New York city and West Tisbury.