Street Art With Heart

In The Wizard of Oz, Dorothy asks perhaps the most famous scarecrow of all, “How can you talk if you haven’t got a brain?” He shrugs, “I don’t know. But some people without brains do an awful lot of talking, don’t they?”

The scarecrows appearing around Vineyard Main streets these days are evidence of a clever, can-do community approach at the Martha’s Vineyard Public Charter School that is more than talk.

Eight years ago, a teacher who wanted to bolster the school’s arts budget — what school doesn’t complain about arts resources? — ­began the annual scarecrow contest with a simple idea. Businesses make a $75 contribution to the school’s arts program. In return, the business gets a scarecrow made by students and their families.

A record fifty-plus Vineyard businesses now participate. Harry Potter’s slain basilisk rises in straw on State Road in Vineyard Haven. Jack’s beanstalk winds up Circuit avenue. Samson stands before C.B. Stark, his legendary hair a feat of engineering. No wonder the American Automobile Association Travel Guide has written up this annual display.

The project adds much-needed money to the arts curriculum. But it also builds the precious resource of community spirit within, and well beyond, the charter school. This scarecrow scheme not only has a brain, it has heart.