Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

The Martha’s Vineyard Festival was a stupendous celebration again. Thank you dearly to all who made it possible.

It is so sad and short-sighted to hear the cheap criticism from a few naysayers. May they forever continue to exclude themselves. Shame on them and their negativity. Do they have any idea how accommodating the selectmen and producers were to our Oak Bluffs fire department and nonprofits, many of whom by these good graces, made a year’s worth of donations in a single evening?

Do they have any idea the enormous effort undertaken? The critics are nothing short of ignorant cheapskates to think a full day of marquee musicians and a full-blown symphony on a remote Island should be anything less than a $75 ticket.

Let’s pray the Martha’s Vineyard Festival decides to come back and grace us with their vision, kindness and hospitality again and again. Amen, selectmen. Amen Herb Putnam. Amen Festival Network team.

Steve Cobb



Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

I want to clarify a few points I made that were paraphrased in last week’s article on Vineyard philanthropy. As it mentioned, we’ve been fortunate to have several years of record revenue growth for Vineyard nonprofits. The generosity of our seasonal residents is the lifeblood of these organizations, because the year-round community cannot support them on its own and we want to thank everyone who has stepped up to help the Vineyard. However, there’s still need for more.

Over the last 10 years there has been a dramatic increase in the number of Vineyard nonprofits, so the long-term trend indicates that revenues for the average organization have not kept up with inflation, resulting in a philanthropy gap. As evidence of this shortfall I mentioned three organizations serving the year-round community that had several years of deficits: Featherstone, Vineyard Nursing Association and the Island Food Pantry. I mentioned them because the fact that important organizations like these were not able to get sufficient community support to cover operating costs showed the severity of the problem. Please be assured that all three organizations have survived, are financially healthy, well run, continue their great work and can always benefit from your donations.

The Martha’s Vineyard Donors Collaborative was founded by a group of seasonal and year-round Vineyard residents who, because they serve on the boards of various Island charities, became aware of the financial difficulties the nonprofit community faces. The collaborative is an advocacy organization, self-funded by its board, devoted to strengthening the nonprofit community on the Vineyard. Our goal is to increase the total amount of money donated to Vineyard charitable organizations by educating donors about the significant problems and needs of Island nonprofits and by helping those organizations improve their own capabilities through workshops and technical assistance.

Peter Temple



Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

In the spirit of full disclosure, I am writing on behalf of the four proud and fiercely loyal daughters of Francine Kelly, executive director of Featherstone Center for the Arts in Oak Bluffs for the past five years. We feel it is imperative to speak accurately about the Featherstone organization. We were concerned that the Martha’s Vineyard Donor Collaborative’s Summer 2008 Issue which spoke of Vineyard philanthropy, seemed to imply that Featherstone may be failing or perhaps was predicting its demise. So after reading the Friday, August 8 Vineyard Gazette article, Donor Fatigue Has Not Arrived — Yet, which quoted and referenced the donors collaborative statements, many folks called or came to Featherstone to seek the truth. This letter serves to paint the situation with a different brush.

Over its 12-year history, Featherstone has proudly accomplished many milestones, even before the collaborative’s existence. So it is with some puzzlement that the collaborative would try to present the current state of Featherstone without firsthand knowledge of the organization. Featherstone and its board of trustees embrace an ongoing productive partnership with the collaborative and look forward to putting their offering of services and assistance to Island nonprofits into practice.

Thanks to the founders, Feather-stone established its own endowment upon its creation over 12 years ago. Featherstone owns its property outright. Due to the generosity of the Besse and Stevens families and the visionary thinking of Peggy Pinney, Featherstone implemented what we believe is the first charitable remainder trust for a nonprofit on the Vineyard. Featherstone receives the bulk of its monies through private donations from the generosity of the community. Donations of all sizes come from year-round Islanders (who participate in Featherstone’s cultural enrichment year-round as part of everyday Island life) as well as summer residents. Strategic management of the fund monies and generous donations enable Featherstone to thrive year after year, while being ever mindful of the delicate balance between revenues and expenses.

From the proceeds of membership, grants and special events with silent heroes who underwrite them in addition to annual giving, Featherstone offers incredible year-round programs to people of all ages. Featherstone has strong partnerships with Island businesses, thanks to Cash and Carry, Cronig’s and Net Result, who provide the vitals for our openings at a reduced rate. Featherstone’s special events and summer tent would not be first rate without the generous support of Tilton Rental. Featherstone students receive discounts for class supplies at daRosa’s and Educomp. Island club members receive a 20 per cent discount on classes at Featherstone. The Featherstone Flea and Fine Arts Market, in its third year, increases the livelihood of Vineyard artists and vendors who sell their art and wares without any seller fees. Even in the Featherstone gallery, artists receive 70 per cent of the value of their artwork, more than they receive from any other venue.

The arts may not be the hottest trend for donor giving and splashy feature articles, but know that Featherstone is alive and well.

If you have ever visited Featherstone, you know how easy it is to fall in love with the place — its grounds are beautiful and the cows grazing in front add to the pastoral setting. Beyond the aesthetic beauty however is the heart of a thriving community of visual artists, performing artists, musicians and families. Even though the hours are noon to 4 p.m. daily, Francine arrives at sunrise and does not go home until well after sunset, so there is a constant stream of the friends of Featherstone all day and evening.

If you have never been to Featherstone, come see for yourself. Try Musical Mondays, the August Tuesday Lecture series, the Flea and Fine Arts Market on Tuesdays, the storytelling concert (August 14) or the chocolate festival in October. Take a class in painting, ceramics, drawing, sculpture, weaving, photograph, piano, native American flute or even French.

Featherstone offers a free after-school program for high school students. Bring your child to open pottery studio on Wednesdays. Check out the latest gallery show. Walk the labyrinth made possible by Claudia Miller and the staff at the Point Way artist in residence program. Volunteer for an afternoon; there is always something to do (the daughters have labeled and stamped many mailings at our dining room table and we are frequent helpers on campus). Once you experience Featherstone personally, you may even be moved to make a financial donation. After all, what would the Island be without Featherstone? Francine is always open to any comments and suggestions for improving Featherstone to best serve the Vineyard community. She not only works tirelessly for Featherstone but she gives her time, treasure and talent to several nonprofit entities on the Island.

A large part of what makes the Vineyard a special place is the small group of people who are extremely committed to making a difference. Their commitment, caring and generous giving are an essential fiber for the future We encourage all to open their hearts, minds and wallets. Give generously of your time. If not, there could be an enormous loss for the whole Island.

Ann Smith

Oak Bluffs and

Indianapolis Ind.


Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

Although Kelly Wilson’s heart may be in the right place, I believe her anger at earlier trauma, although justified, may distort her ideas about how community works. Her stance is basically fascist and any idea of restricting a member of our community because of what she has determined (in an obviously misplaced judicial role — she is not a judge) I find abhorrent.

I don’t believe we can start restricting certain individuals from living in certain places. Can you imagine what this could lead to? As a member of this community any effort to start restricting certain individuals legally from living in certain parts of town (i.e. so many yards from this or that establishment) is ill-advised at the least. I hope better minds prevail.

Rob Strauss

Vineyard Haven


Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

As a longtime summer visitor from New Jersey I was once again not overly pleased with the existing and updated recycling policy on my favorite Island. During the course of a long afternoon bike ride which began with a fantastic lunch in Menemsha, topped off with a long, cold bottle of water in West Tisbury before my homeward journey, I used at least eight pieces of plastic, all of which were purchased at local stores in conjunction with my lunch and the need for water.

When I finished with my refreshments, I searched in vain for an appropriate place to deposit my plastic and found, to my disappointment, no appropriate container for plastic. Furthermore, everyone eating lunch or getting snacks simply comingled their plastic in the garbage receptacle.

I hope when I come here next year that the message will get out that stores offering food or plastic bottles of soda on main traveled bike routes will join the Martha’s Vineyard success in the recycling venture and place receptacles outside their stores for the specific collection of plastic. After all, if you are making money from your visitors, why not get on the Island recycling team?

Glenn Herrigel

New Providence, N.J.


Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

The leaders of this summer’s July 22 slow food potluck with Michael Pollan are still recovering and rejoicing in the success of this event. We extend a heartfelt thanks to all who helped make this such an amazing community gathering. One could say that throwing a potluck for 550 is the definition of chaos. But it wasn’t. Everything ran smoothly and the spirit of sharing our local bounty and celebrating our community was the true gift of the evening. Go to for a great quick clip of the evening.

Certainly we have special thanks to Michael Pollan for his riveting speech, to Kevin Keady and the Cattle Drivers for their wonderful music, to the Agricultural Society for the use of the perfect venue — the Agricultural Hall, to the Island cultured oyster farmers for the delectable raw bar, and to all of the wonderful slow food members and volunteers who did everything from monitor the parking lot to washing dishes. And thanks to all of you who attended, brought your special dishes to share and joined slow food.

As president of Slow Food Martha’s Vineyard, I am most grateful to leaders Rick Karney, Cathy Walthers, Janice Haynes and Jan Buhrman who contribute significant time and expertise to our organization. Thanks, too, to our visionary founder, Carlo Petrini, for uniting people around the world to celebrate and sustain agricultural and culinary traditions.

I am sending a heartfelt big thanks to all of you and am most grateful to this Island and its community for all the gifts you bestow on each of us and our world every day.

Elizabeth Germain



Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

I am writing to thank the fine people of the Steamship Authority for their help once again this year in making it an easy crossing for my mom and I. Traveling with an elderly parent can be a challenge, but the good folks in both Woods Hole and Vineyard Haven were wonderful. In particular, agent Kathleen Parsons and boatswain Tom Marks went out of their way to ensure that our vehicle was positioned below decks so that we had easy access to the elevator.

In addition, should we elect to stay below decks for the duration of the trip, we were right next to the large forward hatch, affording us a delightful and cooling ocean breeze, as well as a spectacular view. We chose the latter option, and had a ferry crossing we’ll always remember. Thanks again to the fine folks at the Steamship Authority.

John Murphy


The Vineyard Gazette welcomes letters to the editor on any subject concerning Martha’s Vineyard. The newspaper strives to publish all letters as space allows, although the editor reserves the right to reject letters that in her judgment are inappropriate. Letters must be signed, and should include a place of residence and contact telephone number. The Gazette does not publish anonymous letters.