A management consultant looking at Martha’s Vineyard might well light up with the prospect of perpetual employment — provided he or she could figure out where to send the invoices.

Having six separate town governments, each with distinct boards of selectmen, police and fire departments, libraries and planning commissions, half a dozen conservation groups and a dizzying array of charitable, historical and human services agencies, is hardly a model of efficient governance. But amid the dysfunction — and there certainly is plenty of that — something else is also happening. People and organizations that care about the Island and its future are finding new and creative ways to collaborate to address some of its most pressing shared problems.

Consider, for example, the intractable issue of affordable housing, the product of larger market forces for which there is no simple solution. For several years, three organizations dedicated to finding and creating more housing for Islanders — the Island Housing Trust, Habitat for Humanity and the Dukes County Regional Housing Authority — have worked together out of a single building in Vineyard Haven to ensure their efforts are coordinated.

Less well known is the role of the Martha’s Vineyard Land Bank, which has quietly participated in twelve collaborative purchases of land for affordable housing since 1991, according to executive director James Lengyel. Funded by a two per cent levy on sales of real estate on the Vineyard, the land bank’s mission is to acquire public conservation for a variety of purposes, including protecting watersheds and open space.

Most recently, the land bank joined with the Island Housing Trust to acquire fourteen acres near the Scottish Bakehouse on the Vineyard Haven-West Tisbury line. The plan is to use about five acres to build 22 rental housing units; the balance of the land will be kept in conservation, adding it to the adjacent Ripley’s Field Preserve. In addition to helping the housing group acquire land at more affordable prices, the land bank’s involvement ensures that development is done in a way that also maximizes open space. The Islandwide Youth Collaborative is another example of disparate groups getting together to address a single issue, that is, the creation of a safety net for children and their families who may face mental, behavioral and substance abuse issues. The group, now housed in a single building on the Martha’s Vineyard Community Services campus, was formed by a partnership led by Community Services and including the YMCA, the Youth Task Force, the Martha’s Vineyard Hospital and the public schools. There are many other examples, too. The towns of Vineyard Haven and Oak Bluffs have developed an admirable joint approach to addressing the growing threat to Lagoon Pond caused by nitrogen pollution. The Island’s boards of health have collaborated among themselves and with the medical community to address tick-borne illnesses. The Island police chiefs meet monthly to discuss law enforcement technology, share information and coordinate training. Martha’s Vineyard may never fully embrace the R word (regionalization), but those who worry about who is looking out for the Island’s future may not be looking in the right places. The C word (collaboration) is everywhere.