It’s winter on the Vineyard and sum mer in the south. There’s wind, rain, snow, ice and clouds on the Vineyard, and sun, palm trees, hibiscus, blue skies, heat and humidity in the south. The comparisons are glaring, at least to one who revels in the total environment and nature’s bounty that is the Vineyard.

It’s a new year, a year that will bring all kinds of surprises, both personally, politically and culturally. The last year was filled with rancor and mean-spiritedness, a breakdown in civility, decorum and basic kindness or compassion to one and all. Not just last year, but for many years now. There has become a lethargy in our society, and an acceptance of so many changes to basic tenets of this country, one has to ask, where does it stop and when does it end? So I turn to the Island, a place where great things are being built and created, a place moving into the 21st century. There is Featherstone Center for The Arts, building and growing and touting their great programs for all kinds of creative endeavors. There’s the new Martha’s Vineyard Museum, taking on a new and grand-scale educational facility for all ages. The libraries have become technical wonders, as has the hospital, and expansion of the YMCA. With all this forward thinking and growth, there is always the chance that some will say put the brakes on! Why? Somehow, amazingly, among the great minds and talents, or different cultures, the Vineyard remains one of the rare places where people do work together. Regardless of race, religion, even political beliefs (which are not even discussed in mixed crowds), there remains a civility and appreciation for lives and organizations going forward.

To be sure, there is a glaring problem of opioids, family dysfunction, hunger, homelessness and all kinds of professional competition and nepotism, but you can always find the people who still have one foot in yesterday and give back to the Island. These are the people who help others through great organizations like Hospice, visiting nurses, pastors, teachers, police officers, neighbors helping neighbors. It’s not a legion field— ever. But by hanging on to the core of caring and solidity, the Vineyard remains a unique place compared to so many other places in the country that have lost their way, or been challenged beyond fairness or safety.

I recently read Hillbilly Elegy by JD Vance, and was taken by his autobiographical life growing up in Appalachia. Not only was his life in constant and relentless turmoil, but if not for his grandparents, he would have ended up a lost and desperate coal miner, fighting for a paycheck. The one glaring point of the book was the love and caring all hillbillies had for each other as a culture — not always within families, but among the population. It was a crude and tough environment, drugs and alcohol everywhere, desperate lives, but the core belief of who these people were, how they fought for each other, never wavered.

In discussions with my grandchildren, I am amazed how they are able to let things roll off their backs in the way my generation never did. They are exposed to so much, they hear and live life so differently. Yet, I have great faith in the way they are being raised and educated, knowing that as they age and live life, theirs will be involved and compassionate about others in the world. My generation of the 1940s and 1950s had a sort of built-in awareness of life around us, good and bad, wrong or right. We were not bombarded on a daily basis with technology telling us, calling us, demanding our time. As great as technology is, it makes for greater and deeper decisions of the young mind as it matures. Their choices are vast, and time for caring scarce. Having been part of this great Island, I know they’ve learned life lessons of thinking of others and helping others. No matter where they are.

Sue Lamoreaux lives in Edgartown.