There are days, and more of them all the time, when the world we once thought we knew seems to be spinning out of any known orbit. People we considered heroes turn out to be villains. Actions we supposed to be villainous are normalized. Normality has become the most fluid of concepts, playing out in raucous debate on air, online and in everyday conversation over competing standards of acceptable behavior.

How to navigate this strange and confusing landscape? Consider this question: “What would the Dunkls do?”

If you don’t know the Dunkls, you are probably not living under a rock, since most of those denizens are deeply and gratefully familiar with this trio of siblings. Heidi, Peter and Frank Dunkl are so considerate of frogs and subterranean wildlife that they will only use the wood of Island locust trees to construct walkways, their friend and colleague Alton Hardaway said this week.

He was one of a succession of speakers who appeared at the Portuguese American Club in Oak Bluffs on Tuesday night, where the Permanent Endowment Fund of Martha’s Vineyard was awarding its annual Creative Living Award to the Dunkls, who pretty much define the term. Immigrating to New York from Czechoslovakia after World War II, the Dunkls made a living restoring antiques and fixing cars, playing music and weaving clothes before undertaking a search for an unspoiled rural homestead to call their own. They moved to Chilmark in 1962.

“We didn’t come to the Island to change its character,” Frank explained. “We came instead to preserve its character.”

Picture the Kardashians. Then imagine the exact opposite.

Publicity shy, unprepossessing, almost gnomelike in appearance, the Dunkls are the unlikeliest of role models, yet their simple message of conservation and kindness at a time when braggadocio seems to reign was like a fresh breeze on a stifling day.

Here, based on comments made by and about them, are some guidelines for living the Dunkl way:

Be resourceful: “We can create a beam from timber, redo the bearing on an old motor, make and repair stained-glass windows,” Frank told Martha’s Vineyard Magazine in 2009. “We’ll repair an antique clock, do stone masonry, put in a well, make a custom window sash. Anything you want, we can do it.”

Protect the environment. Bob Woodruff, former head of the Vineyard Conservation Society, described how the Dunkls quietly spearheaded efforts to protect the critical Mill Pond watershed by putting a conservation restriction on their own 23-acre property, then persuading their neighbors to do the same.

Make music. Frank and Peter, who played the French Horn on Broadway before moving to the Vineyard in 1960, are mainstays of the Vineyard Haven Band, which celebrates its 150th birthday next year. Fellow band member Julie Schilling said the Dunkls have done everything from creating programs to building containers to transport the instruments.

Be kind. “For generations, it’s been our family policy to never knowingly hurt people and to help wherever possible,” said Frank.

Laugh often. “Sometimes, at the end of the day I can’t tell if we’re more tired from fatigue from laughing or from working,” Mr. Hardaway said.

Stick to your guns. Well, probably not literally. The Dunkls are, after all, vegetarians. “They remain consistent in their principles in so many ways, quietly and sometimes not so quietly serving as the conscience of this community,” Mr. Woodruff said.

No doubt the Dunkls are not saints, but they have one quality of sainthood: humility. Emily Bramhall, director of the Permanent Endowment, said she literally had to beg them to accept the Creative Living award.

And they never, ever tweet.