Collaboration, in all areas, is a key to a promising future for Martha’s Vineyard.

Fortunately for the Island, a longstanding collaboration does exist between the Martha’s Vineyard Land Bank and the Vineyard affordable housing groups, although this fact does not seem to be well known or understood. The land bank commission recognized early on that the Vineyard has continually experienced a shortage of year round housing and it wished to help.

Since 1989 the land bank has been collaborating with the local affordable housing entities whenever a land transaction is advantageous and workable for both groups. From that time on, 15 projects have been completed that benefit both the needs of the land and of the people, the last one occurring this autumn with the Island Autism Group.

The housing needs are clear, but you might ask, what are the needs of the land? The land that makes Martha’s Vineyard is the foundation to all our experience and enjoyment here. It is the ground beneath our feet so it literally supports all that we do. It nurtures our trees, our flowers, our farms and fields, it supports our houses, protects our aquifer and on and on.

The Island is a finite resource, and as the population grows steadily and the sea levels rise relentlessly, it is essential that a healthy balance be maintained between the needs of the land and the people. Whereas people can speak for themselves, the land — which speaks through its beauty and variety — cannot talk. Those who love it must advocate on its behalf. That is the land bank’s job, and with its periodic collaboration with the affordable housing groups, Martha’s Vineyard is especially fortunate.

Elizabeth (Tess) Bramhall lives in West Tisbury and is the author of the recent book, In Praise of Protected Lands and Special Places on Martha’s Vineyard, published by the Land Protection Fund for Martha’s Vineyard, a component of the Permanent Endowment for Martha’s Vineyard.