By now over 6,000 of us have seen On Island, the documentary film now streaming at On Island was filmed entirely on Martha’s Vineyard and is succeeding in its mission to raise awareness about substance use. As chairperson of the On Island initiative, I want to thank readers who have helped us continue the work we’ve begun, by making a monetary gift after seeing the documentary.

But there is much more to the initiative than the film. You may have seen yard signs or bumper stickers with our slogan: “On Island, No One Is Alone.”

Over the past two years we have built upon a network of recovery coaches, medical and other professionals, as well as volunteers involved in harm reduction measures currently being felt across the entire Island. We are proud of our considerable progress to date. More than $400,000 has been raised. The money has been used to: staff our initiative, produce the documentary, conduct formative research in the form of interviews, conduct focus groups, field an Islandwide survey to identify current attitudes and behaviors, generate community interest in learning about the issue, and finally to facilitate development of a comprehensive plan to address the challenge.

The latter is in partnership with the Public Good Projects, a national public health communications organization specializing in large-scale behavior change campaigns and programs. But now we are at a crucial inflection point, as we move into more detailed planning for the next phase of this hopefully multi-year project to change the culture in our community, with an emphasis on destigmatization and prevention. We also anticipate the need to seek and refine more data, as well as the creation of a number of assistance programs and interventions associated with a proposed behavior change campaign spearheaded by PGP.

While these initiatives will require resources that we don’t yet have, it has been gratifying and heartening to witness the generosity of a growing number of benefactors, who obviously view the On Island endeavor as a positive undertaking for our special community. I ask you to please think back to the courageous Islanders featured in the film, who have opened their lives in an effort to make a better community for all of us. I invite everyone to visit to see more ways to support On Island.

Chip Coblyn

Oak Bluffs