Island church bells will ring every day next week at noon, reminding us that we are facing a climate crisis and ringing out a call to action. The Island’s biggest, but not only, threat is the combination extreme weather and sea level rise, that will wreak havoc on almost every aspect of our life, threatening Island homes, our spectacular natural environment, our critical infrastructure, and our local economy.

It is tempting to say that it’s too late, and that nothing we can do matters. And while we cannot eliminate the dangers presented by climate change, we can minimize many of them.  Planning is key.

Climate Action Week, May 8 through May 15, marks the culmination of several years of planning entailing risk assessment, risk prioritization and the identification of actionable resilience measures. Over 100 volunteers have worked to think through these issues. The soon-to-be-completed Climate Action Plan, a Martha’s Vineyard Commission initiative, will document  these efforts. This comprehensive plan addresses land use, natural resources and biodiversity, energy transformation, public health and safety, transportation and infrastructure, economic resilience, and food security. A long-range plan that is also focused on the present, it outlines what we need to do in these tumultuous times and how we need to do it.

Even the best planning is in vain, however, unless there is also community engagement. We all need to understand the risks involved. We all need to know where we are headed and what we can do, individually and collectively. Climate Action Week is a week-long program of events and activities across the Island to inform and engage the Island community. The schedule of events has been planned with the entire Island community in mind. Nearly 50 local organizations and individuals are offering a wide variety of programs. Learn about physical and mental health impacts, coastal retreat, decarbonization, dune restoration, local food sourcing and climate-friendly cooking, home energy assessments, regenerative farming, food waste reduction, and more. Enjoy climate-themed movies, poetry, and visual arts. There are tours, workshops, retail/restaurant specials, indigenous perspectives, films, panel discussions, poetry gatherings and gallery exhibitions.

Events are scheduled throughout the week, during the day and the evening. Some events will be recorded so those who can’t make a scheduled event can catch it later. You can see the entire events schedule on the Climate Action Plan website (

The week’s Saturday finale at the Grange will showcase an electric vehicle display, children’s activities, student presentations and information booths each with an emphasis on what we all can do to preserve our Island. Connect with other Islanders at this gathering — and watch the first-ever performance of a song written and performed for this event by Molly Conole and Mark Lovewell.

When those church bells ring for the first time on Sunday May 8 at noon, they will sound our call to action. Join your Island community, learn what the future holds, and find out how we can positively influence the impacts of climate change.

Joan Malkin is chairman of the Martha’s Vineyard Commission.