Summer on Nantucket Kat Robinson Greider August 23, 15 “Sumer time and the living is easy…” go the lyrics to the famous song. I think that’s what many people think of when they think of summer on Nantucket… beautiful beaches, lovely restaurants, galleries and stores, a slower pace of life, fun with friends, fishing, golfing, cocktail parties…. This is where people come to relax, rejuvenate, heal. Many people have the experience of coming here for a vacation and deciding to stay. Many others come back year after year. Nantucket is certainly a special place, which is important to remember when you’re stuck in traffic downtown or can’t find a parking place at Stop & Shop. I recently heard someone who lives here year-round saying, “It’s awful here in the summer – the traffic is terrible and it’s so crowded. Why would anyone want to come here?” Clearly, the living isn’t easy for everyone! But that statement does point out the different ways the same situation, the same place can be experienced by different people depending on their own situation and perspective. It is easy to start taking some of the great and special things about the off-season on Nantucket for granted if they’re something you experience most of the year, without realizing that for the folks who come here in the summer, the traffic and crowds are likely much better than the place they are coming from. And it’s probably similarly easy for summer visitors, who come to have fun and relax, to expect that Nantucket is always the Nantucket they experience in the summer, without thinking that the “ideal of Nantucket” depends on a vast service industry. A simplistic way to look at it would be to say that there are two Nantuckets, there is the one that the more affluent residents and visitors experience …and there is the one inhabited by those whose job it is to create that easy, carefree experience for them – the housekeepers/cleaners, landscapers, nannies, the caterers, cooks, bartenders, waitstaff, the people who pick up the trash and sweep the sidewalks. How is summer on Nantucket experienced differently for those folks? For many year-round residents summer represents survival - Can you work hard enough in three months to make enough money to support your family for the rest of the year when most of the restaurants, guest houses, stores and summer homes are closed and the jobs disappear? These folks see a very different Nantucket summer. If you’re working all the time, how often do you get to experience the beautiful beaches? If you’re barely making ends meet, do you ever experience eating at one of the fine restaurants or enjoying a carefree cocktail party with friends? Many people, particularly people who live here year round, have a complicated relationship with summer on Nantucket. On one hand, it represents livelihood and survival. But seeing the disparities in income and life style evidenced by the yachts, large homes, catered parties, clothing, jewelry and entitled attitude can make gratitude challenging when year round living is a struggle. But there is a direct interdependence. The “Nantucket summer experience” could not exist without the hard work of those in the service industry, and the yearround population would not be sustainable without the summer visitors. But more and more the balance is being strained as greater numbers of year round residents cannot afford to live on the island. Human service agencies are reporting higher and higher utilization of their services. There is a housing crisis that affects even residents who have good year-round jobs. We are already losing talented young professionals. What will summer on Nantucket look like if there is no year round population to provide the infrastructure that visitors enjoy? Most vacationers do not necessarily think about what the places they visit are like when they’re not there so they do not have an investment in those communities, but Nantucket is fortunate to have a sizable segment of the summer population who has deep, generational ties to the island. They do invest in the community and care deeply about the direction the island is taking. There are decisions that will need to be made soon that will affect the sustainability of the year round community. These decisions will have an effect on how Nantucket is experienced by a wide range of people – year round, seasonal and visitors. Summer on Nantucket can never be experienced the same way for everyone, but there is are common feelings we can all cultivate no matter which part of the community we represent– appreciation and gratitude. For the visitors that help sustain the island economy, for the workers who help make the island a beautiful, relaxing place for visitors and residents, and most of all for the island itself which offers many special things that are free of charge and available to all. In closing, I want to say that just as seasonal visitors to the island can help remind us of the special things we take for granted, seasonal members of the church also help us remember to appreciate some of the special things about our church that we may take for granted because we live with them all the time. We all create the community on this island and in this congregation. May we be grateful stewards of the gifts we are privileged to enjoy.