It’s winter school vacation week on Nantucket. A time when the island is the least busy. Least active. Least populated. Some of us truly enjoy the quiet of this time because it feels like winter in the 80s or early 90s.
And for some, it’s a little too quiet.
If you’re a year-round islander, or if you are a seasonal person who is on vacation this week, this is a real opportunity to see what other communities are doing. It’s your chance to play tourist.
Islanders, both year-round and seasonal, are acutely aware of what it’s like to live in a resort community (that fluctuates between “resort” and “community” at different times during the year). There is a special kind of empathy that comes with meeting a local in another place and seeing ourselves in them. Visiting in warmer climates we all resist the urge to ask, “What’s it like in the summer?” because we’ve all been asked the northern hemisphere equivalent — “What’s it like in the winter?” — far too many times.
It’s true that Nantucket is a unique place with a very different heritage and population. But many of the same problems we face are faced by other places. We have read that many ski towns out west, while not flat and surrounded by water, are challenged by too many visitors from time to time and are struggling to deal with it. Also, Kuaui in the Hawaiian islands has a shortage of year-round affordable housing that it is working very hard to solve. And Key West has seen a rise in its commuting workforce (Fortunately, or unfortunately, they have a bridge while we obviously do not). And many places around the country are struggling with the impact of the increase of short-term rentals through services like Airbnb and VRBO.
(Maybe you’re staying in just such a rental this week. Be mindful of your impact, if so.)
So your assignment, if you choose to accept it, is to do a little recon in the community in which you are relaxing this week. Talk to a local or two. Find out why they live there. What their pain points are. And how their community is meeting the challenge that comes with natural beauty and seasonal popularity.
We’d love to hear what you discover. Please email it here.
And if you’re staying put this week, at least you can enjoy an extra measure of solitude and the very best parking spots at the Stop & Shop.
Have a great Sunday.