ACK Needs A Timeout Now

Nat Lowell •

To the editor,

I am writing this letter to locals. What goes through your mind when you get behind a car with that ‘Happy Place’ Nantucket sticker? I bet some of you think, ‘we’re anything but happy’. It’s a great moment to start examining our Nantucket mindset because we all had better do some local soul searching soon. Locals don’t often express how much they love it here as most often the conversation is about what’s wrong or what we’ve been led to believe is wrong and of course, who’s to blame usually caps off the typical local chat. That’s just who we are for as long as I can remember. We’ve always had off-islanders attempting to change Nantucket. There’s always been that element of life here, that apprehension to let someone who doesn’t live here year-round influence our decisions and way of life. That feeling comes from living here long enough to experience enough of the challenges and rigors of island life. Nobody is gonna take that reality away from us.

The common factor was, we were seldom, if ever, adversarial to our friends, neighbors and summer residents. There were unwritten boundaries that you knew existed. Grudges were common but we had to work with each other. We knew we needed each other for survival. For you newer locals, this was how things were, until recently. When did the mutual respect and courtesy suddenly turn downright ugly? I will suggest the seeds were planted the summer of 2018 when the state decided to redefine what we used to call ‘seasonal rentals’ and call them something else.

Three letters were to become the most divisive issue to ever land on our shores. The rhetoric characterizing STRs (short-term rentals) has pitted neighbor against neighbor, friends against friends and yes, locals against locals. Nobody saw this coming, or did they? The new definition of renting for 32 days or less (STR) has opened the door for a whole new kind of activism that never existed. As a consequence, we (locals) have actually encouraged this new kind of argument, which has divided our community in half, while very smart and wealthy people expand on their game to pull us further apart, causing ever more confusion on multiple otherwise non-issues such as last week’s article about Hillary Rayport’s now second attempt to reconfigure the NP&EDC. She actually maligned Jack Gardner’s incredible lifetime legacy of service to this community to make her case for term limits on the Planning Commission? Seriously? Jack defined the best of Nantucket.

When we hear the loudest voices tell us we’ve sold out Nantucket, think again about who is speaking and what they think Nantucket should look and feel like? When someone who doesn’t live here tells us what should have been, or who didn’t or isn’t doing their job or embroils us in one of the multiple hot topics, ask a friend or a friend of a friend who knows the answers before being duped by someone who could care less about your personal circumstances, how you need to earn your living to survive here year-round.

It’s time to become more informed, pay close attention to the details and fact check the information you hear surrounding the issues we face in the so-called ‘Happy Place’ many locals struggle to call ‘home’.

Nat Lowell

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