In the book “The Little Prince,” there is a story about a man who sells pills that quench thirst. When the little prince asks the seller what these are for, he says that it will save two hours a week, not having to go to the well for water. The dismayed child responds that if he had two hours, he would love to use it walking leisurely to the well. Likewise: If we had the money, we would buy the tranquil rural nature back. We don’t need economic growth but protection from growth and from too much tourism.
Recently I have been very alarmed by what I hear about the redoing of the comprehensive plan. The island’s people wish (as in the vision statement) to stay small, rural, wild and quiet is being hijacked by greed. Our officials sound like helpless victims of some forces stronger than they are. Their job is to account for the people, yet they account for money instead.
We are not living here to let forces beyond us turn the islands into a city suburb, nor to have the 1 percent dictate our fate (while hogging the shorelines). For example, allowing unlimited number of permits for vacation rentals is absurd. The recent years’ increase in tourists is not welcome!! It destroys our quality of life and increases the rate of growth when a percentage of visitors move in permanently.
More money doesn’t buy us the quiet and beauty we want. When fewer people live and visit here, we need less money and have a better quality of life. Instead of focusing on getting more money and turning the islands into a retirement community with empty homes, off-shore service people and all that nightmarish destruction (which had happened to other small communities), let’s work on generating income for local people through local farming, art and services for year-round residents.
If we had the money, we would buy the quiet and wilderness back. Greed can only drive away the best qualities and people on our islands. The comprehensive plan must reflect the vision statement to protect our rural, quiet islands.