About Susanna J. Sturgis

Susanna edits for a living, writes to survive, and has two blogs going on WordPress. "From the Seasonally Occupied Territories" is about being a year-round resident of Martha's Vineyard. "Write Through It" is about writing, editing, and how to keep going.

Meet the League of Women Voters MV

Want to help build an engaged, well-informed citizenry here on the Vineyard, across the commonwealth, and nationwide?

Check out the League of Women Voters of Martha’s Vineyard!

The League’s motto — Democracy is not a spectator sport — has never been more timely.

Among other things, the League of Women Voters MV holds voter registration drives and conducts candidate forums for state, county, and local offices. It also has a recycling program, making it easy to recycle used inkjet cartridges and old cell phones.

By joining the MV League, you support the national League of Women Voters, whose priorities include —

  • fighting voter suppression
  • limiting the influence of money in politics
  • promoting fair redistricting that makes sure that every voter is represented at the ballot box

As a member of the League of Women Voters MV, you have access to national, state and regional information on current issues with non-partisan views.

The MV League meets  monthly from September to June except December. Interested? Contact membership chair Carole Early.

The League of Women Voters was founded in 1920, the year the 19th Amendment was ratified, giving U.S. women the right to vote. The 100th anniversary of both is coming up soon.

Vineyard women celebrate the League’s 75th anniversary by marching in the 1995 Fourth of July parade. From left: Carol Koury, Susanna J. Sturgis, Patty Blakesley, and Ann Hollister. They’re wearing suffragist colors: purple, white, and gold.

 

Rise for Climate

We Stand Together / Estamos Todos Juntos and 350MVI have called a “Rise for Climate” rally at Five Corners, Vineyard Haven, on Saturday, September 8, from 12 noon to 2 p.m.

This is one of thousands of events being held across the country and around the world in support the Global Climate Action Summit that will take place in San Francisco on September 12–14, 2018, and to demand that local leaders commit to building a fossil free world that works for all of us.

The rally aims to educate voters about local climate change issues, to stand with our local leaders in demanding climate action and social justice, and to support  “Green Communities Designation” for all Island towns at next spring’s annual town meetings.

Bring signs! Bring your friends!

Families Belong Together

The Martha’s Vineyard Peace Council has called for a standout at Five Corners at 11 a.m. on Saturday, June 30, to oppose the Trump administration’s policy of separating children from their asylum-seeking parents at the southern border. All welcome — bring signs!

A national “Families Belong Together” march on Washington has been called for June 30 by MoveOn.org and many other organizations to protest the inhumane treatment of immigrants, many of whom are fleeing terrible violence in their home countries. Hundreds of local rallies have been called in communities across the country. If you’re not on the Vineyard, you can find the ones nearest you on the MoveOn.org website.

Immigration law is complex, and so is the history of enforcement. The continual and contradictory misinformation put out by the Trump administration makes it hard to grasp all the ways that what’s going on now is a radical departure from what previous administrations have done. If you Google fact check immigration policy Trump or similar keywords, you’ll find a wealth of reliable reporting and commentary, but I found this one, Salvador Rizzo’s “The Facts About Trump’s Policy of Separating Families at the Border,” from the Washington Post, particularly useful.

And did you know that if you’re on Martha’s Vineyard, you’re in the 100-mile “border zone,” within which the Border Patrol can stop anyone on the slightest suspicion and check their immigration status? How slight is “slight”? Well, a woman in Montana was stopped because she was speaking Spanish.

This border zone extends 100 miles not only from the Canadian and Mexican borders but from both the east and west coasts.

Here is the ACLU’s fact sheet on the subject.

And here is a “know your rights” chart when dealing with the Border Patrol. It was prepared by the Arizona chapter of the ACLU.

Missing: Abortion Services on MV

Did everybody see this important story in the May 24 Martha’s Vineyard Times?

It’s titled “New Study Reveals Gaps in Island Reproductive Services,” and that’s exactly what it does. The whole thing is worth reading, but here are the key points:

  • The study referred to in the headline, “Addressing Sexual and Reproductive Health on Martha’s Vineyard,” was conducted last fall by Rural Health Scholars, a group of students from the University of Massachusetts Graduate School of Nursing and Medicine.
  • From the story: “The main findings of the study revealed a need for sexual education revamp at MVRHS, better support for the Island’s LGBTQ community, and inaccessibility to pregnancy termination services.”
  • Health Imperatives, the nonprofit that runs the M.V. Family Planning Clinic on State Road, Vineyard Haven, is federally funded and so can’t provide “pregnancy termination services,” i.e., abortions.
  • Not only is it impossible to get a surgical abortion on the island, medical abortions (a series of pills taken within the first eight weeks of pregnancy) aren’t available either.
  • Local pharmacies aren’t allowed to carry abortion pills, and to even prescribe the pills,physicians have to be certified by a pharmaceutical company.

To address the lack of access to pregnancy termination services on the Vineyard, the Friends of Family Planning (which supports the M.V. Family Planning Clinic) will host a public forum and panel discussion at the Old Whaling Church on August 4. What do Vineyard women want and need, and how do we best organize to get it?

Note also that Cecile Richards, former head of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, will be speaking the very next day, August 5, at 7:30 p.m., as part of the summer M.V. Authors’ Series. Tickets are now available from Brown Paper Tickets. $45 includes a copy of Richards’s new book, Make Trouble: Standing Up, Speaking Out, and Finding the Courage to Lead.

This sounds like a great opportunity to step up our efforts to improve women’s health care on Martha’s Vineyard!

Rally for Gun Safety

Before yesterday morning was out, news arrived of yet another school shooting, this one at the Santa Fe, Texas, high school. Nine students and one teacher were killed and ten others wounded, including a school resource officer who at last report was in critical condition. Once again the shooter was a white man: 17-year-old student Dimitrios Pagourtzis surrendered to law enforcement at the scene and has confessed to the crime.

Word spread quickly on social media and via email, and despite the short notice about 15 Vineyarders gathered at Five Corners at 5:30 to mark the event, honor the dead, and call for stronger gun-safety laws. Women’s Committee members Maria Black, Sarah Nevin, Sheila Lyons, and Susanna Sturgis were among those attending. Both the Martha’s Vineyard Times and the Vineyard Gazette covered the event.

Many passing vehicles honked, waved, or called out their support. One fellow, however, driving a late-model pickup that was almost big enough for a tiny house, held up traffic while he vociferously protested the protesters.

By the way, there was a school-related shooting in Illinois on Thursday, fortunately with no fatalities; the only injury was to the gunman, a 19-year-old — you guessed it — white guy. Friday night in the Atlanta area, one woman was shot and killed and another wounded near a high school graduation. Reports are still sketchy, and it’s not clear if the shooting had any connection to the graduation.

Women’s Committee member Sarah Nevin is at right; next to her, holding the green “Enough!” sign, is her daughter Katrina.

Keith Chatinover, member of We Stand Together / Estamos Todos Juntos and senior at the MV Public Charter School.

Action Needed on ERPO

This was posted this morning (Wednesday, May 15) by the Mass. Coalition to Prevent Gun Violence. Dylan Fernandes, who represents the Barnstable, Dukes, Nantucket district in the state house of representatives, is a co-sponsor of this bill, but if we express our support, he’ll be able to take that to Speaker DeLeo.

If you live elsewhere in Massachusetts, you can be connected to your rep by using the link below.

The Extreme Risk Protection Order (ERPO) is an important tool for keeping firearms out of the hands of, among others, domestic abusers.

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CALL TO ACTION!! We’re making good progress in getting Extreme Risk Protective Order legislation (H.3610) passed in Massachusetts, but our representatives and Speaker Robert DeLeo still need to hear from us! 87% of MA citizens support this legislation, and our leaders need to know that we support them in bringing this life-saving bill up for a vote!

You can be automatically connected to your rep’s office using this link: https://p2a.co/4wHxymX

If you’d rather send an email, you can use suggested wording below. Find your state rep’s contact information here: https://malegislature.gov/Search/FindMyLegislator

“I am a constituent and a member of the MA Coalition to prevent Gun Violence, a coalition of over 60 groups statewide.

It’s time for the MA Legislature to take action to prevent more gun violence in our communities by passing an Extreme Risk Protective Order Bill. An ERPO Bill would empower Massachusetts families and law enforcement to prevent gun tragedies by temporarily reducing access to guns by individuals at a high risk of endangering themselves or others.

Will you actively support the ERPO bill by telling Speaker DeLeo know that you have his back and that he should bring the ERPO bill to the floor for a vote?”

“A Taste of Honey” Rescheduled

A Taste of Honey, the eighth and last film in the Women’s Winter Film Series, had to be cancelled because of weather. It has been rescheduled for this Saturday, May 12, at 2 p.m. at the Edgartown library. Please join us!

This 1961 UK film was startlingly ahead of its time and has plenty to say to our own era. From the Edgartown library e-newsletter: “With its unapologetic identification with social outcasts and its sensitive, modern approach to matters of sexuality and race, Shelagh Delaney’s A Taste of Honey — based on her prize-winning play — is still a startling work of realism. Directed and co-scripted by Tony Richardson, it remains a defining film of feminist and working class cultural movements.” It stars Rita Tushingham (who won a BAFTA and a Cannes best actress award for her performance), Dora Bryan, Robert Stephens, and Murray Melvin.

Virginia Penta Munro, the Edgartown library’s program director, curates consistently excellent film series. She suggested both this one and Frida for the WWFS — excellent choices both.