The Homestead: Localism: Finding the Balance
by Michael Daly
Many regions that experience peaks of tourism, both seasonally and throughout the year, struggle with maintaining the balance of localism, a preference for one’s own area or region.
For places like New Orleans, Barcelona, Paris and other cities with relentless tourism, it’s the local flavor that people are coming to see, taste and experience. For places like the Peconic Region, Cape Cod and the Islands, tourists come fast and furiously on a seasonal basis.
Just when we feel comfortable getting out of our igloos…BOOM!
Some years are harder to make the adjustment to the summer crowds than others. 2018 was challenging for me. It seems that when we a have a long, cold spring, and summer weather starts July 4th, I have little time to enjoy the warm weather bounties of the East End — heading to Montauk for bodysurfing, a boat ride in Westhampton, visiting Lucharitos (my favorite) or The Frisky Oyster in Greenport, and so on.
Living in Sag Harbor, which is part of Southampton Township, I must say that I really miss my East Hampton Township friends in the summer, due to the ridiculous local custom of not being able to attend each others’ beaches.
Why haven’t we come up with a South Shore Resident Beach Pass that allows us to attend any of the ocean or bay beaches in either township? I guess it’s localism taken to the extreme.
Every year, I brace myself for the anger, resentment and outrage of my friends and colleagues who get so upset that traffic is clogged, saying that “people took stupid pills!”
Folks, these people are here on vacation! I don’t know about you, but when I go on vacation, I am not always familiar with local customs and the flow and cadence of the village I am in. I’m in a stupor with the sights, sounds and smells! The sunsets and the night sky are in different positions and I’m typically stumbling around at night to find The Big Dipper, my favorite collection of stars.
You should have seen me driving in Ireland on the freakin’ left. God bless the people of western Ireland, left shaking their heads! Let’s try to forgive our visitors for their “vacation brain,” shall we?
One thing that particularly irks me about summer is that prices for virtually everything go up — from the supermarkets to the coffee shops, gas stations and places where we locals shop too!
I understand that our merchants have to “make hay when the sun shines”, but geez… I’m thinking of starting a “East End Local” membership card and soliciting merchants to get on board to give verifiable “locals” a 10 percent discount at their shops. That’s typically the amount that most merchants raise their prices in summer. What do you think? Please let me know if you like that idea or not.
Each fall, we lick our wounds, deposit our summer bounty, pay off the short-term debt we incurred to stock up for the masses, enjoy the quiet beaches for five or six weeks, get back into the swing of things with our local friends and share our stories about “Surviving The Summer Of… “.
Renters move back into “winter rentals” and landlords pray their homes are still in one piece. Then we freeze our asses off for what seems like an eternity and get ready all over again.
Back to Localism.
The people who come here in fair weather, come here precisely for our local flavor. The food, the culture, the farms, fish, beaches, boating, foliage and sky -oh, what a sky we have!
It’s our job, as locals, to maintain our local character and support each other to do so. They may “walk in like they own the place”, but we know they don’t — WE DO! They may own their own little piece of it, but we are the permanent, year ‘round caretakers of the East End, the Peconic Region and WE make the rules that all are to live by. It’s up to us and our magistrates to see to it that we are hospitable, yet in control of our own businesses, villages and towns.
And speaking of control, money is a powerful tool. It feels like we are out of balance around here when it comes to taking care of our own. There are not enough good jobs for our young people, homes for our locals to live in affordably and places for our seniors to live in comfortably with access to care.
I don’t believe that any local politician seeks office with any other intent than to make things better in their community, but somehow it appears that protecting the interests of all our citizens hasn’t received the attention it deserves. The lack of affordable housing, economic opportunities and public transportation makes the East End a very challenging place to live for many. The commitment to serving all of the people must take priority, or we will lose our localism, which is exactly what makes us what we are: The East End of Long Island.
Be a YIMBY!
Michael Daly is an East Ender and regular contributor to The Beacon on community issues he cares passionately about. He can be reached at 631.525.6000 or by email at email@example.com