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Shelter Island Reporter Letter to the Editor


Our situation is unique here
To the Editor:
We don’t always get to choose who we fall in love with. We don’t get to choose where we live until we are adults and ready to enjoy land of our own.

The mother of my daughter was fortunate to have an amazing experience growing up on Shelter Island. She chose to be here again and let us enjoy it with her. But I don’t think she woke up one day expecting to be carrying everyone, including me. I came to the U.S. seeking that same dream you all discuss, having rights to land, air, quiet enjoyment and working to feed and shelter us.

I have learned the dream has shifted to people needing to be more clever and work harder to keep those rights. The family is no longer traditional as it was in my Russia.

Mothers here may need to shelter their sister, children who are unemployed, a husband who can’t work because of tragedy or their neighbor. They may get a mortgage with their father or their friend. They may need to work two or more jobs.

They may need to rent their homes. More is demanded of them both in money and physical labor. I see more American friends thinking outside the traditional box.

Growing up in Moscow, I see Shelter Island as unique. It is an island off an island. My country survives on natural resources of oil and minerals, but the Island depends 100 percent on tourism. It is understandable that as a town we have an urge to compare ourselves to nearby municipalities, to see what they’re doing, so we can feel more standardized in our legal decisions.

But it is like Hamptons officials gathering together to say “let us purchase several ferries and set up ferry rides on our oceans since our neighbor Shelter Island does that.”

With crashing oceans in Montauk? With no land-locked issues for the South or North forks? With hotels and restaurants open past 7 p.m.? With different income brackets of tourists? It would be a foolish loss for the sake of conforming.

No. Shelter Island must acknowledge their situation is unique within a changing social system. The dream is based on survival today. The family still wants to have a choice in how children grow. We farm in the suburbs of Russia.

In Shelter Island, it is rent. It is a symbiotic union, feeding families and economy.
Shelter Island