A few months ago, I wrote in this space about why we put “Provincetown” in the title of our new publication rather than call it the “Outer Cape” Independent. That was one of the most frequently asked questions at our open newsroom events at local libraries. I explained that we were influenced by the history of newspaper publishing in Provincetown, and by the gravitational pull of its cultural life and all that its name represents.
Another very common question we heard as we planned to launch the Independent was which towns we would cover. That one was not so hard to decide. Journalism for the Outer Cape meant, to us, covering Eastham to Race Point. We had always felt something change fundamentally after navigating the Orleans rotary eastward. The Outer Cape, we knew, began there.
Not everyone agreed. People in Eastham were more oriented to Orleans than to Provincetown, some people told us. They won’t want to read a Provincetown newspaper. Others said they didn’t know much about Eastham and thought of it as a place to drive through while being careful about speed traps.
We saw it differently. For one thing, I had spent a couple of years substituting in Outer Cape elementary schools, and I had found Eastham Elementary and its principal, then Scotti Finnegan, uncommonly enlightened and welcoming. We saw the four Outer Cape towns sharing a high school in Eastham and a profound connection to the Cape Cod National Seashore. We noticed that many younger people who had been priced out of other towns chose to live in Eastham, bringing their energy, creativity, and hope for the future there.
Since we began publishing the Independent in October we’ve noticed many other reasons to think we chose the right path. The more we report on Eastham, the more we think our other towns need to pay attention to what is happening there. While Provincetown, Truro, and Wellfleet all struggle to sustain a viable year-round community, Eastham has kept a more even balance between year-rounders and part-timers. It also appears to have done a better job of attracting younger residents to take active roles in town government. The town has made real progress on the affordable housing front, and has brought together a diverse group of forward-thinking residents to imagine a new kind of village center in North Eastham.
While each of the Outer Cape’s towns has its unique character and characters, it’s clear that we have more in common than we have differences, and that we need as much creativity and energy as we can muster to find solutions to the issues facing us this year and in the decade ahead. We are, as they say, all in this together.