What’s the most fun part of starting a newspaper? Thinking about what to put in it. We knew from the start that our home territory was the Outer Cape, four towns with much in common but also unique histories, landscapes, and characters. That’s a lot of beats to cover.
It was also clear from the beginning that there was a fifth beat, as important as the other four: the Cape Cod National Seashore. Our towns are shaped by it, and we all profit hugely from the preservation of its wildness and the work of its stewards. We knew we needed a writer to cover the Seashore with knowledge of and appreciation for its environmental and scientific significance, its history and politics, its human and nonhuman inhabitants, and its immense beauty.
How lucky we have been to have Sophie Ruehr take on that work. She started writing about this place for the Banner during summer breaks from her science studies at Yale, then spent a year researching climate change on the Pacific island of Vanuatu. She returned just as we were launching the Independent, and she has been a central part of our team since the start. Now Sophie is leaving again, for doctoral work in geoscience at the University of California Berkeley.
This week’s issue offers the final installment of her three-part series on science in the Seashore, how budget cuts threaten its remarkable record of long-term research (May 7) and have already gutted its unusual educational programs (June 4), and, this week, how we all benefit from the powerful collaborations that Seashore scientists have created with local residents.
There’s no easy answer to the challenge of preserving science in our Seashore. Yet we are reminded that we still have power — to advocate, and to vote.
Sophie isn’t just a scientist. On Vanuatu, she learned Bislama, the local creole, and did climate research by taking oral histories. She understands that listening to people and retelling their stories is crucial. As she leaves us, we know that she will help make a better world, and we will try to live up to her example.