On January 19, Tangier natives Charles and Cindy Parks, Lonnie Moore, Mayor "Ooker" Eskridge, and CBF's own MC Don Baugh (AKA CBF's Vice President of Education) gathered amidst a smiling and eager crowd at the Barrier Island Center, a facility steeped in local Eastern Shore heritage and whose walls have immeasurable stories to tell themselves. Audience members were excited to share their perspectives as well, asking thoughtful questions and even sharing some of their own Tangier-inspired poetry! The evening was flanked with the salty musical stylings of The Turkey Pen Pickers, a local bluegrass band that transported our toetappin' to a simpler time that none of us would have minded going back to.
Storytelling is vital to culture because it connects us with the minds and hearts of those who have something to share. Storytelling is often referred to as "spinning a yarn," which makes sense. A good storyteller weaves wit and wisdom to create a beautiful tapestry that is poised to be passed down through generations. The Bay, whose story is much older than words, was blessed to have the voice of the tellers of that evening. They told tales of abundance that once was, a way of life to be embraced, an island in need, an island they could never dream of leaving, and their hopes for the future of our Bay, our children, and their home. The stories they shared showed that Tangier is more than an island; it is a community whose lifestyles, unfamiliar to most of us, are completely entrenched in rich culture wholly dependent on the success of our Bay's restoration, bounty, and resilience.The event was a huge success, and one that begs to be repeated. Many attendees were happy to stand, even in adjacent rooms, just to catch a glimpse into the powerful perspectives of our distinctive neighbors. The audience left feeling a broad swath of emotions. We laughed, we cried, we danced a little, and we all took something very special away with us that night: The privileged glimpse into something worth saving, right in our own backyards. "Tales of Tangier" was much like an electrifying excavation and it lead us all to see a new reality, as experienced by those who live it, and feel that not all treasure is buried.
Experiencing "Tales of Tangier" confirmed that saving the Bay is about more than just the Bay itself. It's about heritage, reverence, hope for the future, and something stirring that courses through our blood; Saving the Bay is about saving ourselves.
--Tatum Sumners Ford
CBF Eastern Shore of Virginia Grassroots Field Specialist