PR for People Monthly September 2017 - Page 31

But I began to realize the value of this language when I went to college in 1973 at then Atlantic Christian College. My freshman English professor asked me if he could record me for extra credit. I’d love to find those tapes now, 44 years later; I can only imagine! That was my first off-island adventure and I am sure it was raw!

Significant work has been done Down East and on Ocracoke re the brogue by Dr. Walt Wolfram and the Language and Life Project at NC State University. Down East, where all thirteen communities have different variations of the old English, was much more sensitive to the attention than was Ocracoke, who has been infiltrated by outsiders for much longer than the Down East area. The museum has worked with Dr. Wolfram’s students over the years to record and study the language in our area and we share those documentaries with visitors daily, so we are very conscious—and proud—of how we talk now and very sad that it is being lost to a more common language brought in by TV, outsiders and our time spent inland.

Many people say we are “bilingual” and I agree. When I’m inland, or doing presentations, or talking to strangers, I’ve learned to slow down and at least TRY to “talk proper,” but when I am “with my crowd” it’s back to my “native language.”

I believe all of us have come to realize that our brogue is a gift, a “badge of honor,” that comes with being part of this culture and an extension of this place and we are all very thankful for this. It is very comforting and reassuring to hear others talk and know that we are still “connected” to each other and our past.

Faktorovich: Why do you make such a strong argument for supporting local seafood, fisherman, and other local enterprises? Is this an agrarian argument for self-sustenance on one’s own land, or do you think supporting local businesses will help the region’s economy? Can you describe an example of a particularly struggling local seafood business or fisherman that you believe needs help the most? How can visitors or those who care about their plight help other than by buying from them? How are giant supermarkets affecting these local businesses? Do you think de-monopolization or regulations to control the encroachment of these giant businesses would help local communities to recover from the economic downturn?

Garrity-Blake: We as consumers need our fishermen. They feed us. Who else is going to brave all sorts of weather and uncertainty to bring us one of the world’s richest and tastiest sources of protein? Fishermen get a bad rap as destroyers of mother nature. The fact is, U.S. fishermen are the most regulated harvesters on the planet. They abide by incredibly stringent regulations, understanding that they need to conserve resources for tomorrow or be out of a job. Yet, 90 percent of the seafood we consume in this country is imported, and you can bet much of it was procured with questionable environmental safeguards. Globally, fishing businesses are falling into fewer, more powerful hands. This is somewhat offset by the “eat local” movement which more of our fishermen are joining. The most immediate threat to North Carolina fishermen is the powerful recreational fishing lobby that is angling for exclusive access to our fisheries resources.

Amspacher: Commercial fishing has for generations been the mainstay of the economy and the culture, and remains the “common bond” that unites us even today. The struggles of the fishermen and this industry have grown to be so intense that we all feel threatened by the literal attacks to this way of life. The absolute truth is, everyone who is “from” here comes from a fishing family. It was subsistence living only a few generations ago, and that has not been forgotten. We are surrounded, even with increased development’s summer homes and gift shops, by workboats, harbors and yards piled with fishing nets and crabpots, and we are proud of that! We will fight for this way of life no matter what the cost! Nothing is more important to our communities.

Barbara and I are both fully dedicated to this industry for different reasons. As she will explain, Barbara has been an active advocate for this industry since she came to the county 30-some years ago to do her research on the menhaden industry. From that work, she became engaged in fisheries management issues, serving on the Marine Fisheries Commission and other committees, led the working waterfronts initiative years ago and continues to write and work for the industry.

I was raised on Harkers Island and that fact alone puts me in the fisheries struggle. Even though my family became more known for boatbuilding, our family history is grounded in commercial fishing. For me personally, it is about preserving a culture and maintaining our community identity, and the right for these fishermen to work like their fathers and grandfathers have worked before them. Carrying on these traditions, often using the same fishing methods for generations, is important and part of who we are. Yes—we are proud!

Today, the local foods movement has opened the door for others to become involved in this struggle also, and that fact has become a major component of our “hope” for this industry, despite the political strength of the opposing forces. Consumers are demanding local seafood and all of us are working hard day after day to educate seafood-lovers everywhere on the issues related to the policy-making, the character of these hard-working men and women and the critical role this industry plays in the economy of our coastal communities.