Monday, November 26, 2007

Smith Island

One of the most interesting and appealing events on the trip was our visit to Smith Island. Smith Island is a small island made up of about 250 or so people. The island was inhabited hundreds of years ago because of the thriving fishing industry. Smith Island is a 45 minute boat trip from the main land. There is no other access there other than by boat. As a sociology major i was interested in the social interactions and functions of their everyday lives. There are only a few cars on the island. Some do not have license plates on them and would never pass any state inspection laws that we have on the mainland. Their is no police on the island. Crime is low, and mostly consists of theft and drug use. The church is the authority and if any one commits a non serious crime they are locked in the church basement. Most of the roads are dirt, and there is a lot of garbage scattered around the island. All mail and groceries are brought over by boat daily. And the children got to school up until 7-8th grade, and take about to the mainland for high school. It is sad to see that the town is run down and the population is decreasing. The population decrease is because of the declining water quality. The majority of people that live on the island make their living off the sea, and the bay. And because of the poor water quality the aquatic animal live is rapidly decreasing and the people living on the island can no longer support themselves or their families and are forced to move to the mainland.

3 comments:

sb9161 said...

I believe that Smith Island is a very unusual sounding quaint town. It seems so different from the town that I am used to staying in such as Shippensburg. I am a sociology major myself and find this town fascinating. Everything is dealt with by insiders and outsiders probably dont see how the town is truly run. Outsiders are probably embraced because on Smith island you have no other means of income but to embrace the tourists. Its strange to me that so little of an organization such as the church runs the town. The church is a very important institution but I am used to more than just one sole institution being in charge of a whole town. I wonder what the basement of that church looks like. I'm not surprised that maybe people who grew up on Smith island end up leaving to acheive better oppurtunities that can be provided in a different more diverse area.

Jung07 said...

Although I did not go on the Alternative Fall Break trip, I got the chance to learn a little about Smith Island through two students' presentation in our class. From the pictures and the stories they shared, this Island seems like a strange yet facinating place to live. To me, it seems so strange to get your groceries delivered to you from a ferry after ordering them online or giving money to the captain of the ferry for him to do your shopping. Smith Island also appears to be a place of such extremes. Some areas looked pretty and presentable for tourists to see when visiting, while other areas are covered in trash. In addition, learning about Smith Island made me think about and appreciate all the opportunities that I have here. The fisherman on Smith Island depend on the water for their livelihood, and now that livelihood is being threatened because of the changing environment. I could definitely understand why the population of Smith Island has continued to decline.

Sam Guggenheim said...

I'm not a sociology major, but I know someone who appraises homes. One time, someone called his office to ask if he could appraise a house on Smith Island and what the fee and turn time would be. The appraiser laughed and said that's not really a job he'd feel bad about turning down even though the fee would be $1200 since he has to take a ferry, which only leaves at 4 PM, so he'd have to wait all day for it. He also said that there is nothing but dirt roads there and trash but also squeezed in the word "quaint." It sounded interesting to me, I mean like imagine all of the haunted stories.