GuardianUK: When the Obama family start their summer holidays this week on the quaint New England island of Martha’s Vineyard, off the coast of Massachusetts, they can expect to relax in the solitude and privacy they have enjoyed during their previous five visits. The Washington Post called the president the equivalent of a vacationing Yeti: “Many have had near brushes with the leader of the free world, but only a precious few have actually laid eyes on him.”
But film-maker Thomas Bena says the house the Obamas are renting this year is a prime example of the kind of mega-construction that is threatening to destroy the character of the island.
Bena has spent 12 years making a film called One Big Home, which is being shown to islanders this weekend. It documents an issue that is as tricky for residents of the Vineyard as it is for beach destinations everywhere: how to protect small communities from the distortions created by an influx of wealthy visitors who come for just eight weeks of the year. The film chronicles Bena’s crusade against the proliferation of outsize homes in the town of Chilmark, where he lives with his wife, Mollie, and daughter, Emma.
Bena argues that the giant homes – often referred to as McMansions – are not only out of proportion with their environment but are wasteful symbols of the over-reaching vanity of their absentee owners. Over the past 20 years, what started as an aberration is now a trend – Mansionisation, or the practice of building the largest possible house on a plot of land. more here