Cape Cod is a narrow peninsula that juts out from the Massachusetts mainland into Cape Cod Bay, the Atlantic Ocean, and Nantucket Sound. Although many books have been devoted to its natural splendor and breathtaking landscape, I Am of Cape Cod: People and Their Stories is the first book to celebrate the ordinary people, natives and washashores, who make their lives on Cape Cod and the special connection that they feel with the region. John Whelan and photographer Kim Roderiques drove the length and breadth of Cape Cod to all fifteen towns, from Provincetown to Sandwich, to interview and photograph the 139 individuals that appear on these pages. The selection of subjects collectively represents a cross section of Cape Codders—every type, size, shape, age, and lifestyle. Here are the fishermen, artists, politicians, scientists, farmers, entrepreneurs, environmental activists, writers, and others who give the Cape its particular character and spirit. Each shares a personal and moving story about what living on the Cape means to them. In addition to black-and-white portraits, the book features an opening section of evocative color photographs depicting iconic Cape Cod landscapes and scenes, which creates a visual context within which to better understand the powerful bond that exists between the place and its inhabitants.

Photograph by Kim Roderiques

It all started with a challenge—a dare, actually. After a summer of listening to Bob pontificate about his amazing bicycle prowess, I challenged him to ride from Sandwich to Provincetown. He quickly responded, “You’re on!” We asked another friend, Dick, to ride with us. We asked another friend, Frank, to pick us up in his boat once we arrived in P-Town. Everyone said yes. On the big day, we started out from my store in Sagamore. Bob was off like a rabbit, but it didn’t last long. He was out of steam by Brewster and had to thumb the rest of the way to P-Town. We roared upon Bob’s eventual arrival. Upon reflection, I thought, “What a great way to have a fundraising event for local Cape Cod charities—a bike ride from Sandwich to P-Town and a cruise of Cape Cod Bay, ending with an authentic Cape Cod clambake.” The Last Gasp Bike, Boat, ‘n Bake was born, and has raised millions for the Cape Cod community. The creation of the Gasp inspired me to create other events, such as the Spectacle of Trees and Roll the Rock, which continue today, helping other Cape Codders.

Bill Murphy founded the Last Gasp, a charitable fundraising bicycling event, in 1992. The ride starts in Sandwich and goes along Route 6A and Route 6 to Provincetown, followed by a boat ride back to Sandwich and a clambake.

Photograph by Kim Roderiques

Living and growing up on Cape Cod gave me a sense of community. Some might say it’s just a broken sandbar or just another tourist destination. And to some extent, their perception may be right. But they didn’t grow up here. They didn’t have memories here. They weren’t born and raised here. Cape Cod may be a “small sandbar” and some might even say they’ve seen it all here, but there is also a sense of comradery and friendship that never runs out or gets old. In my thirteen years of living here, I’ve discovered that how big the island is doesn’t matter. It is the people that matter. And because of this, I’ve been able to create and be free to create. This community gave me an inner confidence, one that I’m not sure could be created elsewhere. Without that confidence, I don’t know where I would be today. But what I do know is that without all the experiences I’ve had here, all the things I’ve worked hard to accomplish may never have been accomplished. There are many factors as to what makes up a person. But, nothing is more important than one’s community. And there is no better community that I’ve seen than that of Cape Cod.

Guitarist Keb Hutchings took his name from well-known blues performer Keb Moore. Keb has played at music venues across Cape Cod and, with his fellow students from the Cape Cod Conservatory, performed in 2015 at the inauguration of Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker.

Photograph by Kim Roderiques

I am a native Cape Codder, born and raised in Dennis. As a typical teenager growing up, I could not wait to leave the Cape and spread my wings, and so that is what I did. I spent four years away for college, experienced city living as I began my career, and then moved down south to continue my education. It was then that I realized that Cape Cod is my true home, and I made the wise decision to return. It took me leaving and exploring other communities to realize how special Cape Cod is, not only for its natural beauty, but for its people and the sense of pride and community that are so evident here. I am honored to be part of an organization, the Cape Cod Foundation, that focuses on providing support that our community needs to keep the special things about Cape Cod special. Everyone has their own reason for loving Cape Cod, and the broad reach of the Cape Cod Foundation captures this diversity. I have the distinct privilege of working with dedicated, passionate people who care as much as I do about this unique place and want to help make a difference, whether it is people looking to donate time or resources, or organizations that are working tirelessly to keep Cape Cod alive and thriving. While Cape Cod is not immune to many of the challenges that we see in communities across the country, at the Cape Cod Foundation, we view these challenges as opportunities. There are many great examples of community-wide efforts where groups are partnering to devise and implement broad-scale solutions to pressing community needs. Through these partnerships, we are able to more effectively leverage resources, think outside the box, and ultimately, increase impact and make Cape Cod even stronger than it is today. I am proud to be a partner in this work, proud to be from Cape Cod, and optimistic about the future of our region.

Kristen O’Malley joined the Cape Cod Foundation in 2004 and became executive director in 2013. The foundation is a trust organized to manage charitable funds with the goal of matching community resources with community needs.