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    I have tried to encourage as many people as I could that, in order to forge this society to be a truly living one, and not a new feudal "ancien regime" the pltocrats want to turn us into, we have to forge change from the bottom up, and not the top down.
     Attach yourself strongly, persistently, and creatively to your local and state governments. Go to town hall meetings, research ferociously every way you can to help your town, city, and county to become more economically independant and less dependant on this increasingly hostile Congress.
     Despite being a late baby boomer, even I have a dim idea that the consumer lifestyle I grew up with is headed the way of the dodo. It is not even Survivable. Therefore I will do all I can to help clear the way for a real quality of life for the little ones after me. Last week I got a sight to fill me with true joy.

    My own personal project, under the name The Charm City Starry Night Project, is an attempt to try to educate my city about LED streetlights. I saved up my limited money and purchased an actual model, which I have been carting around to festivals and tried to demonstrate to the citizens of Baltimore why saving money with LEDs is so much better than closing fire departments and recreation centers.
     There are 80,000 streetlights in Charm City. By replacing all of them this would;
     1. Save $24 million dollars a year in city operating costs, or a third of a billion dollars over the lives of the lights.
     2. Cut down on light pollution to the point where we all get better sleep. You get better sleep you wake up less cranky. If people are less cranky, perhaps acts of random vandalism and nuisance crimes will go down, thus saving money from the Police Department.
     3. These lights radiate less heat. You cannot fry an egg in them, unlike Cobraheads, which you can do in about an hour on a hot summer night. With less heat sizzling people all night, is it possible for whole cities to be able to cool down a degree or two, even in a heat wave? How will that affect your personal air conditioner use?
     4. This could bring the birds back. Less light glare could mean changing the migratory patterns of many bird species into living and nesting in urban environments. For me, it could mean orioles coming back to Patterson Park.

     Then, this happened last week. My neighbor woke me up and asked whether these were the lights I was talking about, because the workmen were taking the old ones down. One look and YES! That's them! The first couple thousand streetlights were being installed in select neighborhoods all over town. I'm combing every part of it trying to see how far we've come. I am so happy that my neighborhood was among the first to get them. I could hardly wait for the darkness.
     The sight was amazing. Instaed of my neighborhood looking like a jerry built set for a second rate horror movie, I walked through a tranquil classic street bathed in a soft silver-blue gossamer sheen. (I am an artist and like to occassionally express myself this way.)
     We are on track to save our first million dollars. We have started to cut electric use, which means preventing tons of coal CO2 from befouling the air, and hence a slice of profits from the coal industry. We could reduce minor crime. We could reduce health costs. Better sleep will help us be more productive. I can now see Mars from my house!

     Of course, I will keep on at the City Council to finish the job. Plus there's the rest of Maryland to inform. I know streetlights aren't the only solution. I'm just so tickled poud my city has taken this step, whether my efforts had anything to do with it or not. If we just change where we're at without waiting for the federal government to catch up with us, we'll blindside every special interest plaguing us now. Pull the trapdoor on them!
     Hope you like the good news.

Originally posted to Audreybeardsley on Mon Jul 30, 2012 at 03:42 PM PDT.

Also republished by Ecocities Emerging, Maryland Kos, and Community Spotlight.

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Comment Preferences

  •  OMG!!! What a great project! (13+ / 0-)

    I'm a Baltimoran who loves her City.  When I went to law school, I lived in the Mt. Vernon area (cheapest, most gorgeous apartment in the universe).  I loved sitting out on the fire escape during thunderstorms.  Lovely to know someone can sit out and look at the stars.

    Not sure if you've ever hooked up with the U. of MD law school's enviro folks, but I bet they'd love to assist you.

    Many, many kudos.

    " My faith in the Constitution is whole; it is complete; it is total." Barbara Jordan, 1974

    by gchaucer2 on Mon Jul 30, 2012 at 03:47:13 PM PDT

  •  Omar coming! (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    citisven, oortdust

    A new greener more environmentally friendly Omar coming!

    As a nation, the U.S. consumes the most hot dogs per capita. So you'd be wise to never underestimate our powers of denial.

    by jbou on Mon Jul 30, 2012 at 03:54:01 PM PDT

  •  Well the Light Glare and Pollution Is Easily Solvd (4+ / 0-)

    with a program of putting shields on lamps. I've lived places where all you had to do was ask, and the town would come around and put a shield over the nearby lights so that they didn't shine upward or onto your house or building. Probably LED lights would need to be shielded.

    Sadly our present rustbelt town has no such option.

    One non economic benefit of shielding is you get to see more night sky.

    On the other hand how do you assure reliability? The LED I put up for our basement artisan shop stairway is failing after 4 months. Typical crap Chinese imports.

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Mon Jul 30, 2012 at 03:56:23 PM PDT

    •  LED's are supposed (4+ / 0-)

      to last about 20 years.

      Just long enough to pay for themselves, I think.

      I calculated a 17 cent annual savings per bulb over the CFL's I already had. (Not thrown away, donated.)

      It's about $1 per year savings over incandescent lights, not including the difficult to determine much shorter life cycle of Edison's old design.

      Looks like you bought a lemon Goose.... what brand was it?

      We've been spelling it wrong all these years. It's actually: PRO-GOP-ANDA

      by Patriot4peace on Mon Jul 30, 2012 at 04:16:35 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Overall, LEDs put out very little heat, (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      mightymouse, YucatanMan, koNko

      yet the heat concentrated at the diode junction itself is one main cause of shortened lifespan.  So good cooling design is necessary for longevity of lights.

      “I have made this letter longer than usual because I lack the time to make it shorter.” –Blaise Pascal

      by dskoe on Mon Jul 30, 2012 at 04:40:24 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Most cities are not that responsive. When I asked (4+ / 0-)

      our parks department about putting "dark skies"  pedestrian lighting in the city park our neighborhood was paying to refurbish, they didn't know what I was talking about. (we raised nearly $300,000 in grants and donations on our own)

      And they refused to look into it. "We have a standard design."  Such is life.

      "The law is meant to be my servant and not my master, still less my torturer and my murderer." -- James Baldwin. July 11, 1966.

      by YucatanMan on Mon Jul 30, 2012 at 11:05:52 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Maybe a local newspaper article re cost-benefit? (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        "'s difficult to imagine what else Republicans can do to drive women away in 2012, unless they decide to bring back witch-hanging. And I wouldn't put it past them." James Wolcott

        by Mayfly on Tue Jul 31, 2012 at 01:29:34 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Good idea. But Dallas Morning News owned by right (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          wingers who actually cleared the editorial board of all even slightly out of step (and highly qualified) editors a few years ago.  

          They had a foreign news editor who had worked years in many other countries and had contacts everywhere.  He didn't see the Iraq war the same way they did.  Other editors with experience fighting in Vietnam were likewise canned.  Excuse was cost-cutting, but no executives were cut and pretty much full replacement board was hired. All of them literally toe the line of the ownership.

          One of the most shocking events was after Katrina and New Orleans.  The old Dallas editors wrote a column saying that Dallas should forgo the money for their fancy new Calatrava bridge and donate to the reconstruction of New Orleans which was more important.

          The Winger Owners had a hissy fit you could hear all over town.  The next day, the editorial board published a column retracting their own editorial at the owners' orders.  Massive loss of face for the few decent editors there were and obvious disdain for suffering by the assholes of Belo.

          The Belo Corp owns various media outlets around the country and own AM, FM, TV and Newspapers in Dallas.  Most places that's against the law, but existence of other TV stations and radio stations and pressure from TX senators gets them by...

          "The law is meant to be my servant and not my master, still less my torturer and my murderer." -- James Baldwin. July 11, 1966.

          by YucatanMan on Tue Jul 31, 2012 at 04:19:24 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Alternative weekly? We've had more than one story (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            hit general public after publication in our Alternative (of course the mainstream media seldom credits.)

            "'s difficult to imagine what else Republicans can do to drive women away in 2012, unless they decide to bring back witch-hanging. And I wouldn't put it past them." James Wolcott

            by Mayfly on Tue Jul 31, 2012 at 04:48:29 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  YucatanMan, shd have added that I'm chilled by the (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:

              info re Dallas Morning News.

              "'s difficult to imagine what else Republicans can do to drive women away in 2012, unless they decide to bring back witch-hanging. And I wouldn't put it past them." James Wolcott

              by Mayfly on Tue Jul 31, 2012 at 04:50:55 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  That's the entire problem with corporate media (0+ / 0-)

                today -- they print the news from the perspective of the ownership.  Both the ownership of the media itself and the ownership class, being the same thing.

                Dallas is a blue county. The county has a Lesbian, Latino Sheriff, for crying out loud.

                Yet the executives and owners of Belo Corp are ultra-right conservatives.  They do not care that the vast majority of their readership rejects their politics. Instead, they demand the editors and reporters present everything from the conservative point of view.  

                Over and over, they endorse conservative candidates for public office, even though their very own subscribers are primarily Democrats.  Consequently, many former subscribers like me have cancelled their subscriptions. We aren't going to use our money to further that ugly cause.

                And they cannot figure out why their numbers are dropping.  Like a rock. They are that disconnected from reality.

                In addition, they are innately dishonest.  The DMN was caught inflating subscriber numbers a few years ago, thus over-charging all advertisers.  No executives lost their jobs. Only a couple subscription managers were fired.  They always taken it out on their employees, while they are "perfect."  

                Being a newspaper publisher, editor or reporter used to be a proud tradition.  These days, they are mostly corporate hacks, being paid to produce the output the owners want, regardless of reality or the truth.

                "The law is meant to be my servant and not my master, still less my torturer and my murderer." -- James Baldwin. July 11, 1966.

                by YucatanMan on Tue Jul 31, 2012 at 07:40:08 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

      •  Public demand streetlights (0+ / 0-)

        Ask your parks department again...and again.. and again...with more of you. Come after them like a herd of mice. They will get tired of hearing the same requests over and over again.

    •  LEDs don't need shutters (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Because the lenses are designed to emit light at a controlled angle, something less easy to accomplish with the larger element of conventional lamps (LEDs are a point source light).

      What about my Daughter's future?

      by koNko on Tue Jul 31, 2012 at 01:40:28 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Insufficient shades (0+ / 0-)

      The problem with shades is that you still get the same power waste, the same sickly yellow glare which makes everyone look like they came down with malaria. These new lights use 70% less POWER each are bathe the street with that silver-blue gossamer, thus cooling you off, seeing true colors, and helping your town save money rather than "saving" it by cutting off the children. A shade is like putting a band-aid on a cut jugular vein.

  •  Great project (9+ / 0-)

    From my vantage point in Owings Mills, anything B'more wants to do to get cleaner and greener, I'm all for it.

    Every bulb in my home is now LED.

    Expensive, but I believe they will pay for themselves.

    My BG&E bill is under $100 a month.

    We've been spelling it wrong all these years. It's actually: PRO-GOP-ANDA

    by Patriot4peace on Mon Jul 30, 2012 at 04:00:24 PM PDT

    •  Baltimore County Lights? (0+ / 0-)

      Would your county executive and council be interested in seeing a demonstration of LED lights, I own a streetlight and would be available at the Charm City Starry Night Project to cart my piece up and show them. Unless, they too plan the change and I don't know it.

  •  How fun (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    citisven, YucatanMan, jjellin

    to have a meaningful, personal victory. Here's to softer light.

    "There’s class warfare, all right, but it’s my class, the rich class, that’s making war, and we’re winning." —Warren Buffett

    by Joan McCarter on Mon Jul 30, 2012 at 04:05:38 PM PDT

  •  Wow! What a great idea. Any chance we can (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    citisven, YucatanMan, Mayfly

    get Baltimore County to do the same thing?

    A society grows great when old men plant trees in whose shade they know they shall never sit. - Greek proverb

    by marleycat on Mon Jul 30, 2012 at 04:22:56 PM PDT

  •  Are these those bulbs (3+ / 0-)

    that Congress and especially Michele Bachmann hate?

    Words can sometimes, in moments of grace, attain the quality of deeds. --Elie Wiesel

    by a gilas girl on Mon Jul 30, 2012 at 04:37:48 PM PDT

  •  Can you provide a link to the type of light (4+ / 0-)

    fixture being used?

    “I have made this letter longer than usual because I lack the time to make it shorter.” –Blaise Pascal

    by dskoe on Mon Jul 30, 2012 at 04:41:51 PM PDT

  •  Stars (3+ / 0-)

    Hope the LEDs make easier to see the stars.  If they don't, International Dark-Sy Association can help

    Solar is civil defense. Video of my small scale solar experiments at solarray.

    by gmoke on Mon Jul 30, 2012 at 08:33:52 PM PDT

  •  Congratulations! (7+ / 0-)

    This is real local action.  Please diary more about your process!

    Freedom isn't "on the march." Freedom dances.

    by WarrenS on Mon Jul 30, 2012 at 08:45:19 PM PDT

  •  awesome (4+ / 0-)

    you really made a difference. It's amazing how obvious a lot of the solutions are and how much energy we can save with very little effort. All it takes is a big effort by someone like yourself.

  •  fantastic! (3+ / 0-)

    ah, Baltimore - I don't live there anymore but grew up there ... remember staring at distant sodium-vapor type street lights there as a teen, under the influence of the stuff that makes visuals happen ... they were intense.

    LEDs sound a lot better.

    C'mon orioles back to Patterson Park!

    An ambulance can only go so fast - Neil Young

    by mightymouse on Mon Jul 30, 2012 at 09:48:01 PM PDT

  •  Fantastic and Congratulations! :-) (6+ / 0-)

    Here's a similar story.

    About a dozen years or so, I started harping on our very friendly, approachable city council woman about LED traffic lights.   Believe it or not, I had first seen them in Mexico, not the USA, and came back wondering about them.

    A little research revealed how much money they saved, not only in electricity costs, but in bulb changing costs. Even if one or ten LEDs burn out, the traffic signals have many, so the light keeps on working.

    She went to city staff.  "They aren't cost effective."
    She came back to me, "Staff says they aren't cost effective."

    I did a little more research and found an Army base which had written a report posted online and how much money they were saving per light, per year.  Printed several copies of the report and delivered them to her.

    She went to city staff.  "Well, there's just no money for changing." "We don't have anyone giving us bids for these. They all bid the other style." etc.  Yes, the excuses were lame.  

    She came back to me.  I did some more research and found reports from various "Third World nations" which were using LED traffic signals because they didn't strain over-burdened electrical systems.

    She went back to city staff.

    Somewhere in there, over the course of several months, someone's light bulb went on (I love it when a metaphor fits!) ;-)  

    The city put in a few, changing out old lamp heads with LED heads.  At first it was just red and green. Yellow, they said, weren't on long enough to save money by changing.

    Soon, though, city staff figured out it was cheaper to buy a whole new 3-light traffic signal made of durable plastic than it was to change out the bulbs on old heavy metal signals.

    Today, practically all our traffic signals are LED signals and they malfunction far less often than previously.

    I wish she was still in office, because she'd love to see your diary.  Our new city council woman is not so interested in her constituent's ideas.  But, I think I'll try writing to her none-the-less.  If Baltimore is changing, we can too.

    Besides, Yucatan now has a 30 mile long 8 lane freeway 100% lit with LED street lights.  You're right, the light is much more beautiful than those horrible orangy yellow things.  If Mexico can do it, why can't an American city do it?  That question worked the last time.  ;-)

    "The law is meant to be my servant and not my master, still less my torturer and my murderer." -- James Baldwin. July 11, 1966.

    by YucatanMan on Mon Jul 30, 2012 at 11:03:19 PM PDT

  •  Stick VAWTs on all the light poles (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    cassandracarolina, Noor B

    and solar collectors too. The poles are high, get wind power off them. Stop wasting poles with just hanging bulbs.

    I have two of the crazy little yard lights that are solar powered LEDs. I am almost all LED in the house now. I love them.

  •  Congrats! (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    cassandracarolina, Roadbed Guy

    LED signal lights rock, and were installed in my city (Shanghai) in the early 00's, and do every good thing you say.

    Yes, be the change you seek.  Walk, the walk before you talk the talk and credibility follows.

    What about my Daughter's future?

    by koNko on Tue Jul 31, 2012 at 01:37:41 AM PDT

  •  More LEDs (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    cassandracarolina, MKinTN

    This may interest you.

    What about my Daughter's future?

    by koNko on Tue Jul 31, 2012 at 02:19:16 AM PDT

  •  This is a good project no doubt (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    but it's been underway for some time already . . . .

    although it HAS been slowed by a spat with the local utility.

  •  Outstanding! Great work! NT (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    "The true strength of our nation comes not from the might of our arms or the scale of our wealth, but from the enduring power of our ideals." - Barack Obama

    by HeyMikey on Tue Jul 31, 2012 at 07:26:45 AM PDT

  •  Thanks to helping Ballmer, Hon. : ) eom. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    RainyDay, billlaurelMD

    "I feel like I'm still waiting to meet my true self. I'm assuming it's gonna be in a dark alley and there's gonna be a fight." ---Rachel Maddow

    by never forget 2000 on Tue Jul 31, 2012 at 08:37:54 AM PDT

  •  Can I borrow your model? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    I am living betwixt Columbia and Bethesda these days -- and beginning study for a Master of Laws in Environmental Law. Don't know where to start but I'd love to see my 2 communities move strongly in this direction.

    Coming Soon -- to an Internet connection near you:

    by FischFry on Tue Jul 31, 2012 at 10:21:50 AM PDT

  •  Dundalk (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    There's a guy here in Dundalk who has invented a solar/electric hybrid traffic light - uses less electricity plus it doesn't die when the power lines go down. He's trying to market them to the city and county now.

  •  I wish somebody with (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    tons of technical know-how would pitch this to the towns on the Eastern Shore.  You'd think we wouldn't have light pollution at night out here, but we do.

    "Fighting Fascism is Always Cool." -- Amsterdam Weekly, v3, n18 (-8.50, -7.23)

    by Noor B on Tue Jul 31, 2012 at 11:47:49 AM PDT

  •  Good for you. Awesome. n/t (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    When we talk about war, we're really talking about peace.

    by genethefiend on Tue Jul 31, 2012 at 11:50:33 AM PDT

  •  Great diary, thanks. (0+ / 0-)

    Your most important plug for the "green" municipal lighting that you tout is the cost savings. The doughy, angry white men out the suburbs may whine about change (they always do), but they sure can't argue with that.

    It's here they got the range/ and the machinery for change/ and it's here they got the spiritual thirst. --Leonard Cohen

    by karmsy on Tue Jul 31, 2012 at 12:06:54 PM PDT

  •  Also save on maintenance costs to replace (0+ / 0-)

    failing or burnt out traditional lighting.

    When adoption ramps up, prices should drop as they do in most pervasive technologies; depending on the availability of some of the rarer elements used in their fabrication like indium.

  •  getting rid of light pollution (0+ / 0-)

    I was thinking about this the other day, but its' great to see the solution! I realized the other day that not only do white street lights cause horrible light pollution, but so do the yellow. Even over a hill, you see a sickly yellow glow on the horizon, and it blots out the stars, even with no other active light source around. One lamp. The solution that I thought of was that we need a metal blinder shield covering the entire TOP half of the lamp, otherwise the light shoots everywhere into the sky. Perhaps you could integrate this into your design if you haven't already.

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