The Rapidian

[MIDTOWN] Project Light Change a boon to community safety

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According to Amy's findings, only 25% of Ashby Row residents light their porches at night.

According to Amy's findings, only 25% of Ashby Row residents light their porches at night.

Neighbors in Australia exchange incandescents for CFLs in honor of 350 day.

Neighbors in Australia exchange incandescents for CFLs in honor of 350 day. /350.org on Flickr (CC - Noncommercial, share alike)

Project Light Change is an initiative to distribute compact florescent light bulbs for residential use as a more environmentally friendly, wallet-friendly and long-lasting alternative to incandescent bulbs.

Perfect, thought Midtown Neighborhood Association, for porch lighting. After all, what light do residents use more regularly and keep on longer than lights at night? 

West Michigan Environmental Action Council, the stewards of this city-wide program, put together a brochure. It costs $1.75 per month to flip on a 60-watt porch light on a nightly basis. According to WMEAC's materials, CFLs reduce that cost by 75% and last ten times longer.

"It's really timely because it works in conjunction with what I'm trying to do in the community, and that is to get them to turn their light porch on," said Amy VanZoeren, crime prevention organizer for MNA. "We're trying to increase safety in the neighborhoods."

According to the National Crime Prevention Council, lit porches and stoops cut crime by up to 20%. Since July, Amy and MNA interns have been walking the Midtown sub-neighborhood streets assessing the brightness of each block. They have covered Ashby Row and are currently working on Brikyaat

"If you're taking pride in your neighborhood—you're picking up your trash, you're trimming your bushes, doing the things that would make the neighborhood seem like the neighbors are watching what's going on—you're less likely going to be a target," Amy said. "[With gangs, criminal activity], they frequent the same place because they're unkept, because they've never gotten in trouble for putting graffiti on the back of somebody's garage."

Project Light Change stipulates that all CFLs must be distributed by the fall, and MNA will only pass out bulbs till the end of November. So far, Amy has sent home about a thousand at community events, with just as many left to go. 

"We are distributing a safety newsletter for each individual subn-eighborhood of Midtown," Amy said. "We bring the light bulbs with us and pass them out if they're home, but if people call me, I will drop them off at their house personally."

Interested residents can pick up CFLs at the MNA office, which is located at the Fulton Street Farmers Market (1147 E. Fulton). For those who need doorstep delivery, call Amy at (616) 477-1078. MNA is also a designated recycling site for CFLs.

 

Compiled by Denise Cheng, MNA board member

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