Saturday, July 11, 2009

On Gardens and Lights

Is Pensacola getting greener? Two tentative steps seem to be leading in that direction...

LED lights

THe first is a private sector initiative. Gulf Power is participating in a trial program to test new LED lights for street and area lighting. LED lights use 50% less electricity than conventional lights in delivering the same brightness plus they are longer lasting. For the next two years, Gulf Power will be testing this new technology near their Bayfront Parkway headquarters to assess the effectiveness of these lights. Previously LED lights have been demonstrated far superior to traditional lighting in stop lights (which explains why the city now has LED stop lights), and I am hopeful that the new street lights will be as successful. I also was pleased to learn that the fixtures they will install are partial cut-off--they are designed to light the road and walkways rather than the sky. I hope that the city can move toward full cut off fixtures for our lighting--we don't need to waste electricity and money lighting the sky.

Fricker Center garden

A second green initiative is a public-private partnership. The summer camp program at the Fricker Community Center has partnered with Home Depot to plant a vegetable and flower garden. This program gives kids and other participants a chance to learn about gardening and healthy food. For more detailed information on this project see the article in the Pensacola News Journal.

Programs such as this that make our parks more than green spaces and more than playgrounds, but an integral part of the communities they serve. Many urban lots do not allow the luxury of a garden. When asked where vegetables come from, many kids simply answer, "The store." But I believe the benefit goes beyond the flowers and vegetables that may grow there and any lessons about gardening. During our years in Boston, my husband and I had a small plot in the community garden (originally a World War II Victory garden). There, we met neighbors we might not have met, traded gardening tips and produce. It was a way of becoming part of a community. I hope that our city will continue to pursue more initiatives like this.