Thursday, May 23, 2013

Bright Lights, Big City

Hurrah for the municipal leadership of LaPeche who has once again trumped its own idiocy with the installation and activation of 20 some streetlamps in the village centre and lit them up in a flourescent blaze that would blind an already blind driver right off the road.  Piercing beams of halogen hit me right at eye level as I turned onto the main drag one evening last week in a bright lights big city assault on our little paradise lost.  What I assume was an attempt at quaint, old England style lamp posts to add a warm glow to our dark winter nights in the village square has failed miserably.  Now gone, not only the night sky, the moonlit view of the water, and twinkle, twinkle, little star, but with it any driver`s ability to spot a pedestian, dog, or other moving creature who might step casually off the sidewalk and into the flow of traffic.  Gone also to the average pedestiran is the ability to `see anything at all`, as one villager said to me recently, so overwhelmingly bright and tightly spaced together are these quaint blemishes on our decreasingly rural landscape.

Oh sure, failing the yellow spray paint brigade that could dampen it down with a series of well aimed spritzes at bare glass (hint hint), we will get used to it.  Turtles won`t.  They will creep off elsewhere to compete for safe haven as big city mentality, and hence, action, claims more and more of their wetland, dark sky, and quiet country roads.  In our quest to `beautify`and `civilize` have we humans forgotten the value of natural rhythms of light and dark, night and day?  Have we scrapped the romance of a low lit night stroll holding hands, or a quiet snowy walk home from the bar?  Walk down any dark road if you can find one, you will be suprised what tones of grey emerge out of the darkness, and what your non-visual senses will pick up on as they open to another kind of seeing;  and experience the activation of our natural motion detectors that don`t react with a terrified blast of police spotlight on anything that stirs.

It is my fantasy that citizens will put pressure on the powers-that-be to turn down the (light) noise on Main Street.  Its simply not necessary or appropriate to light up downtown Wakefield like Times Square. Even the Styrorail plant`s outdoor night lighting is more demure than our new lamp posts!  For over a decade light pollution has been a well known part of public discourse in planning and environmental circles.  Meanwhile our municipalities gun their engines for a rip-roar up new asphalt, lit up waterfronts, new condo developments, industrial zones and the like, and incredibly, turn a blind eye to the blinding light they are proposing.  If you can handle the resulting circadean madness, more power (sic) to you.  The rest of us may eventually have to crawl into the mud for a decent night`s sleep.

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