“Lights Out, Walkabout” for Beacon Media Newspapers

Pasadena turns out the lights in effort to conserve energy.

April 2008

In support of Earth Hour 2008, a global campaign to turn off lights from 8 to 9 p.m. on March 29th to conserve energy, Pasadena held the first Lights Out Walkabout Pasadena on Saturday night.

“The main goal was to change people’s behavior and get them to start being more environmentally conscious,” said communications manager for Pasadena Water and Power Erica Roluff. “You’re asking people to do something and not just show up and sit there passively.”

“It is nearly impossible to determine the exact impact,” of the event, said Pasadena Water and Power director of power supply, business unit Gurcharan Bawa, since there is no way to know why people turned their lights off from 8 to 9 p.m.

However, said Bawa, there was “an unusual drop” of four percent in electricity usage for the whole city during that hour.

“We think a substantial part of that occurred because of this event,”  said Bawa.

City Hall was the main hub of low light activity as the dome and façade lights went dark from 8 to 9 p.m. and about 250 attendees were entertained with traditional Japanese drumming by the Taiko Center of Los Angeles, storytelling, dance, and folk music.

“I knew about the event and I wanted to be a part of the global statement,” said local Maiken John who also hung laundry to dry on clothesline, carpooled, turned off all her house lights and unplugged appliances on Saturday. “I’m pretty conscious anyway,” said John, when asked if Earth Hour and Lights Out would change any of her future actions.

One of the activities was a two minute dance by Lineage Dance Company of Pasadena, accompanied by a couple musicians.

“We are very excited to be invited,” said Lineage Dance Company manager Peggy Burt, who owns a Prius and recycles. “We look for any way we can contribute to the ecological initiatives that are happening in Pasadena and other places. We need to show by example for kids and other families and hopefully it will catch on. Too bad it’s only Earth Hour; it should be Earth Year.”

Four libraries also participated in Lights Out Walkabout Pasadena and each was in a different area of Pasadena so that every resident was a mile from a library event and could walk, further helping the environment and encouraging community.

Stargazing, not-so-scary stories in the dark, and a sing-a-long in the dark were some of the activities offered at the libraries, as well as CFL bulb distribution at all locations.

“It was fun because we had little ones from two all the way up to grandparents’ age and everyone was singing and it was just a kick,” said director of communications for the Pasadena informational services department Catherine Haskett Hany.

San Rafael Library had the biggest library turnout with about 65 people who looked through telescopes, though the weather was fairly cloudy.

Local residents and businesses created their own Lights Out events, like Tango in the Dark at Arthur Murray Dance Center and a candlelight wine tasting at Heritage Wine Company.

Earth Hour 2008 was sparked out of Earth Hour 2007, a Sydney, Australia event with the same premise that resulted in 10.2 percent energy reduction during the hour when over 2100 businesses and 2.2 million residents turned off their lights. A Lights Out America campaign also came out of that, but it sort of fizzled out, said Ruloff, so Pasadena decided to be part of Earth Hour 2008. Cities like Aalborg, Denmark, Christchurch, New Zealand, Tel Aviv, Toronto and Chicago also participated in the global movement and sign ups for Earth Hour 2009 are already possible on the Earth Hour website.

For more information about Earth Hour, go to http://www.earthhour.org/

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