My experience took place in Dover, DE, as part of a comprehensive Neighborhood Revitalization Plan implemented by the National Council on Agricultural Life and Labor along with the non-profit HELP Initiative Inc., which I represented. The campaign provided dusk-to-dawn energy efficiency LED lights for the front porches and solar-powered LED motion flood lights for the backyards of 187 homes. This initiative increased security and public awareness in the high-risk areas within Central Dover.
Studies have shown that improved lighting can reduce criminal activity by up to 21%. When residents feel safe in their communities, they’re more likely to take pride and ownership of what goes on in their surroundings. This experience was important to me because it demonstrated how a low-cost program, such as replacing old incandescent light bulbs with LED light bulbs, while simultaneously illuminating areas of high crime, can have the social impact of improving the lives of residents while getting them acquainted to the idea of energy efficiency.
Enrolling in the Energy and Sustainable Policy program, along with my in-class learning and academic studies, have complemented this experience by equipping me with knowledge of how to identify ways in which residents could be more energy efficient in their daily lives. Thus, the idea of coupling energy efficient LEDs to safety awareness came about and I knew it was relevant to my course work at Penn State.
What I learned from this experience is that it doesn’t always take a big budget idea to affect people’s lives in a positive way. Sometimes all it takes is the smallest of initiatives. In this case, it was a light bulb to satisfy a need that people had and it brought about a positive effect on a community. I’m going to take this lesson with me post-graduation as I continue aiding the low-Income communities of Delaware, and help them become safer and more energy efficient.