Landscapes - Winter 2013 - (Page 30)

NIGHT LIGHTS| LUEURS NOCTURNES PETER HARNIK, RYAN DONAHUE, JORDAN THALER TO LIGHT ... OR NOT TO LIGHT? FOR URBAN PARKS, THAT IS OFTEN THE QUESTION. 1 FR_ ÉCLAIRER OU NE PAS ÉCLAIRER ? LES NOUVELLES MÉTHODES D’ÉCLAIRAGE RÉPONDENT AUX PRÉOCCUPATIONS DES DÉFENSEURS DU CIEL ÉTOILÉ EN_ AN EARLY NIGHTTIME flight over a city clearly reveals the dichotomy. Within the fabric of pulsing roads and faintly shimmering neighborhoods, the patches of complete blackness are almost invariably parks—the only spaces that retain the ancient vestige of total darkness in our modern, artificial world. And the pools of dazzling white light are usually also parks— venues where baseball, football or other organized games are being played. In the past, the debate over lighting seemed to admit no compromise. Advocates claim that parks obviously need lights for safety: the more bulbs, the fewer criminals, the less vandalism. Opponents lament losing the beauty and primordial romance of nature in the dark. Organizations such as the International Dark-Sky Association (IDSA) and National Dark Sky Week battle light pollution, and say it disrupts patterns of behavior for nocturnal animals and prevents humans from enjoying the wonders of the nighttime sky. Even dark parks aren’t always dark enough. In December 2010, when a ranger took a group of New Yorkers out to a remote park at midnight to watch what was expected to be a spectacular meteor shower, the shooting stars weren’t visible because of the overwhelming ambient glow from the city. Park managers are caught between the politics and the significant expense of installing lighting and paying utility bills. Fortunately, technological advances are 30 LANDSCAPES PAYSAGES helping to bridge the gap. Some programs are showing that lighting can help purge parks of criminal behavior, and new technology enables light to be confined to the ground without blurring the cosmos—at lower cost. One proponent of bright parks is Los Angeles, known for its shortage of parkland in crowded, low-income communities and also for a gang turf culture that frequently spills over into parks. Harvard Park in Inglewood, historically a flashpoint for gang conflict, was perennially shunned after dark by all but the bravest of residents. Thanks to an initiative called Summer Night Lights, things have been different for the past three years. The city, by ratcheting up nighttime visibility and adding programming such as athletic leagues, arts initiatives and family programs at Harvard Park and 23 others, has helped use gang loyalties to spur healthier organized competition and to diminish vandalism, drug use and violence. Because of the lights and programs, other members of the community now feel comfortable there at night, too, which improves Harvard Park’s usership and safety. Alicia Avalos, the director of Summer Night Lights, says: “The program is not about changing someone’s identity, but rather curbing violent behavior. Out of 24 sites, we have not had to pull out of one.” Compared with statistics from before the program, she notes, there has been a 40 percent reduction in gang activity and a 57 percent reduction in gang-related homicides. The success of the program has made it a priority at city hall. Even as Los Angeles struggles with a budget deficit, the program has been expanded to include eight more parks. (About half the $6.2 million program is funded by private companies.) Other cities are seeing the light, too—Long Beach, California, and Jacksonville, Florida, have recently started similar programs. Although the Los Angeles program is a success, it’s not universally agreed that maximizing lighting is the key to safety. Some people believe that programming and community building do more than bulbs, and they challenge the notion that brighter parks are necessarily safer. “Based on before-and-after studies of crime statistics, there is no clear evidence that outdoor lighting reduces crime.” That’s the verdict of a March 2008 study by the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, which found that many criminal activities, such as theft, are “more prevalent during daytime hours,” and that “artificial lighting can encourage certain types of vandalism, such as graffiti, as individuals are better able to see what they are doing.” In the United Kingdom, a 2009 study by the Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution suggested that badly designed street lighting can lead to glare and dark shadows that may promote rather than hinder criminal activity. A meta-analysis by British researchers looked at eight American studies, finding that they split evenly on the topic of whether lighting reduces crime in parks. When the results of the studies aggregated, they did show a seven percent reduction in criminal activity—but that figure is barely statistically significant. In some cases, leaving a park dark can make it safer by not giving users a false sense of security. Greenway designers argue that if lighting is going to be placed haphazardly, it is better to make its absence conspicuous, clearly signaling that the area is not meant for use after dark. Also, if only certain paths are lit, criminals can more easily predict the paths of pedestrians. (These are sometimes referred to as “channelized routes” or “movement predictors.”) Whether lighting actually increases safety or not, it certainly makes people feel safer;

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Landscapes - Winter 2013

Excitable Photons in the Ether | Photons affolés
99 Red Balloons | Light by the Barrel | Something Old, Something New | Cambridge Lights Up | Emptyful
We are Modern Day Lamplighters | Les allumeurs de réverbères modernes ….
The Lights Come Up on 3 Exceptional Landscapes | Les lumières s’allument sur trois paysages exceptionnels
Champ-de-Mars: Shedding Light on History | La lumière au service de l’histoire
To Infinity and Beyond! | Par delà l’infini!
The Gros Morne Challenge | Le défi de Gros-Morne
Cypress Hills: Land of the Living Skies | Cypress Hills : où le ciel s’anime
Urban Parks: To Light or Not to Light? | Parcs urbains : doit-on les éclairer? ….
Lightitude: Lighting Under a Capricious Sky | Lightitude : éclairer sous un ciel capricieux
A Pragmatist’s Guide | Guide pragmatique
Three Riffs on Custom Design | Trois approches du design personnalisé
Seeing Light | Voir la lumière
Representing Landscapes, Ed. Nadia Amoroso.
Collaborators |Collaborateurs
Game Changers | Nouvelle donne : quatre decennies en lumiere

Landscapes - Winter 2013