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Turning teens on to dark sky advocacy

The following is a guest post by Rachele Rosi-Kessel, a member of DarkSky Massachusetts and a Boston resident. 

In May of 2022, I offered to host a table at the Massachusetts Youth Climate Action Network Summit held at MIT. 300 students ages 10–18 from all over Massachusetts attended the conference. I was proud to promote DarkSky at my first tabling event.

It was a lot of fun to put together a table with photos, DarkSky brochures, and a few fun exercises. For instance, I had two lamps at the table. One had a bright LED light with a shade, and one had a softer light without a shade. I showed the students what the bright LED lights looked like when I shined them into their eyes — they all squinted and turned their heads away). I told them this is what it looks like if a car with these lights is driving at you or if these lights are not shaded. I also showed them different paper shades and how to shade a light correctly.

We talked about human safety in cities, the importance of light for animal reproduction, and the way blue light, not just from screens but from poor outdoor lighting, can affect our sleep. Most of the teens were shocked by the information I shared and wanted to learn more.

For this diverse community of young people, one of the biggest takeaways was the reality that light pollution is often much worse in poor communities and in communities of color. “Really?!” they asked me. I explained how light pollution is an important environmental justice issue and one that they, as young people, could stand up against right now in their communities. What impressed them was how easy this issue was to fix:

Stop adding more “security lights” to our neighborhoods! Use lower lights and shade them so people can actually see the dangers and not be blinded by the lights!

I hope they all went home and shared with their parents this important issue. 

As a side note, the brochures were not as popular as I had hoped. This generation responds better to electronic information. A good QR code on the table to direct kids to go directly to the DarkSky website would be a good addition to future tables for youth and teen events.

Learn more about DarkSky Massachusetts chapter.
Learn more about the DarkSky Advocates Network.