Emily Wilson, an AmeriCorps* VISTA, has been serving the communities surrounding Guilford Elementary/Middle School. Today, she shares with us the story of a project she and the residents of Richnor Springs have undertaken to improve the safety of their neighborhood.
Over the past few months, I have been working with a small group of residents from the Richnor Springs Neighborhood Association (RSNA) on Project Safelight. Richnor Springs is a small area of the northeast section of the York Road corridor from Cold Spring Lane to Ra0.-+
dnor Avenue going south – north and Midwood Avenue to York Road going east – west.
In the fall, when I began my VISTA year, I helped Richnor Springs resident (and Greater Homewood volunteer) Rodney Burris make and distribute flyers urging residents to keep their lights on from dusk to dawn as a crime deterrent and a way to build community. Several residents did research finding that the cost of keeping a light on for 10 hours a day on your annual electric bill is barely $6, so we advertised that as a selling point on the flyer.
This spring, I met with residents Rodney Burris, Patrice Woodard, and Mike Benn, and we brainstormed about ways to make Project Safelight a reality. Since the RSNA held a very successful “Richnor Recycles” Block Party the previous summer (with the help of former GHCC AmeriCorps* VISTA Sam Chalfant), we structured the project around an annual block party. We decided to purchase energy-efficient light bulbs for each household in the neighborhood, along with a “dusk to dawn” attachment to turn them on and off automatically. After installing the bulbs, we would hold a block party to promote the RSNA at dusk, and celebrate as the lights turned on.