5 o’clock in the evening. Barely two hours after school is out. Before most people get home from work. Just before dinner is served. This is the hour when the streets in our neighborhood begin to get dark. Because of zoning, our neighborhood does not qualify for city street lights. Although some of our neighbors have security lights that illuminate a portion of their property, the majority of the streets are unlit. It would be good to have consistent government services where every neighborhood was offered street lights, but that is not how it works in our neighborhood.
For years now, we’ve heard how the children can’t play outside past 5 o’clock in the winter, or that neighbors don’t like walking outside when it begins to get dark. This year, we decided to do something about it. We decided to light up our neighborhood. We surveyed the neighborhood, determined what areas had the greatest need for light, and asked our neighbors to work together to “light up Hopewell.” Several homeowners agreed to put a light on their property and direct the light’s beam onto the street so that it benefits their neighbors. These homeowners obligated themselves to a contract and a monthly bill from the electric company to pay for the light and the pole.
It’s 6 p.m. and kids are walking home from the basketball court. They walk along streets that are no longer dark but lit up because neighbors decided to take responsibility and make our streets safer for kids—even after the sun goes down.
The Hopewell Project works to organize neighbors in a way that focuses on the welfare of our small city. Each evening, we can look out our windows and ‘see’ what it looks like when neighbors work together and work for one another.