How to talk to neighbors

From the IDA Facebook feed:

It’s not always easy to work with neighbors and others who don’t care about light pollution. Here are some tips on how to do it!

1. Make friends, not enemies. Your neighbors probably don’t realize the light is bothersome.

  • Always approach people in a friendly, non-threatening way.
  • Don’t argue. Be tactful and understanding about their right to light their property.
  • Don’t dismiss their need to feel safe.
  • Suggest alternatives to their current fixture. Ask them to move the light, shield it or add a motion sensor.

2. Be informative. Talking to your neighbor is an exciting chance to be an advocate for good lighting and share knowledge on an important issue.

  • There are many reasons to use dark sky friendly lighting. IDA sound bites can help to convey the benefits:
    • Dark sky friendly lighting does not mean dark ground.
    • Safety is important, but brighter does not mean safer.
    • A starry sky is a natural resource.
  • The topics of safety, energy savings, cost, wildlife are addressed briefly in this document. Additional articles and brochures from the IDA Web site are downloadable and free for use.
    • Print off free materials from the IDA Education tab and present this information to your neighbor.

3. Do your homework and be prepared to address the real issues. 

  • It is useful to know the local costs of electricity (cents per KWH), and the local lighting control ordinances. This information is available on most city Web sites, from your regional utility company, and on your utility bill.
  • You may also want to compile a list of local businesses with good quality lighting as an example of effective security measures that are dark sky friendly.
  • A list of shielded light fixtures to provide as alternatives to your neighbor’s current light is also recommended. A comprehensive list of dark sky friendly fixtures and devices is available on the IDA Web site in the Fixture Seal of Approval section.
  • If there are any further questions, call us +1 520 293 3198, or e-mail us at ida@darksky.org. IDA will answer!

4. Stay positive. Don’t let bad lighting create a feud in your residential area.

  • Remember that home is a place where everyone wants to feel relaxed and safe.
  • Accept your neighbors’ need to feel secure and politely ask them to accept your need to enjoy the nighttime environment in your own yard.
  • Explain that light trespass is a form of light pollution, but never threaten to sue. The idea of a lawsuit can create bad feelings among the whole neighborhood.
  • Remember that everyone wants the same thing: a chance to relax in their own environment. Work together to create an atmosphere that benefits the community.

The full fact sheet from the IDA is here.

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