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Northside Bethlehem gets hundreds of 'dusk-to-dawn' lightbulbs, with hopes of improving safety, saving energy

Volunteers April Tou and Colleen Laird install 'dusk-to-dawn' lights in Northside Bethlehem on Thursday.
Julian Abraham
Volunteers April Tou and Colleen Laird installed 'dusk-to-dawn' lights in Northside Bethlehem on Thursday.

  • PPL donated 500 'dusk-to-dawn' LED lights, for porches in the neighborhood of Northside Bethlehem. A group called Northside Alive installed them on Thursday
  • The bulbs only power on at night, and are powered by LEDs, consuming less electricity
  • About 100 homes in Northside Bethlehem had the lights installed on Thursday, free of charge

BETHLEHEM, Pa. — Around 100 homes in Northside Bethlehem got new specialty lightbulbs today, thanks to a partnership between Northside Alive and PPL.

Northside Alive is a city-sponsored community service group, with previous projects including cost-effective funeral planning seminars, and the revitalization of Friendship Park — the same park where volunteers and staff met up Thursday afternoon, armed with hundreds of lightbulbs for the neighborhood's porches.

The lightbulbs are "dusk-to-dawn," meaning they have a light sensor that turns them on when it's dark and turns them off when the sun comes out. They are also powered by LEDs, so even when they are on overnight, they don't consume as much electricity as a conventional bulb.

Spotlight on safety

Other than saving energy, the project aims to brighten up the sidewalks, which has consistently been shown to reduce crime.

Besides reducing crime itself, brighter lighting has also been shown to reduce fear of crime within neighborhoods — just one of the benefits those involved appreciate.

"As we get closer to fall here and it starts to get darker, kids are over at the park, and then they're walking home at night — this light bulb will automatically turn on, so it makes our streets at night a little brighter, creating a safer walking environment for everyone," said Celina Daddario, a coordinator with Northside Alive.

Celina Daddario
Julian Abraham
Celina Daddario in Friendship Park, where she had a booth set up with Northside Alive.

"It's to provide better walkability, better safety — so, that could be [a] crime, that could also be just a feeling of safety and neighborhood," said Colleen Laird. She attended as a volunteer with Northside Alive is also running for Bethlehem City Council, and co-founded the Bethlehem Food Co-Op.

"It's to provide better walkability, better safety — so, that could be [a] crime, that could also be just a feeling of safety and neighborhood; It's also to help people do this in an energy-efficient way."
Colleen Laird, community activist and Bethlehem City Council candidate

"It's also to help people do this in an energy-efficient way," Laird added. "So by having the dusk to dawn bulb, by making sure it's LED, it kind of hits a few different goals."

LED logistics

According to Northside Alive, PPL came on board to supply the specialty lightbulbs.

People in the neighborhood who were interested in having a dusk-to-dawn light installed on their porch filled out a form with Northside Alive, and volunteers switched out the old bulbs for the new ones in a single afternoon.

The groups of volunteers carried around a stepladder each. While cumbersome enough, the stepladder was not tall enough to reach some of the light fixtures — in that case, they noted down what happened on a clipboard and arranged for someone with a taller ladder or longer arms to swing by after the fact.

In another instance, someone signed up an entire church for the program — dozens of bulbs in sophisticated, sometimes yards-high fixtures on a giant, stone building. The two-person volunteer group we spoke with didn't have the resources to pull off that project today but made a note to follow up with the church and see if they're still up for switching to specialty lightbulbs.

Volunteer April Tou installs a dusk-to-dawn light in Bethlehem.
Julian Abraham
Volunteer April Tou installs a dusk-to-dawn light in Bethlehem.

"I hope that church does want lightbulbs installed," Laird said to herself while walking between properties.

Daddario said the reception to the program was overwhelmingly positive.

"Everyone we talked to so far was happy that one: it's a free light bulb, two: it's energy saving, and three: they don't have to go up there and worry about touching the spiders to change the bulb because we're going to do it for them," Daddario said with a laugh.

There were about a dozen volunteer groups out and about on Thursday, who installed lightbulbs at about 100 properties on that day alone.