Did Burien Commemorate Earth Hour 2010? Again, Not So Much

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[EDITOR’S NOTE: Last Saturday night (March 27), citizens were asked to turn out their lights for “Earth Hour” between 8:30pm – 9:30pm. As he did last year, BTB Contributor Jim Branson turned his lights out and took a walk around town, noting our city’s participation, or lack of it, in this worldwide event. Here’s his report:]

by Jim Branson

Once again, Burien’s government chose to ignore Earth Hour, while cities like Seattle and Chicago went to some effort to show solidarity with this global environmental movement. In this case, Burien’s elected officials and paid staff seemed to be in keeping with the mood of the electorate: Burien homeowners and businesses also ignored Earth Hour. While an estimated 80 million people around the US participated in this annual symbolic black out, only a handful of individuals in Burien saw fit to join in.

Like last year, my dogs and I turned the lights off at home and walked the streets of our small city to see how others chose to celebrate Earth Hour. We walked by about 130 homes, 80 businesses, and City Hall. Only one home (besides ours) was occupied and dark. I assumed they were participating, and that they hadn’t just forgotten to pay the electric bill. An annual event that brought out a quarter of the nation seemed to inspire les than one percent of Burien residents.

Some object to Earth Hour as being pointless and futile, but I don’t see how it is any more frivolous than anything else that humans value so highly, like, say, the Super Bowl. I enjoyed a nice walk with my dogs. The moon was nearly full and the high, thin clouds caused a ring to form around the moon. It is very peaceful and relaxing to walk along darkened streets, when car traffic is reduced to a minimum. I also enjoyed the chance to unite with people around the globe as landmarks went dark in Australia and Austria, Egypt and England, and Seattle and Chicago. I only wished that my home town would participate more, and I am puzzled that we don’t.

The lights at the City Hall/Library building seemed only about two thirds as bright as last year. I could see that a few lights had been turned off. Also, a janitorial service was busy working, so they needed some light. The sculpture in Town Square Park had many lights shining on it. My hope is that next year for Earth Hour, our leaders will take the lead and darken that entire complex for one hour in 2011. It wouldn’t cost the City any money at all. Clearly, it won’t happen if I’m the only one asking. What do other citizens of Burien think of the environmental movement in general, and Earth Hour in particular? Our local government has missed an opportunity that other city governments have taken advantage of, much like they are dropping the ball with the Shoreline Master Plan. They cut down the trees on 4th Avenue and on Des Moines Way without a peep of objection from anyone.

If Burienites care about the environment, why don’t they speak up?

If they don’t care about the environment, why not?

Someone please tell me why Burien’s citizens, businesses, and elected officials can’t be bothered to do something as simple as turning off a light switch?

Here are some photos taken by Jim showing what he saw during Earth Hour Saturday night:

Click to Play
Click to Play Jim Branson’s Slideshow

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12 Responses to “Did Burien Commemorate Earth Hour 2010? Again, Not So Much”
  1. Rebecca Dare says:

    We were going to be away from home during that time, but made sure all our lights would be off during that time. So, we sort of participated — it was our intention to participate. But we were at a little concert in Ballard that had some lights on. So I guess that’s just a “sort of.” I hope our great little town participates more next year too.

  2. Crystal says:

    I can see this as a great community event like our Lantern Festival or a mini Farmers market type event with Green features and a special candle ceremony… too bad the folks like Jim Branson so willing to point fingers at what others are or are not doing are not willing to step up to the plate and organize something.

    • Jim Branson says:

      If you type in “Earth Hour” on the Google News page, you get over 3,000 results, including every major and minor news outlet in Western Washington. The B-Town Blog alerted people to the fact that Earth Hour was approaching. Earth Hour has a web site and YouTube videos. No one who has a pulse could possibly say they didn’t know about Earth Hour. What exactly do you think someone should organize above and beyond what has already been done?

      • Crystal says:

        All I am saying it that if you want more, do more… Be the change you wish to see. Go a step beyond turning out your lights, going for a walk with your dog and issuing a challenge to the city. Take the opportunity of a Global event to inform and invite others to take a step beyond just turning out the lights.

        • Jim Branson says:

          That’s good advice. For the last six years, I have been the volunteer steward of Eagle Landing Park, leading work parties and removing invasive species. I have maintained a web site about the park, with hundreds of photos and information about native plants. I volunteered for the Shoreline Advisory Committee where my ideas and suggestions were completely ignored for two years. I spend hundreds of hours each year volunteering for the Washington Native Plant Society and the Missing Pet Partnership. I started a petition to end the practice of selling puppies and kittens in pet stores when there are thousands of animals in shelters looking for homes. I have written to my elected representatives on dozens of topics. I wrote to the B-Town Blog hoping they would alert people to Earth Hour, which they did. Am I doing enough yet?

  3. Eric says:

    Our house too was dark for Earth Hour. When I walked our dog, for part of the hour, I saw a few other houses that were dark.

    Will this change the world? No, but what does it hurt to remind us all of what is going on?

    As for the City and City staff to be a leader in this, that is not the way with Burien. If the people of Burien get behind an issue or event, the City will follow, but there is not the kind of leadership in Burien to address social or environmental issues unless pushed.

    Maybe next year there will be more individuals in Burien who take part, and then, maybe, the City will look at joining in with cities like Seattle, San Francisco, Boston and New York.

  4. Erik Robbins says:

    We did it too. We had fun coloring easter eggs by candlelight. We did it because of your topic. So hang in there Jim even 1-2 houses at a time is good. I also heard of a few dinner parties in Burien with the lights out. My daughter and son loved it! This is going to be a family tradition.
    On a side note I applaud you for all you have done at Eagle Landing as well. I grew up in those woods and on that beach with your brother.

  5. Coverofnight says:

    Keep up the good work, Jim. Little by little we’ll win people over to conserve resources (and keep a little extra coin in their own pockets). As for the City, I’m with you on this one, too. What is it about government on any level that seems to ignore the citizenry on issues that are important to them? Aren’t we supposed to have a representative government? Oh well, I guess they do represent something – their OWN interests! A big thumbs up to you, Jim!

  6. candice. says:

    We participated this year just as we did last year. I’m glad JIm is trying his best to spread the word. Hopefully each year we can all succeed in getting more of our friends to participate with us.

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