It was our first time riding with our bike trailers attached; Green Light New Orleans was our destination. Upon arrival we had that awkward scrambling moment that is slowly weaning itself from habit, who knew that something as simple as assigning a spokes person for the day could be so helpful. In this case I was the rider who was ready to greet our community partner, take notes, and answer questions.We met with the founder of Green Light New Orleans, and in a nutshell this is how I understand the organization. Andreas Hoffman is a musician who, in 2006, decided to make a tangible, positive change in his community to offset the pollution of his touring band. He started small, asking for donations and changing a few incandescent bulbs for CFL energy efficient ones. Andres explained to us, on the front porch of his brightly colored duplex office that it’s about so much more than just helping people save money or leaving behind less of a footprint. For GLNO it’s about the human connection. If it wasn’t clear, let me inform you now, the actual installation of light bulbs at GLNO is carried out through volunteers. The light bulb seekers contact GLNO, set up an appointment, and then wait patiently for a set of complete strangers to drive up (or in our case ride up on bikes) come into their house and literally screw in their new bulbs. Its creates a whole new dynamic of social change, I personally can’t thing of anything more “grassroots” than meeting people where they’re at, being invited into their homes, and from there sharing stories.
Our Ride for the Future team split up into two groups and set out on our delivery route. My group had five houses to hit within Orleans Parish. The streets signs quickly became more and more familiar and the six hours we spent riding further induced my sense of place here in New Orleans. My team only successfully made installations in two of the houses. It was hard for me to accept this idea of going into people’s bathrooms and bedrooms, standing on ladders and dining room chairs, and literally changing their light bulbs; the whole experience of GLNO was very humbling.
Andres left us with the statement: “We do what we do and believe in it.” I invite you, wherever you are, to reread that statement and apply it to the rest of your day. What can you do today, that you’ll be proud of tomorrow?
– Dena Yanowski