Reflecting on the “Light Up McCauley” Initiative
Light does more than simply help us see – it can change our perspective. The “Light Up McCauley” (LUM) campaign has brightened the McCauley neighbourhood in more ways than one since its introduction in 2021. By providing lighting resources to local community members and groups, LUM spotlights the benefits of adequate lighting on mental health and well-being, while improving visibility and security.
On a sunny Community League Day last September, Safer McCauley and the McCauley Community League invited league members to take home a free set of motion-activated solar security lights and/or decorative LED string lights. Then as the familiar darkness of winter set in, we decided to follow up with recipients about their experiences with the lighting.
The first notable outcome of LUM was an improved sense of social connectedness, an important factor in community-building. Individuals who decorated their homes with coloured string lights received compliments on their efforts, which often encouraged them to compliment their neighbours’ decorative efforts in a chain of appreciation. One community member also reported that having the festive lights in his home made him more inclined to host guests over the holiday season.
Because the Christmas season can often feel cost-prohibitive and inaccessible, the opportunity to have decorative lighting provided by LUM promoted inclusivity during this time. Residents of all ages reported that their light display allowed them to participate in holiday festivities, and feel included. Families with children also found joy in creating daily rituals and lasting memories centered around the lights.
Another important outcome reported was an increase in perceived safety with the installation of lighting outside. Motion-activated security lights helped residents feel greater protection from crimes such as vandalism, trespassing, and theft. Many residents also reported feelings of security when entering and exiting their homes at night, allowing them to enjoy the comforts of home.
The last reported benefit of the lighting project is general happiness and positivity. Evidently, people feel good when they make improvements to their environment. This translates to the community at large and makes for a brighter place for us all.
“Light Up McCauley” is an initiative of McCauley Community League and Safer McCauley (REACH Edmonton), supported by funding from the City of Edmonton McCauley Revitalization.
Celia Sweetland is a University of Alberta graduate (B.A. in Economics), and recently volunteered as a research assistant with REACH Edmonton.