Headlamps and Energy Fasts: The JV's Lightless November


A new month has brought an end to bucket showering and replaced it with an energy challenge for the JV community. As the sun sets earlier and earlier in Sitka, we have all realized how frequently our lights are utilized. So we thought, how about we take a dark month and make it a little bit darker. After many discussions about what was tolerable and what was going to compromise our sanities, we decided that everyday at 5pm we would limit ourselves to one light on at a time in the house. So if one person is making dinner in the kitchen and another has to go to the bathroom, someone needs to get a headlamp. We chose 5pm because that is when most of us get home from volunteering at our sites. This has proved to be an interesting challenge that can immediately show someone how often they flip a light switch. Aside from the one light on in the house, we can use candles, headlamps, or flashlights.

But we thought this was a little too easy to do all the time, so we have added one day per week of total energy fasts. This means from the moment you wake up no lights, stove, microwave, toaster, space heaters, phone chargers, nothing. This also means that we have to plan ahead with charging our computers or phones, having food that we can eat without cooking at all, and having candles ready. Both of these energy limitations have really showed us how dark November can be. So far I have realized that bucket showering really only impacted 10 minutes of my day, but living with very littlelight for several hours a day is a constant reminder of our challenge. It has mostly made us all want to go to sleep at unreasonable hours because we get tired when we sit in darkness for too long. It has also helped to bring our community together. We find ourselves spending more quality time with one another. We also flock to our one light like moths.

Energy consumption is a topic that many people in Sitka can relate to. The expansion of the blue lake dam has been a point of conversation for quite some time. It is a good source of energy that required expansion to meet the needs of our community. Sitka relies on the two dams for the bulk of our energy. The JV House is hoping to remove some of that burden in the month of November to further our goal of becoming a sustainable community that works towards conserving resources. It has been a very informative, fun, and frustrating challenge thus far. Just doing it for one night can show someone how many light switches they flip after the sun sets. I encourage everyone to try this challenge, even just for one night, to understand the amount of energy a household uses between lights, laundry, and cooking. Check back for an update at the end of the month to hear about our funny stories and progress.

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