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Earth Hour Event at Thomas Edison National Historical Park Features Township Environmental Initiatives

WEST ORANGE, NJ – The annual Earth Hour event sponsored by the West Orange Environmental Commission was held at Thomas Edison National Historical Park on March 9 and featured speakers from the township and West Orange School district.
WOEC Chairman Mike Brick welcomed everyone, pointing out the several different types of lighting sources in the room (including vintage light bulbs and a Liter of Light lamplight.)
“Earth Hour began in 2007 and people in 172 countries will participate on March 19 from 8:30-9:30 p.m.,” said Brick.
Across the world, people turn out the lights for one hour to signify the importance of conservation and the world around them. “Last summer was the hottest summer on record,” noted Brick, “and the polar icecaps were at their lowest level. Climate change is real.”
“It’s great to be hosting the Earth Hour Event,” stated Park Superintendent Tom Ross.
“This Year our National Parks are celebrating 100 years and we are excited to be working with our community,” he remarked.
Councilwoman Susan McCartney recapped several of the township environmental initiatives over the past year, including commingled recycling, the anti-idling ordinance, and the plan to reforest the Open Space Commission property across from Liberty Middle School. The plan will include an arboretum and bird sanctuary.
“We’ll be kicking off our plans on April 22 at Roosevelt Middle School as we celebrate Arbor Day,” McCartney commented.
Plans to continue planting Eastern Swamp Milkweed, the milkweed plant indigenous to New Jersey, will continue across the township and West Orange School district. Nationwide efforts to grow milkweed, which was being destroyed by pesticides and climate change, have helped to revive the Monarch Butterfly population. Audobon representative and West Orange resident Kelly Wenzel encouraged the use of vertical gardens and native plants. 
Councilman Jerry Guarino was on hand to discuss the award-winning Rutgers Complete Streets Concept Plan, how it was funded by grant monies, and how it was hoped that the plans would assist the West Orange Pedestrian Safety Committee in making the township safer for all.
West Orange High School students from the Fight for Green Club: Ann Krishnan, Abi Allarva and Emily Sanchez discussed efforts to commingle recycling at the high school and to conserve energy; WOHS freshmen and debate team members Colin Morgan and Aaron Oshiro also discussed recycling, water bottles, and coke cans. Engineering and Design Solutions students Jakale Shannon and Albert Park shared their experiences in building “Liter of Light” lamplights. 
The Liter of Light program provides low-cost light sources to third world countries and countries devastated by natural disasters. Earlier this year West Orange High School Technology and Engineering Supervisor Ryan DelGuercio designed a curriculum that was used in the Sustainable Technologies and Engineering Design and Solutions classes to build circuit boards and housing lamplights for Liter of Light. Five lamps have been completed so far, and Liter of Light plans to utilize the curriculum to pilot the program to other schools nationally.
The Environmental Commission and West Orange High School will be holding a Circuitry Board Building lesson that is open to the community. The event will be held sometime in April or May and will be announced to the public when scheduled. 
The information-packed event ended with much to think about and look forward to in West Orange to support the environment and community. Attendees were encouraged to get involved and do what they can for the world around them.
“The alternative of doing nothing is not acceptable,” Brick concluded.
The Earth Hour event will be televised on TV 36/45. Check your local listings for times/dates.
See the photos from the Earth Hour event go to:
For more information on Liter of Light, go to:
West Orange High School Liter of Light Article: 
For more information on Thomas Edison National Historical Park, go to: 
For more information on the West Orange Environmental Commission, go to:  
For more information on the Milkweed planting initiative, go to:
Cynthia Cumming