San Francisco is turning out the lights on the Golden Gate Bridge. Chicago is switching off Sears Tower. The Sydney Opera House will go dark.
Here, the concession booth at the Capawock Theatre in Vineyard Haven might stop the popcorn maker.
Martha’s Vineyard is David in a list of Goliath locations — from Bangkok to Miami — participating in Earth Hour, a global energy conservation event taking place tomorrow night, Saturday, March 29, from 8 to 9 p.m.
For 60 minutes, businesses and citizens will be encouraged to switch off their lights in an effort to raise awareness about energy consumption.
The Vineyard Haven cinema is one of 60 Island businesses, at last count, supporting the event. The centre of Main street will plunge in to semi-darkness as the theatre manager flips the switch on the candy counter and box office lights, as well as the eight 23-watt florescent bulbs that light the marquee.
“I might also turn off the popcorn maker, that’s 700 watts,” pondered owner Ben (Buzzy) Hall Sr. yesterday, taking just the type of inventory that Island organizers are encouraging Vineyarders to begin on their own daily energy consumption.
“Turn off everything you can,” advises co-organizer of Lights Out Martha’s Vineyard Marnie Stanton, also almanac coordinator for the Vineyard Conservation Society.
It is a list which should include your television. Among the shows that Earth Hour participants will miss between 8 and 9 p.m. are Geraldo At Large on Fox and, on Discovery, 200-Pound Tumor, which is about surgery on a large tumor.
“It’s a tiny commitment really,” said Ms. Stanton.
Ms. Stanton also warns to look out for silent energy consumers such as coffee-maker timers and DVD players. Known as vampire lights, these items were blamed in a recent survey for up to 20 per cent of household energy consumption.
“When I looked at all the stuff that was still on in our house with the lights out, I was amazed,” Ms. Stanton said. “It’s kind of appalling actually.”
Created by the World Wildlife Foundation, Earth Hour was first held in Sydney, Australia, last year. Two million Sydney residents are reported to have turned off their lights for the hour.
Though some sneered at the limited effect on energy consumption, event organizers are keen to stress that the event has power as a symbolic gesture, to get people thinking about energy conservation.
“It’s a three-point process,” said Ms. Stanton. “First it helps raise awareness of where you’re expending energy. Second you’re empowered to take action. And thirdly you act as part of a community, changing your habits with a globe full of people.“
Island groups and businesses from the Steamship Authority and the Island schools, to Le Grenier restaurant in Vineyard Haven have promised to turn off non-essential lighting.
Volunteers from Cape Light Compact will be handing free compact florescent light bulbs at Five Corners in Vineyard Haven on Saturday morning and at the Edgartown Triangle in the afternoon.
The Vineyard Conservation Society is holding a candlelight walk, open to the public, at the Felix Neck Wildlife Sanctuary.
Musicians at an evening of all-female musicians at Che’s Lounge in Vineyard Haven tomorrow night will play by candlelight for an hour.
“The only way we’re going to save this planet is one miniscule step at a time,” Colin Ruel, the concert’s organizer, said yesterday. The show starts at 6 p.m.
Earth Hour boosters have other suggestions for whiling away an hour in the dark on Saturday night. A Web site set up for the event (earthhourus.org) has 10 suggestions ranging from candlelit house party or romantic dinner, to options for the green devotee such as scouring the neighborhood looking for trash with a flashlight or organizing a recyclables scavenger hunt.
Martha’s Vineyard’s energy provider, NStar, will provide statistics on Vineyard energy consumption for before, during and after the event.
“We’ll have to wait and see,” said Ms. Stanton. “It could be a disaster. One hopes that it’ll move the dial a bit. But this year is a lot about getting the word out. It’ll be more sophisticated next year.”