blogging from the student's perspective

Archive for the ‘Lights Out’ Category

Cookie Cutter Mentality

We all know we have it… the cookie cutter mentality. We design based off of a continuous pattern that works, it doesn’t have to be the best approach, but it suites the needs of what we are trying to accomplish. After speaking with Stewart Whitcomb, a private consultant, my group and I realized that it will be a difficult effort to promote different design strategies for both existing and new building development projects. When building, you must look at the regulations of what the city requires for building codes etc.  Most of the time, builders will just follow the necessary codes and not worry about the energy efficiency but rather cost expendeture. This causes the cookie cutter mentality to spike. But how can we change this? How can we show that change is both necessary and a positive contribution to the city as a whole. How can we work with both architects and building owners to start looking at the different approaches out there that will not only increase energy saving but will benefit the living community around it. Do you all want to live around cookie cutter societys that only worry about the minimul regulations?  And how does this play into Lights Out Indy. By promoting the benefits to looking outside the box, Lights Out Indy will be able to further impliment and challenege both architects and building owners to see what else is out there but at the same time, helping the avian community from bird strike increases. Building design is an important tool to understand and will benefit Lights Out Indy and its initiative!

For your own pleasure: Check out these awesome tree houses as well as green building designs:

– Ashlee



The American Bird Conservancy (ABC) is a non-for-profit organization that, as the name sounds, centers on maintaining and helping conservation efforts for birds. Their main purpose is maintaining habitat and the environments that allow for birds too not only survive but to thrive. They work mostly through contacting and direct action engaging people in groups in various areas that are affected bird habitats. As a non-for-profit agency, they accept donations. For their marketing and public relations goes, they produce magazines and hold forums. But if you are like me, you have never heard of this organization before.

While working for the public group, the lack of knowledge by the public has been the biggest hindrance to making progress. This has lead me to question, why is the public so unaware of conservation efforts like this. I mean sure, things like recycling has become so engrained in our society but why haven’t others? Beyond that, what have the successful, well-known efforts done that others haven’t?

I think the issue, at least for birds, is that people see their lives as superfluous, like they don’t really matter. I feel that people don’t really see the effects that birds have on the environment or their lives. It would just be very eerie to live in a world without birds. Although this isn’t going to be the case anytime soon, people don’t seem to think about birds and their well being. Many people, even after hearing about the effects that buildings have on bird deaths, don’t seem to care. I have tried to discuss LOI with my roommates, but mostly I get laughs. The just don’t seem to care about LOI. I think the way to convince people is to explain that all we are asking is to turn the lights off or down. Once I fully explained what we were asking, my roommates thought that it all made sense and questioned, as I had originally, why people wouldn’t turn off their lights. As far as the public group goes, I believe that we need more conversations like these to truly effect change. Now, how do we do that….


Conservation Mistakes

This past week as we were really starting to work on strategy for Lights Out Indy (LOI), I began to wonder why some conservations efforts succeed while others flounder and eventually fail. For the longest time, I always thought that conservation was a pretty simple thing. You know, recycle, reduce, reuse, how difficult is that? However conservation of animals and habitats has always seemed like something out of my control. I have never hunted or killed an animal purposefully or turned a forest into a farm. I felt like I was doing my part and if others did theirs we shouldn’t have a problem. So why have so many conservation acts failed (see Guatemalan Forests and Klamath River salmon kill)? And what was different for the ones that succeeded, such as American bald eagle conservation?


Elinor Ostrom, a political scientist from Indiana University, in a recent article has attempted to build a “framework” that will help conservation acts to be more effective. She points out that conservation acts often fail because they are too inflexible and rigid. They seem to forget about the local culture and local beliefs. She believes some of the conservationists hold to strict to a blueprint that they developed or emulated from other locations. Dr. Ostrom’s “framework” has a tier system that includes policymakers as well as the common person.


I definitely agree with the points that Dr. Ostrom presents and believe that they are important for LOI to consider. At the present time, I don’t believe that it is a goal of LOI to change policy in Indy, it is important that we engage and educate people in the local area. This is one aspect where citizen science could be extremely useful. Hopefully, if people can get away from the feelings I used to have, they will be more willing to attempt to change the world around them and citizen science it a great way to get the average person involved. Especially working in the Public group for our class, I want to look into ways to incorporate citizen science into our plan and strategy. The execution of getting people involved is extremely important to the success of this program.




bird watching, and I don’t mean looking at twitter all day

Lately, the only time people think about birds is when they are about to go on twitter and hear that same high pitched chirp as you sign on. Its quite the impressive logo for twitter since we are always posting our ideas, our daily thoughts and activites, as well as articles which we find appealing to our audience. Although I am not a twitter enthusiast, I do agree that social media is becoming one of the best ways to communicate ideas to other members of your cyber community.  But is social media the only way that we can interact with this blue little bird?  If you step outside your front door, you can’t help but look around the trees and notice that there are birds everywhere, dwelling within the limbs of the trees or soaring through the sky. Birds are great indicators of our natural environment and we should start to look at them in a different light. After our trip to Eagle Creek State Park this past week, we learned a little bit more about the bird strikes as well as bird watching and how to classify them based on wings, beaks, eye rings, etc. We were also able to bird watch and learn binocular techniques.

Bird watching is one of the largest recreational activities to do and people travel all over the world just to mark a bird off their list. On of the workers at Eagle Creek told us that a bird from Antartica got stuck on their land and thousands from all over the world traveled just to see the bird. It is amazing to see that these species have developed into a recreational activity for people of all ages. If you look closely and patiently, you really do see a different side to these creatures of the air. They different characteristics that each one possess and how only subtle details can tell different birds apart is phenomenal. It is expected that birds will decline dramactically before 2020.

Take a look outside your door tomorrow and look for signs or sounds of these aviators. What will we do when we don’t have them anymore.. why not look for answers that won’t lead to this conclusion! This semester I hope to be able to support a good cause and promote it to the outside community so that we all become more knowledgeable of the natural world around us!

Change in Perspective

Before this past year I wouldn’t have really been interested in trying to stop bird deaths by window strikes. Honestly, I had really just focused much of my time on getting to medical school and I would schedule my classes accordingly. That is until I took an ecology course with Dr. Ryan. It really opened my eyes to many of the issues of conservation, especially within urban ecology. Now, I still hope to get into med school but I have a new interest in conservation. I had always tried to conserve through little things like turning off lights or not letting the water run while brushing my teeth but not trying to evoke change in the community to help conservation.

After meetings with Don Groney and Travis Ryan, I started to fully understand the problems with bird deaths and how prolific they are. I was struck with it because it is a solely man made issue and one that can be helped by a few simple steps. It seems weird to me that building managers and businesses wouldn’t want to turn off their lights just at night to help out. It’s a simple, easy way to help both birds and conserve energy. I mean all that Lights Out Indy is asking is to turn off certain lights at night. It wouldn’t hurt business, if anything the promotion they could get would help. I am excited to really start and talk with businesses about the prospect of them joining Lights Out Indy.


Bird Deaths Aren’t Sexy

The “Lights Out Indy” initiative is one that appeals to the environmentalists of the world more powerfully than the typical average joe. We can safely admit that the idea of measuring bird deaths isn’t the sexiest world-changing project out there. I will be first to admit, upon hearing of this initiative for the first time…it was relatively unattractive. What I’ve quickly come to realize is that the beauty of the “Lights Out Indy” initiative lay beyond surface value. Within the scope of the research behind this initiative is the potential to revolutionize the way the corporate modernization affects nature. Learning about some of the questions this research seeks to answer and some of the solutions being proposed opened my eyes to the appeal of this research. With that said, I support the “Lights Out Indy” initiative. In my eyes, if an acceptable solution that prevents bird deaths due to window striking is found, then the initiative as a whole will have succeeded to benefit both modern architecture and nature in one effort. What’s more is that I believe that very solution is in reach. There’s no way to predict how much work it’ll take to get to it – but I think it’s possible.