On Mother’s Day in 2007, Tony Anderson installed a compact fluorescent light bulb (CFL) in his grandmother’s home. The small change was so meaningful, he says, that he and a fellow Morehouse student Marcus Penny decided they should start changing light bulbs all over Atlanta. They began visiting the homes of low-income families, replacing the old light bulbs with the new CFLs, and extolling the benefits of the new light bulbs both for the environment and in reducing household energy bills. Now the pair, with the help of a cadre of student volunteers, is aiming to install 1 million CFLs by 2013.
With the Let’s Raise a Million Project, Anderson says he wanted to avoid the stigma of “do-goodism.” He didn’t want it to just be about installing light bulbs for free, but more about explaining to residents how easy it is to “go green.” “The light bulbs are just a value holder for something bigger, brighter and wonderful,” Anderson says. “If we use these light bulbs as seeds, something new will come of it.”
Since 2007, Anderson and Penny have recruited college students from Morehouse and Grambling State University in Louisiana to help educate people about the benefits of going green and to start the green conversation in homes where it had probably never occurred before.
One million may seem like a lot of light bulbs to screw in, but Let’s Raise a Million has a much bigger ambition this summer. With the help of the Atlanta Workforce Development Agency, kids will get paid to install CFLs this summer. At that pace, “Let’s Raise a Million” could become “Let’s Raise a Billion” soon enough.