Once the list was compiled, we wrote a letter with an accompanying questionnaire, like so:
We at Transition Town Tenterden (T3) are a group of local residents and businesses aiming to reduce the town's carbon footprint and improve its resilience in the light of 'Peak Oil'. To that end we want to encourage energy saving and so we are writing to ask you for help with our new project. As we move through Autumn and the nights draw in, our thoughts have turned to the issue of lighting, in particular the number of shops and businesses in the town who have lights on after closing time.
We would like to organise a 'Lights Off Tenterden' night to coincide with the Christmas Lights being on, on Friday 9th December. As you know, the Christmas Lights look fantastic, but imagine how much better they will look without the distraction of shop lights. As you may know, the Christmas lights are low energy bulbs, a change which has seen the energy bill reduce dramatically since they were changed, from £1300 to £83.
To enable us to organise this event, which will be great publicity for Tenterden, particularly for the shops, we would be grateful if you would spare a few minutes to answer a short questionnaire. The replies can be either posted back to the above address, emailed back to email@example.com, phoned through to the above numbers, or handed in to Nelsons in Bells Lane. We would be grateful if you could reply by 30th November .
Yours Sincerely etc.
The questionnaire looked like this...
1)Do you leave any lights on after closing time?
[A] Window Display/Signboards [B] Security light only [C] All lights
[D] No lights on.
2)If yes, how long are they on?
[A] All night [B] until midnight
3)Why is it necessary to do so?
[A] For Aesthetic purposes only
[B] Security Requirement (mandated by Insurance company)
[C] Head Office instruction
4)Who pays the energy bills for your business ?
[A] Self [B] Head Office
5)What type of bulbs do you use ?
[A] Incandescent [B] Halogen [C] LED [D] Don't Know
6)Would you be prepared to turn all of your lights off ?
[A] Yes,One Night only [B] One Week only [C] Permanently [D] No, not at all
We sent this email to Sue Ferguson at the Chamber of Commerce and she sent it to all the Chamber members and a few others she could think of, about 250 in all. We went up and down the High Street and handed the letter and questionnaire in at all the non-Chamber members. A few responses are starting to drift in; we are hoping that given the deadline of Nov. 30th, we'll get lots more in the coming weeks. So far, there are some who are for it, and some who cannot and will not because they are concerned for security (one shop had been ram-raided in the past and won't participate; they even stated that advertising an event such as this is just asking for thieves to show up en masse and have a crack at Tenterden. However, it is optional!). The ultimate goal is obviously to get everyone to reduce their lighting hours and switch to low-energy bulbs, but if we can get a lot of people to switch off on December 9th (and possibly beyond) then the LED Christmas lights in the town will look that much prettier. We will see!