By Paul Tarricone
All too often, our industry assumes that all constituencies have access to a baseline of effective lighting. When we take these minimum “table stakes” for granted, the approach becomes let’s use our skill to tame, deploy or leverage the lighting that is already at our disposal.
But what if it isn’t? What if all the lighting techniques, recommended practices and nuanced design we talk about in articles, webinars and at conferences are rendered moot because so many of the communities that could benefit are effectively blocked from good lighting? I kept returning to the essay on “Light & Justice” (September 2021) while our team assembled this edition of LD+A. The article is one step removed from the type of piece we typically publish—i.e., it doesn’t assume that good lighting is available to all.
Then it hit me: what Messrs. Bartholomew and Loeffler are really describing is light as a right, not a privilege. The article is essentially a metaphor for the Equal Protection Clause in the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. The Equal Protection Clause—which took effect in 1868, in the aftermath of the Civil War—provides “nor shall any State…deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.” It guarantees that individuals in similar situations be treated equally by the law. Substitute light for law and you have the essence of this essay.
So, with that, here is my call to arms: Let’s develop an International Lighting Bill of Rights—a list of basic guarantees the industry is committed to supporting. Let’s broaden the scope of DEIR beyond companies to communities. As Bartholomew and Loeffler write, “The new IES Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Respect (DEIR) Committee is a big step in the right direction to grow beyond our predominantly white and mostly male membership and perspective…But workforce diversity will only address one aspect of this problem. It is an equitable design practice that can have the most significant impact on under-served communities.”