Today I will make that case that it is possible for ordinary citizens to have a huge positive impact on the lighting of their communities, simply by speaking up, which I hope to convince some of you to do. But I would like to start with two caveats that put things in proper perspective.

One is that light is not a panacea. It cannot alone create comfortable and safe cities and streets. It has long been seen as an easy answer to some pretty serious problems, which it is not. Secondly, good light -- light that makes us feel comfortable and want to go out at night -- may not be what you think it is, especially if you believe, as seems so logical, that brighter is better.

The real solution, as with so much, is not more light, but more enlightenment.

And here, as simply and graphically as I can present it, is the biggest problem: in the last few decades virtually every large city in North America has been re-lighted. With some notable exceptions, this has been accomplished with street light under which colour is distorted, vision impaired, and -- a growing body of research suggests -- under which our psyches and sensibilities are offended.