Susan Russell and Denise Henrikson want to bring light into the darkness, and they want your help to do it.
The pair collaborates on Love Wins Love, a project responsible for peace flags that have been strung up at tent encampments, parks, Seattle City Hall and even the Real Change vendor lobby.
Now they want to go further.
Russell and Henrikson launched a project in conjunction with Path with Art on June 14 which hired them to create solar-powered lanterns for folks experiencing homelessness. They will set up in Occidental Park each Wednesday from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. until Aug. 16 to offer space for people to paint and build lanterns in a two-for-one deal: For every lantern a person creates, they’ve made another for a person experiencing homelessness. They call it “Love Wins Light.”
The lanterns involve painted, biodegradable silk, reeds meant for basket weaving, wire and solar-powered lights from Nokero, a company that created the product to replace kerosene in communities that use the fossil fuel-based substance for lamps.
Russell, who experienced homelessness for 10 years and is also a Real Change vendor, knew this was something that she could do that would improve the lives of people who need it the most.
“This is a way to not only get a light, but to give a light,” Russell said.
The effort also gives an avenue for service for people who want to help their unhoused neighbors, but don’t know the concrete steps they can take to do it.
“Every time you enjoy the lantern in the safety and security of your own home, you’re thinking someone is enjoying light because of something I did,” Henrikson said.
Nokero donated at least 100 bulbs, which will offer the light of a candle or kerosene lamp for four to five hours. The company’s newer model can handle seven to eight hours at the minimum in a climate like Seattle’s, which is often cloudy and has shorter days during the winter.
Twins Steve and Chris Katsaros founded Nokero because they wanted to find alternatives to the use of kerosene, particularly in developing nations. They realized the same technology could help people in the United States, and when Henrikson reached out, the duo donated bulbs that they’d created but couldn’t sell.
“It’s in line with our mission,” said Chris Katsaros. “We firmly believe, either living in developed or developing world, people need access to light.”
Ashley Archibald is a Staff Reporter covering local government, policy and equity. Have a story idea? She can be can reached at ashleya (at) realchangenews (dot) org. Twitter @AshleyA_RC
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