The SE Como Improvement Association launched a solar motion light program in 2008. Funding for the program came from The McKnight Foundation, as part of the Como Green Village, and the safety category in SECIA's Neighborhood Revitalization Program (NRP) Phase II plan.
With the help of an intern, staff shopped around for the best light to purchase. Welna II Hardware in Seward was able to place a bulk order of a high quality light at a good price (72 were purchased). The new program was advertised via “The Comotion” monthly newsletter and the “Como Tidbits” e-newsletter.
The first lights were distributed at the combined Green Village Kick-off / Beautiful U Day event in April. By mid-July, all of those first 72 lights were distributed and a waiting list was started for a possible second order.
The great thing about this program is that it was made available to everyone - homeowners, renters, landlords and businesses (if renters wanted one, they needed to have their landlord sign-off first). All were also limited to one light per address.
The lights, with a $90 retail value, were offered for $14. Then, if the participant took the time to take a photo of their installed light, they were refunded an additional $7. The financial incentive for the photo accomplished two important goals: 1) it helped encourage people to actually install the lights and not leave them in the box in their basement or garage, and 2) it provided demonstrable proof that could be shared with current and possible future funders.
This project successfully combined Como-ites interest in all things “eco” and increasing the safety and security of the neighborhood. This project was especially timely, since Como, like other communities in Minneapolis, experienced increases in some criminal activities during 2008. This project in conjunction with our Safety Committee has worked to help make the community safer.