The View
from Here:
    Ellen Lampert-Greaux lives in Petite Saline, and when she's not organizing the St. Barts film festival, or supervising the local volleyball league, or writing for various magazines, she turns her all-seeing eye upon local happenings.
    March '04
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    STARS, WHAT STARS?
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    Hardly anyone can talk about Saint-Barth these days without talking about the "stars." And that's exactly what I want to do, except that unlike those who are obsessed with the Hollywood movie stars that visit the island for the Christmas and New Year season, and what they wore to the beach (I actually saw an illustration of David Letterman as a bumble bee in Islands magazine since someone reported seeing him on the sands of Flamands wearing a black and yellow striped bathing suit), where they ate lunch, and come to think of it, what they ate for lunch.... I want to point your attention to the real stars. The ones that come out at night... yes, in the sky, not in the nightclubs. Saint-Barth has an extraordinary night sky and I quite often go outside on one terrace or another and look up at the stars. What a spectacular light show. But even in the quiet area where we live, lights from big houses on a neighboring hillside are starting to get in the way, competing with the stars for brightness. This is what is commonly called "light pollution." In big cities the light pollution is so bad that you can never see the stars anymore, because we think we know better and have succeeded in blotting them out with street lights, runway lights, neon lights, fluorescent lights, and all those other lights that make it impossible for the urban sky to ever get really dark. To combat this human excess, there is an organization called the International Dark-Sky Association that is fighting the worldwide menace of light pollution. I'd love to have them come to Saint-Barth and make a house call before our patient gets too sick. Have you driven by St. Jean at night lately? Between the airport, the shopping center (neon, what neon?) and the sports stadium, you'd think it was broad daylight. Then cruise on past Villa Creole and Nikki Beach where all the trees have suddenly sprouted light bulbs. And on to Lorient where the folks at JoJo Burger turn on a giant yellow sign every day - when they close - and leave it on all night. Maybe its to help hungry mice find their way to the leftovers. But for astronomers and sailors, as well as plain old romantics like me (not to mention Vincent van Gogh), the stars are important. Even if you can't tell the difference between the Big Dipper and the Big Dog (or Ursa Major and Canis Major to those in the know), a starry, starry night is a very special thing. So before it's too late, let's start our own dark-skies initiative in Saint-Barth. May I invite you to unwrap your trees, get rid of those nasty neon signs, turn off your lights when you go to bed at night, and encourage your neighbors to do the same. Give the stars a chance. After all, if Mother Nature had wanted palm trees to light up, she would have given them plugs...
    More to come,
    Ellen Lampert-Greaux
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