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One hour just isn't enough

September 23, 2007

Re "Hour of darkness," Sept. 19

Nate Tyler's campaign to ask San Franciscans to turn off the lights between 8 and 9 p.m. on Oct. 20 struck me as rather naive.

One hour without lights is not likely to enlighten anyone in California on that front.

As a Californian living in West Africa, I can confirm that power is a greater luxury than we in the United States ever consider, but also that time spent without it can be precious.

In Senegal, we have power outages on a weekly, sometimes daily, basis, and these outages often last 10 hours or more, day or night.

With the power out, people quiet down, put chairs and mats outside, talk, doze off and eat by candlelight.

There is something very human about the whole thing: You feel the smallness of your presence on Earth and experience the comfort of other people in its simplest form.

So, to feel the effect of reducing our power consumption back at home, maybe a couple of hours a week instead of one hour each year is more like it.

Rachel Hadjipateras

Dakar, Senegal

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