Let’s Get Together
April 14, 2009 - 12:00pm

Maybe we need something like Esperanto. Remember the international language a learned few hoped would become a universal second tongue to unite our world’s disparate cultures? It never quite took off on a large scale, but conquering the entire Earth was a lofty goal. We’re shooting for something a little more doable: finding common ground for all sectors of the lighting industry. Things are getting a little messy.

We’ve always been a bit loose with our lingo. A slew of synonyms and slight discrepancies plagues our literature and communication with customers and clients. Our illustrious Contributing Editor, Randall Whitehead, attempts to provide a pithy path through the bramble in "Page of Enlightenment."

But syntax is the least of our worries these days. Odds and ends are growing even more prevalent and vastly more scrambled in the arena of standards and codes. Pending legislation in a significant number of states threatens restrictions on inefficient bulb sales, mercury disposal, toxic packaging materials, torchiere wattage and ceiling fan configurations ("Lighting Legislation"). And that won’t be the last of it.

While it’s not a bad idea to mandate a more eco-conscious marketplace, variances from state to state only serve to befuddle consumers and frustrate designers and manufacturers, who must find the lowest common denominator for their product development. Where does that leave the middle men, the retailers? Not to mention that many of the laws are based on indirect misconceptions that directly harm our industry’s bottom line. We need to be sure our voice is heard. But first we need to coalesce our efforts and goals.

I honestly don’t know what the answer should be; I only know the question needs to be addressed more actively and from a more unified front. September’s annual ALA Conference, this year in San Antonio, provides a perfect platform for sharing thoughts and strategies. Let’s put our heads together and try to clean up this mess.

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