Marlena Wald

Georgia Member

    The ‘space race’ began when I was in the second grade. Every grade after that brought more science education in the schools, the excitement of NASA launches, and an overall interest in Earth’s Moon and the stars. My Sears telescope arrived as a tenth birthday present, and since then I have never stopped observing. My childhood friends and I were space ‘fans’. After school we drank Tang and ate Space Sticks while watching The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle and Friends/. Like Alan Shepard and John Glenn even our cartoon friends were Midwesterners. While I didn’t live in Frostbite Falls Minnesota, the Dark Skies in my part of rural Wisconsin educated me to closely watch my environment on the ground too. This was aided by the USDA’s The US Department of Agriculture’s Smokey the Bear campaign and several years of Scouting. We could become Junior Forest Rangers and earn an astronomy badge while we waited to grow up to become astronauts.

    Decades later, in the 21st Century, I joined IDA in 2015 because I wanted to focus on specific problems of residential light pollution. While the constellations in our backyard are still diminished by the Atlanta glow and the Milky Way appears infrequently, it is now darker within my development with some behavior changes and inexpensive hardware.

    We need to ‘recalibrate’. Best practices have financial and environmental rewards. As a retired epidemiologist, I have come to believe that ‘dark skies are healthy skies’. Currently, there are proven methods and technologies to return nighttime to everyone. We may not have Mr. Peabody’s Way-Back Machine, but we can do this.