Pittsburgh native Mr. Rogers once said in an interview:
Hope Night is a city-wide bipartisan, interfaith luminary/land-only lantern lighting happening on Friday January 20th, 2017. Due to receiving new information from some concerned Hope Night participants, we learned that sky lanterns can harm animals and our environment! We are joyfully shifting focus to a less-harmful way of bringing people together for a time of reflection and commitment to safety.
We encourage you to choose a meeting place (possibly a church or community center) to meet, and then set out luminaries; perhaps a candle in a glass jar, or flame retardant paper lantern (that stays on the ground), to light up your corner of Pittsburgh. We would love for every member of your group to come with a luminary, and then you can light them all together. We think there is beautiful imagery in folks bringing all different kinds of lanterns and luminaries, just like we all bring our own experiences, ideas, strengths and weakenesses, and creating something truly beautiful together.
Luminary/land-lantern lightings will be happening across the city, at locations and times of a group's choosing. If your group is observing the Sabbath, lightings can happen at 4pm. Hope Night is for any business, nonprofit, church, family, organization or group of any kind who can acknowledge & agree to the following:
- During this time of challenge and controversy in our country, we pledge to stand with those who are targeted by hate and ignorance. Regardless of who we voted for, we understand that the rhetoric of this election has re-mobilized and re-energized some very hateful points of view in this country. Hate and fear create a climate that further marginalizes people who have historically been discriminated against by our laws and cultural mores, so this resurgence of white supremacist thinking gives many people a reason to fear for their safety.
- We see color. Although hate and fear diminish every person's humanity, systematic injustice and culturally embedded discrimination especially target Black Americans, immigrants, people of non-Christian faith traditions (especially Jewish people and Muslims in today's climate) & LGBT people. We understand that it's important to say this explicitly, and that being clear about this is a way of acknowledging the human beings who's lives and well-being are at stake.
- Beyond denouncing clear instances of hate, violence & shaming, we also acknowledge that silence in the face of these atrocities makes us equally culpable. We acknowledge that quieter hate crimes (carefully worded legislation slanted against certain people-groups, denial of housing or home loans, stereotyping in our news, media and entertainment) are equally harmful. We will speak up when we see these things happen, and will do our best not to support businesses, media outlets or any other organization that contributes to hate and fear.
- We will challenge ourselves to learn more about the hurt and the plight of those who are feared, hated, marginalized and underserved. We will challenge ourselves to spend time educating ourselves, instead of looking for ways to convince ourselves of our innocence.
- We will look for ways to be helpful, neighborly and compassionate to the people in our lives.
- We each pledge to muster our courage and creativity to find what is each of ours to do in the face of oppression, and fear-based unkindness and discrimination. We will not be judgmental of people who are hurting in the ways that they protest and look for change. We understand that just because one strategy for creating change isn't for one of us, that doesn't mean that it's "wrong." Instead- we will spend that time looking for the strategy that does resonate.
- Lastly, we pledge to reach for light, for hope and for love instead of giving in to despair or hate. If any of us sees a friend who is discouraged, or who has been pushed passed the breaking point, we will care for them and help them recover. In the words of Dr. King: "Darkness cannot drive out darkness, only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate- only love can do that." We will not be a part of the darkness and the hate! We will support and encourage each other’s efforts to light the way to a more just and peaceful America, and will encourage each other when we see that someone is struggling to stay loving, hopeful and light-giving.
It doesn’t matter who you voted for, who you pray to, or if you pray at all. If you agree to the above, then we welcome your participation!
In addition to lighting up the streets on inauguration night, we also want to infuse social media with posts about Hope Night to help break up the mud slinging, fear mongering and hate speech that will no doubt be rampant in people's social media feeds on that day.
We are encouraging all participants to post about your gathering on Twitter, Facebook & Instagram with the following hashtags:
If your group wants to participate, we’re asking you to please sign up so that at the end of this, we can have a list of love-filled churches, businesses, etc, for everyone needing to "look for helpers" post-inauguration. We think we can prove to anyone who is doubting it right now, that Pittsburgh is filled with caring people who want our city and our world to be a better place!
What You Need
To pull off an effective Hope Night gathering, you should do the following
- Notify the people in your group, so everyone can plan to be together that night.
- Inform your group about the switch to luminaries instead of lanterns, so everyone is on the same page. Have members bring their own luminary, and then light them all together. The combination of everyone's unique luminary contributions will be truly beautiful.
- Make sure to have matches or lighters on hand, and possibly some extra glass jars or luminaries in case anyone forgot, or is tagging along last minute
- Designate a social media person, and have them post the HECK out of your event! Not everyone will see the luminaries, but if we can provide hope for people being overwhelmed by mean-ness on social media, that’s good too! Use #HopeNight, #BeTheChange and #SafeZone to help people know what we’re about.
- Bring copies of the Pledge to read together in case any group members didn't see it, and consider having a time of reflection with your group about other ways you can embody the spirit of Hope Night going forward. What can you do to actively keep people safe and be helpful? What can you do to help bridge the divide across party lines? How can you show love and shine a light of hope after Hope Night?
Contact information will not be made public or shared with any third parties.