04/14/2010 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Save a Peak, Solar a Sign


This week, a consortium led by The Hollywood Sign Trust, the Trust for Public Land, and Los Angeles councilman Tom LaBonge announced plans to purchase a 138-acre parcel of land near the city's world-famous Hollywood Sign to preserve it as green space. The money will be raised by the Trust for Public Land with an agreement to deed the land to the Los Angeles Recreation and Parks Department, which will then make it part of the city's 4,210 acre Griffith Park.

The Trust for Public Land needs to raise another $6 million by April 14th. The window is short, as this deal will only be possible as long as real estate prices are depressed.

Today, to launch a campaign to raise the remaining $6 million needed, the group covered the Hollywood Sign with lettering that says 'SAVE THE PEAK.'



Because I had a client paying me to devise ways to support the World Wildlife Fund's 'Earth Hour' campaign, I started a Facebook group called 'Solar The Sign.' The group advocates lighting the Hollywood Sign (it's not currently lit) using solar power.

It quickly became apparent that a lot of people liked this idea. It appealed to their imaginations. We got support from all over the world. Scientists, lawyers specializing in sustainability, entrepreneurs, educators, activists and artists joined the cause.

Members of this group don't come from positions of money or political clout...we come from positions of inspiration and innovation...and from a place of restlessness about changing the status quo in ways that are helpful to the planet.

The group's mission is not just symbolic, either. Solar powering a glitzy sign up in the Hills is not enough. We also have to solar power the biting reality down on the streets. Our mission includes raising money for solar installations in Los Angeles schools. This will help offset utility costs for schools getting crunched by the city's budget crisis, and the installations can become hands-on learning tools in a sustainability education program designed by and piloted in the Mayor's Partnership schools.



After we had riled up the Hollywood Sign Trust a week earlier by presenting them with our our idea (some were for it, some were against, it turned into a pretty raucous scene) Councilman LaBonge tells us in no uncertain terms that he cannot support our cause.

From a political standpoint, this makes perfect sense. The residents near the Sign can get litigious when anyone broaches the subject of lighting the Sign.

From a progress standpoint, though, it makes no sense at all. If a city has a way of raising money to support its schools and sustainability education, a city ought to do it. That's our position. Do something. That's our motto.



When you see Hollywood Sign draped in its 'SAVE THE PEAK' wardrobe this weekend, remember who's going to be contributing money to that campaign, and why. For the most part, it will be money put up by wealthy individuals and groups (i.e. the Tiffany Foundation has, according to the news releases, kicked in a million dollars) who have a vested interest in maintaining the status quo.

The Solar The Sign group is in favor of green space, too. We understand that Griffith Park is the emerald in Councilman LaBonge's eye. It's vital to the life of the city we share. And we strongly support the campaign to Save The Peak.


If all our efforts go toward preserving the status quo, we lose the potential for progress. And right now, we are a city and a nation in desperate need of progress, especially when it comes to green energy and sustainability.

The good news is that we can do both.



Dear Councilman LaBonge,

We can help you raise the money needed to Save The Peak. You're covering the Sign for two days. Support lighting it with solar power for two nights. Until you have the money to complete the purchase, we will split any money we raise, 50/50.

It will extend the reach of your fund raising to a global audience. Instead of having to raise a million dollars each from six sources, you will have the potential to raise six dollars from a million sources.

Griffith Park wins. Solar power wins. Schools win. And the solar powered Sign will give the city a shining symbol whose light can illuminate the world.



Join the Solar The Sign Facebook Group!