30 December, 2007

Pallet #5

Throughout December, folks brought offerings of canned goods for Greensboro Urban Ministry's Food Bank to drop-off locations in Sunset Hills (and Historic Aycock). Through December 27th, three trailer loads totalling 2,557 pounds of canned goods had been collected and taken to Urban Ministry. More keeps coming, too.

Two boxes, one marked "Joy" and the other (shown above) "Love" stood out. Nightly, neighbors emptied the food collection bins. Lots and lots of small bags holding a few cans told us that it wasn't 10 persons each bringing 255 pounds who filled the bins, but rather it was many, many folks bringing their five loaves and two fishes.

Pat Spain, Food Distribution Director for Greensboro Urban Ministry, thanks the Friends of Lighted Christmas Balls for keeping the needy at heart. Supplying food for the needy, the elderly, little children and those down on their luck would not be possible without the support of so many in this community.

Truly, in this life, we get to keep what we give away. Thank you Greensboro for giving.

28 December, 2007

Give a can

photo: alisa smith
Alisa Smith shares awesome pics of 2007 Lighted Christmas Balls. No doubt the spread of Krispy Kreme donuts made viewing Lighted Christmas Balls far more fun! Click here and check out the beautiful pics. Kudus, Alisa

Lighted Christmas Balls in Dearborn, Michigan!

Lighted Christmas Ball enthusiast and kindred spirit Traci Stafford Croft hosted a Christmas Ball workshop in their neighborhood...

"Not quite the same scale of yours (we're just getting started), but we can see the potential for growth within our neighborhood - MANY neighbors from other streets came/are coming by asking questions even though not all of the neighbors who made light balls have them lit we expect the rest of our stree to light up over the next couple days. (jonathan's note, check out Traci's pictures on Flickr. Better yet, drive down their street and see for yourself )

This is such a wonderful thing to do with friends/neighbors. Next year we'll start adding in some of the other elements: charity collections/donations, band, etc. (We'll see...) We were planning on being outside, but the weather was supposed to be in the low 40s, so we did it inside (and the weather was nearly 60). :)


exciting update, from Traci, 12/28/2008:

"Since I sent you the pictures, we've had quite a lot of excitement...probably 40 - 50 cars a night driving down the street (we're only a 1 block street not off of any main road, so traffic is really rare) and we've also been contacted by our "City Beautiful Commission" and the local city cable channel. Our kids gave light balls as presents to their teachers who immediately asked..."Is that YOUR street?" It's been so wonderful. I can only hope that we can generate more interest and some good will in years to come. ;)"

Kudos Traci!

17 December, 2007

Timberoak Court lights up New Garden Road

Lighted Christmas Balls light up Timberoak Court. Kudos Jim and Sue for growing the glow!

16 December, 2007

Watch me Daddy!

Miles nocks an arrow, takes aim, pulls the string, and says, "hold on Daddy, this one's going high."
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Daddy and daughter decide where the next one's going

Daniel and Izzy discuss where the next one's going while Miles looks for his arrow. Marlee and cousin (background) see how high they can swing before Aunt Dayna freaks.
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15 December, 2007

What a sight!

Last weekend we got on the ball (the lighted variety) to try to get lights up in the trees in time for the luminary display in Aycock.

So warm and sunny, I had to wear my sunglasses, t-shirt, and flip-flops.

We got 12 up in the trees and there are another 5 or 6 dozen on Percy.

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12 December, 2007

Lighted Balls in the News

Jon wouldn't tell anyone about this, but . . . .

There was a great piece on the news last night about the lighted balls; CLICK HERE to see it.

06 December, 2007

Lighted Christmas Balls In Aycock

We (Millie and Justin Smith) threw our 2nd annual ball making party last weekend.

What a blast! We made 72 lighted balls and a good time was had by all - that's about 200 in two years!

Millie and Justin rest their matching socked feet.

Northern Shores grows the glow

Greensboro Day student Jameson Midgett documents the glow on his street in Northern Shores. Great pictures, Jameson, keep them coming. (If you click Northern Shores) Google makes map to your street from anywhere in the world!

02 December, 2007

Neighbors help neighbors

Sunset Hills Neighbors,

Collecting 527 pounds of canned food and $735 to Urban Ministry at the 5th Annual Lighted Christmas Ball Workshop was a beautiful thing... Their thank you letter is hard to see, but if you look closely you can see its addressed to Sunset Hills Lighted Christmas Balls Workshop.
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01 December, 2007

Last night we hauled all the balls out of the attic and to the living room. We repaired balls and replaced burned out strings(not many this year!) This is Anne with the ones which didn't need any repairs. Saturday looks like an excellent day for hoisting them into the sky.
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29 November, 2007

Lost and Found from Sunset Hills Lighted Christmas Ball Workshop

Anne and I found some cool stuff after the dust settled! See if you recognize any of the items.

Back row, left to right:

2 nice pairs of brown cloth gloves. I know they're warm cause I wore them when I hitched up the trailer when Marlene and Anne and I took the food to Urban Ministries.

one small, tightly wrapped ball with clear, red, and green lights. Not all the red lights burn, which is maybe why it got left behind. Sad. Claimed by Emmett M.

one very cool cylinder-shaped ornament (think, one big fat roll of paper towels, gold plated ) gold bulbs, not all of which burn, which is maybe why this one got left too. This ornament isn't a brand new one because it has a little bit of white nylon line tied on from last year. This definately can be fixed...and they don't make gold bulbs like these anymore, so this ball might be collectable. Claimed by Emmett M.

Front row, left to right:

1 left glove, the kind with sticky rubber dots all over,

1 right glove, the kind the real cowboys wear when they're driving in fence posts and working with 2'wide lengths of chicken wire,

1 right glove, soft leather, maybe the kind a city cowboy (cowgirl maybe?) might wear, someone not accustomed to hard work,

1 very nice pair Wiss aircraft shears. I know these are nice because I used them, and I'll keep on using them till they're returned to their rightful owner.

1 nice pair of garden clippers, the kind, if my wife caught me using to cut chicken wire with she would have snatched me bald-headed. Claimed by Scott S.

Too bad the bucket truck didn't show up in the lost and found. Maybe Bravo Signs will be over this way again soon.

Remember, glow is good.

27 November, 2007

Slide Show from Margo Bender

I have to laugh when I think of Sunday (this is Anne writing) Jonathan has this saying 'what if our best idea turns out 100 times better than we think it will?' He applies this question to many things we are pondering whether to do or not. He wondered this about the workshop 5 years ago when we first ventured out in it. I must say, it has quickly surpassed this 'what if' test of worthiness. The fun and growth year to year has been exponential. It's rewarding whenever we hear friends say, "we're going to do this in our neighborhood."

J-Bird and the Soul Central Band took the whole event to the next, next level. A big round of applause goes to Emmett, Lee, Graham and Liam Morphis, and Emmett's Mom, Linda, for making this event memorable in every way. Neighbors brought tables, camp chairs, chicken wire, snacks, drinks, cider, and more. Twin City Brokerage supplied two awesome tents and Bravo Signs designed our banner.

If you have about 5 minutes, click on the photo to the right and view some of the fun we had Sunday on Ridgeway Drive (when finished viewing Margo's slideshow, just click your Internet Explorer back button to return to the blog. Her slide show is a combination of stills and videosk so turn up your volume for even more fun. Enjoy the slideshow and see family and friends having fun all afternoon long. Over the years, Margo has taken more wonderful photos of the lighted Christmas Balls than anyone I know. Her enthusiasm for this project is contagious...and beautiful. THANKS for sharing Margo!

26 November, 2007

What it Is

What it Is, originally uploaded by cssmith.

by the end of the day:

1. 637 brand new boxes of 100 count mini lights were opened and tested. not one bulb in 63,700 bulbs was bad. (637 boxes of 100 count mini lights plugged end to end would stretch all the way from the corner of Ridgeway Drive to the middle of A&T State University.

2. 1100 feet of 2' wide chicken wire (enough to cover Ridgeway Drive from one end to the other) was unwound and cut into 45" lengths.

3. four hours later, 283 newly made lighted Christmas balls left the Workshop Tent, ready to go new homes. This is "build and release" at it's finest,

4. One dozen kids under 5 played on, in, and under a 3'x4'x6' pile of freshly raked leaves, flattening the pile completely.

5. 5 string-tied limes were launched from a potato cannon (Kablamm!) in front of an expectant crowd. 4 of 5 limes sailed beautifuly over the targeted tree limb only to get stuck on the way down to earth. 1 of the 5 smacked a tree limb 80' high and blew into a million pieces. zero for five but hey, we're in this for fun. and we got to see a lime vaporize on impact. cool.

6. One 6'x8' trailer got filled 2 feet high (557 pounds!) with canned and non perishable food for Greensboro Urban Ministry's food pantry.

7. $735 in monetary donations was given to Greensboro Urban Ministry - You could look at this way, each strand of lights wrapped on a Lighted Christmas ball generated $1.15 for Urban Ministry.

8. Jonathan learned to operate a bucket truck.

9. J-Bird and his band delighted 300+ new friends.

10. Ridgeway Drive was officially renamed "Soul Central Avenue."

11. Neighbors committed to installing and overseeing food collection boxes for Urban Ministry for the month of December.

Kids lead the way (click on photo to launch slideshow)

IMG_0079.JPG, originally uploaded by cssmith. (click on photo above to launch the slideshow, click on back to return to blog)

Play comes natural to kids. All adults need to do is follow, the kids will show us how it's done. Thanks, Scott, for the great shots!

Sunset Hills in action

The trailer was the holding place for the Food Bank items brought by those coming to make lighted Christmas balls.

J-Bird and the Soul Central Band provided lively music to keep the fingers flying while bending chicken wire and wrapping lights.

I have many more pictures and I will either post some here or link to another site with photos.

21 November, 2007

A neighborhood helps neighbors

in the spirit of fun and fellowship, Sunset Hills neighbors gather the Sunday after Thanksgiving for an afternoon of play, artistry, and adding to the beauty. in this, our 5th year, we've partnered with one of our community's most trusted stewards, Greensboro Urban Ministry, asking all Lighted Christmas Ball Workshop participants (and the larger community who enjoys them) to offer monetary and canned food gifts to Greensboro Urban Ministry.

and so to help fight hunger in Greensboro, click here for a suggested shopping list of items you could bring to the party; if you can donate money, please click here or you can bring your check payable to Greensboro Urban Ministry. and throughout the season, encourage your friends and neighbors to give. together we can be a neighborhood helping neighbors.

consider this: on an average day at Greensboro Urban Ministry -

• 150 people registered in the Emergency Assistance Program for financial assistance, emergency food, or free clothing and/or household goods.

• 26 emergency food orders filled from the Food Bank, helping to feed approximately 80 people; 18 non-profit agencies receive food from the Food Bank to feed the hungry.

• 332 people fed a hot meal at Potter's House Community Kitchen.

• 100 homeless individuals provided shelter and supportive services at Weaver House.

• 15 homeless adults and 28 homeless children provided shelter at Pathways Center.

• 30 individuals/families provided spiritual counseling through the Chaplaincy Program and 10 individuals recovering from substance abuse through the Manfred Gaiser Substance Abuse Recovery Program.

• 32 formerly homeless single individuals provided case management and support services and 23 families (26 adults, 58 children) reside at Partnership Village, a transitional housing community.

• 102 individuals provided Volunteer Services in all areas of the Ministry.

26 January, 2007


Marlene showed me a beautiful thing.

Somebody out there, she learned, was touched by the beautiy of the Lighted Christmas balls, and we've gotten to play a part in this joy-filled tradition, and that this somebody responded by giving in gratitude from their abundance, to the Empty Stocking Fund.

Now that is something really beautiful, more beautiful, in fact, than all the Lighted Christmas balls in Sunset Hills put together. Would that we follow their example.

24 January, 2007

Street Lights

Street Lights, Ridgeway Drive at Christmas
copyright 2006 Jim Dollar
Street Lights, Ridgeway Drive at Christmas was taken by Jim Dollar, Sunset Hills neighbor, hanger of Lighted Christmas balls, friend to many, and now friend to our family. If you haven't yet met Jim, you should; you have a great joy in store. Jim is the happy faced man seen almost every afternoon, walking his well worn course, tapping his walking stick, sometimes wearing a reflector vest, starting from his home on Friendly near Ridgeway, to W. Greenway South, to Market, to Ridgeway, and that's just lap one of many. So if you don't speak to him on first spin around the block (what was I thinking, me, too busy hanging lighted Christmas balls) maybe you can do so on his second, or third, or fourth lap, like I did. I learned, all on my own, that Jim leads the Presbyterian Church of the Covenant, authors a blog, and has an amazingly beautiful collection of photographs at, and just plain likes people, and he can find the Sacred everywhere and in everyone.

07 January, 2007

Sunset Hills Lighted Christmas Balls Spread to West Virginia - (pictures forthcoming)

Kate Brower writes... "Daly and I showed my niece and nephew from Chicago how to make the balls over New Year’s while we were all visiting my mother at her farm along a river in West Virginia. I’m attaching photos – I love how they show up against her Norwegian Spruces, and check out the barn and horse in the background. Isabel was enamored but despaired of being able to do any in Chicago – “Not big enough trees, Aunt Kate.” I told her people don’t only hang them high, so we’ll see what she comes up with next year! I told my mom (82 years old) not to worry, if the snow and ice don’t knock them off branches, Daly and I will lower them the next time we visit. We staged them so she can see them from her kitchen, living room and bedroom windows. Thanks for the inspiration (and sharing your knowledge!)"

05 January, 2007

Ridgeway Drive

Mario Galucci used the Multiple exposure mode in his D200 to get this; its a composite of 10 shots using auto-gain. Shot with the 75-150mm f/3.5 Series E Manual focus lens.

I'm no photographer, but to me, they're gems. Thanks Mario!

Close ups from Ridgeway

On the to the left, Mario used the Multiple exposure mode in his D200 to get this. This is a composite of 5 shots using auto-gain. Shot with the 75-150mm f/3.5 Series E Manual focus lens.

More gems from Ridgeway

Mario took these georgeous close-ups. Thanks Mario!

Smith Mountain Lake - Lighted Christmas Balls

Sunset Hills neighbor Ellen Wells writes...

"Jonathan, I don't have pictures to send you, but thought you'd like to know that there are about 13 balls shining on the shore of Smith Mountain Lake. Our daughter-in-law's parents live there, and last year their son hung them in their trees bordering the lake, after he saw the Sunset Hills balls. They left them up and have turned them on many times during the year; neighbors call to ask that they turn them on when they are entertaining! I sent the blog link to friends and family around the country, including Washington state, where we used to live. Who knows where they'll next turn up! We love it! And it sounds like Alison was thrilled to see her old neighborhood -- please extend our thanks to her for her idea."

...thanks Ellen, Alison was delighted beyond words, as was her 9 month-old daughter. They're coming back to Greensboro over MLK weekend, so we've planned on leaving the lightballs on till then...Jonathan