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Seattle City (spot)Light: Eric Strandberg

Eric Strandberg began his career at the utility’s Lighting Design Lab (LDL) as an independent contractor in 1995. Five years later, he officially became a member of City Light and currently serves as a Senior Commercial Lighting Specialist at LDL.  “I describe us as educators,” Eric explained. “We teach classes and offer consultations to anyone making decisions about lighting. There is a lot to know about lighting, and we provide our expertise or conduct research to help with their inquiries, from equipment to lighting design.”

A New Jersey native, Eric has called the Northwest home for 35 years. He graduated from Evergreen College where he studied lighting for theatre along with film and video production. In college, Eric met his wife Hally and, recently, the two celebrated their 25th wedding anniversary. They live in Ballard with their beloved black lab Stella.

In this week’s (spot)Light, Eric shares his journey to Seattle and what he enjoys about his role.

Eric and Hally at 12,500’ (Harrison Pass, Sierra Nevada mountains)

“I love lighting. It sounds strange, but even as a kid, I was fascinated by light and color. That interest persisted all the way through college to present day. At the Lab, I feel like a kid in a candy store—I love light and I get to tell people about it. It’s also an exciting time to be in lighting. The LED revolution has changed the entire landscape of lighting design and practice.”

“There are different ways to get into lighting. One path is through the arts. Another avenue is through science, specifically physiology in understanding how the eye perceives. The third roadmap is architecture and building engineering. You need to have a science element, but also that artistic mind to be truly successful in lighting.”

“In 1981, I moved to Seattle by riding my bicycle cross-country. It was a one-way trip! I wasn’t into biking before that, but I decided to set a goal for myself. I thought ‘I’d like to get out of New Jersey; I know people in Olympia and I think it would be fun to ride my bike.’ So, I got the equipment, had a little training, grabbed some maps and just went one day at a time. My brother was in Chicago; I had an aunt in Kansas City; and I knew somebody in Denver. Other than those stops, the route was made up as I went. It took a little over 50 days. I spent a few days at various stops, but it essentially took all summer. Yellowstone blew my mind and was a peak experience of the ride.”

“Hally and I love to backpack. Every year we do a week-long trip. We’ve gone above the Arctic Circle. We’ve explored the high Sierra Nevada mountains. We also just did a trip in the North Cascades. Once we hit the high trails, we didn’t see anybody for days at a time. We trekked around granite flows and slabs. It was amazing. Washington state has a lot to offer.”

“I like being part of a municipality and the City of Seattle is a great place to be. Not only do I love being in lighting, but I feel really good about being in conservation. I think conservation is good thing for which to advocate—it sends the right message and is guiding us down the right path.”