‘D’ is for Divorce: Big Feelings on Sesame Street
In early 1992, a census report predicted that 40 percent of children would soon live in divorced homes. As one of the most famous children’s television programs in the world, Sesame Street was determined to take on a topic most kid’s shows wouldn’t touch. They cast Snuffy, a.k.a. Mr. Snuffleupagus, for the part of child divorcee.
With a team of its best writers, researchers, and producers, a segment was scripted and shot. It went through a half-dozen revisions, with input from the foremost researchers in the field. And on a typical sunny afternoon on Sesame Street, the furry, red, elephantine muppet known as Snuffy prepared to drop the bomb on his loyal preschool viewers.
“My dad is moving out of our cave,” he confides to Big Bird one afternoon, distraught after knocking over a house built of blocks. “I’m not sure where,” he continues, crying. “Some cave across town.”
Big Bird, naturally, is horrified. “But why?” he asks his friend.
Snuffy blinks his long, dark eyelashes, and pauses. We know what’s coming. Well, he explains, “because of something called a divorce.”
When a humanitarian catastrophe occurs, international organizations and governments set up medical outposts, drop emergency food supplies from helicopters, and hand out clothing in disaster zones. Naturally, absolute priority is given to what we call ‘basic needs’: food, water, shelter, and health. While there is no question that organizations and governments must devote the majority of their efforts to promoting the physical well-being of disaster victims, more attention should be given to nourishing the mind as a second measure to help victims cope with catastrophe and move forward.
The fulfillment of basic needs is undoubtedly the first priority in humanitarian situations. Yet from LWB’s work in Haiti, we know that access to books and information resources improves outcomes for displaced persons. Books and expression help sustain intellectual stimulation and promote self-worth and resilience amid crisis. Whether through books, computers, legal assistance or training, access to information and cultural resources empowers individuals and gives them the tools to reconstruct what has been lost. Furthermore, libraries can improve communication within communities and among aid workers by providing phones, community mapping tools, and places for family reunification and community organizing. These types of resources can also play a decisive role in restoring a sense of normality in post-emergency situations.
With the strong belief that books, writing, and learning should not be denied to victims of humanitarian disasters, Libraries Without Borders, through this call to action, seeks to increase awareness about the need for access to information and books in post-disaster situations. Furthermore, LWB calls on international organizations to 1) expand reading, cultural and educational programs, which activate the human spirit and help individuals cope with trauma; and 2) make the provision of access to information and books a priority for international humanitarian relief.
war kills people from the inside out sometimes
“In war, there are no unwounded soldiers.”
i think i’ve posted this before but it’s so powerful
Update on Gaza, Day 6. According to the New York Times, 19 more people have been killed in Gaza since midnight local time, bringing a current death toll up to 91, with 700 wounded (200 of those being children). According to Health Ministry official Ashraf Al-Kidra, civilians make up half of the Palestinian death toll. [Update: According to Al Jazeera’s figures, it’s 96.]
This morning an Israeli airstrike hit the Shurooq media center, a high-rise in Gaza City where a number of media organizations, both local and foreign, have their offices. The building houses Hamas’ television station, Al Aqsa, and this is the second strike on the building within two days. BBC journalist Paul Danahar tweeted a photo of the media center just after the strike (included in the above photoset).
Mona Mahmood of The Guardian interviewed West Bank resident Sameeh Muhssein about demonstrations in the West Bank in solidarity with Gaza. He said:The Palestinian Authority is trying to stop the protesters … under the pretext of not having more causalities [sic]. If the aggression continued on Gaza, I can promise you there will be a third intifada as the political solution looks really futile and people are very upset here as they learn every few minutes of more martyrs in Gaza. We can’t put our feelings in a refrigerator and just keep watching; it is really heartbreaking watching the bodies of the children under the debris.
From Cairo, Hamas political leader Khaled Meshaal has stated:
All options are available. If Israel wants a ceasefire brokered through Egypt, then that is possible. Escalation is also possible, especially as there are differences in Israeli statements. We are prepared and ready for all options.
According to Reuters reporting, Meshaal is for a truce if demands are met, demands that include an end to Israel’s attacks and an end to the siege.
Highly recommend staying updated with The Guardian’s ever-excellent live blog, and making sure you read more than what I’ve put up here, which is just a brief snapshot. And check out the Reuters live blog for a live feed of the Gaza City skyline.
Photos: Gaza City/Bernat Armangue/AP; Shurooq media building in Gaza City/Paul Danahar; remains of a Hamas building in Gaza City/Yasser Gdeeh/Reuters; Hamas rockets sent toward Israel/Mohammed Saber/EPA; Gaza City residents flee their homes following an airstrike/Bernat Armangue/AP
The closing of Hostess is union-busting, pure and simple. The company is already bankrupt (and never believe a company that tells you that it is bankrupt because it paid its workers too well), and its workers weren’t going to accept more race-to-the-bottom cuts.
I wish I had time to dig into this more thoroughly, but for now, as someone said to me on Twitter, they’re going to sell off their assets, fire all those workers, and destroy another iconic American brand in pursuit of the bottom line.
Imagine the good press if Hostess said “We want to stay open, and we want to pay American workers good wages and benefits, and we are struggling right now but we want to keep this brand alive.”
Instead, they’ll go the way of so many other companies that have used bankruptcy to get out of taking care of the workers that made them run.
And don’t worry, folks, you’ll still get your Twinkies: someone will no doubt buy the rights to the name and the recipe for everlasting phallic snack cakes. It’s just that you won’t know they were made by well-paid union workers anymore.
Not that most of you ever cared.
Last month, when strikers from Southern California arrived in Bentonville, Arkansas to protest Wal-Mart’s labor practices with reggae beats, pots and pans, and a Latin American-inflected protest culture, it became clear to onlookers that America’s superstore was no longer the small family business that Sam Walton had founded and grown in the cradle of the anti-labor culture of Southern evangelicaldom. But it’s also become clear that Wal-Mart’s own ambitions to become a global empire—expanding beyond southern suburbs to new regions, and continuing to erode protections for its workers—have brought the “family values” behemoth into confrontation with another kind of religious and labor rights tradition.
Wal-Mart has long been the Holy Grail for labor organizers. The nation’s largest retailer, it is notorious for its low wages, lack of benefits, abusive labor practices, and for leaving its workers dependent on public assistance while making the Walton family rich beyond imagination. And it has been nearly impossible to organize.
My dear friend and colleague Josh Eidelson has done a spectacular job of covering the nitty-gritty of the Wal-Mart strikes, and I didn’t want to simply rehash his work. So instead, I wrote about the strikes for Religion Dispatches and talked to workers for whom their faith was a motivating factor in organizing, to the brilliant Bethany Moreton about the changes in Wal-Mart’s culture as it moves into cities far from its rural white evangelical base, and to faith leaders and organizers who are fighting Wal-Mart’s low wages and lousy treatment of workers—and starting to win.
Attention tumblarians, library-loving tumblrers, and all the internet friends: today kicks off a one-week fundraiser to $1000 to benefit EveryLibrary, the first and only national organization dedicated exclusively to political action at a local level to create, renew, and protect public funding for libraries of all types.
In order to maximize our efforts,Tumblr is taking on the Twitter community in a race to $1k, from today until next Tuesday, November 20th.
Help today, help tomorrow.
Why does EveryLibrary need our help? Funding raised this week will go towards the necessary personnel and resources needed to do voter analysis on library ballot measures which were voted on across the country during the election. What EL learns from this election will have a critical impact on our strategy of support for future library endeavors on the ballot. Cool and important, right?
Even cooler, if you can’t give cash right now, we’ve partnered with Urban Libraries Unite (an incredible org, check it out) in supporting their book drive which is currently seeking new and good condition used children’s books and new unmarked children’s coloring and activity books (with crayons if possible), to go out to young victims of the storm who are currently in shelters in New York City. Material donations should be directed here.
Please consider giving what you can. Chip in $5 or $10—or donate books to support Sandy victims.
To contribute to the #tumblarian EveryLibrary race to 1k (WHICH I HAVE EVERY CONFIDENCE WE CAN CLEAN UP WELL BEFORE NEXT TUESDAY), please click through the link above or here.
Give us a like, a reblog, a shout out to your friends and family. Think about it: all we need is about 100 folks to find $10 or so for the cause. Let’s have fun, do good work for EveryLibrary, and flex these Tumblarian muscles. Let us also show Twitter what’s up.
To learn more about EveryLibrary (and to share the good news with your generous friends) please visit here.
Faces of the Voted: The Rockaways, Queens
“Here in the Rockaways, people are voting in the dark. There are no lights, there is no heat.”
It was how NPR’s Robert Smith described the situation at the polls early this morning, in the Rockaways, which is in one of the regions hardest hit by Sandy’s wrath. Of the 38 polling stations relocated in Queens, 23 are here — in tents, outdoors, running on generators, or some without heat at all.
The Wikipedia Education Program’s vision is to mobilize and empower the next generation of human-knowledge generators to contribute to Wikimedia projects. Based on the learnings from the Public Policy Initiative, a pilot program to use Wikipedia in university classrooms in the 2010–11 academic year, the Wikipedia Education Program strives to expand Wikipedia’s use as a teaching tool worldwide.
Professors who participate in our program assign their students to edit Wikipedia articles as part of their coursework. Students are assisted by trained Wikipedia Ambassadors, who help both in the class and on wiki.