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"Sunny days, sweepin' the clouds away." That is he liberal goal of Sesame Street, but they need help.

I got a fundraising letter in the mail today from Sesame Workshop (formerly the Children's Television Workshop). The letter states that this is "the first time ever" the Workshop has asked for direct contributions from individuals.

Corporate sponsorship is down, and the government has cut funding to the show. As the program has spread around the globe, R&D and production costs have gone way up. Merchandise sales sustain production in some places, but not in the poorest regions where the show is most needed.

Why should we care, and why do I think Sesame Street can help save the world? As the letter states:

Today, Sesame Street is the longest street in the world -- a boulevard of learning, understanding, and respect among children across the globe... using the power of media to make a positive impact on the world of tomorrow. We're teaching children to be more tolerant, more understanding, and more respectful of differences.

Those, my friends, are core liberal beliefs we all stand for.

More across the break.

The body of the letter highlights some of the great lessons Sesame Street is trying to bring to the rest of the world.

In one Middle Eastern version of Sesame Street, an Israeli Muppet and her Palestinian counterpart occasionally ate lunch together. The only rule? The meal couldn't contain onions. Neither liked them. The two characters' mutual distaste for onions sent a simple message: If Israeli and Palestinian children share similar likes and dislikes, then maybe understanding -- and even friendship -- could grow between them.

The Workshop works with educators and filmmakers in more than 20 countries to create regional versions of the Street and other programs. The regional shows are tailored to meet the needs of the children in each area and take into account the history and culture of the region. The shows not only teach basic skills, but are designed to foster cross-cultural understanding and respect. The Workshop's programs are seen in over 120 countries.

In Egypt, where female illiteracy is high, a four year old female Muppet named Khokha has a passion for learning which shows girls that learning is not just for boys.

In South Africa, the Workshop uses TV, radio, and outreach materials to reach remote urban and rural areas to teach basic skills the children would not be learning otherwise. And the program also features a 5 year old girl Muppet named Kami, who is HIV-Positive, and teaches age-appropriate lessons about HIV/AIDS.

In Macedonia, the Workshop has targeted pre-teens with a dramatic series called Nashe Maalo (Our Neighborhood) that teaches tolerance and understanding between Albanian, Macedonian, Roma, and Turkish children and teens.

Sesame Workshop is now working on new projects in Afghanistan, Kosovo, Bangladesh, and Northern Ireland, all areas where ethnic, religious, or political conflict and violence has interrupted education and warped people's shared sense humanity.

Children have been taught intolerance, vengeance... even hate. Through our programs, we hope to break down stereotypes and build bridges to understanding... [In regions] where media images so often vilify and dehumanize the "other", our shows emphasize positive images, acceptance, friendship, and the appreciation of both similarities and differences."

This is what our country should stand for. This is the example we should be setting. This is the message we should be spreading. In a time when our government wont do this through a sane foreign policy, I am glad we have an organization like the Sesame Workshop that does.

Sesame Street and other Sesame Workshop programs use media for what might be its greatest good: shattering stereotypes, exposing prejudices, and building understanding to create a more helpful -- a more peaceful -- future... At a time when so much of the world news is troubling, progress down the "longest street in the world" gives us cause for hope -- one step, one child at a time.

Donations Link

Disclosure: I am not in any way affiliated with Sesame Workshop or the Muppets, but I can do several Muppet voices and would love to work for them.

Originally posted to mrboma on Tue Feb 08, 2005 at 08:59 AM PST.

Poll

Who is your favorite Sesame St. Muppet?

25%14 votes
7%4 votes
3%2 votes
1%1 votes
12%7 votes
3%2 votes
10%6 votes
10%6 votes
5%3 votes
3%2 votes
14%8 votes
0%0 votes

| 55 votes | Vote | Results

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Comment Preferences

  •  I miss the Martians... (none)
    yep yep yep yep yep yep yep yep, ah huh! ah huh!

    "I will permit no man to narrow and degrade my soul by making me hate him." - Booker T. Washington

    by ajbender on Tue Feb 08, 2005 at 09:06:26 AM PST

  •  barely ever walked this street (none)
    Grew up on CBC TV.  My house was too far from PBS stations to pick them up and when my daughter was young, I lived too close to get reception.  It really blows.

    Although, I did love the Electric Company.  The CBC station out of London, Ontario showed that frequently when I was a kid.

    Kind of weird growing up in America and watching Candadian TV.  Perhaps this really explains a lot about me.

    •  Hey! That's my hometown! (none)
      Haven't lived there for more than 20 years.  CFPL, the London station is now part of the CHUM/City group (where John Roberts of CBS got his start).

      Sesame Street was more my younger siblings thing.  I used to argue with my sister over who got to sit in the middle as the "one who like to rock" on Friendly Giant.

      "Freedom without responsibility is license and not liberty." Emerson not tom delay

      by Bionic on Tue Feb 08, 2005 at 10:09:43 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  The Friendly Giant (none)
        OMGoddess!!  I loved that show.  Rarely ever missed it...um is that an American thing?
        •  Nope! Friendly Giant is (none)
          Canadian as - as - as - bacon! (What you call Canadian bacon we call peameal bacon or back bacon I think.)
          I remember being shocked when years later I saw color pictures of Gerome the giraffe and he had BLUE spots.  I never knew.

          And when Bob Homme (the friendly giant himself) died a few years ago there was a major outpouring of grief among several generations of Canadians.

          And what about Chez Helene?  My first introduction to la langue francais. Un deux trois.

          "Freedom without responsibility is license and not liberty." Emerson not tom delay

          by Bionic on Tue Feb 08, 2005 at 01:53:41 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  He likes his goldfish (none)
    his crayons too.  That's Elmo's world.

    He's my kids' fave, although I personally have a preference for the Count (he's so suave!)

    Anyway, thanks for posting this and the links!  It's a good show and one I don't mind my kids watching.

  •  Can't Believe (none)
    I forgot to put Cookie Monster in the poll...D'Oh!!!...

    Sorry 'bout that.

    "The man of great wealth owes a peculiar obligation to the State, because he derives special advantages from the mere existence of government" - Teddy Roosevelt

    by mrboma on Tue Feb 08, 2005 at 09:25:37 AM PST

  •  Gen X? Nah, Gen Sesame Street (4.00)
    I have a very good friend who objected to us being called "Generation X" after the Coupland slacker novel.

    She much preferred, and I agree, that as the first generation to be entertained and educated by a show brought to you by the number 7 and the letter H, we ought to be known as the Sesame Street Generation.  There would of course be the offshoot known as the Electric Company generation (why did that ever get cancelled?)

    As for best muppet - Cookie Monster, no contest. Cooookieeeee!!!!!

    I've never received money from the government to spout an opinion. How 'bout you?

    by nightsweat on Tue Feb 08, 2005 at 09:27:31 AM PST

  •  Kermit (none)
    It's all about Kermit, y'all.  I had my father sing "Rainbow Connection" at my wedding.  Muppets are the best.  You can bet I'm sending them money.

    We were marching for the children, we were marching for the poor. Now we're marching for self-interest-- we'll march forevermore.

    by andlorr on Tue Feb 08, 2005 at 09:27:34 AM PST

  •  grover, without question (none)
    he was super grover, waiter grover, disco grover, the fun just never stopped.  but telly was pretty good, too.  you just can't get that level of neurosis in children's television today.  something about all the coke in the '70s, maybe.

    i once did a presentation in a writing program (when i was 16, no less) about how there's a monster at the end of this book -- with grover was a book that, if read by everyone, could change the world.  really, read it and tell me where you disagree :/

    the whole sesme concept has done more to boost imagination, creativity, understanding and general love of humanity than, well, just about anything on such a grand scale.  i can't say enough good things about it all, although i don't have the money to give to anyhting right now.  go buy a copy of 'monster' for a little kid in your life, though, it'll make everyone feel a little better.

    if you were running for mayor, he'd vote for you - mayor quimby's reelection campaign

    by skyesNYC on Tue Feb 08, 2005 at 09:31:32 AM PST

    •  They are introducing (none)
      Global Grover!

      Global Grover segments "teach children about global citizenship, cooperation, and conflict resolution."

      "The man of great wealth owes a peculiar obligation to the State, because he derives special advantages from the mere existence of government" - Teddy Roosevelt

      by mrboma on Tue Feb 08, 2005 at 09:50:18 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  wow, that's cool (none)
        almost makes me wish i wanted kids.  i have a little bi-racial sis who i'm sure needs a more multiculti environment than she has, though (half philipino, half redneck in arkansas, of all places), this would probably be great for her.  do you know if it'll be on domestic sesame?

        if you were running for mayor, he'd vote for you - mayor quimby's reelection campaign

        by skyesNYC on Tue Feb 08, 2005 at 09:55:48 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  It's starting (none)
          on U.S. Sesame, then will be translated for other regions.

          "The man of great wealth owes a peculiar obligation to the State, because he derives special advantages from the mere existence of government" - Teddy Roosevelt

          by mrboma on Tue Feb 08, 2005 at 09:59:11 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

    •  You make a good point (none)
      about buying the book, too. The U.S. Workshop is supported in large part by merchandise purchases. So if you can't afford to give and get nothing back, buy a Sesame Street gift for a friend, relative, etc. and you help the Street that way, too.

      "The man of great wealth owes a peculiar obligation to the State, because he derives special advantages from the mere existence of government" - Teddy Roosevelt

      by mrboma on Tue Feb 08, 2005 at 10:01:57 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  I love that book!! (none)
      I was probably in grade school when it came out, but it still became a favorite, and when my older nephew was barely two he'd always ask me to "read Grover"... his mom got a pretty funny snippet of video of him "reading" it with all of my Grover-esque inflections "all right!  all right!  all RIGHT!!... do you know that EVERY time you turn a page..."

      Elmo is no Grover, IMNSHO.

      •  I knew Grover (4.00)
        and Elmo is no Grover.

        I can send my kids into hysterics with an indignant Grover impersonation.

        My wife (a preschool teacher no less - the outrage...) went completely brain dead one day and forgot Grover's name - then struggling to find it said "the red monster from when we were kids".

        In my best Grover voice, I said - Grover NOT red.  Grover BllUE. Little Elmo is Red.  Little Elmo is new monster - not Grover. Grover is NOT little Elmo.  Grover is GRO VER and Grover is BLUE.

        It doesn't translate into text - but it was hysterical.  

        I support Soulforce - seeking Justice for God's GLBT children. Please join us.

        by its simple IF you ignore the complexity on Tue Feb 08, 2005 at 04:15:39 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Thanks for this! (none)
    I made a contribution, and I'm filling out a matching form for my company.  I'm about 30, with no kids yet, but when I have them, there had damn well better be Sesame Street.

    I'm an Ernie girl, myself.  

  •  This is the BS BushCo is attacking with (none)

    "The man of great wealth owes a peculiar obligation to the State, because he derives special advantages from the mere existence of government" - Teddy Roosevelt

    by mrboma on Tue Feb 08, 2005 at 01:41:19 PM PST

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