Support Sesame Street
If you know me, you know that I am a Sesame Street fan. It is perhaps one of my favorite TV shows, though I'll admit I'm significantly less fond of its current incarnation than I was of the one I grew up with. Nonetheless I think it's a good project that does great things for kids. I was terribly excited to meet Oscar the Grouch this summer, and get Big Bird's autograph.
So I was kind of sad to read this Salon article
about what seems like yet another commendable Sesame Workshop project: the creation of a few special shows called "Sesame Neighborhood" meant to showcase off Arab-American culture and children, and promote harmony and pluralistic integration between Arab-American children and other children. In the wake of post-Sept. 11 backlash this seems doubly important--both to protect children from hate and also to prevent their growing up into alienated youth. With spots like Global Grover, and the innately pluralistic, tolerant aesthetic of Muppets in general, Sesame Street could pursue such a goal with the kind of style and panache that would inevitably elude others.
But the article is about how this project simply hasn't happened because the cash isn't available. Sesame Workshop has been unable to get either corporate funding or Arab-American funding. The point of the article seems to be that this is an example of either how mainstream non-profits in general, and public television in particular, doesn't know how to appeal to minority groups OR how it's an example of the the possibility that currently Arab-Americans don't really want to integrate. Both of these might have elements of truth, but they can hardly be the whole truth. I think the main thing is that non-profits in general are suffering, and Sesame Street in particular.
In the summer, when I met Caroll Spinney
, the voice and puppeteer inside Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch, he mentioned (in the gentlest way possible) that the reason Sesame Street now shoots a much shorter season every year is because its strapped for cash. Its primary source of funding comes from product-licensing, and small kids now agitate for stuff covered with Barney logos--or worse yet, for-profit Disney logos. As a result, I make a point of buying Sesame Street themed products
when I have the option to. (Note to friends: I really miss my old Ernie Puppet. A Big Bird doll would be nice too. And possibly this DVD
.) But Sesame Workshop is
a nonprofit, and there's nothing wrong with just donating to it. I realize most of my readers are my fellow cash-strapped students, but for those of you who are a little more flush--please think about funding some great public television
, January 23, 2003
I emailed Sesame Workshop and asked about online donations. Veronica Koo emailed me back, with characteristic Sesame appreciation:
Thanks so much for your kind words and for thinking of Sesame Workshop. Our
web giving will be up soon, in the interim we asked that donors use the
attached form to give gifts. The mailing address is on the form, it is not
the same as our offices in NYC.
To reiterate, I have posted the pdf form to enclose with donations to Sesame workshop on my webpage here
. The address to send donations to is:
Sesame Workshop, P.O. Box 5136, Toms River, NJ, 08754-5136.