We need a cultural shift with respect to violence now, and we all have a role to play.
Advocating for gun control laws is certainly a big piece of it. Having more awareness, scientific understanding, and resources for mental health is another huge component. Rethinking the role of and messaging from media in times of violence is integral. Changing the way we discuss violence in our families and communities is still another.
A tragedy like what happened in Newtown, CT could have happened anywhere. As Americans [As teachers, As parents, As children, As someone who lives in CT, As a first responder…you name the connection] we all feel hurt and betrayed by it. But this isn’t about Adam Lanza; this is not an isolated case of ‘crazy’. It’s a bigger problem of a culture of violence in a society where violence is a viable option, and our collective inability to guide smart decision-making within that society. And, unfortunately, this problem won’t be solved by the government, or by nonprofits, or by families raising kids differently. In fact, it might not ever be ‘solved’; that’s a scary thought. That’s why we must do what’s in our power to shift this culture over time from all fronts; only then will we have a chance of seeing the needle move.
*The shooter, Adam Lanza, does not appear on most lists of victims. He is a victim though (and also guilty, no doubt) of a society that in whatever way contributed to this rampage. I mourn him, too, despite hating with all of my soul what he did.
When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, “Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.” To this day, especially in times of “disaster,” I remember my mother’s words and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers – so many caring people in this world.
Even with the helpers to help recover and heal, we still need to better protect communities in the first place so that the scary things on the news are reduced to those scary things out of our control.
Helpers aren’t always the people on the ground immediately following a scary thing. Often, they’re advocates. Be a helper TODAY. Because every day we don’t assume the role as helper, more scary things happen.
Sesame Street answers the question ‘What is a career?’ with the help of Sonia Sotomayor.
Pros: Cool profession, breakout from gender roles, dream big
Cons: Teleprompter reading, settling on one career, no substantive information about how getting into law school isn’t easy and costs a lot of money and might not even result in a job as a lawyer let alone a judge
Insight: Adults should not be watching Sesame Street
What kind of candy are you buying?
With Halloween around the corner, candy purchasing is once again surging. Fun and tasty, right?
For us, maybe. But, lots of chocolate production is unethical, as it uses excessive child labor and unfair working conditions. Before you buy, look for a fair trade certified label, so that your fun and tasty treats aren’t at the cost of a child’s unfair labor.
Here are some tips for good chocolatey treats to give away. You could also go the fruit route!
Really neat video that David Hyde Costello created with just a camcorder and iMovie. All of the content is created with physical objects, mechanisms and puppetry. My friend Erica shared this after learning about his work at the Simmons Children’s Lit Program. Her favorite part of this video is that she learned that when the mouse pulls the string, it happens finger by finger; each is attached to a string that David pulls one by one to make the fingers curl around the string and then pull. Pretty amazing!
Interview: Will Sakran, Product Engineer / Inventor
When I moved to New York, I learned of a fun group of buddies calling themselves MetroMetro who, among other things, hosted Board Game Olympics, which clearly I attended often. This is how I met Will Sakran, who was among the organizers and who I also learned is also a thoughtful entrepreneur. I interviewed him about his new product Toobalink, a product manufactured through Metre Ideas and Design that connects together paper towel and toilet tissue tubes to build kid-sized structures. Here’s what I learned:
Jen Bokoff: Toobalink’s so smart but so simple! What sparked this idea for you?
Will Sakran: I’m happy you feel that way about it, because we think that’s the real beauty of the idea. It’s one of those ideas where people say, “I can’t believe no one thought of this earlier!” The initial concept came from a clever and talented industrial designer that I work with named Sara Ebert. As a student at Pratt, she took a class that focused on classic play and came up with the idea while observing children play with everyday objects around the house. It was around this time I left my job as an engineer in the toy industry to start my own product design company. I thought the concept was brilliant with lots of potential, so we teamed up with me handling the final design, productization, and manufacture.
JB: How did you settle on the final design and colors? Are you a Mets fan?
WS: I do like the Mets, but that didn’t have any bearing on the color scheme. Sorry. [Editors note: As a Yankees fan, I’m relieved.] The very first prototypes were blue and orange and it felt right from the start. There’s definitely something about orange that feels “construction-y”. The final shade of blue is not quite at dark as what was originally planned, but it was always blue and orange together. As for the design itself, it’s quite different from where we started. The original concept used fixed parts that were more like pipe fittings - there was an elbow piece, a straight connector piece, a cross piece, and so on. I was concerned that this approach would limit what kids could actually build, and I didn’t want to manufacture ten different parts to make the product work, so I starting thinking about how to make it modular. In the end, there are five unique parts which can be put together in any combination to make the fittings that you need. Then you pop the paper tubes onto the fittings.
JB: What do you like to build with a Toobalink starter kit? Any favorite design or type of structure?
WS: Just putting the Toobalink pieces together is really fun, I think - seeing what combinations there are and what you can do with them. I also like the idea of building without a goal in mind, and I secretly hope that kids like this, too. You can absolutely make specific structures if you want to, but I like the abstract stuff. Just building.
JB: Toobalink tangibly feels to me like Tinkertoys, but recycling-friendly and more “DIY”. How are you starting to market the product so it can reach the same scale?
WS: Even though Toobalink is just hitting the market now, prototype versions have been shown at trade shows going back to January 2011. It’s been really well received, buyers are enthusiastic about it, and we got some great press. This gave the product a lot of early exposure and helped us build up a retailer base that was committed to stocking it once it became available. So it’s out there now in many specialty stores - gift shops, museum stores, that sort of thing. We’ll continue to do trade shows to reach more retailers, but now that Toobalink is out I’m turning my attention to reaching individual customers directly. This is mainly though online channels - the Toobalink.com site, Facebook, Twitter, and through really helpful people like you, Jen. [Editors Note: Awwwww!]
JB: If you had an afternoon to construct with Toobalink beyond your wildest dreams, what kids snack would best power you through?
WS: Grilled cheese sandwiches and the occasional Hostess Ding Dong.
A Toobalink starter package is available for purchase online now, so you should probably buy one. Or two. You can also find Will teaching at the Brooklyn Brainery, but that’s an interview for another day.
This Asian elephant foetus after 12 months in the womb is catching some shut eye before she takes her first heavy steps in the world in just under a year’s time. The gestation period for an elephant is 22 months. This and other animals in the womb were captured on camera by scientists for a National Geographic documentary. I think it’s really neat to see how similarly all mammals start, and an elephant that is ‘floating’ is simply mesmerizing. Check out more photos and details here.
There is no passive-aggressive, conditional, manipulative nonsense behind my statement. I mean what I say. She doesn’t have to hug or kiss anyone just because I say so, not even me. I will not override my own child’s currently strong instincts to back off from touching someone who she chooses not to touch.
Katia Hetter, on how she gives her 4 year old daughter the choice between hugging/kissing people, or not. She emphasizes the need for a child to be respectful but also for parents and others to be respectful of the child’s personal comfort zone and instinct.
Although I think the article goes a little far with the implications of allowing a child to choose their own polite greeting, I respect its perspective and agree very much that it should never be seen as disrespectful if a child - or anyone, really - is not physically affectionate; people should not feel hurt or offended if other respectful measures are there. Further, I respect the view asserted here that conforming to convention just to please someone shouldn’t be taught; kids will learn on their own through observation and practice, and can then make their own decisions on how they’d like to conduct themselves.
Of course, it’s not that simple - certain things are a parent’s job to teach and discipline can be taught if not self-imposed - but social conventions learned by instinct and trial and error rather than instruction are much more openly embraced (so to speak).
(But, what do I know! This isn’t a parenting blog!)
I have a lot of respect for this, because it is one step towards reshaping what a model for a ‘standard’ store or line can look like or who s/he can be. Plus, he represents the brands well.
This Is Just Great of the Day: Appearing in the latest Target circular is 6-year-old Ryan: A happy, gregarious, photogenic rising star in the world of child modeling — who happens to have Down syndrome.
Ryan has also appeared in a recent Nordstrom catalog among other clothing ads.
On the Daddyblog of a father whose child has Down syndrome, Ryan’s mother writes:
The whole process of modeling is an extreme confidance booster for him. He received so much warmth and caring from the Nordstrom crew that he thought they were there just for him! We are honored that Ryan is making the Down syndrome community proud. He is a beautiful boy inside and out. He makes us better parents, and a better family.
This little girl sees through the marketing ploys; why can’t the rest of America?
The only pink thing I own is my toolkit, which at least has some merging between traditional gender stereotypes. But, it’s still not there, and let’s be honest, it was gifted to me in lieu of a ‘normal’ toolbox because it was pink.
Gendered socialization is far from being changed, and it’s the job of families, the education system, and businesses to improve it. It’s important to keep working on because it’s unequal and makes those who don’t follow the normal lines of consumer consumption automatically outliers. This girl knows it, you know it, I know it; being an outlier isn’t necessarily bad, but it’s often not good, especially as kids are growing up and bullying happens at the slightest differences. Do we want cookie-cutter kids? No. Do we want kids to feel comfortable making individual choices without ridicule? I should hope so. The current marketing and consumption patterns don’t really allow for that, but hopefully, it can begin moving in the right direction.
If finding this hilarious makes me a bad person, I’m still ok with that.
- Me: We'd like two tickets please.
- Architecture Tour Ticket Guy: Excellent! One Adult and one Experienced Adult ticket coming right up!
- Grammy: I'll have to remember that!!!
- Guy: Sometimes we have Inexperienced Adults too!
Sesame Street teaches about hunger
Sesame Street has a new muppet who is hungry for more than just cookies.
The iconic kids show is set to unveil a new impoverished puppet named Lily, whose family faces an ongoing struggle with hunger issues. Lily will be revealed in a one-hour Sesame Street primetime special, Growing Hope Against Hunger, which is being sponsored by Walmart. The special will star country singer Brad Paisley and his wife Kimberly Williams Paisley, as well as the Sesame Street Muppets.
“Food insecurity is a growing and difficult issue for adults to discuss, much less children,” said the Paisleys in a statement. “We are honored that Sesame Street, with its long history of tackling difficult issues with sensitivity, caring and warmth asked us to be a part of this important project.”
The special will share the stories of real-life families to raise awareness of hunger issues in the United States, as well as strategies that have helped these families find food. The United States Department of Agriculture estimates that 17 million American children — nearly 1 in 4 — have limited or uncertain access to affordable and nutritious food. Walmart is sponsoring the show as part of a $1.5 million grant toward the initiative and holding screenings in select communities.
The special is set to air nationwide on Oct. 9.
I hope it’s all done tastefully with minimal negative impact. Already not crazy about some of the coverage headlines though.