Thursday, November 01, 2007

Mister Rogers, 826 NYC & Me

There's a bit of a nail biter going on here in "Mister Rogers & Me" land.

Chris and I have a bunch of shoots in pencil approaching very quickly on our schedule. Which is a good thing. Problem is: they're in pencil.

I may have told you about the lovely and talented Jennifer Snow, 826NYC's Director of Development. We've been exchanging email like mad (including more than one sent from my wedding and one from my honeymoon -- the show must go on!), though we've yet to nail down any specifics.

    826 NYC (and The Brooklyn Superhero Supply Store) is a nonprofit organization dedicated to supporting students ages 6-18 with their creative and expository writing skills, and to helping teachers inspire their students to write. Our services are structured around our belief that great leaps in learning can happen with one-on-one attention and that strong writing skills are fundamental to future success. With this in mind we provide drop-in tutoring, field trips, after-school workshops, in-schools tutoring, help for English language learners, and assistance with student publications. All of our free programs are challenging and enjoyable, and ultimately strengthen each student's power to express ideas effectively, creatively, confidently, and in his or her individual voice.

Awesome, right?

Author David Eggers ("A Heartbreaking Work Of Staggering Genius") founded 826. There are now seven chapters around the country. It's exactly the sort of grass roots, hyper-local good work to which I endeavor. And exactly the kind of place my pal Kristan Flynn was talking about when she asked, "Is there somewhere closer to home or someone who's not a celebrity that can profile?"

Well, we're trying to split the difference. (David is working with director Spike Jonze on a live-action adaptation of one of my all-time favorite books, Maurice Sendak's "Where The Wild Things Are.")

If we're lucky, author, "This American Life" contributor (spot a trend here?), 826 volunteer and supporter Sarah Vowell is going to give us the tour there. If we can move the shoot from the "pencil" to "ink" column.

There's also another cool idea afoot with 826. Here's the email I sent Jen:

    This one came to me one sleepless night in the Maldives (ideas are why I don't sleep): A youth songwriting program!

    Me, my singer/songwriter friends, and maybe even more prominent artists would review songwriting history from Cole Porter to the Brill Building to The Beatles and Bob Dylan, then facilitate kids' writing and recording of their own songs! They'd end the term with their own single!!!

Jen was enthused, and it seemed like it'll come to pass. Which is kind of awesome. And, I think, exactly the path Mister Rogers intended to set me on.

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