Immeasurable Pain, Unlimited Hope: The Making of Pushing the Elephant

March 28th, 2011

Beth Davenport and Elizabeth Mandel are the filmmakers behind Pushing the Elephant, a film about faith, family, and forgiveness in the most extreme circumstances imaginable.

The film premieres on Tuesday, March 29 at 10 p.m. on THIRTEEN. Independent Lens sat down with the directors to talk about telling such an intimate and, at times, terrifying story and what drove them to do it.

Interview courtesy of Independent Lens. For more interviews and other Independent Lens film content, visit their blog.

What impact do you hope this film will have?

Pushing the Elephant brings to life the horrors that continue to be endured in Congo, the importance of international involvement, and the ways in which individual acts can make enormous contributions. By approaching this complex issue through the humanity of the story of one woman and her family, we hope that the film will enable viewers to find commonality of experience, and therefore a sense of responsibility toward, Rose Mapendo and the millions of refugees like her.

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We are focusing our audience engagement campaign in three main areas: women’s empowerment, refugee rights and policy, and peacebuilding. We are partnering with organizations and advocates to explore ways in which the film can be used to advance our common goals. Our first advocacy initiative is working with a consortium of women’s rights organizations to use the film to help get both the Senate and the Congress to pass the International Violence Against Women Act (I-VAWA), an unprecedented effort by the United States to address violence against women (looks strange capitalized) globally.

We have a deep desire to bring the film to Congo, the Great Lakes region, and areas with large refugee populations. We would like to screen it both to a grassroots audience and to the power players deciding the fate of Rose’s homeland. In cooperation with our partner FilmAid International, we have already shown the film at Dadaab and Kakuma, two of the world’s largest refugee camps, both in Kenya. We have received footage with testimonies from some of the people who screened the film, which we hope to build on as we develop our campaign.

What led you to make Pushing the Elephant?

Arts Engine, Inc. is a female-founded company. Big Mouth Films, a project of Arts Engine, is committed to telling multifaceted and universal stories through an intimate lens about the complexities of life as a woman in this new millennium. This story is a perfect example of this commitment. For all the unique circumstances of the story, it contains universal truths about the mother-daughter bond and the importance of family, connection and forgiveness, themes to which women everywhere can relate. Furthermore, as a strong African woman and a refugee who is a leader and an activist, Rose represents a model of woman we rarely get to see on film or other media sources. At the heart of the film is a powerful story of how families persevere through extreme circumstances.

What were some of the challenges you faced in making your documentary?

The greatest was doing justice to Rose’s message. We feel very committed to getting her message out there in a way reflective of its import, which is a huge challenge. We also had many storylines that we tried to integrate effectively and truthfully, which was tricky.

How did you gain the trust of the people in the film, since much of the subject matter is difficult and personal?

At Arts Engine, we always feel very committed to having subjects tell their stories in their own voices in the way they want their stories to be told. I think that just approaching any human being with that kind of approach — saying, “This is your story. You tell it how it needs to be told. We don’t have an agenda, other than to listen.” Also, Rose talks. That’s what she does for a living. She wanted her story to be heard. In addition, the first time we filmed with them, it was just Beth, a one-person crew. She was able to just fade into the background and let life unfold before her. Some of it is also time — as with any relationship, it’s a matter of taking time, building trust, and letting people feel comfortable.

What would you have liked to include in your film that didn’t make the final cut?

One of the hardest for us to let go was the storyline of Rose’s parents, who are briefly included in the film when Nangabire says goodbye to them in Nairobi. They had been waiting for a very long time for their visas, but everyone had all but given up. Then the visas came through. We have this incredible footage of them packing to come to the United States, and talking about their dreams, and their expectations about what would happen when they arrived. We had wonderful footage of their arrival as well — of going to Costco for the first time, of grandma playing basketball, of the whole family meeting them at the airport and praying together. However, we hope to include some of the footage in our online and DVD extras. We want to include it somewhere, because it is such a great story of loss and separation, reunification, acclimation, and hope.

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Any other storylines you had to sacrifice?

Rose was in a death camp for about a year and a half, she and Nangabire were separated for 12 years, members of Rose’s family remain scattered around the world. There were only so many stories that we were able to capture; there were so many more that we wanted to learn about. Of course, there was no way to hear all of them. Each story was so rich and full of detail, there would always be questions left that we wanted to ask.

It’s probably tough to choose just one, but tell about a scene in the film that especially moved or resonated with each of you.

Elizabeth Mandel: One of the scenes that resonated with me most is a scene that is no longer in the film. The scene shows the family preparing to go to church the morning after Nangabire arrives in the U.S., which is the first time she has seen her mother in 12 years. Nangabire comes downstairs and Rose starts fixing her hair. Nangabire says, “Mom, stop breaking my hair!” and Rose says, “I’m not breaking your hair, I’m making it look better.” To me, this is emblematic of the relationships between mothers and daughters everywhere, an exchange that is shorthand for such complexity. When discussing the film, we often talk about how even though the story of genocide in Congo seems so remote to most Americans, it is a very intimate, accessible, universal story. Even though this scene got cut, the sentiment it captures pervades the film.

Beth Davenport: One of the scenes that resonated with me was when Rose tells us the story of the difficult decision she, John, and Aimee had to make to keep their family alive. Filming and getting to know Rose over the course of two and a half years, we learned so many intricacies of her story. As trust between us strengthened Rose mentioned that there was a part of the story that she hadn’t yet shared with us. On our last shoot and interview with Rose, I asked her if she was ready to talk about this part of her past that she hadn’t spoken to many people about. Rose was ready. It was a very difficult interview for her. However, by the end of it, in her work, and through the process of making the film, she understands the importance of talking about the past in order to heal, and the effect that this will have on other women around the world who feel shame about what has happened to them.

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What has the audience response been so far? What do Rose and her family think?

We feel privileged to have received such a positive response, and for our subjects to be so happy with the film. One of the most gratifying things is the way in which Rose’s message of forgiveness has affected people. We heard a story from a colleague about a friend and relative who hadn’t spoken to one another in years. They both came to see the film, and it led to a thawing of the ice between them. In addition, a number of organizations that are involved in Rose’s line of work (peacebuilding, women’s rights, refugee policy) have indicated that the film could be very important for their efforts. We were quite nervous to show the film to Rose’s family, including Nangabire, John, and Rose’s brother, Kigabo. There are many intimate family details, and a lot of pain is exposed. Although we were always upfront with the family that anything recorded we were likely to use, we were still anxious to see their reactions. Fortunately, they think it’s a wonderful film, and think that it is something that can help promote their belief in peace and reconciliation, and universal rights.

What has happened to Rose and the other people in your film since shooting wrapped?

Since the completion of filming, Rose has been working with her brother Kigabo to establish Africa Health New Horizons, an organization dedicated to providing free health care, with a particular focus on maternal and child health, in the Great Lakes region of eastern Congo. She continues to advocate for peace and reconciliation and women’s and refugee rights on the world stage.

Nangabire has recently moved to Tucson to complete her high school training. She hopes to go to nursing school.

Aimee got married while we were filming and had a baby near the end of production. We just found out that she is expecting another child.

The independent film business is not for the faint of heart. What keeps you motivated?

It is finding subjects like Rose. As difficult as our business is, her life, her history, and her work are so much more difficult. We feel motivated by an opportunity to bring underrepresented but critical voices like hers to the foreground.

Why did you choose to present your film on public television?

Public television has set the bar for broadcasting engaging documentaries that inspire introspection, action, and sociopolitical involvement. It has also become the portal for those whose voices and experiences are not reflected on mainstream television. With this in mind, we felt that Pushing the Elephant was an excellent fit for public television.

How did you originally learn about Rose and her story?

People ask us that all the time! Here is a blog entry we recently wrote on the subject.

What are your three favorite films?

Elizabeth: Tampopo, Rebecca, Waiting for Guffman.

Beth: Grey Gardens, Amores Perros, The Ice Storm.

What advice do you have for aspiring filmmakers?

Making documentary films takes a lot of energy, time, commitment, sweat, and tears. Pick a subject that you care deeply about. Work with people you respect and like. Be prepared for enormous challenges, and remember to maintain your sense of humor, your perspective, and your relationships with people outside your industry. And be prepared to cut your favorite scenes; sometimes it makes your film stronger.

There’s no craft services on a documentary film project. What fuels you?

Elizabeth: Apricots and salt and vinegar potato chips. Not necessarily together.

Beth:
Really, really dark chocolate – at least 85% Cacao.

Consuelo Mack WealthTrack features Financial Thought Leader Niall Ferguson

March 25th, 2011

Niall Ferguson

In a new, half-hour Consuelo Mack WealthTrack special premiering on Saturday, March 26 at 8 a.m. on THIRTEEN, Anchor and Managing Editor Consuelo Mack interviews thought-provoking financial historian Niall Ferguson about the seismic shift occurring in the world economic order.

Ferguson discusses why the centuries long dominance of Western economic and political power is waning and what the United States needs to do prevent it from slipping even more. It is the focus of his upcoming book, Civilization: The West and the Rest.

A prolific commentator, columnist and professor at Harvard and Oxford, Ferguson is the author of several best-selling books, including The Ascent of Money and Colossus: the Rise and Fall of the American Empire.

Check out Ferguson’s THIRTEEN series The Ascent of Money, based on his popular book.

Watch a preview here:

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Religion & Ethics Newsweekly's Japan Coverage

March 23rd, 2011

Religion & Ethics Newsweekly takes a look at the Japan disaster from a new angle, with a focus on the humanitarian response and relief efforts, and the role religion is playing  in how the nation is coping with the crisis.

Here, Bob Abernathy discusses the scale of the relief efforts by international aid groups:
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Read Jeffrey L. Richey’s piece exploring how Japanese perceptions of disaster are rooted in traditional religious culture, and how this has impacted their response to the tragedy.

WNET Ventures into Local News with MetroFocus

March 21st, 2011

Laura van Straaten

It’s official!  As reported in The New York Times blog Media Decoder, local news is coming to WNET this spring with MetroFocus, a new Web venture with the potential to expand to television specials or a monthly or weekly show in the fall (appearing on both THIRTEEN and WLIW21), with a daily version expected to follow.

The MetroFocus team will be led by Laura van Straaten, the project’s editor-in-chief and executive producer.  WNET‘s president and CEO Neal Shapiro feels the show marks a new step for the station.  “One of the futures of public television is making local connections,” he said. “We’ve done a great job of being a national producer; we can do a much better job of being a local producer.”

No Tomorrow: A Q&A with Filmmaker Roger Weisberg

March 17th, 2011

Inside Thirteen recently spoke with Roger Weisberg, producer and director of No Tomorrow, which takes a look at the tragic murder of Risa Bejarano, a principal subject of the recent PBS film Aging Out, and the chilling death penalty trial that followed.

The film delves into the complex reality of the death penalty, compelling viewers to question for themselves the legitimacy of capital punishment as a public policy.

Here, Weisberg discusses what compelled him to make the film and explains how his experience with the trial informed his own opinion of the death penalty.

No Tomorrow airs Monday, March 21 at 9 p.m. on THIRTEEN.

For more about the film, including background information, discussion questions, and other resources, check out the No Tomorrow Viewer’s Guide.

Inside Thirteen: Why did you feel the need to make this film?

Roger Weisberg: About five years ago, PBS broadcast our previous documentary, Aging Out, about teenagers who have to fend for themselves after leaving the foster care system.  One of the principle subjects of that film was Risa Bejarano.  Less than a year after the film was completed, she was brutally murdered, and our film about Risa’s transition out of the foster care system ended up documenting her last year of life.  This documentary initially fell into the hands of the homicide detectives investigating the case, and then into the hands of the district attorney.  When the D.A. opted to pursue the death penalty for Risa’s killer, he decided to use our film in order to heighten sympathy for the victim, Risa Bejarano, and hatred for the defendant. All of a sudden we discovered that our work was being used for a purpose for which we had never intended, and we felt compelled to make a follow-up film about this chilling death penalty case and the role that our film played in the trial.

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IT: In the film it is mentioned that the prosecution edited Aging Out to heighten its impact on the jury.  To what extent did you feel the material was manipulated?

RW: The district attorney initially showed the entire film about Risa’s transition from the foster care system to living on her own.  Then, in his closing argument, he re-edited a small portion of the video in order to highlight the happiest moments in Risa’s life – attending her senior prom, participating in her high school graduation, heading off to college with several scholarships.  These uplifting moments were put into a montage, and then the D.A. edited statements that he was able to surreptitiously capture from the defendant in jail where he was bragging about being a killer. The juxtaposition of these comments by the defendant with our imagery of Risa’s accomplishments had a powerful effect on the jurors.  The last image the jurors were left with after he showed this montage was Risa’s bloody body at the crime scene.  We knew that he intended to use our film in the penalty phase of the trial, but we were surprised to learn that he took the liberty of re-editing the film to heighten its impact.

IT: It’s said in the film that there is value to the potential and the message of death row, and Risa’s foster mother says at one point in the film that “if there was more of the death penalty, there wouldn’t be as much crime.” Yet, Juan Chavez does not seem daunted by receiving the death penalty; he almost expects it. What are your thoughts on this – would some other punishment have been more effective for troubled youths like Chavez?

RW: There is a huge debate over whether the death penalty is a deterrent, and that’s what Risa’s foster mother Dolores was hinting at when she suggested that if the death penalty was more broadly applied, there would be less crime. There really is no conclusive proof whatsoever that the death penalty in fact is a deterrent or that young people like Juan Chavez are even aware of the death penalty.

In terms of alternatives, there are two  – the preferable alternative is to be able to reach troubled youths at the first sign that they are going off the rails.  Juan Chavez, much like Risa Bejarano, grew up in an abusive home, suffered from neglect and sexual molestation;  and was surrounded by street gangs, which became the only family that embraced him.  If the juvenile justice system, the mental health system, the educational system, or even the Church was able to reach this young man before his behavior became so pathological, there’s no doubt that there would have been an opportunity to turn him around before he committed this horrible act.  Given that that didn’t happen, the alternative to the death penalty that many states have is the imposition of a penalty of life without parole.  That’s a way of punishing somebody, arguably more severely than putting them to death – having to spend the rest of their life incarcerated with no possibility of parole.  It protects the community forever, and it satisfies the hunger of the public for retribution for these heinous crimes.  So, we do have an alternative to the death penalty that is effective and is vastly less expensive.  It’s kind of counterintuitive, but imposing a sentence of life without parole costs taxpayers significantly less than the death penalty.

IT: Having worked with Risa on Aging Out, do you think she would have been at ease with the outcome of the trial?

RW: Risa was someone who believed in second chances.  She was someone who herself was given a second chance.  The people who knew Risa best, her closest friends, tell us that she never would have supported the death penalty.  Risa’s siblings were all in gangs and caught up in this lifestyle that’s sadly too common in many poor neighborhoods of Los Angeles, and she understood that this environment often leads to violent crime.

IT: Did making this film change your thoughts on capital punishment and the death penalty?

RW: To be honest, I initially was opposed to the death penalty on pure moral grounds, but when Risa was murdered and we dove into this story, I really understood in a new way the impulse to want to punish the perpetrator of this kind of crime in the most severe way possible. I was sympathetic with people who, like Risa’s foster mom, favored the death penalty because she wanted this young man pay for his crime.  Even though I learned to recognize that that’s a very legitimate human response, the more I learned about the administration of the death penalty, the more I became convinced that it is not a legitimate public policy. The way it is administered is just too inaccurate.  There have been so many men and women on death row who have been exonerated.  It’s too costly, it’s too discriminatory, and it doesn’t deter.  For all of those reasons, my initial moral aversion to the death penalty was reinforced by what I learned about the way the death penalty is applied in this country.

IT: How big of a role do you think choice played in the case of Juan Chavez’s life vs. Risa Bejarano’s life?  Is it a question of nature vs. nurture?

RW: A lot of people looking at Risa and Juan Chavez compare the two and argue that Risa grew up in these horrible circumstances but she made choices to improve her life.  Meanwhile, Juan Chavez grew up in equally horrible circumstances, surrounded by abuse and neglect, and made choices that put him squarely down a destructive, murderous path.  I have to question whether Chavez really did have choices.  As one of the experts said, he didn’t choose to be abandoned by his father, he didn’t choose to be abused by his mother, he didn’t choose to go on the streets to find the only family that would accept him.  He didn’t choose to be born with mental health problems.  I think to say that Chavez acted on pure free will and therefore is fully responsible for his actions is an oversimplification that does not take into account the role that his troubled upbringing played in his life.  None of this background excuses his heinous behavior.   I do think that people like Juan Chavez deserve to be severely punished, and the community definitely deserves to be protected from them, but I don’t think that as a society, we deserve to kill him.

IT: What message do you hope viewers will take from this film?

RW: It probably was summed up best by the comment of Bryan Stevenson, who got the last word in the film.  He said that the question is not: does Juan Chavez deserve to die for what he did? – the real question is do we deserve to kill?  So, I think that if you had to boil it down to one single message, I would hope that even those viewers who think that Juan Chavez deserves to die, would conclude that we don’t deserve to kill him – that the application of the death penalty is just too too inaccurate, too unfair, too discriminatory, and too costly for us to continue to have capital punishment in this country.

To date, there have been over 170 community events and screenings of No Tomorrow.  Organizations and schools that are interested can acquire the video for that purpose.

The Empire State Building lights up for WNET's Celebration of Teaching and Learning

March 15th, 2011

Look to the Sky!  The Empire State Building will honor WNET on Friday, March 18, 2011 by shining its world-famous tower lights yellow, blue and red to celebrate the 6th annual Celebration of Teaching & Learning.

This premier professional development conference brings together over 10,000 educators from all 50 states, D.C., and across the globe with experts, advocates, practitioners and academics to help shape the future of schools.  It is also the marquee event of New York City’s annual “New York Celebrates Teaching & Learning Week,” as proclaimed by Mayor Bloomberg for March 16-19, 2011.

Keith Richards Autographed Guitar: Own A Treasure of Rock Royalty

March 7th, 2011

“Music is a language that doesn’t speak in particular words. It speaks in emotions, and if it’s in the bones, it’s in the bones.” – Keith Richards

Founding member of the Rolling Stones and one of Rolling Stone magazine’s “Greatest Guitar Players of All-Time,” Keith Richards has lived a life that most of us can only imagine. Fellow Stones members Bill Wyman and Ronnie Wood have even noted that, while other bands follow the drummer, the Rolling Stones follow Keith Richards.

Like public broadcasting, Keith Richards is a towering original, who continues to walk his own path, speak his mind, and do his own thing.  And to show his personal support of music programming on New York Public Television, he has generously donated an autographed Midnight Wine Fender Telecaster Electric Guitar.

With your generous donation of $40,000, you can own this guitar signed by a living legend whose revolutionary, high-octane riffs defined “Gimme Shelter” and “Honky Tonk Woman” among other hits. Call 212.560.8222 to donate now.

Along with this exceptional instrument, you’ll also receive a letter of authenticity and a lightweight travel case. The proceeds raised from this offer benefit the production, acquisition, and broadcast of concert programs on New York Public Television.

See Keith perform with the Rolling Stones in what many fans consider to be the finest Rolling Stones concert captured on film — Ladies & Gentlemen: The Rolling Stones — shot in Texas during the “Exile on Main Street” tour in 1972 and featuring some of the best renditions of “Brown Sugar,” “Gimme Shelter,” and “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” ever performed live.

Children Will Listen: Q&A With Sandra Sheppard, Director of Children’s and Educational Media at WNET

March 7th, 2011

Sandra Sheppard

At THIRTEEN, we’re dedicated to creating programs that spark children’s imaginations and fuel learning — with no commercial agenda. Our commitment to this goal grows stronger every year. As Sandra Sheppard, Director of Children’s and Educational Media at WNET and Executive Producer of Cyberchase, says, “Our goal as a public media producer is to make sure that children’s screen time is valuable.”

Sheppard spoke with THIRTEEN about creating content that educates, entertains, and has lasting value.

Q: Education has been at the core of our mission since our founding. Fifty years later, why is it still important?

A: Our mission has always been to harness the power of television and other media to positively impact the life of our public. We’ve always had a stake in improving the lives of children and their families, and serving the needs of the underserved. Today, that goal is more critical than ever. When you look at the educational progress reports, it’s clear that we as a country need to do better.

Q: What are the educational goals of our children’s programs?

A: Our goal is to create programs that tap into children’s natural curiosity to motivate them, challenge them, and help them develop intellectual skills and life skills. We do that by embedding content in character-rich stories that are playful, entertaining, and addictive in the most positive sense of the word – from the math in Cyberchase and the performing arts in Angelina Ballerina, to the history in our brand-new Mission U.S. video games. We also work hard to make sure the programs we create are child-centric, and are very careful about modeling characters who think and learn from experience, and who make mistakes but get up again and go out into the world and solve problems. We do a lot of research to get it right. The ultimate question is: have we made a difference in that child’s life? Do they know more having watched our series or consumed our online content than they did before? And we’re tough. We ask those questions because at the end of the day if they haven’t learned more, we haven’t done our job. So we’re very rigorous in our research and evaluation.

Q: How do you measure the impact of our programs on viewers?

A: We have a core group of advisors and educators who evaluate understanding of content by youngsters both before and after they watch our programs. The National Science Foundation, which has supported Cyberchase since its inception, funded a landmark study examining the impact of television, online, and hands-on learning, using Cyberchase as the model. Results showed that kids would learn math skills from the television show and apply them online, which is very exciting. It affirms that the work we’re doing is making a real difference, and that a smartly designed on-air and online package can have real impact.

Q: What are the benefits of producing non-commercial children’s programs – and the challenges?

A: The benefit is that we have a very captive audience and they’re consuming content on many different platforms at a record pace. At the same time, it’s a hugely competitive landscape, so we need to be as creative as possible to make sure our content, which is grounded in education, is highly entertaining. We have to capture children’s attention and keep them coming back again and again, which can be challenging to do these days. Twenty years ago, there weren’t 24-hour cable channels dedicated to kids programming. So we’ve got to be better at our game. The wonderful thing about public media is that we can develop a show like Cyberchase, which is aimed at improving kids’ math skills, and watch it evolve and expand its audience with each successive season. Now we’re in our eighth season. That wouldn’t happen in commercial television. Our commercial counterparts aren’t going to introduce science or the performing arts or engineering or history to this generation. So we have to keep producing these types of programs – and we have to do it really well.

Q: How do you develop ideas for new programs? Do you work closely with teachers and education consultants?

A: Our ideas are grounded in curriculum. We look carefully at national standards and are very thoughtful about working with educators to make sure the material is meaningful, age-appropriate, and connects to lessons kids are learning in school and in life. Ideas come from everywhere. They come from characters and books, video games, and the many brainstorming sessions I have with my team. Interestingly, Cyberchase came out of brainstorming meeting where we were talking about Star Wars and how we would love to do a show in which the problems were mathematical and there would be good guys and bad guys, but the path to victory would be mind over muscle. In other words — may the mathematical force be with you!

Q: How long does it take to develop an idea for broadcast?

A: The gestation period varies from project to project, but to get it right, it takes time. You need a really strong development team and you need to allow adequate time for a project to fully develop. If you’re working with an original idea, as opposed to a book-based idea, it can take anywhere from six months to a year to create a bible, a series of stories, some designs, and to really get the ethos of the project. In children’s media, we usually need to find co-production partners and often look to the international community for partnerships and funding. Given those factors, two or three years can pass from the time we have an initial idea to the time it hits air and the web, so we’re constantly in development. We’re constantly putting new ideas into the pipeline because our projects have long gestation periods. There are certainly benefits to that because you can tweak and massage and make sure it’s right before it hits air.  I always say it takes passion and patience.

Q: What are some of the new programs we’ll see in 2011?

A: I’m super excited about Noah Comprende, the first foreign language broadband series public media has created for young children. It introduces kids ages 5-8 to Spanish and premieres in April. In February, we launched Get the Math, a reality-style TV show and website introducing tweens and teens to algebra. Later in the year, we’re also releasing a new edition of Mission US, our interactive, online American history series for teens. And we recently launched our first Cyberchase app ever — and it hit the top of the kids chart the first week. Check it out at the iTunes store!

Q:What is the most rewarding aspect of your work?

A: Working with smart people who are passionate about what they do is incredibly rewarding. But there’s nothing like hearing from fans. An elementary school student wrote to tell us that because of Cyberchase, he no longer needs a math tutor. A little girl said she feels less alone when she watches because she could relate to Jackie, an African-American character. To hear that kind of story, and to know we’ve had a profound impact on a child’s life, is extremely gratifying. It’s a window into the world of what we do.

Learn more about our award-winning kids programming at kids.thirteen.org

Update on Federal Funding for Public Broadcasting

March 3rd, 2011
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Hundreds of thousands of phone calls and emails to Washington have had an impact!

In a compromise agreement with the Senate, the House of Representatives passed a Continuing Resolution that eliminated $4 billion in federal funding but kept the remaining federal budget intact, including funding for public broadcasting.  The new Continuing Resolution was signed into law by President Obama.

The new Continuing Resolution, however, expires on March 18, 2011.  Further negotiations will continue between the House of Representatives and the Senate on funding beyond March 18th.  We will keep you posted here of new developments or you can go to   www.170millionamericans.org to be kept informed.

If you would like to reach out to your Representative or to your Senators, their phone numbers are listed below.

Connecticut:

Representative Rosa DeLauro

Washington, DC Office: 202-225-3661
Local Office: 203-562-3718

Representative Jim Himes

Washington, DC Office: 202-225-5541
Local Office:866-453-0028

Representative Christopher Murphy

Washington, DC Office: 202-225-4476
Local Office: 860-223-8412

Senator Richard Blumenthal

Washington, DC Office: 202-224-2823
State Office:  860-258-6940

Senator Joseph Lieberman

Washington, DC Office: 202-224-4041
State Office:  860-549-8463 or 800-225-5605 (in CT)

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New Jersey:

Representative Rodney Frelinghuysen

Washington, DC Office: 202-225-5034
Local Office: 973-984-0711

Representative Scott Garrett

Washington, DC Office: 202-225-4465
Local Office: 201-444-5454

Representative Rush Holt

Washington, DC Office: 202-225-5801
Local Office: 609-750-9365

Representative Leonard Lance

Washington, DC Office: 202-225-5361
Local Office: 908-518-7733

Representative Frank Pallone

Washington, DC Office:202-225-4671
Local Office: 732-571-1140

Representative Bill Pascrell

Washington, DC Office: 202-225-5751
Local Office:  973-523-5152

Representative Donald Payne

Washington, DC Office:    202-225-3436
Local Office: 973-645-3213

Representative Steven Rothman

Washington, DC Office: 202-225-5061
Local Office: 201-646-0808

Representative Albio Sires

Washington, DC Office: 202-225-7919
Local Office: 201-222-2828

Representative Christopher Smith

Washington, DC Office: 202-225-3765
Local Office: 609-585-7878

Senator Frank Lautenberg

Washington, DC Office: 202-224-3224
State Office:  973-639-8700 or 888-398-1642

Senator Robert Menendez

Washington, DC Office: 202-224-4744
State Office: 973-645-3030

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New York:

Representative Gary Ackerman

Washington, DC Office: 202-225-2601
Local Office: 718-423-2154

Representative Tim Bishop

Washington, DC Office: 202-225-3826
Local Office: 631-696-6500

Representative Yvette Clarke

Washington, DC Office:  202-225-6231
Local Office: 718-287-1142

Representative Joseph Crowley

Washington, DC Office: 202-225-3965
Local Office: 718-931-1400

Representative Eliot Engel

Washington, DC Office:202-225-2464
Local Office: 718-796-9700

Representative Chris Gibson

Washington, DC Office:    202-225-5614
Local Office: 518-610-8133

Representative Michael Grimm

Washington, DC Office:202-225-3371
Local Office: 718-351-1062

Representative Nan Hayworth

Washington, DC Office:  202-225-5441
Local Office: 845-291-4100

Representative Maurice Hinchey

Washington, DC Office: 202-225-6335
Local Office: 845-344-3211

Representative Steve Israel

Washington, DC Office:  202-225-3335
Local Office: 631-951-2210

Representative Peter King

Washington, DC Office: 202-225-7896
Local Office: 516-541-4225

Representative Nita Lowey

Washington, DC Office: 202-225-6506
Local Office: 914-428-1707

Representative Carolyn Maloney

Washington, DC Office:  202-225-7944
Local Office: 212-860-0606

Representative Carolyn McCarthy

Washington, DC Office: 202-225-5516
Local Office: 516-739-3008

Representative Gregory Meeks

Washington, DC Office:  202-225-3461
Local Office: 718-725-6000

Representative Jerrold Nadler

Washington, DC Office: 202-225-5635
Local Office: 212-367-7350

Representative Charles Rangel

Washington, DC Office:202-225-4365
Local Office: 212-663-3900

Representative José Serrano

Washington, DC Office:   202-225-4361
Local Office: 212-620-0084

Representative Edolphus Towns

Washington, DC Office: 202-225-5936
Local Office:  718-855-8018

Representative Nydia Velázquez

Washington, DC Office: 202-225-2361
Local Office: 718-599-3658

Representative Anthony Weiner

Washington, DC Office: 202-225-6616
Local Office: 718-520-9001

Senator Kirsten Gillibrand

Washington, DC Office: 202-224-4451
State Office: 212-688-6262

Senator Charles Schumer

Washington, DC Office: 202-224-6542
State Office: 212-486-4430

Orion's Live Web Chat with Author David James Duncan

March 1st, 2011

Today at 7 p.m., Orion magazine will host a live Web discussion with author David James Duncan, who will be featured in an upcoming episode of Nature, Salmon: Running the Gauntlet, set to air Sunday,  May 1 at 8 p.m. on THIRTEEN.

The discussion will focus on oil companies hauling oil-production equipment on rivers that may damage the fragile ecosystem and vital salmon habitat.

Duncan will be joined by fellow Orion magazine contributor and author Rick Bass.

Register to join the discussion and learn more.