Susan Linn
Susan Linn

We talk with author Susan Linn and film maker Andrea Barbaro about CONSUMING KIDS.

Also, Alan Weisman on GAVIOTAS: A Village to Reinvent the World.

Dora for Tweens
Dora for Tweens

A new version of Dora the Explorer is coming out from Mattel toys and Nickelodeon this Fall, aimed at the “tween” market. The new Dora is a sexier, more glamorous version of the intrepid tomboy who’s captured the imaginations—and brand loyalty—of toddler girls the world over. A fashion doll, the toy plugs into a computer, prompting girls to go online and accessorize her, buying lots of new products along the way.

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The “tween” market the doll is meant for is defined as between 5 and 11 years old, spanning kindergarten to middle school. It’s an invention of the $17 billion dollar marketing industry targeting kids from infancy through adolescence.  It vies for the $700 billion spent each year on an endless progression of products for kids, from tarted up Bratz dolls to video games filled with violence and gore.

Susan Linn and Adriana Barbaro say the industry is consuming our kids. Linn is director of the Campaign for a Commercial Free Childhood (CCFC) and the author of the 2005 book, CONSUMING KIDS: Protecting Our Children from the Onslaught of Marketing & Advertising. Now Adriana Barbaro of the Media Education Foundation has made it into a documentary film.  We speak to them both on this week’s show.

Consuming Kids movie trailer

Consuming Kids Resources for Teachers and Parents

CCFW Scholastic Books Campaign

Dora the Explorer critique and petition by Packaging Girlhood, a partner organization with CCFC

Alan Weisman
Alan Weisman

Journalist Alan Weisman talks about his book GAVIOTAS: A Village to Reinvent the World, reissued late last year by Chelsea Green Publishing on the 10th anniversary of its first edition.

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Is it possible to create a sustainable community in the harsh environment of a treeless savannah?  Yes, if you use affordable, small scale technology that respects people and the planet.  That’s what the villagers of Gaviotas, an “unintentional” community in the largely uninhabited eastern part of Colombia, say.  Journalist Alan Weisman chronicled the making of this sustainable community in his book, GAVIOTAS.

The interview begins with Weisman talking about what that community looks like today.  He talks about innovative uses of energy there — including kid power: a see-saw doubles as a water pump.

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In the midst of a country plagued by violence, no one has been killed in Gaviotas in the 40 years since its founding. One remarkable reason is the hospital Gaviotas built that treats all comers — whether impoverished farmers, indigenous people from the area, or even rebels and paramilitaries. The hospital was designed with ideas from residents, Indians from surrounding areas, and a young engineer from one of Colombia’s top universities, Esperanza Connell.

But Gaviotas hasn’t kept it’s innovations to itself. It’s teamed up with poor urban communities in Colombia to bring small, appropriate technology that leaves a light footprint on the planet.  For example, solar collectors.

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About Francesca Rheannon

Francesca Rheannon is an award-winning independent radio producer. In addition to hosting Writer's Voice, she's a freelance reporter for National Public Radio and its affiliates. Recipient of the prestigious Nancy Dickerson Whitehead Award for reporting on substance abuse issues for her news series, VOICES OF HIV, produced for 88.5 WFCR public radio in western Massachusetts. She is also finishing a book on Provence (PROVINCE OF THE HEART) and working on a memoir of her father, THE ARGONAUTS.


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