"The war is because we have a lying president," a young school girl tells the camera, on the well produced website Vote For Me Because I Can't.
On the site, a host of children give their ages, how long they must wait before they can vote in a U.S. election, and their message to current voters, displaying a natural honesty and earnestness that's humbling and refreshing, especially at this cynical time in the national discourse.
Vote For Me Because I Can't is a joint project between NYC-based firms Media Kitchen and Innovation Nation, and it hopes to harness the viral nature and ease-of-sharing of the Internet. To kick off the project, filming began in several schools in NYC and New Jersey in September 2008, but the real goal of the project is to encourage true user generated videos, a la You Tube. The website officially launched on October 17th, 2008.
Tomorrow, Vote For Me Because I Can't is putting out a national call of action for kids across the country to participate, starting with an email blast to social studies teachers.
This past weekend, Bill Thomas of AlwaysBuildGreen.com and activist Rahim Davis hosted a booth with "Vote for Me" at the exciting UrbanGoGreen launch in Harlem -- which is hoping to energize urban communities across the nation with the promise of new green jobs and a more sustainable future. Camera crews were on hand to interview New York City children for Vote For Me.
About Vote For Me, Thomas says, "What's incredible is that most of the kids are talking about the environment, and no one's prompting them to do that." For example, one girl tells the camera, "Global warming emissions are affecting the Earth, it's a big problem." "Children across America truly are concerned," adds Thomas, who says he hopes the Facebook and You Tube-like features of the site will encourage kids to log on and get involved.
Thomas is now helping spread Vote For Me across state lines to his home in Connecticut. In fact, it is actually Thomas's 11-year-old son who is doing much of the outreach. Young Jordan Jacques has already cut his green teeth, having co-founded the group Seeds Of Green, and having recently convinced his middle school to install recycling bins (he's now targeting Styrofoam). Jordan's new youth workshop program will meet once a month to promote the understanding of renewable energy. He also is getting help from his younger sisters, Sydney and Savanna.
Thomas and family have partnered with Jeanine Behr Getz, author of Kids Think Big, and who has been giving green talks to area schools. Getz is one of the handful of testers of a GM model hydrogen car, and she will be bringing the head-turning test vehicle to engagements, hopefully encouraging more children to get involved, and to speak on camera about issues important to them.
In particular, Jordan and his classmates are building a model hydrogen car, so Bill sees a great synergy. "If a 12-year-old can invent 3D solar, why not get kids to embrace this technology?" asks Thomas.
It's clear that Innovation Nation, Media Kitchen and their allies have built a promising platform for kids to share their voices in this critical time in our nation's history. Of course, as other web developers know, it's not always enough to build something, and watch Them Come. Hopefully, a community will develop around the site, and adult voters will have more things to think about before they enter the polls in November. Sometimes it's easy to forget that kids are people too, not just abstract "future people."
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