I often use the past as a road map for my future. I use my experiences to guide me toward making better decisions for myself. Growing up I had many opportunities, with a great and supportive upbringing. Components of my childhood included many things: from school trips, family vacations, to visiting my grandparents, and many more pleasantries. But most of all my siblings and I enjoyed our TV time. I loved PBS’s programming, from Reading Rainbow, Barney & Friends, to Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, and Lamb Chop’s Play-Along. Now I am sure many millennials are not familiar with these programs, but they were a mainstay of my childhood. But the most salient cartoon to me, was Capitan Planet and the Planeteers. Not only did I respect it, but the issues Ted Turner’s visionary cartoon projected, were paramount then, as they are today. From the stories about pollution, drug use, teamwork and creating a better Earth—it was clear we needed this Captain.
Youth today do not have as much of the positive imagery that I grew up with, with respect to cartoons like Captain Planet. This was a program that reminded both parents and children, of how critical environmental issues are; many of which still need to be resolved now. Albeit it was a cartoon, its storylines were not fun and games. We suffer every day from pollution. Case in point, the tribulations of Flint, Michigan, with the lead poisoning, as well as in the schools of Newark. We must come to understand that like having a healthy body, we need to exercise our intelligence and use that to create a healthy Earth.
If there is one thing I have learned from that show, it was how the Planeteers worked together, using their gifts, to solve seemingly insurmountable tasks, plaguing the environment. From showing deforestation and its impact on the rainforest, which still happens today, to drug use, a problem infecting our citizens daily, like in New Hampshire or in the suburbs of Long Island, these problems must and still need a Captain at the helm, to solve them.
This show shed light on many social issues, and although it is no longer on the air, perhaps one day new storylines based on the plight of the environment, will be created to teach today’s generation, how these crises impact society. With my work, with The Cush Center for Learning, I will inspire future generations to not bury the earth with more pollution, and instead use science, technology, engineering, art, and math to, find a solution.