This morning, after watching a segment of Oprah & Gayle's Big Yosemite Adventure, I am celebrating the power of leadership and television that is changing the world via the kind of "edu-tainment" that Oprah Winfrey's powerful humanism and leadership has created. It's a whole new standard of excellence to learn from and replicate. What's really cool is how good television can "ripple" and influence other things. A case in point is Ken Burns initiative doing his public television series on National Parks and the fact that few African Americans have visited and enjoyed them. Oprah and Gayle engaged with the same African American park ranger, Ranger Shelton who has been championing more African-American national parks visitation for some time now.
So what does Oprah Winfrey's team do but pick up on this issue and visit Yosemite National Park as visiting African Americans, bringing all her viewers..and the whole world with her, including me, my wife and some of my progressive educator and social change friends here in Seattle's Puget Sound region who also watched the same Oprah piece last night. Then bingo, I get an e-mail from one of them, proposing that we all take African American kids with us to visit regional national parks.
At the same time, the opportunity could be used to teach and empower them to "journalize" their experience as they connect with the earth and even visit one of our own fantastic educator-activist elders, Dr. Maxine Mimms at her place in ... Shelton...interesting synchronicity here... creating numerous teachable moments as we all celebrate being together, walking on the beach...collecting shell and connecting with the earth..and our Native American friends and strategic partners..talking about food and sustainability.... Nice.
What Oprah has given use is a whole lot to think about, process, and most importantly act upon: This is quality television that is both instructive as well as prescriptive... made even more amazing by the power of the Internet... and the fact that we can now begin to create and author some of this content ourselves...using new low-cost, almost no-cost web television technology ourselves. Nice! It was also interesting to see how product/service placement paid for by sponsors REI, Coleman, and Chevrolet were skillfully woven right into the content. If you want to know how some of the television you watch for "free" ...gets paid for ... this is how.
I will be buzzing with the idea of following through and making good on this for a while. Thanks Oprah and Gayle. Call me if you are buzzing about the idea of snowballing the experience too...complementing it with our own community-based, locally-authored television and communications events - 1-425-780-6872.