Ah, February! Valentine's Day, Library Lovers' Month, Black History Month, Condom Week???, Groundhog Day, Chinese New Year, Presidents' Day, Mardi Gras and Ash Wednesday, Daytona 500...there is a lot to celebrate this month. Today I wanted to celebrate something else: my literacy.
I was lucky enough as a kid to have educated parents who cared enough about my education to teach me to read. It seems so standard now in 2010. It's bizarre to even imagine kids out there who don't recognize D-O-G. Or L-O-V-E.
I love language, and I loved reading even before I could muster enough brainpower to sound out the words on the pages. I don't know where I would be without words, and the power of literacy.
I do really cherish it as power. And I believe it is a human right. We all deserve to know what thoughts are being communicated in our societies and in our cultures, and we deserve a chance to enter the conversation ourselves. Reading and writing get us there. When I was younger, I was always so enthralled by the stories of Southern whites teaching Black slaves to read -- the fictional account of Bethlehem and Susannah in Jennifer Armstrong's Steal Away particularly made an impression on me. It shook me to realize someone could actually (in my child's mind) get in trouble for teaching someone how to spell cat. And that someone else could get in trouble for learning. My parents always put such a high value on education. Knowing what some people went through just to learn how to read kept me from taking my own literacy for granted. Those stories helped me understand the importance of literacy, and they fully expanded my idea of true freedom. Freedom really was knowledge. Power, and empowerment, really could be found in education.
This is why I wanted to share with you a new initiative to expand literacy for children across the world. Room to Read, Crushpad, and Twitter have all joined up to create The Fledgling Initiative, a campaign for positive change in the lives of children all over the globe. Room to Read, a global nonprofit, is an organization that has to date "established more than 700 schools and over 7,000 bilingual libraries with five million books, and supports the education of nearly 7,000 girls. Room to Read’s programs have already reached more than three million children..."
Twitter, of course, is one of the Web's leaders in social networking/microblogging. By teaming up with Crushpad, a DIY winery in San Fran, Twitter has created and branded its own label (Fledgling wines), which will be sold to benefit Room to Read. And, because it's Twitter, The Fledgling Initiative now has one of the best venues in communication to help spread the word. Follow @Fledgling to stay up to date on Twitter's wine-making. There will even be times where you can participate in the creation.
Crushpad, based in San Francisco, is a winery that specializes in consumer customization. For The Fledgling Initiative, they've helped Twitter come up with two limited edition wines (a Pinot Noir and a Chardonnay). For every bottle sold, $5 will be donated to Room to Read. Buying a whole case is equal to providing 60 local-language books to the children who need them most.
For more information on this amazing effort, check out this article and video at ServiceNation.org. Or, head straight to the source: visit http://www.twitter.com/fledgling, http://www.fledglingwine.com, or http://www.roomtoread.org.
I'm not really a wine-o, but this kind of thing I can get behind. I can't wait to get my wine. Finally, drinking to help the kids.