Getting Kids in the Greenhouse
Described as “one part Scooby Doo and one part Yoda,” Gorilla in the Greenhouse is a music-filled, action-packed animated Web show designed to teach future generations the importance of taking care of Mother Nature.
Kijani, a green gorilla from the Congo, brings the wisdom of the jungle, along with an ability to predict the future. The four kids that make up the Greenhouse Gang play in a rockin’ band when they aren’t busy saving the planet. Together, the group seeks to undermine the efforts of Dr. Hufflebot and his evil sidekick Wormulus, who are bent on world domination.
Gorilla in the Greenhouse first aired online on Earth Day last year. It was created by Berkeley’s Jay Golden, through SustainLane Media, a San Francisco-based Web guide to sustainable living. There have been two episodes to date, with more to come. Additionally, the Web site offers kids simple ways they can implement green living in their daily lives.
Golden spoke with Bay Area Parent on the mission of Gorilla in the Greenhouse.
What do you hope to accomplish with Gorilla in the Greenhouse?
Our goal is to inspire kids to take real-world steps toward a healthier planet. Our shows make complicated issues fun and easy to understand, like where energy comes from and where trash goes. So, by creating fun stories of collaboration and connection to nature, and casting visions of how things can be transformed, we aim to help prepare millions of kids for a new era where ecological living is not just a nice warm and fuzzy Whole Foods experience but an integrated daily practice.
What are some of the ways you show kids they can help the environment?
Both of our shows end with songs that model things kids can do: use canvas bags instead of plastic, flip the switch on the power strip, even some over-the-top ones like “use a bike to power up your lights,” just for fun.
How did you conceive the evil Dr. Hufflebot and his parasitic friend, Wormulus?
One of our original illustrators had this crazy character he had designed with a worm in his head. We went back and forth on who should be dominant, but it made sense that Wormulus should be dominant. He’s the worm in our heads that leads us astray. Now, all Hufflebot wants is to be free from that darned worm! He’ll do anything, build anything, squash anyone just to get that worm out of his head.
Who is your favorite character?
Probably Bucket. He embodies recycling. Any sort of waste fascinates him and excites him to make new things. Like when he and Scoot landed on the Garbage Patch. Scoot was disgusted, but Bucket was psyched. He immediately saw how much cool stuff they could make out of all of the trash.
To watch episodes of Gorilla in the Greenhouse, visit greengorilla.com. For more information on SustainLane, visit sustainlane.com.
– Millicent Skiles
Turn off the Tube!
April 20-26 marks this year’s TV Turn-Off Week – a 14-year-old national effort to get people to forego television for one week and instead spend the time reading, playing games, pursuing hobbies, playing outdoors, or just being together. This year, more research is out to bolster the argument that too much TV is unhealthy. A recent report in the Archives of General Psychiatry finds that spending hours in front of the TV in adolescence could increase the odds of depression in young adults. For seven years, researchers followed the TV-viewing habits of 4,142 adolescents who were not depressed when the study began. Researchers found that the more hours of TV watching the adolescents did, the greater their odds of developing depression as young adults. Young men were particularly vulnerable. Interestingly, the study did not find a relationship between depression and the use of videocassettes, computer games or radio.