It's My Life PBS Kids Go!

May 2010 Archives

Celeb Scoop: Sean Kingston
| No TrackBacks

sean_with_yogmascot.jpg2010 has been a big year so far for Sean Kingston. In February he turned 20, and in March his single "Eenie Meenie," recorded with some guy named Justin Bieber, became an instant hit.

What you may not know is that Sean also had the honor of being chosen one of five young artists to sing the theme song for the first-ever Youth Olympic Games to be held in Singapore this August!

Yes, you read that right: the Youth Olympic Games, which will bring together 5,000 athletes aged 14 - 18 from 205 countries to compete in 26 different sports. Do the math, and that adds up to one extremely cool event that's bound to be entertaining and inspiring. The Singapore 2010 Youth Olympic Games theme song, called "Everyone" debuted on June 1.

Recently, Sean spoke to IML about being part of the Youth Olympic Games and other highlights of his life right now.

IML: Hi Sean! So we understand that five singers were picked to sing the Singapore 2010 Youth Olympic Games theme song, one for each continent symbolized by the Olympic rings. Can you tell us how you got involved?

Sean: I got a call from my manager that they wanted me to represent as a singer for North America. That's something big, and I was so excited to go down there and do it! It was so fun to see and connect with the other artists. We recorded the song, and it was just really crazy. You have singers from different countries on the song: a guy from the United Kingdom, and girls from Africa, Australia, and Malaysia. I'd never met any of them, but they're all artists who are big in their own countries. It was a great honor for me to represent the United States in this way.

(IML's note: The other artists are Steve Appleton, Jody Williams, Jessica Mauboy, and Tabitha Nauser.)

sean_themesong2.jpgIML: What was it like working with this variety of artists? Did everyone have different styles?

Sean: Definitely! Everybody had different voices and the way they each do their thing is really different. So for me to come through as a reggae artist with my type of tone in my voice, it was weird at first but we made it happen and I had a great time. It opened my eyes to different vocal styles.

IML: So you had some differences, but what were some things that the five of you had in common?

Sean: The main thing was that we're all young...Everybody was a teenager. We found ourselves talking about high school stuff we could all relate to. And we all write our own music, so we had that in common too. They were writing their own albums like me.

IML: Tell us about the song itself. Does it have a message?

Sean: Yes, a great message! The song is saying, anybody can do it. Not just in sports, but life in general. Rise up and come together. Have determination. Don't give up.

IML: What's your favorite Olympic sport?

Sean: I love track and field. I'm from Jamaica, so that comes naturally!

IML: Are there any sports you do personally?

Sean: In high school, I played football. But now I play basketball. I go to the gym, I shoot around. I'm a huge basketball fan. I'm really into the playoffs right now!

IML: It's great to have something like that. What do you feel basketball added to your life?

Sean: It helps me get in shape, definitely. It's a workout for me but it's also about having fun. I just want to get the ball in the hoop. I get to hang out with my friends when I'm playing. It helps me ease my mind from the music industry when I'm having fun on the court.

IML: Congrats on the success of  "Eenie Meenie." What was it like to collaborate with Justin?

Sean: It was definitely great to hook up with somebody I could really relate to. People do collaborations all the time, but to really connect with someone I have a relation to and who's a personal friend behind the scenes, that was great. Me and Justin have been cool for a long time. The relationship we have works in many ways. He's the new generation, the new thing. I was where he is a couple of years ago. I got in the game when I was 17 and I'm 20 now. I'm kind of like a big brother to him. To do that song together was definitely a magic moment. It was great and we had a lot of fun!

IML: Did you have any advice for him at this point in his career?

Sean: Basically I told him to stay humble. Stay positive and watch out for negative people around you.

Thumbnail image for seankingston.jpgIML: Great advice! What other artists do you plan to collaborate with?

Sean: I'm hooking up with Nicki Minaj. I'd love to do something with Taylor Swift. I'm just trying to connect with a lot of different artists. I'm basically trying to take this music thing to another level with the album I'm working on now. I'm trying different new sounds and different concepts.

IML: Now that you're 20, does it feel like this album is your first grown-up album?

Sean: Yeah. This is my grown up album. It's a stepping stone to a new Sean. I have to let people know to get ready for it because while I was a teenager, I was doing what I was doing because it was a part of me, and even though I'm still a fun kid and I'm not going to change to another genre, I'm going to take things to another level.

IML: We love to ask this next question because most IML'ers are going through it right now. What were you like in middle school?

Sean: I was always into music. I loved riding four wheelers and stuff like that. I had a little dirt bike and I loved riding it. I was and still am a huge gamer, really playing Playstation and XBox. And I used to love cartoons like Pokemon!

IML: It sounds like you were a pretty typical tween!

Sean: Yes, definitely!

IML: Thanks, Sean, and good luck with everything!

Sean: Thank you!

Here's some more info on the Youth Olympic Games:

  • Sean and his new pals will be performing "Everyone" at the opening ceremonies in Singapore on August 14, 2010 (hear the song and see the video below!). The games run from August 14-26, 2010.

  • The competition plans to include new formats like mixed gender grouping and mixed National Olympic Committee teams.

  • In addition to competing in their sports, the young teen athletes will also take part in a Culture and Education Program. The goal is to inspire youth around the world to embrace, embody and express the Olympic values of Excellence, Friendship and Respect.

  • You can visit www.singapore2010.sg to learn more about the Singapore 2010 Youth Olympic Games!

And here's the official video for "Everyone"! It's really inspiring (and a great song too):



In the Audience at the "American Idol" Finale
| No TrackBacks

"American Idol" and TV shows like it are considered "reality" programs. But how much is bona fide "real"? Are there things the cameras aren't showing us? Are we really seeing the truth of what's happening?

american-idol-logo.jpgFor the most part, yes...but with some interesting additions. IML was lucky enough to be among 7,000 "American Idol" fans at the Nokia Theatre in Los Angeles yesterday to watch the showdown between Lee DeWyze and Crystal Bowersox. We kept a diary of our experience (mostly scribbling during commercial breaks) so we could share with you the full picture of what happens on a show like this, from the audience's point of view.

4:30pm: Okay, here we are! Everyone's super-psyched. No cell phones or cameras allowed in the theatre, so a lot of people who clearly didn't see the "No Phones! No Cameras!" message on their ticket have to use the special "cell phone check" service. The producers probably don't want someone's "Single Ladies" ringtone to interrupt the show. Oh, and they must own all legal rights to any photos taken, which is a bummer because we were hoping to take some pictures to post here. 

4:40pm: Settled into our seats near the back of the theatre, but right dead center. Twenty minutes until showtime (so it airs live at 8:00pm on the East Coast). The stage looks awesome! There are FIVE video screens and two towers with that endlessly spinning "Idol" logo. In front of us is a sound board with some video monitors, and in front of that is a giant crane with a camera attached to it. That must be how they get those sweeping shots of the audience. Above us near the ceiling hangs a giant "American Idol" sign. It looks heavy and we hope it doesn't fall.

It's fun to see the homemade signs and creative puns everyone comes up with: "America will LEE-d the Way"; "YELLEN 4 ELLEN". Every few minutes a cheer erupts from some part of the audience, which means a former Idol contestant has appeared in their seats (not too far behind us is Jason Castro from Season 7). We notice that there are a ton of families everywhere, with people a range of ages from little kids all the way up to grandparent-types. That's one of the coolest things about a show like "American Idol": it really is something the whole household can enjoy.

4:45pm: There's someone on stage now and he's talking to the crowd, pulling people up to dance with him. Everyone's clapping and cheering. Who is this guy? He's like, Ryan Seacrest, Jr. Turns out he's what they call a "fluffer" -- someone whose job it is to warm up the audience and generally keep them entertained while they're waiting. On a live show like this, things go fast but on some shows, like sitcoms, an audience has to sit through a lot of waiting and multiple takes and someone has to fill in the gaps. Turns out this guy is named Corey and he's clearly as much a longtime part of "Idol" as Simon Cowell. It must be weird for him to play such a big role in the show without the viewers knowing about it.

Corey introduces each of the judges, who come out with their own bodyguards to help them get through the audience to their chairs. Everyone goes crazy as Kara, then Randy, then Ellen, then Simon appear, waving at us. A disembodied voice somewhere announces that we have 2 minutes until we go live; that must be someone in the control room. We actually feel a little nervous! Corey gives us some instructions: "It will be totally dark and Ryan will do his intro, and when he says, 'This is American Idol,' the lights will come up and we want you all to go nuts, screaming and yelling and jumping up and down. Okay?"

Corey also addresses the people in the "Pit" -- that area between the judges and the stage full of people (Notice how they're all young and attractive? Hmmm.) who stand there and wave their arms a lot. Actually, we notice that the Pit has its own little manager, a woman in a headset perched on the stage in front of them, giving them direction.

5:00pm: The disembodied voice has been giving us updates every ten seconds. Now she's counting down: Ten, nine, eight...The lights go out. The intro segment plays on the video screens, and then there's Ryan, and we do what we're told. When the lights go up on the house, everyone stands up and goes nuts! This is so fun!

A few minutes later and here comes Lee to do his first song, "The Boxer." He sounds really good. Actually, he sounds better live than he does on TV.

Next comes Crystal to sing "Me and Bobby McGee." Chills.

When Simon's giving his comments to Crystal, a bunch of girls behind us shout out "WE LOVE YOU!" which is kind of rude, and actually confusing because we're not sure if they mean Crystal or Simon!

During the commercial break, Corey chats up the rest of the Top 12 who are sitting in one of the front rows. The disembodied voice counts us down from 45 seconds to being back on the air.

Here comes Lee to sing "Everybody Hurts". Oh, he's changed. He's Casual Lee now. While he's singing we see a choir sneak onto the steps behind him, and then they start singing. After he's done, the judges are giving him comments but we can barely hear them. When Kara's talking about how Lee sometimes "pulls back" while he's performing, the mom sitting next to me says, all serious, "But I love it when he pulls back!"

During this next commercial break, the judges are chatting with one another. Corey is walking around, handing out "Lee" t-shirts to members of the audience who jump and wave enough to get his attention. He's funny as he jokes with everyone. If you get up to go to the bathroom, you have to make it back before the break ends or you'll have to wait until the next one; you can't be walking to your seat when we're on the air. When the lights shine in our faces, we know we're back on the air and it's time to jump and scream again. We're getting good at this!

Crystal sings "Black Velvet". It's amusing to watch the two camera guys following her: One holding the camera, the other holding the camera cable. They're both in black and we're sure that the director edits everything so that you never see these guys, even though they're right next to Crystal. After she's done, she gets whisked off stage and during this commercial break, a bunch of string musicians are setting up. That means Lee must have something big going on for the final song...

The judges have been backstage during this break. They're ushered back in, each with their own bodyguard. Lee comes out. Now he's in a leather jacket! Rocker Lee! Then he sings "Beautiful Day" by U2 and we are so, so, so relieved that it's not another horrible sappy song.

During the next break, Crystal comes out and helps Corey throw t-shirts to people in the Pit. Then we're back on the air and she sings "Up On The Mountain" which is simply fantastic. We feel lucky to be able to see both these artists live at the beginning of their careers.

5:55pm: All too soon, the show is over. The original UK Pop Idol, Will Young, comes out to sing along to a great montage summing up the season. The rest of the Top 12 is brought on stage so that when the lights come up again, we see them surrounding Lee and Crystal. Ryan says goodbye. The disembodied voice tells us "We're out" and some people in the audience start getting up. We don't want to leave just yet...It was too cool! But eventually we go and on the way, we pass a booth selling "American Idol" merchandise. Really, this show was not much different than attending a concert, except for the whole "being live on national TV" thing.

The folks at "American Idol" have been doing this for many years now and obviously, they have the whole process down pat. They know how to put on a show that's for a live audience as well as a TV audience, and know how to make the live audience an important part of the show.

So in the end, we have to say that when you watch "American Idol," what you see is what you get. At least from the audience perspective...Maybe next time we'll get to be backstage and find out what REALLY happens there!

 
"American Idol" Finale: Crystal or Lee?
| No TrackBacks

Over here at IML we're getting excited to attend the performance finale of "American Idol" at the Nokia Theatre tomorrow night! That's right, we'll be there in the audience, screaming along with everyone else! We're psyched for it even though this season has not been, shall we say...exactly mindblowing. Maybe that's because of the contestants, or because it's Simon's last year, or because of Paula's absence, or because the previous two seasons were so great. Maybe that's because there's been a clear "front runner" from the beginning (Crystal Bowersox), if you're one of those viewers who focus on the competition aspect of the show. We think back to the Top 24 and maybe things would have been more interesting if certain people had made it into the Top 12 (uh...Alex Lambert? Katelyn Epperly? Lilly Scott?).

crystal-bowersox-american-idol.jpgOne reason why "American Idol" captures people's hearts and imaginations is that there's always a contestant you either (a) have a crush on or (b) identify with. Crystal is a unique and moving artist who genuinely seems to take everything in stride and stay true to herself. She's not perfect-looking, but she's beautiful. She's unconventional, but she has this "cool girl next door" thing going for her. Plus she's just an amazing and unique artist.

Lee DeWyze, on the other hand, started off shy and kind of overlooked. Nobody paid much attention to him at first. He didn't have a "story" the way some other contestants do (no baby, no diabetes); he was just a guy working at a paint store, making music on the side because he loved it. But he got more confident, picked terrific songs, and slowly emerged as someone fans could really connect with.

lee-dewyze-american-idol.jpgWhat we like about this finale is that it really seems to be about the music. Both Crystal and Lee are in their 20's; seasoned musicians who have been chasing a dream for years. It's not a question of younger versus older, or who's cuter, or who's been shaped and molded by stylists into something that doesn't resemble the person they started out as. When Crystal and Lee did their "Falling Slowly" duet two weeks ago, we knew these two were a great match in many ways. Whoever wins, both will have an amazing kick start to their careers (and only one will have to record this year's "American Idol" song; why does it always have to be so sappy?).

What's your prediction? Who will you be voting for? And why IS "American Idol" so addictive?

We'll report back tomorrow after the big show!





 
DVD Review: "Alice in Wonderland"
| No TrackBacks

AliceInWonderfulBlurayCombo.jpgDeparting from both Lewis Carroll's book "Alice's Adventure's in Wonderland" and the 1951 Disney animated movie it inspired, director Tim Burton's new telling of the classic children's tale features an older Alice (she's 19) who, suffering from recurring bad dreams and running from society's expectations of marriage, follows a white rabbit down a hole and into a bizarro, nightmarish world called Underland. She's been here before, many years ago, but she doesn't remember it. Many of the inhabitants of this strange land, including the White Rabbit, the Doormouse, and the talking flowers, aren't even sure she's the same Alice, though she seems to look the part. But the people and animals need her help all the same, as Underland has come under the thumb of the nasty Red Queen, and things will only get better if somebody can manage to slay the terrible Jabberwocky and return power to the White Queen. Will Alice be the hero they need?

This is a "girl power" version of Alice, a teenager who needs to gain confidence and take charge of her destiny. We like that a lot and it's our favorite part of the film. She's not the Alice you remember; she's a new character in a new story. And that sounds about right, since the movie is made for modern-day audiences, especially girls and young women who might be struggling with their own issues with sense of self and inner strength.

In the movie, this is referred to as "muchness" -- Alice has lost it, and she's gotta find it. If you look at the flick from that point of view, it's an interesting journey that Alice takes, and you may find yourself thinking about your own "muchness" as a result. Check out behind-the-scenes that includes the film's star, Mia Wasikowska, talking about how she personally related to Alice's search to regain her "muchness."




Here are our favorite Alice quotes, which don't sound all that different from some of the things IML'ers post on the You Said It pages:
 
  • "You're entirely bonkers. But I'll tell you a secret. All the best people are."
  • "Sometimes I believe in as many as six impossible things before breakfast."
  • "I've been growing an awful lot lately."

"Alice in Wonderland" was a ginormous hit when it came out in theaters earlier this year, partly because it was released in 3D. Now the movie is being released on Disney DVD and Blu-ray, but only in 2D.  The DVD/Blu-ray combo pack we watched comes with some peeks behind the scenes and interviews about creating the movie and characters.

So what did we think of the movie as a whole?

We liked:

Tweedledum and Tweedledee. We love comedian Matt Lucas, and his version of the pudgy pudding-headed twins, helped along by some creative CGI, is fabulous. We wish they were in the movie a bit more.

Johnny Depp and Anne Hathaway. Who doesn't like them both, in just about whatever they do? Depp's role isn't as entertaining as Jack Sparrow, but he's totally "mad as a hatter" here. Hathaway's job is to look sweet and sound crazy, and she does both very well.

The Song. "Alice," sung by Avril Lavigne, plays over the movie's end credits. It's sweet and trippy, and worthy of singing at the top of your lungs.

We didn't like:

The Red Queen. Helena Bonham Carter is a great actress, but the big-headed (and we mean that literally) Red Queen is just over-the-top disturbing. Yuck!

The Action-Movie climax. It kinda feels like the writer and director ran out of good ideas towards the end of this story, and just decided to serve up something that everybody's come to expect from a big-budget adventure movie: an epic battle and monster-slaying sequence. This one is fun to look at, but not the sort of weird, zany and "wonder"-ous conclusion that we feel the Alice story deserves.

The Title. We know what you're thinking: "IML has finally gone nuts. How can they take issue with the movie's TITLE?" Okay, we'll explain. You see, to us, and to a lot of other people in the world, "Alice in Wonderland" is the title of a very specific story. It's been made into countless plays, movies and TV shows in dozens of countries, but the story is always basically the same, and it's based on Lewis Carroll's original Alice book. This new version, although it contains all the same basic characters (and a few new ones) tells a very different story, and has a very different feel. And although Tim Burton has gone on record as saying he doesn't see his movie as a sequel or as a re-imagining, it's actually a little bit of both. It's a sequel because Alice is older and she's been to Wonderland before, and it's a re-imagining because it creates a totally new version of Wonderland, re-structures the story, and adds a whole bunch of stuff that was never in tale before. Think of it this way: What if the folks who made the movie sequel "Return to Oz" had decided to title it "The Wizard of Oz" instead? People would have showed up expecting one story, and gotten a totally different one. That's how we feel about calling this movie Alice in Wonderland. It should've been called "Return to Wonderland," or maybe "Alice in Underland." In the end, this is a cool story and deserves its own cool title!

Alice & the Rabbit Hole.jpgThe tone of this film may be too serious and dark and gloomy for some IML'ers, but if you're a Tim Burton fan, or a fan of taking a classic tale and putting an interesting twist on it, then you will enjoy "Alice in Wonderland" for sure. And if you're questioning your own "muchness" -- your inner strength and sense of self -- this trip to Underland may actually feel close to home.

IML's grade: B

Alice in Wonderland is rated PG for fantasy action/violence involving scary images and situations, and for a smoking caterpillar (Huh? A smoking caterpillar? That's a real ratings thing?)





Greyson Chance...Was It By Chance?
| No TrackBacks

Surely you've seen the video by now. Almost 12 MILLION people have!

Oklahoma sixth-grader Greyson Chance sang "Paparazzi" for his school talent show but maybe he should have sung "Fame" instead...because that's what he's getting. Like, instantly. (Just add YouTube, mix, and ta-da!)

First of all, let us just say that Greyson's Lady Gaga cover is acoustic awesomeness indeed. This guy clearly has loads of talent. A sweet, funny, down-to-earth personality too, judging from his interview with Ellen Degeneres. We love his original songs "Stars" and "Broken Hearts" that you can also watch online. (We also love the wall of girls watching him in the video. You just know they're all quietly like, "OMG!!!!!")

But is there anything that sets Greyson apart from any one of the many, many gifted tweens out there who share their passion and performances with the world? Is Greyson just a kid who sang a song, put the video online, and somehow magically grabbed millions of views in a couple of weeks? Or is there something truly special about him, so special that nobody else doing a cool piano version of "Paparazzi" would ever make the same splash? What do you think?

There are a lot of people out there trying to figure out why one thing goes "viral" online and becomes a huge hit, while another thing doesn't. Maybe it just takes the right people discovering and sharing it; maybe you have to come up with the right thing at the right time. For instance, maybe Greyson's success is related to the fact that (1) Lady Gaga is fiery hot right now, (2) Justin Bieber, who he slightly resembles, is fiery hot right now, (3) "Glee" is fiery hot too so that any young person who sings their heart out and does it well will really strike a nerve, and (4) "American Idol" is NOT fiery hot this season and there haven't been any contestants to get people excited.

Greyson put his video online because he loves to perform and wanted to share his passion with the world. We hope that other young people will do the same for the same reasons, and not focus on the possibility of insta-fame. Here at IML we'll be searching the Web to bring you videos from young people that we find inspiring, and might be just as deserving as attention as Greyson's. And in the meantime...you go, Greyson! Thank you for letting us enjoy your talents. You truly do rock!


DoSomething.org's Battle of the Bands Winner!
| No TrackBacks

Back in March, we posted about a really cool contest from DoSomething.org and the VH1 Save the Music Foundation called Battle of the Bands, which invited students from all over the U.S. to make videos about why music education matters to them. Over 6,000 young people participated in so many funny, touching, creative videos that will be presented to senators and members of Congress.

Judging was tough, but a winner has been chosen! Check out this catchy tune from the Ken Pruitt Unit of the Boys and Girls Club in St. Lucie County, Florida. They won a $5,000 grant for their music program and will be appearing at the world famous Apollo Theater in New York City! Congrats, guys...and thanks for helping to spread the word about arts education!






Happy Mother's Day!
| No TrackBacks

momcard.jpgMother's Day is kind of an interesting holiday. While most holidays we celebrate in the U.S. are adopted and adapted from other countries, this is one that originated here. In 1912, an American woman named Anna Jarvis was inspired by the memory of her late mother to create the Mother's Day International Association and declare that the second Sunday in May would be recognized as Mother's Day. She was very specific about "mother" being singular, meaning that each family should honor its mothers individually, rather than a much less personal worldwide nod to all moms.

Throughout history, mothers have been celebrated in various places in various ways, but now there was a universal day not tied to religious or cultural traditions. Mother's Day was such a huge "hit" that by the 1920's, Anna Jarvis was horrified by how commercial the holiday had become and spent the rest of her life fighting it! How commercial is Mother's Day? Well, according to the National Restaurant Association, Mother's Day is THE most popular day of the year to eat out. It's estimated that this year, Americans will spend approximately $2.6 billion on flowers, $1.53 billion on pampering stuff like spa gift certificates, and another $68 million on greeting cards. Mama Mia!

Still...it's a lovely and wonderful thing to do, to honor our mothers. Maybe your mom is your best friend, or is totally driving you nuts these days, or you've grown apart but would like to bridge that gap. Maybe there are other women in your life in addition to -- or instead of -- your real mom who are like a mother to you. Whatever your situation, we hope you'll find some way that's special and honest to celebrate the forces of motherhood in your life...a way that you're comfortable with. You're never too old to draw a picture, make your own card, bead some jewelry, pick flowers, or plant something in someone's honor.

Here at IML you can celebrate Mother's Day too, on You Said It pages like The Coolest Thing Mom's Done and More Like Mom or Dad?

You can also give a mom some advice on our Parents Need Advice Too page!




The Gulf Coast Oil Disaster
| No TrackBacks

Hopefully you've heard about this big news story:

On April 30th, an explosion rocked an off-shore oil drilling platform in the Gulf of Mexico, killing 11 workers and causing the damaged well to leak oil into the ocean water. As of today, the oil is still leaking out, which means that the massive slick, which already covers thousands of square miles, will keep getting bigger. Despite cleanup efforts, most experts believe there's little chance of containing the oil before it reaches shore, meaning states like Louisiana, Alabama, and Florida could be in for an ecological and environmental disaster even worse than the one Alaska faced when the tanker Exxon Valdez dumped 11 million gallons into Prince William Sound in 1989. Yikes!

Why this matters:
Plants, animals, and people depend on the Gulf of Mexico for their lives. The oil gushing into the water could have devastating short- and long-term effects on things like:

oilspillfrog.jpg--Coral reefs
--Turtles and marine mammals
--Fish populations, and the jobs of fishermen
--Oyster beds, shrimp habitats, and the seafood industry
--Shore birds and their nesting sites
--Coastal wetlands, and the plants and animals in them
--Beach communities and the tourism industry

British Petroleum (BP), which runs the damaged oil well, is working to cap off the leak. But this process could take several weeks or even months, because the well is in very deep water. They've also said that they will pay for the clean-up of the spilled oil, but with the slick still growing, nobody really knows how long clean up will take or how much it will cost. In the meantime, the communities in the path of the slick are bracing themselves for the worst.

So what can we do about this? Here are some ideas:

Use less gas. Some people think that conservation doesn't help, but to us, it's simple math: The less we drive, the less gas we use, and the fewer oil wells need to be drilled. Try walking, riding your bike, taking a bus, or carpooling with other families. If we all make the change, the impact could be huge.

Donate. Money doesn't solve everything, but it sure comes in handy in a crisis like this and every little bit will help. Do you care about the birds and animals that this oil spill will affect? Try donating money to a wildlife conservation group in Louisiana or Florida.

Volunteer. The containment and clean-up effort in the gulf is going to take big money and high-tech equipment, But as the 1989 Alaska clean-up showed us, it will also take thousands of volunteers, each working to sift the oil from one small patch of beach. If you live near a shore community that is expected to get some of the spill, ask a parent if you can volunteer to help clean the beaches...even before the oil gets there. BP has said that the cleanup effort will be easier if the spill hits beaches that are free of garbage and other foreign debris.

The National Audubon Society has a Gulf Coast Oil Disaster Action Center page that includes more ways you can volunteer and help.

Help out at home. Even if you don't live in one of the states that will be directly affected by the spill, you can still help keep things clean and safe wherever you are. Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle. Use less energy, and use it wisely. Remember: it's not just about saving the environment. It's about saving OURSELVES, because the environment is where we all live!

For more information, check out IML's section on Green Living.