Letter sent to principals of elementary and middle schools
Dear Needham School Principals:
I wanted to be sure you were all aware of the "Needham Darfur" initiative to raise public awareness of the first genocide of the 21st century, that being in the Darfur region of Sudan.
The short term intent of the project is to visually transform Needham by having all of its constituents ---- schools, churches/synagogues, businesses, homes --- display (non-political)
banners, window signs or lawn signs demonstrating our unity in wishing to bring to public attention to the worst humanitarian crisis in the world today. Needham would thus become unique in the whole of the U.S., hopefully making the story newsworthy in national media. There's potential for a "tipping point" effect, such that other towns might undertake similar projects, bringing even more focus on the issue.
Banners will be provided at no charge. And members of the High School's World Peace Club (WPC) will be glad to install them for you (if you'd like).
The project, launched only a few short weeks ago, has already achieved several milestones: There was a nice article in last week's Needham Times, not to mention a strong "thumbs up" approval in the editorial section. The accompanying photo showed WPC members putting up the first banner --- prominently featured at Needham High School. The Needham Cable Channel will be documenting the project. I met with the Needham Clergy Association, and am now meeting with individual churches and synagogues, several of which have already agreed to put up banners (which you'll see start to happen this week). In his "spiritual guidance" introducing the May 8 session of Town Meeting, Rabbi Carl Perkins of Temple Aliyah urged members to support the project. Businesses will be putting up window signs (the project has the support of the Needham Business Association and I've been invited to speak at an upcoming Rotary Club luncheon). And lawn signs will be available for homes --- to be distributed along with other materials by the WPC. A blog on the project, at http://NeedhamDarfur.blogspot.com keeps readers informed as to the current status, and it facilitates dialog on the project elements and possible outgrowths.
The initiative will bring many benefits. Consciousness will surely be raised locally (even if no specific impact is made at the policy level). Needhamites will feel rightly proud of their center-stage position in this effort, as the whole town will be galvanized around the simple humanitarian theme of saving lives. And importantly, young people will learn that they can indeed make a difference in this world.
Please let me know if we can hang a banner at your school (probably until the end of the school year). Thank you for your consideration.
22 Savoy Rd.
Home: (781) 449-5353
Cell: (781) 799-3213
P.S.: To be most meaningful to your students, the project should have some attendant curricular material. We haven't focused on this yet, but with some guidance from you could probably develop an appropriate one-time presentation, possibly with some ongoing suggestions for classroom discussions or activities. I'll await your feedback on this part as well.