Second Look

Amy Poehler's "Smart Girls"

Amy Poehler is known as a TV comedian (Saturday Night Live) and a movie actress (Baby Mama), but the former Girl Scout Brownie also is a Web pioneer. Hadn't heard? It's possible her Internet work flew just under your radar.

Last fall, Poehler joined up with Meredith Walker, a former senior producer for Nickelodeon's Nick News, and musician Amy Miles, host of the PBS show Lomax: The Hound of Music. Their plan: Make an Internet-only TV series that could be viewed for free by anyone at any time. The title: Smart Girls at the Party. The subject: girls!

In each of the first season's eight episodes, Poehler interviewed girls about their passions. She sat behind a round desk in a dark room (the set looks just like that of PBS's Charlie Rose) and introduced the show as a celebration of "extraordinary individuals who are changing the world by being themselves." Subjects included Cameron, a 10-year-old Poehler described as "a writer, poet, playwright, collector, and scooter enthusiast," and Ruby, a seven-and-three-quarter-year-old feminist who displayed her kindergarten report, A Few Things I'd Like to Share With You, with a section that read, "if a boy can do the monkey rings, so can a girl." Eleven-year-old Valentine, a "teacher, horticulturist, philosopher, activist, cat-lover," talked about gardening at New York City's community garden Open Road Park.

"Our goal was to create a show we would have loved to watch when we were young," said Walker in a press release when the show launched. "We knew we wanted to honor real girls and their originality, and we knew we wanted to have fun doing it."

Episodes run six to seven minutes, and each ends with an invigorating dance party. The great thing about the Web is that what's old to one person can be new to someone else. So track down the show at www.smartgirlsattheparty.com. New episodes are scheduled for this fall.

Thoughts from the 2009 Presidential Inauguration

Fifteen-year-old Asia Torre'Dawn Honablue was one of many Girl Scouts who participated in inauguration day events in Washington, D.C., last January. Here are some of her reflections, which ran in The Washington Post.

"From the time I awoke on the morning of January 20 until I walked down Pennsylvania Avenue, my emotions and spirits were soaring. I felt invincible. Just the thought of marching in the inaugural parade for President Obama made me feel truly honored.

"I can't describe the butterflies in my stomach as I approached the viewing booth. The president and first lady, Michelle Obama, waved directly to me. That felt very personal. I did not expect them to lay their eyes on me. This first family has changed the look of America, and I was part of that significant moment.

"On Election Day 2012, I will be 18, and I look forward to voting in my first presidential election. I hope I get the honor to serve my country again in the next inauguration."

Alumnae Corner: Raydeen Graffam's Aerobatic Maneuvers

A career educator and program coordinator at the Pacific Aviation Museum in Honolulu, Hawaii, Graffam was drawn to this particular museum because "it is a perfect example of place-based education." It's housed in World War II-era airport hangars on Ford Island in the middle of Pearl Harbor—hangars that still bear the scars of battle.

When Graffam joined the museum, it offered an aerospace program for Boy Scouts. She created one for Girl Scouts. "The aerospace program introduces girls to the roles women have had in aviation history and the careers available to them," she says. "It connects to the science of aviation in a hands-on way."

Although learning about the Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASPs) of World War II and aviation pioneer Amelia Earhart while standing under the wings of an airplane is undeniably powerful, the most alluring part of the aerospace program is the flight simulator. Sitting in a pilot's seat and manning controls, girls learn aerobatic maneuvers and use compass headings and altitude readings to practice landings.

"In the flight simulator, the Girl Scouts discover the excitement and accomplishment that surely inspired Earhart and the WASP pilots," Graffam says. It's a sensation that can change lives. "After landing on an aircraft carrier in our simulator, one young woman beamed up at her leader and said, "I've found my destiny.'"

Girl Scouts in the NEWS

"Help me help others. Buy cookies. And they're yummy!"
—Girl Scout Brownie Wild Freeborn, in a YouTube video that made national news in March, when Girl Scouts of the USA asked her to take it and her online order form down. Her father says he and Wild considered the video a marketing tool and thought it was not in violation of Girl Scouts policy; GSUSA says online selling is neither safe nor fair.

The 13 girls gathered in Room 341 of Normandin Middle School recited the Girl Scout Law … These dues-paying Girl Scouts do not belong to a troop. They do not earn badges. They do not sell cookies. Instead, they represent the vanguard of efforts to revamp Girl Scouts for the 21st century. They enroll by the activity, as the Scouts introduce different ways to connect with girls who lack the time or inclination or opportunity to join a traditional troop.
—From "Girl Scouts Shake Up the Recipe," The Boston Globe, March 21, 2009.

We were looking to build fewer, but larger, high-capacity councils that would be able to support sufficient fund development staff, marketing and human resource support and put more dollars towards programs.
—Nancy Philippart, board chairwoman of Girl Scouts of Southeastern Michigan, in "Merged Girl Scout Councils Gain Marketing Muscle," Crain's Detroit Business, December 22, 2008.