Electric Youth

Whatever the reason for ejecting the CCFC, it was not without its repercussions. It was covered in national newspapers, and the Globe ran an editorial accusing Judge Baker of “bowing” to corporate pressure. By that time, the invitations to the gala honoring Poussaint had already gone out and people were set to fly in from all over the world. Tens of thousands of dollars had been spent on the affair. “I was enraged,” Poussaint says. “Here they were about to give me an award, and at the same time they were kicking my program out of the center. I told them I couldn’t accept the award.”

IN THE END, things turned out well for the CCFC. Linn and Golin were able to negotiate a deal in which they took the campaign’s name, materials, and contact list with them when they moved out of the Judge Baker center in February 2010. Two days later, they were up and running in South Street offices provided by the nonprofit Third Sector New England, which gives them essentially what Judge Baker did: office space, infrastructure, and health insurance. The CCFC does its own fundraising to cover other expenses. (Linn has always taken a half-time salary.)

Poussaint terminated his relationship with Judge Baker and moved his offices to the Harvard Medical School. While he’s still on the CCFC steering committee, he and Linn no longer talk several times a day, something Linn describes as an “ongoing sadness.” Otherwise, though, the campaign is thriving in its new home.

Last spring brought the CCFC’s successful campaign against Scholastic over the coal materials it was distributing — the group’s first major victory since leaving Judge Baker. “It was evidence that we had survived what was potentially a fatal blow,” Linn says.

Another thing that’s survived is the demand for Linn to speak to parent groups, like the ones she’s addressing right now at the Lincoln nursery school. Surveying the crowd before her, Audrey Duck looks up and sees a PowerPoint slide on a big screen.

“Oh, no!” the puppet gasps. “Are we talking about the commercialization of childhood again?”

“Well, yeah, actually we are, Audrey,” Linn says.

“Haven’t you fixed it yet?” says Audrey Duck.

“No, I haven’t fixed it yet,” says Linn. “It is going to take a long time.”