By Kristen Manieri

Won’t You Be My Neighbor

Did you grow up watching Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood? Do remember the trolley or King Friday? That red cardigan? The opening song? 

The show debuted on February 19, 1968 and aired through 2001, so it’s safe to say that generations of kids have grown up watching the more than 870 episodes created by Fred Rogers, who died in 2003.

Fred Rogers was infinitely passionate about childhood education and using television as a tool to affirm children’s self-worth and offer them a place where they felt accepted and understood. In this episode, we feature Shea Tuttle, the author of the forthcoming book “In Search of Mister Rogers.”

I found Shea when I read her article titled Seven Lessons from Mister Rogers That Can Help Americans Be Neighbors Again in Greater Good Magazine, which is published by the Greater Good Science Center at UC Berkeley.

I wanted to know more about Fred Rogers and the impact he made during his lifetime and will continue to make long after. Shea has some incredible insights in this vein and I just loved learning more about this man, this show and this idea of being a neighbor.  

After my conversation with Shea, I went back and watched a few episodes of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood online. There was one where Fred Rogers looks square into the camera and says “the world is a better place because you were born in it.” Wow! Don’t we all need to hear that every once in a while?

So, here are my favorite takeaways from this interview:

  1. We all need emotional education. Not just as kids but as adults. We need a language that helps us to understand what we’re feeling, to understand what everyone else is feeling, and how to share our feelings in a constructive way.
  2. We’re fallible and imperfect. We all make mistakes. We all say the wrong things sometimes. This world would be a kinder place if we could be more compassionate with ourselves and others. 
  3. We all have gifts and a unique contribution to make to the world. Find what yours are and turn them outward to make the world better.  
  4. We each can consider what it means to be a good neighbor. It doesn’t mean we never get angry or that we like everyone. It could simply mean that we show a little more mercy. 
  5. All is not lost. It’s easy to look at the world and see nothing but chaos and conflict. But there’s still so much good all around us when we look for it instead of what’s wrong. 


I’m so grateful for this conversation. A big, huge thanks to Shea Tuttle for being my guest today. Go check out her online portfolio at https://sheatuttle.contently.com/ and keep an eye out for her book, In Search of Mister Rogers, next year. 

Did this article or episode get you thinking about what it means to be a neighbor? I hope so.  

Until next time,

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