A thought has occurred to me as I sit here data mining at work. I am searching through trends in education data and it brought me back here. I’m trying out Headliner.fm, a pretty cool site about community co-promotion; if we all agree to work together, we can all reach much more disparate bases of people who are interested in what we are writing, what art we are making, the worlds we are building. I frowned and I asked myself, why am I doing this? Who IS my audience? Are you really going to address the whole internet, Doc?
Well I guess it’s anyone that’s interested. So who exactly is interested? I know people coming through are looking primarily at my pictures. I have no delusions about that; I’m not a pro photographer, even though I want to be. I am hell of a hack amateur, and other photo bloggers are following and I hope that’s encouragement to continue practicing.
Miniatures gamers? Legit. I do know my stuff in that category. I am a fairly good painter and I keep an ear out for what’s new and what’s good. That’s a fraction of my posts, though.
This blog is turning into a platform about awareness. I’m doing my best to pay better attention to the problems in the world and as I learn, I’m sharing it with the internet. I don’t dare to presume that what I say here should be important to you, but if you are here and you see me talk about Net Neutrality, you might have a vested interest in it (cause without it, you wouldn’t be here). Mental health, sexual violence, and other rights issues may not seem like your problem, but you certainly won’t be worse for learning more.
So what does that really make me?
I’m an archivist.
I’m making a record of things, preserving them in pictures and words. I’m passing resources to people that need them. I’m connecting people to information. I’m facilitating awareness and enlightenment, enabling help. I’ve been in some very miserable and dark places in life, but I am returned from them, and now I want to help others do the same. The road is long and treacherous, but some that pass this way have documented their travels, written guides and maps. That is what I want to build. That’s what I want to make a community around.
So community, let’s talk about something else. Headquarters is an important and positive local resource. It previously was one of few 24 hour accessible crisis counseling centers and the only one in Kansas that answers the National Suicide Prevention hotline. Up until this past December, they had been answering calls anytime since 1969. Think about that for a minute. That is 44 years, 24 hours a day, that if things were not OK, that if it seemed like the only way out was to be dead, there was someone that you could talk to. A stranger that cared enough to listen to you, that valued you, and your ability to keep living. That is truly awesome.
Recently, the money for resources like this have started drying up, especially here in Kansas (Koch-istan) and on a national scale (Tea Party/”Libertarians”), and a combination of some internal problems with the leadership of the center, Headquarters has been struggling to keep their crucial service running. Their leadership has changed, so that they can start to grow and adapt to changing circumstances better, but that doesn’t alleviate the inherent problem that services that are pretty explicitly designed to prevent needless deaths, to genuinely save lives, are sorely under funded and under staffed.
Go visit their website for some more information. They can always use more volunteers to answer calls if you can’t help financially, man power is always crucial to non-profits and community programs as well. Get out there and help people, readers. That’s the audience I want.
… you have a moral obligation to say something. I drove into the office this morning and I saw a girl holding a sign. It is finally turning to winter in Kansas, and it was starting to sleet at 9 in the morning, so I read her sign, it was clearly important to her.
It read “University of Kansas Horn Prof. Paul Stevens only cared about my boobs, and not my education or about sexual violence.”
It made an impact on me. It is awful to say it, but had the circumstances been different, if it had been 60 and sunny instead of a windy 28 degrees as sleet started to pelt her, it may not have hit me as hard as it did. I realized that was unacceptable. So here is the Doctor, standing up and saying something. Sexual violence against women seems to be a pervasive cultural trend, and that is sickening. It seems to be exceptionally bad in college settings; I saw on the news a girl at Missouri State, a good student, a scholarship swimmer, committed suicide after no one took her allegation of rape against a football player seriously. The university was silent. The civil authorities performed a minimal investigation.
Now someone is dead.
Think about that for a minute. Silence and ignorance didn’t make the violence go away. Instead, it killed someone.
There are sometimes stories about positive outcomes. Activist group Anonymous, labeled “terrorist” by many, in a nationally recognized campaign, forced a Missouri (I’m starting to notice a trend here, are you?) prosecutor to reopen the case of a high school girl raped by multiple high school football players. Originally swept under the rug by a local prosecutor protecting some good old boys, a state prosecutor, in the face of such an enormous uproar and deluge of bad press, decided to get involved and reopen the case. When fighting for human rights became “terrorism” is a post for a different time. I know I don’t currently reach a lot of readers, but if I post this and you take a look into helping end sexual and domestic violence, supporting victims, or just being aware that this is a problem in your life, your workplace, your community, then we will be making progress. If authorities and made aware that this is an unacceptable, bordering on hellish state of affairs, we can make change happen. I am not naive enough to think we will end violence forever, but we can take a stand and say that sexual violence is culturally unacceptable, is a vile violation of human rights, and will be investigated with due process and punished accordingly.
Here are some people looking to change things. They have a lot of resources for survivors and people that want to make a serious change in how we go about things.
If you see something, say something. We will make them listen.