Kmareka’s Top Hits of 2007

Some topics covered on Kmareka have garnered more attention and seem to be part of a larger change in communication sweeping the world. Online communication, activism, and blogging are steadily gaining credibility and beginning to influence public policy and the direction of social change. People are coming to understand local, national, and global issues in different ways by reading about them and discussing them online where they can cite sources and bring better information into the discussion.

There is a way in which the “collective unconscious” — as defined as the collective reservoir of human experience, knowledge, and ideas — is stumbling toward progress in the many blogs of significance online. It is not just coincidence that more discussion of medicating children is taking place in the mainstream media. Nor is it just coincidence that America is now more aware of its growing discontent with the movement conservatives who have governed our country for the past 7 years. At Kmareka, we strive to be part of the collective unconscious on these issues in that we are helping to bring them out of the realm of the repressed and into the light of day where they can be examined and acted upon. In bringing these issues into the open, we are helping in the collective effort to actualize.

As technology and communication online evolve, we also begin to experience more of each other emotionally online. I now feel connected to many people whom I’ve never seen in the flesh — not because they are famous, but because they bring their distinctive voices and ideas, from the absurd to the angry to the funny to the grieved, to Kmareka. One of our commenters, Donald Wolberg, is a paleontologist with a keen voice for politics, and a mind full of science and history. He first showed up on Kmareka to argue about climate change and has since returned to discuss issues as diverse as medicating children and the similarities of Dick Cheney to an overfed game pheasant. When he emailed me about a difficult loss this past year, I felt a deep sorrow for him. Somehow now we are connected, he and I, although I’ve never met him.

I’ve also gotten to know members of my real community better through blogging. By attending community events related to health, education and the environment, I have met many local elected officials and have also become a familiar face to our U.S. Senate delegation. So while the money for blogging is not big (and most of it is shared with my co-bloggers) the pay-off in terms of learning, and being part of an engaging world, is huge.

So, here’s to 2008 and here’s to the hits, and may they keep on coming…

Kiersten’s Top Hits:

Medicating Children: The Risks We are Taking: This post looks at the increasing use of psychiatric medication for children and provides links to scientific studies on the health risks associated witht he major categories of psychiatric drugs. As a practitioner in the field of adolescent psychiatry, I see teenagers being put on medications every day. I continue to struggle with fears that overmedicating is a growing trend. However, I am also congnizant that some adolescents respond well to medication as part of their treatment plan. I believe we should all continue to weigh the short-term positives of using psychiatric medication on children against concerns for long-term deleterious effects such as increased weight gain, diabetes, and tardive dyskinesia. If you are pondering these questions as a parent, a practitioner, or a consumer, you can begin your research by reading some of the 46 posts in our Medicating Children category.

Open Space: Our blog posts on the proposed development of Mulligan’s Island into a big-box shopping plaza were some of our most commented-on, and helped identify a community of local activists who convinced Churchill & Banks to take their proposal elsewhere. The first post I did on the topic, which includes some of my personal history, received 67 comments, while another post on the topic, which got off-topic into the still-mysterious identity of “Jesse of Cranston,” received 113 comments.

The History of The Concrete Plant: We have done 41 posts on the concrete plant which is now nearing a settlement in favor of the residents. From powerful letters written by residents to a post connecting the concrete plant controversy to larger issues of citizen activism in a culture that encourages apathy, the posts in the “Cranston Concrete Plant” category are a testament to the way that online discussion helps to bolster community involvement. The costs of this controversy are good reason to investigate the way the Cullion permit was processed and revise zoning procedures so that the community is better informed and protected from industrial encroachment.

David’s Top Hits

Will I Spend Eternity in Hell? Wherein David ponders the nature of the physical and spiritual universes and the likelihood of his burning in hell because he is not a Christian. You can cast your vote for or against his eternal damnation.

The Sound of Neglect: This is a poem by David which he later read at a service on the theme of political action held by the Unitarian Society of Northampton.

Letter to a Fallen Soldier: David pays tribute to the sacrifices made by our country’s soldiers and places their loss in the larger context of the need for political leadership that can bring more peace and justice to the world.

Nancy’s Top Hits

Hummers for Sick Children: Nancy has some funny, insightful, and provocative things to say about Hummers making their way into hospitals as the vehicle of choice for the ride to the surgery room. Many Hummer devotees came by to share their own views.

Bill O’Reilly Needs to Get Out More: This post got picked up by Media Matters to be included in their page of posts about Bill O’Reilly’s strange comments after visiting a Harlem diner.

Desperately Selling a Kidney: This post attracted some intense discussion (including a rebuttal from the spouse of an organ donor) about the medical ethics of organ donation.

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