Saturday, January 13, 2007

Pediatric Check-Up: A Time of Advocacy

From Merriam Webster Online

Support: (1) : to promote the interests or cause of (2) : to uphold or defend as valid or right : ADVOCATE (3) : to argue or vote for

So one of my ideas for my advocacy project was to build a website for the local GLBTQ (gay, lesbian, bi, trans, queer) community. This website would function much like an information and triage desk. It would list available resources, as well as providing enough information to give people an idea of where they should look next to find real people to do things with, such as volunteer, advocate, or just plain drink with.

In speaking with some community members who are active in various organizations providing services in the area, this website is needed, but not only as a website, but as a comprehensive online community. This is interesting to me as this is a variant of what Sunny and I are trying to do with and While with those sites we've built a site and are trying to recruit members, in this case a group already exists but needs a virtual home. For the online communities we've already built, Sunny and I already have capacity for email, forums, and serving content. To build this one, I would probably use a wiki as well, though maybe I'd use DokuWiki instead of MediaWiki as the collaboration on content would not be the focus of this group. For emailGmail, I would also use and then for listserve management, I would try Google Groups. For community calendaring, Google Calendar, of course.

Why all the Google use? It's free, it works, it's meant for multiple users, and I don't have to host or manage it. Furthermore, the text ads are very unobtrusive, and it's a small price to pay for all the work that I don't have to do myself. Same thing with the wiki use. I'm familiar with DokuWiki and MediaWiki, and though I don't currently understand the nuts-and-bolts of installation and of upgrading these two, I have watched Sunny upgrade this site, the content of which is managed and displayed by DokuWiki.

Now, of course, this online community would not be the same as the real-life community it serves. There are plenty of people without access to the internet and computers. However, I think that the majority of the population have access to either libraries or their own computers, and that reaching out to the less technologically privileged would be a project that can be fulfilled by one of the current organizations.

In terms of this working as my advocacy project, my residency director thinks that it's a great project, and I'm looking over the CATCH grant paperwork to see if they might fund the learning curve that I'll need to undergo in order to do this properly. Let's hope that it does!

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