art by Kirsten Kramer

Introducing Word on the street

Today, I'd like to introduce Word on the street, Barred Owl Press' version of the community square. 

When I started coming up with the idea for Barred Owl Press, I was essentially a frustrated patient. I took to Twitter a lot to vent those frustrations, as I did just this morning, and to bring awareness to the patient's plight. 

That act of public sharing, and how much I intellectually and emotionally benefitted from it, is what laid the foundation for Word on the street, Barred Owl Press' version of the community square. 

In reality, Word on the street is a chat forum, inspired by ones on Reddit, the ultimate site for regular people sharing information. We hope that someday, all those people sharing health information on Reddit, will migrate over to our site. 😏

The benefit of discussing health policy and sharing health tips on our platform is that you get me as a moderator. I'm here to move the conversation along, weed out misinformation and help people hone their ideas. 

At some point, I plan to formally invite experts to weigh in on subjects and to simply talk with regular people about their health.

I already write a lot about how I believe that we will never be free until we are healthy. Now, I want to sharpen that point by arguing that we will never be healthy until we are educated on the system at hand. 

To illuminate how the health care system currently works and the many ways it could be fixed to better serve patients is Barred Owl Press' mission. Every aspect of our site serves this purpose. 

The chat forum is our way of inviting the public into the conversation and encouraging patients to put their ideas out there on how to fix health care. At Barred Owl Press, policy is for every one of us.

There are no "right" answers but there are plenty of wrong ones. Let's flesh all the problems and solutions out together. My hope is that Democrats and Republicans will start constructively communicating about health and that each participant will leave the conversation better informed.

Fixing our health care system is going to take a radical act of democracy. The solutions are just not as simple as to whether we should expand Medicaid, a government health insurance program for the poor.

The very nature of health service, probably everywhere but especially in America, is dysfunctional.

Patients are at best an afterthought in this system, which is ultimately why I quit my cancer treatment program all together, a mere year after I entered remission.

I’m not some idiot patient either, which is how most people treat those who are ill. I am a professional journalist trained to report on health care. The fact that I left is why we need Barred Owl Press.

Think of me as your host and Barred Owl Press as a safe place for patients to congregate and to share information. 

To this end, a longtime reader named Austin Yenne has graciously taken the plunge to initiate policy discussion. Here's his (and our) first post. I hope that you will give it a read, register on our site and respond.

Remember to be kind and to be constructive — please!

I will also respond. If you are an expert, please do me a favor and mention your expertise before taking up a topic. This reminder will help me appropriately tag people's content.

Our forum shares the upvote mechanism with Reddit but differs in that people are not anonymous here. This is an intimate setting, so let's treat it as such. Let's be real people coming to the table to have thoughtful discussions. We can do this, and I'm so pumped about it!

(If you want, you can create a fictitious online persona, but I do encourage you to be yourselves).

Peace and love to you and yours. Don't forget today is Day 2 of our holiday sale. It ends Friday. 

The checkout code is "Barred Owl Press Holiday!" 

Check out all of my editor’s notes, which is what this post is filed under.


Did you like this essay? Please consider buying Barred Owl PressLife Inside or Life Inside (outside) merchandise to support our company. 

Check out our entire Life Inside publication. 

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