by Cathy Resmer
Morgan W. Brown, Vermont's most vigilant blogger, has a new site. Beyond Vermont State Hospital explores Vermont's mental health care system, and looks at the future of VSH. Not a ton of comments on there yet, but he just got going a couple weeks ago. Morgan's first co-blogger is Jack McCullough, a lawyer at Vermont Legal Aid and director of the Mental Health Law Project.
The Times-Argus ran a lengthy story on Morgan and the blog over the weekend. John Zicconi of the Vermont Press Bureau interviewed Morgan, McCullough, and Vermont Health Commissioner Paul Jarris about the blog.
"There is a lot of public discussion right now about the future of Vermont State Hospital," McCullough said. "This seems like a way to have a public discussion a lot of people can participate in."
McCullough predicted the blog will be as successful as those who contribute.
"A lot depends on who reads it and who participates," McCullough said. Whether state officials pay any real attention "depends on who posts and the quality of those posts."
After a quick scan of the site, Vermont Health Commissioner Paul Jarris said he welcomes its mission.
"I think it will be a good source of information and I have asked our staff to review it on a daily basis so we can be aware or some of the issues and questions out there," Jarris said. "Periodically I anticipate we will be posting things to it as we want to inform people about things that are going on."
How's that for legitimacy! Morgan's a private citizen interested and concerned about these issues, and he's generating a response from both the press and the institution he's covering just by posting his thoughts online.
"This is a very hot topic and there needs to be open discussion as wellas a lot of public involvement, input and debate," Brown said. "Thereneed to be forums to let that happen."
Instead of waiting for someone else to create that forum, Morgan did it himself. That's pretty cool, especially since he's doing all that while homeless. He blogs only on public access computers, or on friends' laptops. Congrats, mwb. Keep us posted.
UPDATE: In an email, Morgan writes: Good news on my end is that as a direct result of the Sunday TA/RH article on me and the Beyond VSH blog, some kind and generous soul in the area has donated a 5 year old Toshiba laptop that they installed a wifi card in a few years ago and is in good working condition, so I will be able to get online when I am able to access free wifi at various places and also do a bit of work off-line.