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Culpeper Times • May 18-24, 2017
Let’s talk about mental health and addiction
She’s funny. She’s witty. She’s caring and compassionate. She’s a business owner. And she’s created something that didn’t exist before. These days, she’s feeling pretty good and she ought to. Making things happen can be intoxicating. I sat down with Sharon Clark last week to learn more about Open Minds, an event that will be held next Tuesday at Germanna’s Daniel Technology Center. For 10 years, Sharon was the Pampered Me Pink lady bringing cancer awareness to the forefront through a collaboration with Greg Napps at the hospital. Hundreds would turn out to learn more, share stories, donate money so women could have mammograms and feel strong, hopeful, resilient and come away smiling. Sharon passed the baton on that project but wasn’t done. She had another idea. This time she’d tackle mental
health and addiction. So, she started some seven months ago, connecting with others that might partner with her vision. Folks at Germanna, Culpeper Wellness Foundation, and Novant Health/UVA Health System in addition to countless nonprofits focused on surviving, support and tackling the tough issues that have left families struggling for answers and relief like Team Jordan. With Sharon was Dr. Karyn O’Brien, a clinical psychologist and senior director of behavioral health services at Novant Health UVA Health System, who will be the keynote speaker at the event, including other psychiatrists and therapists that will conduct a panel discussion. For these two women, their hope is that conversations can begin to erase the stigma associated with behavioral health challenges. In talking with Dr. O’Brien she is quick to point out, as an example, that relapse is part of the addiction process. It’s heartbreaking for the individual and those who care about them but it’s part of the process that hopefully will lead to recovery. As a society, we’ve tended to criminalize addiction, devalue the person who
is suffering, and make a moral judgment about their character and those associated with them. There is a tremendous amount of pain but, as challenging as it may be, it helps to talk about it and not only talk about it but learn of resources that can help. The energy, enthusiasm, passion, mission and vision of these two women is inspiring, contagious and exciting. Running a retail store is all about making connections between your customers and their particular fancies. It’s about communication, having conversations, making them feel and look spectacular. Sharon knows how to do this. She knows how to sparkle. She knows what invigorates. Pamper Me Pink had a more party atmosphere even though dealing with a poignant topic. Open Minds will take on a different tone but at it’s heart, the focus is on touching lives and making a difference. Mental health and addiction. Tough topics. Come with an open mind, Tuesday, May 23, from 5-8 p.m. at Daniel Technology Center.
The defining technological issue for future generations Net Neutrality. Just reading those two words has probably already put you to sleep, but you better wake up! The rules governing how data and services work on the internet are about to get rewritten in a manner that almost strictly benefits the internet service providers and their mass media empires. In a nutshell, the current net neutrality rules in place require internet service providers to treat all traffic equally. Comcast is not supposed to slowdown services such as Netflix or Hulu, even though there have been reports of this in the past. Net Neutrality gives everyone an equal playing field when offering their own online products, services, websites, blogs, or anything else imaginable. The current FCC chairman, Ajit Pai, wants to roll back all regulations surrounding net neutrality rules to create a more “open and free internet.” This is intellectually dishonest because in reality, this removes the level playing field and allows the internet services providers to pick winners and losers. Internet service
providers would be able to charge a fee or some type of toll to allow companies to get their services prioritized on the internet for speed. If you can’t afford the fee, then you risk minimizing your online presence by not being able to find it or having your website function so poorly that no one would ever use it. The FCC is scheduled to vote on the “new” Net Neutrality rules in the middle of May. Signs of this have already been seen in the mobile wireless industry with lack of enforcement of zero-rating policies. In the past, there were rules preventing wireless carriers from giving preferential treatment to their own services by not counting usage of certain apps against their clients’ monthly data allowances. Now that the zero-rating rules are not being enforced, services such as DIRECTV Streaming do not count against your data if you are an AT&T customer, but watching a YouTube video does count. This clearly hurts other tech innovators such as Netflix, Sling TV, Hulu etc. Why would a person sign up for a service that could cost them more on their wireless cell phone bill? It’s pretty obvious that consumers will pick the services that won’t cost them precious gigabytes and risk running up a huge data bill each month. Another possibility is the next
generation of tech innovators working on the next advances such as virtual reality or artificial intelligence. It would be in the best interest of the internet service provider to watch these up and coming startups, mimic the technology, and then redirect the internet to their own service or try to extort a small visionary for more money. We live in an era of mass consolidation from our largest media providers. The companies that provide our basic internet service are also some of the largest at producing the same media we consume. They want to control how we consume, what we consume, and who we can consume it from. These organizations have such a strong control over the content, that you better have the money to get your message out or it might just get lost and never make it to the public. Net Neutrality rules need to remain in place. We still struggle with areas of the country that have no broadband access with legislation attempting to limit certain localities from getting access altogether, as well as a mafia style system to prevent more than once ISP from servicing an area. Throw in the rules that let the internet service providers sell your private browsing history, it really makes you wonder who has all of the power in our great country?
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