Reflection: Start a Conversation

Throughout this semester we have covered a large array of topics. In all of our discussions we continually returned to the same conclusion; discussion is necessary to finding solutions to the issues discussed in class.

This past week we covered two topics, disability history and the heroin issues both in our country and internationally. Both topics covered the recent history of the two subjects but the one I found most interesting was discussing issues for treating heroin addictions with the students from Basset Hospital. It was two very different backgrounds and perspectives coming together to look at the issue and discuss how to provide support and work within the issue.

We started the evening watching a short film called Everywhere But Safe. The film was looking at safe injecting sites as a way to stop or prevent infection in users and reduce, if not get rid of completely, deaths due to overdose. Due to need, many users often dose themselves in public spaces outdoors or in public restrooms. These spaces are not clean and many users suffer infection and other complications, what’s more many of them can’t or won’t receive lifesaving drugs if they overdose, because they can’t be found or because first responders don’t carry the necessary supplies to counteract the overdose.

In the discussion after watching the film it was really great to hear from the medical students what they thought about the possibility of safe injecting sites as well as other ways the medical community can help the problem. The biggest issue we all seemed to agree on was that people were not able to move past the imagery commonly associated with heroin, such as a spoon or needle, white powder. This is where we thought museums could come into play, by showing other images to the public and getting them involved in the discussion. Museums can play an essential role, even in issues or medicine and treatment, by creating a public forum space to provide the public with information and a place to have discussion and share their stories.

The evening reminded me of the importance of relationships between institutions that seemingly have no correlation. A museum working with their local hospital could create change on the institutional level for the hospital by creating connections between the general public and the institutions. Museums can work as a go-between for the public and another institution. Museums can be the start of a conversation; it could lead to great change. There’s no guarantee that this will happen but is an ideal that could exist with the industry’s push to be a space that meets the needs of its public rather than simply being a holding

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