Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Make your voice heard: Speak up for public health

With an Annual Meeting theme of “Politics, Policy & Public Health,” it would be a shame to not take full advantage of your time in D.C. by visiting your congressional representative and advocating on behalf of public health.

Making your voice heard in the halls of Capitol Hill is easier than it sounds — especially with APHA’s help. To make an appointment with your state’s senators or representatives, call their D.C. offices now to set up a meeting. You might not get a direct meeting with the policy-maker, but don’t pass up an opportunity to meet with her or his office staff. Hearing from constituents really does make a difference — especially if hundreds of public health-supporting constituents all descend upon Capitol Hill in the same few days.

To get started, visit the APHA Annual Meeting advocacy site. The Web site offers a wealth of tools for your advocacy experience, including talking points on APHA’s top priorities: improving access to health care, eliminating health disparities and supporting a robust public health infrastructure. Also offered are materials you can leave with your Congress members, a tool to help you find and set up an appointment with your representative, and a sample phone script if you only have time to make a phone call. The advocacy site also connects you to APHA’s CapWiz system, which allows you to personalize and send an e-mail to your representative or senator.

Students interested in visiting the halls of Congress, should meet up with APHA’s Student Assembly on Monday, Nov. 5, at 2:30 p.m. outside of APHA headquarters, which is located just a short walk from the Washington Convention Center at 800 I St., N.W. From APHA, participants will make their way to Capitol Hill to meet with their members of Congress. Send an e-mail to organizers for more information.

If you’re more inclined to take your voice to the D.C. streets, join the Community Speak Out on HIV/AIDS and Neighborhood March on Saturday, Nov. 3. Organized by the Metropolitan Washington Public Health Association, the event is designed to promote awareness and spur action on behalf of Washington, D.C.’s high HIV/AIDS infection rate. The march begins at noon from the corner of Malcolm X and Martin Luther King avenues, SE. The speak out begins at 2 p.m. at Washington Highlands Library, 115 Atlantic St., N.W. Visit MWPHA for more information.

The Lincoln Memorial on the National Mall will be the backdrop for a Global Warming Rally, also on Saturday, Nov. 3. The rally, organized by Step It Up, the Natural Resources Defense Council and the League of Conservation Voters Education Fund, will run from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. Visit Step It Up for more info.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

In case of spare time

There are many words that go well with the APHA Annual Meeting: learning, networking, advocating, educating, growing...busy. Very, very busy.

Of course, busy in a good way. Hundreds upon hundreds of scientific sessions on every imaginable public health topic, a plethora of networking opportunities, social gatherings every night, award ceremonies, famous guest speakers, chances to check out a public health school or even find your dream job. There is enough going on at the upcoming 135th Annual Meeting in Washington, D.C., to fill up a month in your day planner — and yet we have to fit it all into barely four days. It’s a tight squeeze.

So, needless to say, the APHA Annual Meeting doesn’t leave a person much free time. But, if you do find yourself with some time to spare and a nagging feeling to go exploring, you’re in the right city. The nation’s capital is bursting with things to do, stuff to see, places to eat and an easy-to-use public transit system that gets you where you’re going.

Culture, culture everywhere

When it comes to culture in D.C., one word usually comes to mind: Smithsonian. The next two words are “free admission.”

The Smithsonian Institution is the world’s largest museum complex and research organization and if you have a chance to check out just one or two museums while in D.C., it’s definitely worth the trip. Probably the easiest museum to get to from the meeting is the recently renovated National Portrait Gallery, which is just a few blocks from the Washington Convention Center. Temporary exhibits on display during the APHA Annual Meeting include “Let Your Motto Be Resistance: African American Portraits” and “Legacy: Spain and the United States in the Age of Independence, 1763-1848.”

If you have time to venture further away, you can walk among dinosaurs at the Smithsonian’s Natural History Museum, gaze up at early aircrafts at the Air and Space Museum or immerse yourself in America’s first cultures at the National Museum of the American Indian. Visit the Smithsonian for a full listing of attractions.

Besides the Smithsonian, the city is full of historical sights, from the Lincoln Memorial (which is quite impressive at night) to the National Archives (yep, it’s the real Constitution) to the many memorials that help keep our past in the present. The city is also home to lesser-known galleries and museums, such as the Marian Koshland Science Museum of the National Academy of Sciences, which is just a short walk from the convention center at the corner of 6th and E streets, NW.

Culinary capital

The Annual Meeting might not leave a lot of time for sightseeing, but everyone has to eat.

There is so much delicious and interesting food in D.C., you could travel around the world in just a few days: stuffed Malaysian lotus root on Sunday, West African okra soup on Monday, a table full of Spanish tapas on Tuesday, and hot El Salvadoran pupusas on Wednesday. (If none of this sounds familiar, that’s all part of the fun of D.C. dining. And stuffed lotus root is really much tastier than it sounds.)

To help map out your culinary travels, visit this online restaurant guide. You can also visit the APHA Annual Meeting site for a list of D.C. restaurants that employ environmentally friendly, sustainable practices.

Big city, small town

Beyond the famous monuments, tourist-filled museums and political wranglings of Congress, D.C. is home to a diverse patchwork of vibrant neighborhoods, each with their own flavor and feel. So, if you’re still not tired after a full day of scientific sessions, grab a D.C. Metro map and go wander.

Closest to the Washington Convention Center is D.C.’s Chinatown, which during the past few years has undergone a total transformation. Along with grabbing an authentic Chinese dinner, visitors can shop new stores, check out new restaurants, take in a show at the new movie theater or even go to the bowling alley.

Outside of Chinatown, there’s the bustling nightlife of Adams Morgan, late-night coffee talk in Dupont Circle, shopping, shopping and more shopping in Georgetown, Ethiopian delicacies and D.C.’s native food, the half-smoke sausage, in U Street-Cardozo, and political chit-chat on Capitol Hill.

For more help in filling up your spare time — if you have any —visit the Washington, D.C., Convention and Tourism site.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Annual Meeting blog kicks off

Welcome to the American Public Health Association’s 135th Annual Meeting in Washington, D.C., and the first Annual Meeting daily blog.

From Nov. 3 through Nov. 7, writers with APHA’s Communications Department will be posting a few entries each day, covering a variety of Annual Meeting scientific sessions and events. We’re hoping that amid the hustle and bustle of the meeting, this daily blog will give you a chance to read about a session you missed, continue a debate that just got started or simply reflect on the day’s hot public health topics. If you don’t have time to check out the blog while you’re at the meeting, no worries — the blog will still be accessible long after the meeting is over.

Comments on this blog are encouraged and welcomed. However, because all comments will be screened before publication, there may be a delay before a comment is posted. Comments that include profanity, personal attacks, spam, inappropriate or inflammatory text or are irrelevant to the topic discussion will not be posted. APHA reserves the right to block users who violate these posting standards and/or remove their comments.

If you’d like to be notified when new blog entries are posted, sign up below to receive e-mail alerts or subscribe to the blog’s RSS feed. If you have any questions or comments, e-mail us.

APHA is the oldest and most diverse organization of public health professionals in the world, dedicated to protecting all Americans and their communities from preventable, serious health threats and assuring community-based health promotion and disease prevention activities and preventive health services are universally accessible in the United States.