Mid-last year, we learned that Valerie Jarrett, Senior Advisor to President Obama, would be attending BlogHer '09 for a brief amount of time. She was hoping to meet bloggers with health care stories to tell because the health care reform debate was really heating up.
She had such a meeting with about 20 bloggers. Some of them blogged about ongoing health issues, like diabetes and cancer, every day...it was part of what their blogs were all about. Some of them weren't really health bloggers at all, but had a story to tell...about the time they were denied coverage, or the time their coverage was dropped, about the time they lost nearly everything because of health care costs.
Ever since that meeting at BlogHer '09 we have been working on a way to bring more information about women who blog and their passionate interest in all things political - even if many of them would never self-identify as political bloggers - to both sides of the aisle.
First we launched a joint community journalism initiative with the Sunlight Foundation and OpenCongress.org to hold conference calls between Congresspeople from both sides of the aisle and women who blog...again, women from both sides of the aisle. We held seven such conference calls. The archive of every call (including both written and audio transcripts) can be found here. You can hear what such folks as Speaker Pelosi (D-CA), Senator Gillibrand (D-NY) and Representative Rodgers (R-WA) have to say in response to direct questions from women who blog.
Yesterday, BlogHer Political Director Erin Kotecki Vest and I did make that trek to Washington DC and presented the following data on women and social media to, first, Republican staffers on Capitol Hill, and then to Ms. Jarrett and other members of the team at the White House. Erin tells the story here, while I added a bit of color commentary here.
It all started with a conversation about Health. And that conversation is far from over...