DIVERSITY, ACCESS, & JUSTICE
Classes for Herbalists, Healers, & Culture Shifters – at the 2018 Good Medicine Confluence – May 16-20
For the first many years of Plant Healer’s annual international gatherings, our characteristically beautiful rural event sites had too few buildings of us to expand the number of classes to accommodate topics beyond essential foundational folk herbalism. Fortunately, since moving our Good Medicine Confluence to its new mountain-top site in Durango, Colorado, we have been able to procure sufficient spaces to expand our topics to include additional modalities, and means for a wildly healthy and deeply meaningful life. In May, 2018, we will be presenting 5 days and nights of classes and entertainment for the same prices as most conferences charge for only 3: over 70 inspiring teachers presenting over 140 unique classes that have never been taught anywhere before, exploring the depths and frontiers of empowered healing in all its many forms from botanical medicine to healthy foods, nature therapy, cannabis and entheogens, and the radical remaking of the current cultural paradigm!
The edge is where things including natural healing are redefined or refined, branch out, adapt, and transform. It is where assumptions are questioned, norms challenged, dogma ditched, and ethics and justice addressed. It is for this reason that Radical Herbalism is one of the essential ingredients in the making of a dynamic Good Medicine Confluence experience! And this year we have more rad classes than ever before, including presentations by impassioned rule breakers Alanna Whitney, Rae Swersey, Dave Meesters, Vicky Salcido-Cobbe, and Rachel Berndt. Descriptions follow:
Towards an Autonomous, Insurgent, Unsupervised Grassroots Herbalism
with Dave Meesters (2 hrs)
In the United States, western herbal medicine is not included among the officially recognized modes of health care. Herbalists are black sheep, excluded from the system. In addition, the federal GMPs impose an onerous burden on herbalists seeking to support themselves by selling herbal products. But maybe, to quote a permaculture proverb, “the problem is the solution.” The lack of official licensure and recognition for herbalists also means that no one is telling us how we must practice. Also, herbal training can usually be acquired without entering the debt traps that force other health care providers to take jobs that don’t align with their values. Our outsider status might make us poor, but it also makes us free, and creates the conditions for the overwhelming flowering of creativity and innovation that characterizes the current herbal resurgence, a phenomenon that you don’t see in licensed holistic modalities like TCM.
I propose that, instead of clamoring for the approval of a medical system that is based on flawed principles, fueled by capitalist greed, and enabled by destructive technologies, herbalists should go with the flow, embrace being on the wrong side of capitalism and the law, and put our energies towards establishing decentralized, autonomous, grassroots health networks that empower community self-reliance, provide care to those most in need, and reduce the need for people to access conventional medicine. In fact I would argue that this is what western herbalism already does best, and it is in this context that we are truly in our power. This class will clarify the position of the herbalist in our society, and explore all the ways that herbalists work to make the above possibility a reality, and the ways that we can do it better, without illusions and with full intention.
QueerHeart: Queer 101 and The Myriad Ways in Which Queerness Can Inform & Better Herbalism
with Alanna Whitney (1.5 hrs)
This class will be equal parts competence and 101 (how to do intake forms, pronouns, how to talk about sex & babies & anatomy and all the rest) and a discussion of the ways in which queerness can provide a valuable framework through which to examine the way we relate to herbalism, healing, and community. Examining herbalism and our relationship to plant medicine through a queer lens means unraveling the ways in which binary gender is bound up our understanding of plants (and how they work on human creatures), the ways that gender roles influence our clinical work, the knee jerk assumptions we make about sex and intimacy and relationship, and more. Examining queerness within herbalism gives us an ever greater opportunity to push back against so many false binaries, and empowers us to appreciate the spaces in between – the liminality – of plant life, human life, and healing, in new and powerful ways.
Radical Herbal Health Collectives: You Don’t Need to Work Alone
with Dave Meesters (2 hrs)
The solitary eccentric inhabiting the fringes of society is a popular romantic image of the herbalist, but we also find power when we work together. One such empowering and collaborative way for herbalists of any skill level to practice their art, and serve their community at the same time, is within a radical health collective. A health collective is simply a group of peers who work together to further their craft with the needs of the community in mind. Projects for a health collective can include: building a collective apothecary to distribute to those in need, to share with local community groups, to supply medics, or to send to clinics in disaster areas or protest sites; offering classes or workshops in herbalism, holistic health, home medicine making, etc.; directly providing care through a clinic or on the street; providing trainings to practitioners of different modalities; writing and distributing informational zines & pamphlets; educating each other within the collective to build skills and capacity; and more! A health collective is an especially good place for the beginning herbalist who is looking for more experience, wants to learn and practice alongside others, and wants to do some good at the same time.
Drawing from my personal experience in three different health collectives, we’ll talk about how to form a health collective in your area, as well as organizational structures for inclusion, efficiency, and harmony. I’ll present in detail various ideas for projects a collective could undertake, and pass along many valuable lessons learned.
Working With Our Privilege: Addressing Access in Herbalism
with Rae Swersey & Alanna Whitney (1.5 hrs)
Herbalism’s resurgence in North America has brought the people’s medicine to so many people whose birthright connection to medicine & healing had been lost. The work of herbalism is radical and revolutionary, and in keeping with that tradition, we want to offer folks (clinical practitioners & folk herbalists alike) an opportunity to delve a little deeper into why and how we can work to make herbalism more accessible to people from different backgrounds and lived experience. In this workshop, we will facilitate a conversation about the insidious ways in which systems of oppression and the work of the oppressor can creep into our psyches & hearts. We will talk about ableism, racism, settler colonialism, white supremacy, patriarchy, sizism, heterosexism, classism, and cissexism in herbalism and what we can do to shift our own internalized bias.
We will touch on the history of the disability rights movement, using that as a guide for how we can transform the way we relate to clinical and community offerings. Issues of access and oppression, ability and disability, size, whiteness, and patriarchy have historically been poorly addressed (or fully ignored) in many herbal communities and schools. This workshop offers an introductory framework for making our work safer & more welcoming to people who have been historically marginalized. We will be talking about practical and clinical concerns, from issues like how to compose intake forms, how to think about access considerations for our physical clinical spaces, and customizing inclusive protocols and also some of the more nuanced ways that we can begin to unravel and address our own internalized bias.
Bioregional Herbalism as Radical Resistance:
Creating Solutions Inspired by Our Local Biospheres
with Vicky Salcido-Cobbe (1.5 hrs)
The unique diversity inherent within each Ecosystem is a grand teacher, a gift, and a key to the door of perspective-shifting breakthroughs. Localizing the mind can bring a renewed sense of belonging and hope. Through this lens, Plant Folx are able to create solutions for needs within their own bio-region: Unique, Informed, and Empowered.
We will begin by discussing how localized, community-based herbalism can act as a vehicle for social, economic, environmental, and personal shift and revolution. This localized approach can empower Herbalists to help limit or greatly reduce their community’s participation in fossil fuel destruction, slave labor, and dependency on big pharma, while providing opportunities for often marginalized communities and relieving local dis-ease. We will then break into groups by our personal home ecosystem (cities included!), imbibe essences created with plants of these ecosystems, and embody the brilliance of our local Flora and Fauna while workshopping creative solutions for our community’s needs. There will be a set of questions/inquires to ponder within the group, and opportunities to unpack a specific question you are holding in your heart.
The overall intention of this class is to provide skills to create a biome-framed connection, which allows folx to think like the Flora and Fauna in their bio-region. The invitations is to connect deeply with your home biosphere, embodying the non-human community to inspire creative solutions to personal, social, and environmental challenges. Folklore and examples of resilient Bioregional Herbalism provided. You are encouraged to bring your stories of this theme to share.
Zero Waste Herbalism
Rachel Berndt (1.5 hrs)
Practicing herbalism can be wasteful, but it doesn’t have to be! This class will consist of discussion and exploration into practicing herbalism with more intention, practicing with consciousness of the waste that can be involved both physically and mentally. During this class we will discover how to utilize the abundance that your own bio-region naturally provides you, those herbs that grow wild or that are easily cultivated in your region. We will discuss combining these herbs with other local ingredients (honey, brandy, vodka, etc.) to create effective herbal remedies that are low cost (or free!) We will also discuss herbs that are easy to find or grow throughout most of America that are useful in place of exotic herbs. Shifting your practice to focus on the use of the herbs that are free in your yard or in the woodlands down the street not only creates less physical waste (no packaging, no plastic, no shipping) but it also creates more profound learning experiences and more potent remedies, allowing you to waste less in a much deeper sense. The goal of this workshop is that each participant leaves feeling empowered and excited to connect with the plants in their own bioregion, that they feel how approachable the art of herbalism really is, and that they begin to be more conscious of the ways in which they can create less waste mentally, energetically, and physically, while practicing herbalism.
For all 140 class descriptions and 70 teacher bios – or to purchase Advance Discount Tickets – click on:
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