The bus went snow-birding in early February, as we toured Florida. The photo above shows our first aid station at the Florida Earthskills Gathering. It is a privilege and pleasure to be able to offer support at events such as these, which preserve and promote a culture of earth protection and respect. Working a station such as this is a chance to see herbs in action, learning by doing and by observation. We benefit from noting our patients’ experience, from seeing herbs work and not work, and through skill-sharing of materia medica and clinical techniques with the other practitioners we serve alongside.
Next the Bus headed south to St. Pete’s to run a workshop and clinic practicum for the clinical students of the Acupuncture and Herbal Therapies Training Program. Day 1 reviewing the Herb Bus Service Manual and making preparations for the next day’s clinic. Instead of working from the Herbalista Kits, this time we custom built herbal kits on site. This was important for a few reasons. First, we wanted the kits to reflect THEIR style of herbalism and be filled with the tools the students are used to working with (this school practices from a chinese-western blended herbal perspective). Next, it’s just fun to build them. It makes you consider every aspect of your clinical practice– which herbs you use, in what quantities, what types of preparations, how you dispense them, how can you arrange them in an efficient way, and how can you add a little bling (it’s all about the gold duct tape). And what is really thrilling, is that when the Herb Bus rolls out of town, the kits will remain in St Pete’s, with the students, hopefully for many clinics to come! Day 2 brought severe thunderstorms, but in the style of good health we were flexible. Instead of working out of the Herb Bus, under the elements, we held our clinic in the shelter of the center. Click here for photos.
This past year was an incredible journey. As 2013 took her first breath, the Herbalista Free Clinic was merely a whisper in my head and a hope in my heart. Since beginning our rounds that sunny and crisp February afternoon (captured in this photo by Jessica Horwitz), we now have two established regularly serviced stations in the Atlanta area, at which we have held 16 clinics, provided over 100 consultations, and abundantly dispensed sweet, sweet herbal remedies. We helped to facilitate free first aid clinics at gatherings in states around the country. We led plant walks, taught workshops, and ten trained other herbalists on our model using the Herb Bus Service Manual.
In December we welcomed a new apotheker to the Herb Bus crew! Corinne returns to Atlanta after spending the last year homesteading in North Carolina. During her stay in the mountains, Corinne helped wildcraft medicines for the bus, and now that she has returned to the city, she will be heaping to place those healing remedies in the hands of the people.
And as we travel these forbidden roads of free, earth-based medicine in a for-profit-pharma-surgically-controlled-country, we have discovered a most verdant underbelly. For while forbidden, these roads are anything but lonely. There is an ever growing number of dedicated healers, inspired teachers, generous medicine makers, and gifted facilitators, working to serve in their communities. We are grateful for their company and inspired by this shared vision of collaborative care for all earth’s children.
Here’s wishing you a New Year filled with bliss, purpose, and herbalistic voyages!
Each year the SouthEast Women’s Herbal Conference sets up camp at Lake Eden outside of Black Mountain, NC. Over 1000+ women and children attend this 3 day event in the early fall. Our First Aid Center is tasked with providing earth-based care for this temporary village. All of our services and remedies are offered free. For many, a visit to our clinic facilitates their first healing experience with herbal medicine, illuminating the vital link between true health and nature. We had over 100 visits to the center and also made a few “cabin calls.”
Our clinic is hostessed by graduates from the Appalachia School of Holistic Herbalism (ASHH) located in West Asheville, NC. I have had the honor both serving and coordinating this clinic for the past several years and share with you some pictures from this year’s clinic. I have also been working on a mini-manual filled with information on how we staff, stock, and provide this type of clinic for those who may be inspired to do the same in their neck of the woods. It is available as a PDF on the Herbalista website. www.Herbalista.org
To see more from this clinic, check out the album in our Photo Gallery
September sure put some miles on the Bus! Since its inception, we’ve visioned the Bus as not only a service provider, but a mobile classroom where we could teach by example, inspiring others with the feasibility of offering a no-cost, earth-based, community clinic.
Last month I finally had the chance to do just that. For their final student clinic of the year, the Blue Ridge School of Herbal Medicine hosted The Herb Bus. After giving the students a preliminary training (using the Herb Bus Service Manual as our guide) about how to run a free, mobile, herbal clinic, we set up the bus at a community in Asheville to allow the students a chance to work in this type of health care model. We had a great time serving the folks at The Landing.
During a post-clinic feedback session, I was asked, “Do you need a VW Bus to do this type of clinic?” And while I am clearly partial to this little Bus, the Herbalista Free Clinic would function out of the back of my Honda hatchback if need be. Good healthcare (just like good health) requires both flexibility and creativity to serve the needs of the community with the resources available.
To see more from this clinic, check out the album in our Photo Gallery.
Just a couple of days later, I loaded the Bus for a trip to Arizona. My final destination– the Herbal Resurgence Rendezvous. This conference did not disappoint, from its beautiful location in the Coconino National Forest to its eclectic and deeply knowledgable class offerings. I visited with old friends and teachers and made new connections. Sitting under that bi, western sky I was reminded of the strength it requires to survive such impacting conditions. Those plants have developed potent defenses from which we benefit when we receive the gift of herbal medicine. If you would like to see some of the plants, lands, and people I spent time with on my travels, you can click here.
On my way back through Flagstaff, I was invited to Ponderosa High School to share a little bit about herbal medicine and the adventures of the Herb Bus with their gardening/permaculture class. Ponderosa High is an accommodations school that enrolls and mentors students who have faced difficult challenges in their lives. I was inspired by the students’ ability to transform desert concrete into an oasis of creativity and sustainability, and enjoyed sharing with them some of the herbal uses for the plants growing around their school. In honor of the Elder tree near where the Bus was parked, we passed around a touch of Elder Berry glycerite for them to try. For more photos of the program at Ponderosa High, please click here. It was a lovely morning and I am grateful to my friend, Jonathon Taylor, for inviting me to meet with his class.