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.
The Herb Bus turned Black Friday Green as she circled up in the museum piazza to share some herbal healing at the High’s “Go West!” exhibit.
Teachers from Homestead Atlanta demonstrated survival and crafting skills such as tanning, cobbling, spinning, herbal healing and orienteering — all skills necessary for life on the frontier. The pioneers relied heavily on plant medicine for survival during the days of western expansion. Most families would have needed to have a basic knowledge of how to use plants to keep themselves healthy as doctors were few and far between. For many, their doctor was in fact their wife or mother, and her apothecary would have been her kitchen using the herbs that grew around them. The Herb Bus is honored to carry this American tradition into the 21st Century. We spent the day crafting herbal remedies for wintertime health. I’ve posted the recipes for some of the remedies we made on the Herbalista website for your crafting pleasure. Give the gift of health this holiday season!
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.