Herbalista Free Clinic Service Report
It’s hard to believe that our clinic debut was not even a year ago! On Feburary 6, 2013 we pitched for the first time at the Open Door Community in Atlanta. It has been a tremendously exciting year, and we hope this is just the beginning of a long and healing journey.
We wanted to share some of the highlights with you:
At our Atlanta hub we hosted 17 clinics, where we served gallons of seasonal tea blends, conducted 111 consultations, dispensed 2 1/2 gallons of customized tincture formulas (alcohol and glycerites), 8#’s of raw custom herbal and powder blends, and a variety of other remedies including essential oil sniffers, herbal capsules, and oil rubs.
We facilitated several pop-up first aid clinics around the country, including the Rainbow Gathering in Montana, the Firefly Gathering in North Carolina, the Southeast Women’s Herbal Conference in North Carolina, and the Georgia Organics Conference in GA, where we served hundreds more and put herbal healing in the hands of the people.
We spread the Herb Bus method and our love for plants and community at numerous classes and workshops. Some of our hosts included Ponderosa High School, the Blue Ridge School of Herbal Medicine, Warren Wilson College, Homestead Atlanta, and the High Museum of Art.
We created the Herb Bus Service Manual to help others start free clinic projects in their communities. This manual is available as a free PDF download from our website.
Lorna, the herbalista who drives this sweet ol’ bus around town, was awarded the 2013 Community Service Award by the American Herbalists Guild to honor her work with the Herbalista Free Clinic and the Harriet Tubman Free Foot Clinic.
The Bus drove over 10,000 miles delivering healthcare and herbal education around the country.
And, saving the best for last, we spent time with the plants– studying their form, learning their energetics and actions, and wildcrafting to prepare sweet sweet remedies to share with our patients and community.
Thanks to our community who supports this work, our teachers who inspire us to grow and strive, the plants who heal, and the people who receive these gifts with grace. Viva la Herb Bus!
The Herb Bus has driven many miles this past year. And though she is approaching a quarter of a century old with hundreds of thousands of miles under her fan belt, each time I ask her to make a trip, either around Atlanta to service our regular stations, to the mountains to gather medicines, or to provide a pop-up clinic as far away as Montana, she is always revving to go. And that is because doing this work, serving those in need, isn’t a burden. It nourishes us. With each clinic we run, we grow from the friends we make and the pain we can help to ease. This is the path of serve. And what an incredible gift that by our work as herbalists, we have the chance to serve not only the people, but the plants and the planet.
There are so many ways to spread the health; how can you feed the flame to keep yourself, your family, and your community warm this winter?
The Bus and I are humbled and honored to be the recipients of the 2013 Community Service Award, presented by the American Herbalists Guild. I am grateful that in my life I have had the chance to serve my community, that I actually had something I could offer to them. I am also grateful to this herbal path, which has taught me so many lessons and surrounded me with amazingly creative and compassionate people. Being an herbalist allows me to serve plant, person, and planet, and it is an honor.
Thank you, AHG, for having considered our little Bus for this award. There has been so much community support to help this project succeed and now we feel yet another set of hands lifting up our work, that of the Guild. Thank you. We will continue to do our best to spread the health by putting herbs in the hands of the people.
The Herb Bus stops at the Open Door Community on the first Wednesday of every month. In this month’s issue of Hospitality, their regular newsletter, they gave a shout out to the Bus and our efforts to spread the health and happiness through herbalism. And I would like to give a shout-out right back for the wonderful work the Open Door is engaged in on the daily.
The Open Door is a residential community dedicated to resisting war and violence, dismantling racism, sexism, and heterosexism, abolishing the death penalty and building a stronger and more loving community by nurturing all members of our community including the homeless and prison inmates. They open the house several days a week and offer many needed services such as soup kitchen, showers, phones, and medical care. There are 4 different free clinics at the Open Door — basic medical, foot care, women’s, and for the past year herbal.
I have been fortunate to have spent close to a decade of Wednesday evenings surrounded by this dynamic and caring group as I serve at the Harriet Tubman Foot Clinic, a free foot clinic for our friends on the street. The members of this community have been a tremendous influence on my work and my heart. Their encouragement and support allowed me to take on the challenges of promoting an integrative approach at the foot clinic and also to dare to dream of a free mobile clinic we now call the Herb Bus.
There is a saying at the Open Door, “We’re gonna do the best we can until we can’t.” These are simple words that make a profound point. When we are facing what seems a difficult journey, when we don’t know how we can achieve the change that we know needs to happen, this phrase reminds us that we don’t have to have all the answers, we just have to do our best. And while we are out there, giving what we can, we will be creating the community that is capable of even greater things.
Welcome to the Herb Bus Chronicles. Deciding to facilitate a mobile, herbal clinic for underserved populations comes with a large set of hurdles. By keeping track of the problems encountered and solutions found, hopefully the Herb Bus can serve as a prototype for sister clinics.