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Community Herbalism Updates

Community Herbalism classes coming up soon:

Workshop at the Breitenbush Herbal Conference, Sept 6-9

Workshop at the Dandelion Seed Conference, Sept 21-23

If you are interested in community herbalism project and you can’t make it to these conferences, contact us here and we can start to plan a community herbalism class near you, specially tailored to your community’s needs.

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Harvesting

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digging roots together

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Community Wildcrafting Days!

This is a new idea for 2012. It’s just an idea so far, so keep in touch if you are interested….

Community Wildcrafting Days

We will meet at a central location in Portland, probably once a month. Probably a Sunday or a Monday. Everyone who signs up will plan on spending the day out in the field and we will carpool caravan to a site where we can do some wild harvesting together. Sounds nifty, yes?

More will be posted and some flyers made up. The first one will probably be in April, maybe as early as March. Leave your feedback on this site if you have ideas or if you want to suggest days and times.

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Follow Us on Twitter

I know, weird, right. But it’s just a way to know that we’ve posted something new….

 

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Identifying the best Plants for community healing.

I’ve created a set of criteria for the ideal plant medicines that can become incorporated into community healing work.

1) Safe. 
The best herbs for getting everyone to work with together are ones that everyone can take safely. There are so many of these, it  doesn’t bear listing. But it excludes herbs that are only safe in a narrow dosage range or that are only safe for some people. Think of it this way: Can kids consume it? Can a woman who doesn’t’ yet know she’s pregnant take it safely?

2) Easy to Identify
Again, since we want to bring people into the picture of community herbalism who may not have a strong education, or haven’t done a lot of work with plants before, and since we want children to be included as well, it ought to be a plant that can be easily identified 100% of the time by most everybody.

3) Easy to Harvest
Some plants are far away or difficult to find. Some are armed with lots of spines. Some are roots that require massive digging efforts. For community herbalism we are looking for the plants that are easy! Use just a few tools if any and put them in your baskets. Flowers and leaves and twigs… Or small roots like dandelion. Or buds that fall to the ground in windstorms like Cottonwood. Or any number of berries. Easy!

4) Locally abundant
Now, realize that this criteria doesn’t require the plant to be “native.” There are a lot of plants that are abundant, weedy, naturalized or even invasive. Should we ignore them? No. In my part of the Willamette valley, Lemon Balm is a weed in everyone’s garden. So is Common Mallow. Rosemary grows to 5 foot tall shrubs, and Calendula re-sseeds itself easily with no effort. These are all locally abundant. Dandelion doesn’t even need to be mentioned. We cannot harm the stands of these plants. They are with us. They are so abundant that they are free. This is what we are looking for. Something that is immune to commercialization. Herbs that are so prevalent that everyone can have access to them all the time. Douglas Fir is the most common tree in Oregon, and it’s needles make a tasty tea, it’s bark is a fairly strong medicinal, and in the Spring, the young needles have lots of vitamin C. Of course you will never see it on a store shelf… Because you can’t look anywhere in Western Oregon and not see it!

So those are the criteria for selecting herbs to incorporate into community plant medicine work. Leave a comment to mention the herbs in your area you think meet these criteria, and say what part of the world you are in.

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Imagine Collective Healing

Sometimes we wonder how communities can be involved in healing for individuals. In the context of herbal medicine, most of the time we recommend or give herbs to someone and then tell them to go home and take them.

Recently I have been present at events where a person seeking herbs is interviewed by a whole group of people and what emerged was utterly magical. The energy that happens when a person discloses  their health issues to a whole group of people in a safe and supportive space opens up a shared experience that magnifies the sacred heart field of everyone involved. The insights come faster, recognition of shared human experience and respect come faster, possible avenues for healing bounce around the room and remedies are discussed openly. The collective wisdom of the group comes fully to bear on the needs of one person.

We recommended herbs for the individuals who came seeking them. But the step we did not take was to actually take the herbs together. It would have added another aspect to the whole experience if we had said “These are the plant medicines that could help you. Now let’s all take them together once.” Taking the remedies together once allows for the full recognition of the fact that what is medicine for one person might be preventative for another, or a teacher, or a remembrance of a feeling. Then the person can go home with their herbs and with a starting point of feeling part of a collective plant medicine experience.

Just an idea so far….

What are your thoughts on collective healing experiences?

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2011 Portland Plant Medicine Gathering

There will be a Community Herbalism workshop at the Portland Plant Medicine Gathering, December 2nd – 4th.

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