Healing is Social Work

A teacher of mine once said something in passing that planted a seed in me. This seed of an idea has grown to be one of the key values that guides the growth of the both my herbal education work and my personal consultations. Specifically, it inspires my process, that is the approach that I've taken on this mission of bringing herbal medicines to more and more people.He said this, "healing is social work."It's pretty simple, but has been quite powerful for me. Part of that is because I like word play and exploring multiple meanings of things. But what's become most important to me is the reminder that we are all connected. Even when we're deeply engaged in our own healing journeys (or not engaged at all), the health of each of us is important to the health of all of us. We are each members of a greater and greater wholes - our family units, our circles of close friends, our neighbourhoods, work places, the circles of influence just get larger. When we get sick we need support from each of these circles and when we're well, we offer support to these circles. The more people who are ill in any of these circles, the more draining or even debilitating it is for the balance and health of that circle. are you following? This is just 1 small example, but I think we can see how this works in our various circles and out into the greater society.These ideas inevitably remind me of a saying from the union movement, 'an injury to one is an injury to all.' It's a statement of solidarity, a recognition of the interconnectedness of each of us. I can't help but see this as an important lesson for all of us doing either community building or personal healing work. I see them as 2 sides of the same leaf (or 'coin' if you prefer).When we go to see a healing practitioner of some type, are we not going to find that balance and wellness we're seeking faster and stay well longer when we have good food nourishing our bodies? When we have the emotional supports we need? When we can sustain ourselves through doing work that feeds our spirit?When I'm really 'doing well', I have so much to give and I do so with joy and deep fulfillment. And I see this all around me. I'm guessing that you've had some similar experiences."healing is social work."I guess you could say that I'm hearing this as , "do healing in ways that also provide healing to the social body."Let's look at some of the practical expressions of this in the Urban Herb School, and then I'm going to invite you to participate in a wonderful project that is growing from this seed.Accessibility is a core value of my herb work. Not all of my workshop promotions articulate it, but I've always held a student's interest and commitment to learning about herbs as a more important measuring stick than their ability to pay me for classes. Nobody is turned away for lack of funds. We always seem to find a way for them to contribute to the UHS in ways that fill them with joy also.Sustainability is also a core value. Recognizing that this word is overused to a point of almost having no meaning at all (ie. green washing), I still use it for a lack of anything as all encompassing. But I'll share some of what this means for me. I teach people about plants that they can find easily and abundantly in green spaces around Vancouver. And with an emphasis on ethical harvesting and developing personal relationships with our medicine plants, there's a growing community of people who see and practice from the reality that our personal health is dependent on the health of plant communities (as I said, the circles just get bigger). I believe that this deep level of investment and dependance on the plants of the forests, lakes, bogs, grasslands, etc. goes a lot further to ensuring their protection than intellectual ideas about preservation.Empowering and strengthening our communities with skills & knowledge. You can see **here** some of the photos that students have shared with me of their growing apothecaries (herbal medicine cabinets). They're using these medicines instead of prescription or OTC drugs. They know the stories of the medicines, where they were gathered, when and how. And often we're gathering these herbs as a group (many former students are organizing themselves, friends and family). We're forming community in order to share in these subsistence activities."healing is social work."Lastly, I'd like to invite you to participate in an event that ties many of these things together... the Foragers' Feast Potluck- gathering, eating and healing together.This event has many goals:

  • show people how wild foods can be brought into our diets
  • remind the world that "Wild Foods & Herbal Medicines are essential for Food Security"
  • eat wonderful, local food and connect with wonderful, local people
  • raise money for 2 scholarship funds for the UHS + more free stuff

But this is more than just an event. How we come together to make this event successful is a huge part of the point of the event. This event's success requires a community of people supporting and participating.The Foragers' Feast Potluck will be happening Saturday Oct. 13 in East Vancouver.The major fundraising component of the event is a Raffle with about $1500 worth of herbal education, consultations and herbal remedies.Plus, these raffle items are going to launch some herbal product lines for the UHS.In this way, the Foragers' Feast is designed to facilitate our community taking responsibility for its own health and its access to healing with plant medicines while strengthening our live, in person social networks.Healing is Social Work.