Walking the Walk

I’ve been having a bit of an existential crisis. You see, I was not sure I wanted to be an herbalist any longer. I cannot in all good conscience align myself with a good portion of “the community” with all the social influencing and scare-tactic marketing. Especially when some of those marketing types have sat silently by when racists and Q-anon conspiracists have been openly thrashing our credibility.

Sometimes, I am embarrassed to tell people here about my profession you all, and that is not okay. I worked hard for my education and experience. I should be proud of it, but no elevator commercial is long enough to get across that I am not all about that kind of boutique, bougie life.

I spent some time asking people questions and researching why people interested in holistic health seem particularly susceptible to being sucked into the dubious world of Interwebz herbalism and conspiracy theories. It boils down to the fact that reliable sources of information are expensive and inaccessible.

This goes against everything I am working for locally. I didn’t get teargassed this summer because I think late-stage capitalism is grand, you all.

• I am going to start offering free consults again. No sliding fee bullshit, no forms to fill out to prove you can’t afford it. If you are herbal clinician who wants some guidance, you can book an appointment also. Maybe when I am having a rough time, you can send me some cookies or something like that? That’s the mutual aid my collective does locally and that’s what I want to see in the world.

• I just jumped on an Herbalist Without Borders committee that is working towards the goal of providing accessible herbal education to people.

• I am working on a transcription project that I will be publishing to get a scholarship fund started. It’s going slowly because I’ve had to stop for a few paying gigs, but I am getting there.

Before Covid I did not think I had the money to do this. I mean I really don’t. But it did happen, and most my income went out the window and we managed to get by.

I do not have a wealthy partner to back me up like a lot of the people who make a go as herbalists, but at least I have one. I put a couple more meaningful projects on the backburner to work on crap articles that kept the lights on. Our boys got jobs, recently. We will be okay.

I will never have a fancy house in the middle of the woods or be able to buy myself that herb farm I’ve always wanted. But I will be able to work with my collective and not feel like a fraud.

This is going to upset some of the people who will see this as undercutting them. They will drag my name through the dirt like the people who market elderberry did when I wrote that post.

(This seems as good a time to bring this up. I wrote that article because one of my local students asked me to write something she could share with her mom’s group after a class discussion we had. It was not to make a name for myself or any or the other things the mean girls said. My student feels terrible about the fact all those things got said about me, just because I did her a favor.)

To the capitalists who will get upset with me about this. The people I am reaching out to can’t afford to pay you, and they are turning to crappy social media groups offering potentially harmful advice. It’s not part of my moral compass to look the other way while that happens. You can keep marketing yourself at the wealthy worried well. You will be fine.

People should not have to pay for healthcare, and they shouldn’t have to turn to social media influencers for information about herbal interventions, because they can’t afford a consultation fee.

Power to the people.

Herbal Activism

Editors Note… I have been asked to explain the term “apologist” as I use it below.

An apologist is anyone who makes excuses for displays of white nationalism (or any other ism) based on the idea the perpetrators are just misguided or uneducated, and consequently can be reasoned out of it,  is in effect condoning their behavior.
Furthermore, if  you believe Nazi hate speech should be protected by the First Amendment, you are an apologist in my book, and definitely part of the problem. I believe the Germans have it right in declaring Volksverhetzung a crime.

Some of you know that I’ve been off my game, lately.  Chronic illness sucks and while I am working hard to get on top of it,  I am feeling a little disempowered- especially tonight.

On the other hand I do know  that if I am not physically and mentally capable of handling the front lines, I shouldn’t be there.  I want to be an asset not a liability.

Today, I ventured out onto the Internet for the first time in awhile and saw things that really just pissed me off.  For example  I read, “seeing pictures of those men [Nazis and KKK]  just breaks my heart. They are obviously so lost and full of anger, being fed lies and hatred by our current goddamn administration”

As if those groups didn’t exist for years before the current administration?  The hell, with that. I have no time for apologists.

The Nazi, the KKK and all of the other fascist hate groups have always been, this administration just emboldened them. Ask any person of color, anywhere.

It seems that understanding that requires a bit more knowledge than many white liberals seems to possess

Having the patience to educate them on this matter without getting kicked off social media, is not in my skill set.

I do swear to all that is green, if I see one more white person invoke that classist, racist, sexist, homophobe Gandhi while arguing against engagement this week, I am going to come unglued.

Arguing with liberal pacifists and apologists is such a time suck, and I am not good at it.

I decided to spend the time that I would have spent cussing that person out,  writing this list  to remind myself of what I can do from my home based on my skills.

I know there are other lists out there but  I kind of geared this toward people who are into botanical medicine or gardening and really just can’t be at a demonstration for whatever reason.

For me part of this involves doing a better job of connecting with people in my area engaged in activism.  It also involves people in those groups acknowledging that behind the scenes help can be useful.

I’ve reached out to various activist groups in the area to offer my services as a medic, but Iowa being what it is, they don’t even understand what that means. So, maybe I have to work harder at that.

If you don’t have demonstrations in your area:

– Get your Ham Radio license and learn to set up a communication center.  Kind of a long term thing but generally fun and useful.

– If you garden, preserve garden excess with portability and ease of preparation in mind. (For example, I can teach you how to make tomato soup powder. I am going to start adding things like that here on the blog.)

– Host people traveling to and from demonstrations in other areas.

– Learn psychological first aid so you know how help people who have experienced psychological trauma and refer them to the appropriate resources. (I have some training in this and know another person in town who teaches certification classes. I can organize this class if there is interest?)

-If you have training/experience as a street medic, offer a training class.

– If you live somewhere there may eventually be demonstrations, start stocking your apothecary with acute care in mind.

-If not, connect with street medics at demonstrations to find out what they need, then have a trauma kit assembly event.

– Organize food drives and put together food/survival packs to send with people traveling to demonstrations.

-Find out who is organizing local activist groups and ask them what you can do for them?

– Make sure local activists are attending to their self-care. Host a self-care for activists’ event. I know it sounds silly but it is important for resiliency and preventing burnout.

 If you have demonstrations in your area.

– Quietly, host out-of-town guests.

– Quietly, offer your home up as a place where people can eat, sleep and recuperate safely.

 -Quietly, offer to do childcare for people who are more able to demonstrate.

– Organize groups of people who can support those who are arrested by posting bail, and making sure they have support (rides, clothes, etc) through the legal process.  Don’t ghost people who put it all on the line.

The final thing I want to mention is that if you invite people into your home, learn how to vet people and have a safety plan in place, no matter how quiet you are.