Herbalists Without Borders is thrilled to announce that the winner of the prestigious American Herbalists Guild 2017 Community Service Award has gone to our very own Executive Director Gigi Stafne MH, ND and Herbalists Without Borders.
“The AHG Community Service Award honors an individual or group that has contributed significantly to the herbal profession and made a lasting impact through community or environmental service related to herbal professions on a local or national level.”
Gigi works tirelessly as Executive Director of Herbalists Without Borders International and as Director of Green Wisdom School of Natural & Botanical Medicine. She has dedicated her energies to health justice, humanitarian aid, and herbalism. She not only inspires hundreds of volunteers and students per year, but also works to raise funds and supplies for Herbalists Without Borders projects, which are critical to the health and wellness of people globally.
Herbalists Without Borders is proud to share this award with our very deserving Executive Director. Thank you, Gigi, for your hard work and ongoing efforts for Herbalists Without Borders and the international humanitarian aid and herbalism community.
Click here to read the full press release about this year's award, and Gigi’s wonderful work.
About American Herbalists Guild:
“The American Herbalists Guild was founded in 1989 as a non-profit, educational organization to represent the goals and voices of herbalists specializing in the medicinal use of plants. Our primary goal is to promote a high level of professionalism and education in the study and practice of therapeutic herbalism.”
We face yet another health care crisis. Here at Herbalists Without Borders we are taking actions daily to do something about it.
Herbalists Without Borders is a grassroots local to global organization working compassionately and efficiently to bring much needed health, herbalism and natural medicine to communities impacted by natural disaster, violent conflict, trauma or other barriers to accessing health suc h as poverty and racism. What many people do not realize about our 501 (c) (3) non-profit is that we operate on 100% volunteer-power. Last year, our 73 local to global chapters and projects served people from Syria to Standing Rock.
HWB offers full circle health justice and humanitarian aid via many projects:
- Borderless Medicine
- Free Peoples Clinics
- Trauma Trainings
- Street Medics
- Veterans Resiliency Project & Holistic Clinic
- Community Herb Gardens Project
- Medicinal Seed Saving Project
- Community Herb Apothecaries Project
We need your help. People need help today.
Without individuals, businesses and organizations such as you, HWB cannot meet the needs of communities asking daily for our assistance. Much like NPR or PBS, yet on a much smaller grassroots budget, we can only offer health justice via the dedication of volunteers and generous donations - as well as your membership.
What can you do to help this week?
Contribute, volunteer, join as a member, host a fundraiser. Encourage other herbalists in your area to join HWB as a member. Send critical supplies (herbal first aid kits to office supply gift cards). Give in a way that makes sense for you. We have a spectrum of membership levels to choose from, visit: herbalistswithoutborders.weebly.com/join-hwb.html. As a member, you'll receive 12-months of free advertising on our national-international website, other social media sites, discounts on trainings, events, free resource eGuides.
Let's discuss a generous monetary contribution to Herbalists Without Borders by reaching me directly: officeHWB@gmail.com This is so needed right now.
Thank you for your time, consideration and for believing that HEALTH is a HUMAN RIGHT! With gratitude and solidarity, Gigi Stafne MH, ND, Executive Director Herbalists Without Borders National-International
One of the very active chapters of HWB is East Africa, coordinated by Jeanne Hughes. She and her network not only work to train herbalists and deliver significant amounts of much needed herbal medicines to local communities, but they also work to provide critical human sanitation items, water, and more in the midst of political strife and escalating tensions. These conflicts and political instability make daily life a challenge, yet they continue, even at great risk.
Jeanne first started training local herbalists in the Rift Valley near Eldoret in 2005. By 2007 the post election violence had deeply divided the country. In 2008 Jeanne and her network hosted workshops in 3 regions to about 300 people, and in 2009 a private donor provided funds to support a 3-day workshop for 30 herbalists to attend. During that workshop tribal tensions were running high, so Jeanne and her group had each group share one favorite remedy and success story, to break the ice and highlight the common goals and interests!
Today, after years of working and growing the network in Kenya, all of theses groups in various regions form a network of herbalists, community healers, and citizens who grow, harvest, share, and barter botanicals and information to improve the health of their communities.
Kenya is a large country and has several groups who work in their local regions. The number of families they serve, medicines they distribute, kits they create and wells they have rehabilitated are truly inspiring. Here are a few of the groups and the VERY important work they are doing right now:
Shwari Group: 15 villages served; 170 families have clean water in 2016 thru the rehabilitation of 5 wells. 134 Days for Girls Kits (Sanitary Hygiene) were sewn and distributed in the Butere/Sabitia area of Kakamega County in Western Province. Submitted by Moses Makacha, Chairman.
Nyamira County: From Dr. Nehemiah Ndubi Okerio; 3000 litres of liquid soap were created and distributed to slum dwellers and the poor and needy to help control Cholera. 500 kg of various powdered herbal medicine were also given to approximately 30,000 persons through the efforts of 2 affiliated clinics.
Ramah Herbal Group; Likuayani area. Served 22 communities, 53 Families and 450 individuals near the Rift and Western Province border. Trained TEN Herbalists; Created and distributed 27 Days for Girls Kits; (plus 18 sent from USA), and distributed 13,500 litres of liquid and 1,500 kg powdered herbal medicines (Eucalyptus, charcoal, cypress, ginger, garlic, cinnamon, and other barks and leaves.
Chep'ngasuretin Herbal Group; Uasin Ngishu County, Rift Valley, near Eldoret. From the Chairman Dr. David Muigei. This growing group of 40 trained herbalists serves 10 villages with a total population of 2,500 persons. Almost half of those persons now have clean water thru the efforts of this group. 20 Days for Girls hygiene kits were sewn and distributed in 2016. Over 80 litres of liquid and many Kg of powdered herbal medicines were given to persons in these communities.
Spark A Life Kenya is an affiliate group that Jeanne has worked with in schools to improve sanitation. 114 Days for Girls kits have been created and distributed to Primary and Secondary schools in Munjiti, Emulade, Mulufu, Eshibongu, Kwisero, Mundah and Mulwanda Villages. Richie Otiende is the Spark A Life Kenya Director, based in Kisumu.
Africa is 1/5 of the worlds land mass and has 54 countries - it is a vast continent full of traditional healers, great beauty, plant knowledge, and medicinal botanicals. Yet, it is also a land of great humanitarian need with human trafficking, female genital mutiliation, drought and strife. Donations to HWB and also the East Africa HWB help them mobilize to make medicines, get water and supplies to communities, prevent more victims of human trafficking and educate about FGM. Your support of HWB directly helps HWB chapters such as HWB East Africa - every dollar makes a difference.
Meet An HWB Chapter - South Okanagan/Similkameen HWB, serving the region of Southern British Columbia, Canada!
What is your chapter name and which region do you serve?
South Okanagan / Similkameen Herbalists Without Borders - SOSHWB. We are located in Keremeos BC and serve the South Okanagan and Similkameen regions of Southern BC, Canada
How many members do you have in your group?
Around 10 people who have stated they would like to be involved. We are relatively young and just getting warmed up so we are figuring that all out.
Who is/are your main coordinator(s)?
Laurel Irons. I am a Registered Acupuncturist and Clinical Herbalist with a clinic and apothecary in Keremeos that also acts as SOSHWB headquarters.
Do you have any past projects that you wish to share? What you did or made, who you worked with, and how it benefit community?
We started in 2015 as a group of about 8 people interested in plants and plant medicine, but
weren't very active yet. We organized one medicine making day, when a group of 4 of us made elderflower cordial together, and one gathering day, when another group of 3 of us harvested balsamroot (Balsamorhizza sagitatta) and made balsamroot honeys and tincture.
Due to some members moving away, and many time constraints (I moved and expanded my clinic in the summer of 2015, and many of our members are organic farmers and orchardists which is incredibly time consuming) we were inactive in 2016.
So far in 2017, we have just held our first public event – a People's Clinic Day – on April 22. It was a multidisciplinary event with 5 therapists (massage, reflexology and acupuncture) and 2 herbalists offering services. Everything was available free or by donation. Most of the attendees were people who were new to herbs and/or the other services provided and wanting to try them out. We gave out a total of 37 therapeutic services, a few custom herbal remedies (with consultations), and herbal tea was offered to everyone who came by. The tea was a blend of nettle, mint, alfalfa and red clover, added to fresh pressed organic apple juice, all grown on the property of one of our herbalists, and made fresh that morning. We had printing donated from our local graphic designer and printer, newspaper space donated by our local paper, and organic fruit, donated by our local grocery store, that we were able to offer to everyone who came by. We had volunteer drivers arranged – thanks to our local Community Services' volunteer driver program - for anyone who wanted to come but for whom transportation might be a barrier, but didn't have to call on them.
The idea of the event was to offer accessible services to the community, as well as let people know about HWB. We had some new people sign up as a result of the event. The next step will be to connect with our member list and see how people would like to be involved. So far this year we plan to host a medicine making day (probably a herbal healing salve) and a plant walk, open to the public, also by donation or free. The donations collected will pay for supplies and other costs for these upcoming events.
Does your region face any unique needs?
The South Okanagan (including the Similkameen Valley) is a region comprised of small towns and rural communities. The Okanagan is the hottest and driest climate in Canada, and home to Canada's only desert. We have a very unique and delicate ecosystem here, with several plant and animal species and habitats on the endangered list, especially due to climate change and development (mostly agricultural) in the area. We see four distinct and beautiful seasons here, with long hot summers and mild but cool, snowy winters. The area is prone to forest fires and droughts in summer, though we have had so much rain and snow this spring that there haven't been any major fires yet.
We are home to Canada's “Organic Capital” - growers here supply much of the organic produce, juice, etc to the rest of the country. It is also the country's premier wine producing area, home to several vineyards and wineries, and increasingly more micro breweries, distilleries and cideries.
The population is home to many walks of life: employed, unemployed and seasonal labourers. Of course there are many famers, orchardists and seasonal farm workers, and there is a copper mine that employs many locals. Many retirees move here from the rest of the country, seeking the hot dry weather and milder winters. There are several young families as well. Though when young people get old enough they tend to move away to the cities for education and employment opportunities. Because of the seasonal nature of the work here, many people call this home for half the year, especially from Quebec, Mexico and the Caribbean. Unfortunately, seasonal workers still work very long, hard hours for comparably low pay. And for those not working in mining or agriculture, or the small business and infrastructure that supports the area, it is very hard to find work. Housing and employment opportunities are scarce, as are health care resources. People waiting to see a doctor or specialist can wait several weeks or months. There are a good number of holistic service providers in the area, but few registered therapists that people can see with their private or Provincial health care benefits. (Our Medical Services Plan in BC covers basic health care costs – ie. doctor and hospital visits – to all residents, and a minimal subsidy for extended health services for low income residents: acupuncture, massage, physiotherapy, chiropractic, and podiatry. People of a certain income level pay a premium for MSP while low income people pay nothing.)
Area residents are largely from a Euporean settler background, but there is increasing diversity, especially from South and East Asian, South American and Caribbean areas. Most people are English speaking but there are many French speaking people here as well, primarily due to the decades-long history of young Quebeqois coming to this area to work. Small First Nations communities - that comprise the Smelqmix (Similkameen) people and some of the Syilx (Okanagan) people - are interspersed among the towns and villages. There is more integration here than in areas where Indigenous people were forced to live on large reservations that were isolated from towns and cities. However, just like anyone else who survives colonization, local First Nations people here as a whole still contend with fewer resources than typical Canadians, and the ongoing effects of residential schools and forced displacement from their lands and traditions.
What do you enjoy/like most about your HWB chapter or HWB international?
Accessability! Access to holistic health care is my passion and I love that HWB aims to provide this internationally, as well as offering me a platform to oranize activities locally while supporting a greater cause.
Who to contact to join: Laurel Irons firstname.lastname@example.org
Herbalists can often be compared to the Dandelion – or any other insistent and persistent plant – in finding ways to sprout in even the most sterile environs, furthering diversity, penetrating the assumed impenetrable, loosening the restraints, seeking and discovering the openings and opportunities that can allow both our true natures and nature’s healing ways to blossom again.
noun: a sudden powerful forward or upward movement, esp. by a crowd or by a natural force such as the waves or tide; a plant’s surge of growth.
• increase suddenly and powerfully, typically during an otherwise stable or quiescent period
Picture for a moment, if you will, a small crack in the carefully laid sidewalk of any city, wrested open by the heaving breathing, freeze and thaw of a living earth intolerant of stasis and control. Picture, too, the vibrant green expression of the vital life force as it sinuously wriggles and forces its way upwards towards the sun, resplendent with its disorderly leaves, it’s shameless yellow flower-head unbowed and un-saddened: the proverbial outlaw Dandelion!
Dissed as a “weed” by a majority of citizens, poisoned with herbicides or ignominiously yanked from the ground by even some lovers of gardens, it nonetheless continues to not only persist but flourish, breaching the restraints of any pernicious pavement or callous concrete that ever tries stop it. The Dandelion serves us as both a symbol and agent of insistent self determination in the face of oppression, conformity and control, of a natural resurgent vitality in resistance to the unhealthy ways and stultifying sameness of the dominant paradigm. It is medicine for the liver, for the ecosystem, and for our ways of perceiving ourselves and our role in this world and work. Dandelion resistance. Dandelion healing. Dandelion delight.
Like the Dandelion, the herbalist is by nature an agent of healing and enlivening, as well as a symbol of strong if gentle persistence in the the face of periodic eras of increased oppression, exclusion, distraction or neglect. Herbalists, have at times joined Dandelions in being demeaned, with folk herbalists in particular denigrated like weeds. Most importantly, the encroaching concrete that the Dandelion suffers, bedevils herbalists as well – in the form of not only oppressive regulation and restrictions, but also our own traditions and beliefs whenever they limit our evolution and innovation. It can be seen in the institutionalizing of our craft and sometimes rigidifying of its practitioners. It is manifest in those systems and standards that make folks at any level of knowledge feel unworthy, excluded or trivialized... and that crusting slurry of self doubt that can cement us the the floor.
Like the dandelion, herbalism prospers, gestates and spreads surreptitiously whenever suppressed, feeling right at home in the “underground.” Neither walls nor borders can restrain it. If there be a but single fissure anywhere in that which holds it down, it is through it that herbalism will surge forth into the light of day once more.
“...the nexus of a folk herbal resurgence – resurrecting the spirit of Western Herbalism.“
noun: An increase or revival after a period of less activity, popularity, or occurrence.
• to surge again
Don’t be fooled by claims of a need to “professionalize” this craft, to make it acceptable to the dominant corporatized paradigm through certification, rigidification, and self imposed hierarchy. Herbalism is intrinsically unacceptable to those who put money ahead of the health of people and ecosystems, and this makes it a rebel, Dandelion tough.
Like the Dandelion, the practice of herbalism is itself a living thing, as caring as the most sentient being, while plant-like in its powers of resilience, resumption and regeneration. Again and again it has quieted of its own accord or been systematically repressed, been alternately embraced and dissed. In its Autumns and Winters, it draws into itself. Its roots continue to grow, but its vines rest from their earlier wrangling, its leaves fall or hang snow-bent in contemplation. In its Springs and Summers, new growth is awakened, and new sprouts burst from hungering seed.
In its most recent manifestation, the herbal resurgence is a response to the placation, reduced enthusiasm, timidity and complacency that can effect any comfortably successful field... and an eruption of community, an alliance of folk herbalists who for too long had felt peripheral, excluded by the systems of membership and degrees, offended by hierarchy, and alienated by the increasing stress and pressure around professional status and mainstream acceptance. It includes home and small business makers of herbal preparations who felt threatened, sidelined or alienated by the slick commercialism and impersonal corporatism they saw as becoming herbalism’s public face. And those who have felt there is a further responsibility, that the conditions of our society and this planet required one work to heal the stressful lifestyles and relationships that beget much illness, the communities we live in and governments we allow to supervise us, the fundamental character of our society, the ways we grow our food and medicines, and the threatened wildlands from which both we and our herbs emerged.
Evolution is a call for renewal, every bit as important for us and our craft as is a return to our roots – a reclaiming of herbalism’s intrinsic spirit and essential organic nature, its informality and egalitarianism, social consciousness and courageous response. Ours is a remembering of the original feelings and motivations that have always inspired this work with medicinal plants. And ours is a surging forward to self empowerment and grass roots action, mated with the reawakening of the curiosity, excitement, and giddy pleasures of this healing work.
A Confluence of Purpose
A “Confluence” is an act or process of merging, the coming together of wildly diverse courses and tributaries into a single shared purpose as powerful and as needed as any river.
In what by all appearances is a particularly bizarre, dangerous, intolerant, xenophobic, and oppressive era, it is time – for a confluence of purpose, of like hearted, plant loving healers of self, society, and planet. And a time for herbal resurgence after resurgence, continuous eruptions of powerful passions and caring insistence, wild-heartedness and nonconformity, awareness and action, love and devotion that – like the health-full outlaw Dandelion – nothing can keep down, and none can hold back.
Jesse Wolf Hardin is cofounder and co-director of Plant Healer Magazine, along with his partner Kiva Rose, and he invites your participation this June in Plant Healer’s Good Medicine Confluence in Durango, Colorado. Wolf is an acclaimed ecosopher, eco and social activist, artist, and champion of nature’s medicine, living seven river crossings from the nearest road in a rewilded river canyon of S.W. New Mexico. He has been a leading voice of and for the natural world for over four decades, his work earning praise from a wide range of contemporaries from Gary Snyder to Starhawk and Rosemary Gladstar. Wolf has been a featured presenter at hundreds of conferences and universities, including cross cultural collaborations appropriately called Earth First! “Medicine Shows” that melded his spoken word with live music. He’s the author of over 600 published magazine articles and 20 books such as Gaia Eros, The Plant Healer’s Path, and The Healing Terrain, as well as co-editing the compilation book Radical Herbalism, all available from the Plant Healer bookstore. At this Summer’s Good Medicine Confluence, he will be teaching classes on both ReWilding (a term he coined) and ReEnchantment. Check out: www.PlantHealer.org