Friday, April 18, 2014

Arnica drops and Lavender Spray: Creating Herbal/Emotional Support at Marches and Demonstrations

Yesterday I participated in the Not One More Deportation march and rally, where Migrant Justice/Justicia Migrante, DREAMers MOMS USA, Massachusetts Jobs with Justice!, and other grassroots organizations shut down ICE (immigration) and 19 protesters who participated in civil disobedience were arrested.  My photos are posted here.  More here.  More information here and with links to the press here.  Here's a bit of what the day was like:

This event was really inspiring for me.  Children, babies, adults, and elders joined together for hours outside the Suffolk County detention center in Boston in the forceful wind to stand in solidarity with organizations and families all over the US and beyond.  President Obama has deported over 2 million people during his presidency, and he continues to deport 1,100 people every single day.  These unjust policies and practices are separating families and communities.  Millions of people who make this nation function are living in the shadows, forced to live in fear.  Children are afraid that their dad won't be there when they come home from school because he may have been pulled over on his way home from work in a routine traffic stop that leads to him being detained. Partners are afraid that their families will be split apart if one is detained and deported.  Victims, witnesses, and family members are afraid to call the police in domestic violence situations and other emergencies for fear of being arrested.

I knew about this protest many weeks before, but didn't know that allies were welcome alongside undocumented activists until just days before.  My first thought: food!  The second: herbal first aid kit!

With little time between work shifts, I pulled out my street medic kit to take stock.  I wish I had time to make a patch that said "Remedios" (remedies in Spanish) with a green leaf.  But alas, I ended up bringing my pack with a red cross and 'Street Medic' sign on it.  I contacted an event organizer, to be sure that it was okay with them if I brought some first aid supplies and herbal remedies, and to see if there was going to be a planned street medic presence that I should connect with.  There wasn't, but I received consent to bring my kit and offer remedies to folks, to I started gathering the bits and pieces for my kit.  I was a bit nervous that folks would see the street medic sign and red cross and think I was an EMT or had other such medical training (which I don't, I'm a community herbalist with some street medic training - see Mountainsong Expedition's Village Medic Training: First Aid and Herbalism for your Community classes).  It felt important, though, to bring along some remedies for people's emotional health.

Rallies can be intense.  Just having a large group of people together for any reason can create a lot of energy that can be overwhelming.  A large group coming together specifically to speak out and take action against injustices can bring up a lot of different emotions.  Gathering in front of a detention center can be triggering for many, even for those without loved ones who have been or who currently are locked up.  Hearing the personal stories of the daily wearing stress of the ever-constant threat of deportation many families face can be painful.  Listening to tales of deportations tearing families apart is heartbreaking. 

I wanted to bring remedies that would help create emotional support for those participating in the day's events - whether they were participating in the civil disobedience, participating in the march, or they were showing support from the sidelines.  I packed up some basic first aid supplies - bandaids, gauze bandage, a cool pack, gloves (to protect myself/others in case there were open wounds or blood or other body substances present-very important to remember!), sunscreen, benadryl and ibuprofen.  (Sometimes people get all sheepish when telling me that they took some Advil or antibiotics.  I love herbs, but I'm not anti mainstream medicine.  I'm into both/and, not either/or.)

I brought some Ginger chews to settle the stomach if someone is feeling nauseous or car-sick.  I also included pouches of Yarrow leaf and flower (to chew and apply to open wound to stop bleeding), Plantain leaf (Plantago, not the banana-like fruit - to chew up and apply to skin to draw out splinters, stingers, even poison!), Goldenseal root (cultivated - not wildcrafted, as this plant is at risk - I have rarely used this, but it's helpful if someone has intense diarrhea) and Slippery Elm bark (to add to water to soothe a irritation in the throat or digestive tract).  I brought a few capsules of Activated Charcoal for food poisoning or chemical exposure.   Chamomile tea bags made the cut as it's such a fabulous herb - anti-spasmodic for muscle or menstrual cramps, calming to the nervous system, soothing to the digestive system, and when it's in a tea bag it can easily be moistened to apply to irritated eyes or irritated/inflamed skin.

I brought remedies I make such as:  Global Citizen herbal first aid salve, Speak Truth! Throat Spray dedicated to whistleblowers and truth-tellers,  Crampease blend for menstrual cramps, Calm the Rage to cool hot emotions, Elderberry Ginger Elixir for immune support, and Heart Elixir for emotional support.  (Many of these remedies are available at my Dandelioness Herbals etsy shop)

The tinctures, elixirs, and throat spray I brought were all alcohol-based and for internal use.  They're convenient for travel and demonstration-situations as they are ready to take, not requiring hot water (as opposed to tea) or other such supplies/preparation, but not everyone may feel comfortable taking them.  They may be on medications that may interact negatively with herbs, they may not want any alcohol, or they may not want to ingest something given to them from a stranger.  So, I wanted to create some external remedies to bring as well.

I made a relaxing, grounding spray with distilled water, homemade Rose and Lavender flower water (hydrosol, instructions here), Lavender and Chamomile essential oils, and homemade Corn and Yarrow flower essences.  I wanted a mist that could be sprayed around or on people who needed to shift the energy of the event a bit, to create a bit of calm if need be.  I love that Rose, Lavender, and Chamomile are all flowers that are familiar to many peoples and cultures.  I added the Corn flower essence to help stay grounded, especially in an urban environment, and the Yarrow flower essences to help create an energetic shield/clear boundaries.  I felt particularly good about using the Chamomile (Manzanilla) and Corn (Maiz) as I knew a lot of the people and organizations attending the rally are from Latin American countries/cultures where these are common plants that are not only used as food and remedies, but also have spiritual significance.

 Chamomile and Lavender harvest     

Someone asked me to take a photo of her and her friend with a sign, in front of the detention center.  She gave me her camera to take the photo and told me the reason she wanted it was because her husband had been detained in this very facility.  He was deported and now she is alone raising their four children.  I asked if she wanted some relaxing spray and she said yes.  A small gesture, but hopefully a comforting one.  I also showed the kids the spray and they wanted me to mist it on them and they liked it.  (Just make sure to tell folks to close their eyes before misting!)

With children in mind, I wanted to bring something to keep the long drive interesting and that would be fun if the kids needed a bit of play-time at the rally.  Legos would be a nightmare, my board games were too big.  So I made some aromatherapy bubbles by adding a few drops of pure Sweet Orange essential oil and Yarrow flower essence to the bubble container, and put a rainbow sticker on it for fun.  They were a pretty big hit.  (Just try to guide young kids from inadvertently blowing bubble-soap into their siblings eyes when blowing really hard.)  I brought an extra bottle of bubbles in case I wanted to send it home with a kid (or grownup!) who was having a hard time and needed some cheering up.  The kids I went with also brought some little matchbox cars which they shared with other kids there.  It was very sweet.

Which reminds me - snacks and water!!!  When I was caring for the kids on the sidelines at the beginning of the rally, I noticed a little girl in a stroller that looked upset.  She started to cry.  Her mom was near, but caring for her little brother and so my 3 and 5 year old friends and I helped cheer her up.  We stood near her in a line to shield her from the wind, in case she was crying because she was cold.  A passing protester gave us a bag of chips (it was unopened, so I felt okay sharing it with the kids, otherwise I would've checked in with the parents) and the kids all opened their mouths to be fed!  I wasn't sure if they wanted to keep their fingers warm in their coat pockets on this wicked windy day, or if they were feeling like baby birds.  I was happy to feed the bird-baby-protesters.  My friend then shared her gorp (good old raisin and peanuts - with m&m's) with them.  Then the 5 year old started driving his little car on top of the head of the little girl in the stroller.  She had stopped crying and they where having a good time.

After that, I found someone to watch the kids so I could get closer to the civil disobedience and document it.  After I captured the scene with some photos, my friend who was participating in the action motioned to me for water.  Of course!  They're out in the elements, singing and chanting and shouting, surrounded by armed law enforcement officers.  And if they're taken into custody, who knows if they'll have any access to food or water.  They definitely needed some water.  Luckily I had in my pack a sports bottle that folks could squeeze water into their mouth with, without spreading germies.  It got passed around.  Then my friend shared the rest of her gorp.  Note to self:  always bring more water and snacks - for kids, protesters, folks who may get low blood sugar, anyone really!  (I did bring plenty of food and fluids for myself, knowing that I cannot be a calm, supporting presence for others if I'm hungry and ungrounded.  Next time I'll bring more easy-to-share snacks.)

After those participating in the civil disobedience were arrested, we marched to the back side of the detention center to let those detained out of view of the demonstration know that we were there, and that they are not forgotten.  We stood on a bridge beside traffic and held signs, sang, and chanted.  Community members locked up on the inside gathered at the windows and held up signs.  We also held signs to the road behind us so that those passing by knew why we were there.  We received many waves, honks, and smiles from drivers and passengers.  As we left the bridge, I realized my throat was sore from hours of singing and chanting.  We had raised our voices strong and loud.  I pulled out my Speak Truth! Throat Spray and the soothing herb and honey blend was just what my raspy throat needed.  I brought the remedy to those with bullhorns (as well as others), imagining that their throats may have been even more sore than mine.  Many accepted and appreciated the remedy.

Someone needed a bandaid.  Someone else needed some herbal first aid salve for skin irritation.  No major medical situations.  Still, bringing that herbal first aid kit and checking in with folks that looked stressed or cold or thirsty, helped contribute to a culture of self-care and community-care.

And as we march by the detention center, Dandelion stays rooted 
beside us, embodying persistence and resistance, sending forth its 
seeds across borders and prison walls.

When I got home that night, like many others, I called both the women's and men's jail to call for the release of our friends who'd been arrested for participating in the civil disobedience.  I was glad to hear, just before I crawled into bed exhausted from the day, that they had all just been released and in were in good spirits.  The next morning I heard from a friend who the arresting officers had put in too-tight zip tie police cuffs.  

Aye!  Why hadn't I thought of that?!  Whether folks resisted arrest or not, this is a common occurrence.  I wish I had left my Arnica drops with someone who was greeting the activists upon their release from jail!  I made the drops by infusing the fresh flowers from my garden in brandy and then homeopathically diluting it, to be used both internally and externally.  Be sure not to take Arnica tea/tincture internally at full strength!  Just one drop straight or in water is plenty.  Or you can buy homeopathic Arnica at a Coop or natural food store - usually in little blue tubes.  Get 5 Arnica tablets into the cap and, without touching them, place them under your tongue to dissolve.  Wait a few minutes before drinking water or eating.  Arnica drops can also be massaged into bruises, strained muscles or ligaments, and injured/inflamed hands or feet (just not on open wounds).  Arnica is also available as cream, gel, or salve/ointment.  I wanted to give my friend fresh St.Johnswort oil in case the too-tight zip ties had caused any damage to the nerves when they cut off circulation.  St. Johnswort is great for nerve damage (sciatica, post-surgery), and would also help with inflammation.  It can be used both externally, and internally in homeopathic form under its botanical name, Hypericum perforatum.  Calming/grounding/protective spray and Heart Elixir would be great emotional after-care.  I hadn't thought before of making an herbal first aid kit/care package to be there when people were released to help heal the physical and emotional trauma that is common during arrest and while locked up.  I love the idea and look forward to putting such a kit together for next time.

What would you pack in your herbal first aid kit?  Your just-released-from-jail after-care kit?  Please share suggestions in the comments below or by emailing dandelionessherbals (at)  yahoo (dot)  com

Also see:
-(Im)migration and Lip Balms for Social Justice?! 
-Love & Migration: Migration is Beautiful & Natural. So is Solidarity.
-Heart Elixir: to open, heal, and protect the heart   
-In Case of (emotional) Emergency: self-care form to fill out
-National Day Laborer Organizing Network's music videos on their Arts & Culture page 

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Hope! Because Sometimes We Need Some Help: another Wake Robin Botanicals and Dandelioness Herbals collaboration

"Wake Robin Botanicals & Dandelioness Herbals have been working hard to collect some videos of inspiration & laughter. It took many grueling hours to vet all the videos that came our way! :) May this help with some giggles, hope & inspiration when you may be feeling overwhelmed or sad. Enjoy!"

This is in *no way* pressure to feel happy when you're down in the dumps.  Sometimes we just want to be sad, grumpy, depressed, frustrated, irritable, etc, and these are all a part of the full range of human emotions.  However these blog posts are for the times when we're feeling a bit stagnant and wanna shift our mood, or when we just wanna watch cute kitty/penguin videos and add a bit of "YES!!"-ness in our day
! Feel free to post more suggestions below in the comments.  Enjoy!

For more Wake Robin Botanicals & Dandelioness Herbals herbal collaborations click here.

Penguin Sympathy Solidarity

Instructions For A Bad Day by Shane Koyczan

I also feel inspired when I see dancing videos (especially people dancing together, in flashmobs and such)!

Six-year-old B-Girl Terra 

More by this crew above here.  There are more instructional dancing videos of the One Billion Rising flashmob on my previous blog post here.

For more critter videos on the Wake Robin Botanicals' "Hope! Because sometimes we need some help" post, click here.

Furze/Gorse on the West Coast of Ireland.  Furze/Gorse is "good for what ails you" and it's also said that "Kissing's out of fashion when the furze is out of bloom."  (Note: Furze is *always* in bloom)  I love this plant's hopefull, vibrant, golden radiance, especially for gloomy, rainy days or anytime I'm feeling under the weather.  More info here.

Monday, March 17, 2014

St. Patrick's Solidarity

In grade school, I died my bangs green with food coloring on St. Patrick's Day.  That same green the Chicago River is died on that same day.  I'd never been to Ireland, though I'd wanted to go since I was quite small.  I'd never seen the rolling hills with their vibrant, gorgeous shades of green.  

This year, St. Patrick's Day has a special meaning.  Not only because I've now been to Ireland and have heartstrings-attachment that isn't just a faraway 'someday...' wish to visit this ancestral homeland.  Today my belly is filled with corned beef and cabbage (well, a bit of a mix of this traditional Irish food and the proper New England boiled dinner I was raised with...), and I now have a wish that some day I'll celebrate St. Patrick's Day in Mexico.

What's Mexico have to do with St. Patrick's Day?!  Well...

Only a week after giving a Travel Talk on Ireland at Sovversiva Open Space, sharing stories and images of medicinal plants and wild foods (like seaweed!), urban gardens, the Famine/Starvation, and Sheela Na Gig from my various trips to the island, my comrades were in the Vermont statehouse, testifying and confronting injustice.  Grassroots community organizations have fought for an anti-biased policing policy by the VT State Police.  Though many communities are targeted and racially profiled, the group I'm most connected with is Migrant Justice, a grassroots organization of migrant farm workers in VT, and their allies. (The majority of migrant farm workers living in Vermont are originally from Mexico, with smaller numbers hailing from Guatemala, El Salvador, and other countries.)  Despite the anti-biased policing policy, 
law enforcement officers continue to racially profile people of color - and continue to call Border Patrol when they stop people that they assume are immigrants without documentation

I've often heard people claim that their family came to the US "the right way," whether that was in this lifetime or many generations ago, and that other immigrants should "get in line."  (For more on this myth: here and here and here and the image here)  At a hearing addressing discrimination and bias a VT Representative asked a Latino speaker if he was a US citizen, after he *didn't* ask this of a previous white speaker from the same organization.  Another VT Representative claimed that he was part of the Irish community and basically said that they are all documented.  

Well, I'm not going to delve deep into Irish history, but I would like to recommend the film The Wind the Shakes the Barley to understand a bit about the British occupation of Ireland and the people's resistance.  I'd also like to recommend the book Famine Diary: Journey to a New World by James J. Mangan/Gerald Keegan for a personal account about the very intentional starvation of the Irish people by the British government/landlords, who stockpiled food and sent ships full of food to England while the people starved or were forced to flee.  The Irish that crossed the Atlantic and survived the journey, found more discrimination.  The NINA (No Irish Need Apply) sign below is just one example: 

Multiple times when I've been in Ireland, I've noticed a strong affinity and sense of solidarity with the people of Palestine.  (See image below in a Dublin pub, of the Irish and Palestinian flag hung side by side.)  

I didn't know until recently about the history of solidarity between the people of Ireland and Mexico as well...

Mexican music by St. Patrick's Battalion Pipes & Drums 
"Banda de Gaitas del Batallon de San Patricio"

When I've been in Ireland and spoken with people about Migrant Justice, I've been told by people there that they have sons or cousins or other loved ones that are in the US without documentation.  Though they may be less targeted because Irish people tend to blend in with the racist idea of that a "US American" looks like and who "belongs" here (read: white), still people without documentation are forced to live with the constant stress of being deported and being unable to visit loved ones back home for fear of not being able to re-enter the US.  More about the 50,000 undocumented Irish living in the US here in "America's New Irish Immigrants."

While mainstream "honoring" of St. Patrick's Day often looks like wearing loads of green and getting drunk, I'm reflecting on solidarity across oceans and human-made borders.  I'm grateful for all those who have resisted colonization and questioned racist ideas of who the enemy and scapegoat is.  To honor my ancestors and their struggles, learning more about how they were received and later the privileges they were given and we still are given, as well as what we lost, I'm standing in solidarity for racial and immigrant justice within what is now known as the US and beyond.  As descendants of those who survived -  whether it was crossing the ocean, a desert, mountains, or being from this land since the beginning (and I'm not talking about 1776!) - we owe it to each other to end the cycle of dehumanization and work for the rights of all peoples.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

In Case of (emotional) Emergency: self-care form to fill out

(This form was created to accompany the Self Care Kit: For Emotional First Aid with Heart Elixir, Tulsi Elixir, Yarrow Flower Essence, and Rose Relaxation Bath Fizzies.  The kit was created with the intention of preventing burn-out and helping to promote a culture of self-care and collective-care. More info here.  Feel free to print this form and fill it out.)

In Case of (emotional) Emergency
To fill out when you’re feeling grounded, supported, calm, inspired, etc.  To read when you’re not.

I feel better when I (check all that apply/fill in the blanks)

□Go outside                                       □Call a friend                                       □Take time alone
□Share meals w/ loved ones             □Scream into a pillow/in a car           □Dance
□Draw, color, paint, get crafty         □Play with kids                                     □Cry it out
□Play soccer                                       □Connect with mentors/elders           □Go for a walk
□Have an orgasm (alone                  □Clean my space/change it up            □
     or with someone else)                  □Go bowling                                         □    
□Laugh (watch funny film,              □Light a candle                                     □      
     hang out with fun folks)              □Get acupuncture/massage                □
□Go bowling                                      □Burn incense                                       □                           
□Massage myself with oils                □Am in water (shower, bath,               □
    before going to bed                               ocean, lake, puddle)

□Listen to good music like __________________________________________

□Watch these movies _____________________________________________

These plants support me: in the form of: tea, massage oil, bath, photos, hanging out with…

□Rose                              □Milky oats                      □Tulsi                      □Cinnamon      
□Nettles                          □Chamomile                    □Licorice root          □__________    
□Calendula                     □Pine trees                       □Lemon Balm         □__________
□Sunflower                    □Garlic                              □Corn                      □__________

My (emotional) emergency contacts are:
I can call this person/these friends, mentors, family members, neighbors…

Other suggestions:
-Start with the Basics:  Breathe.  Breathe.  Drink water!  Eat good food!

-Drained from dealing with (or not dealing with) conflict?  Role-play difficult situations/
 conversations with a friend.

-Reach-out!  Let folks know you could use some support (face-to-face or via calls/email/text/
 Facebook, etc.  Don’t rely on telepathy with this one!)

-Is there an element out of balance?  (Are you feeling angry, fiery, frustrated?  Get in water!
 Feeling uber-emotional or really flakey?  Go outside and feel the earth under your feet.)

-Connect with what grounds you with your deep self (beyond our daily lives): nature, meditating,
  looking at old photos, talking with old friends who know you well, etc.

-Take times of transition/stress to re-evaluate and learn from it all (when you’re ready)

                         Take as much space as you'd like for more notes, drawings, whatever you like…

By Dana L Woodruff, community herbalist and health educator,  Dandelioness Herbals

Monday, February 10, 2014

Talking Plants/Talking Justice: Plant Medicine and Social Justice Interview with Dana Woodruff of Dandelioness Herbals

I was recently interviewed by Ann Armbrecht, co-creator of Numen: The Nature of Plants!  You can check out the full interview here: Plant Medicine and Social Justice with Dana Woodruff. Ann Armbrecht also interviewed folk herbalist and food activist Sandra Lory of Mandala Botanicals here.  Thank you, Ann, for supporting grassroots community herbalism!

Plant Medicine And Social Justice With Dana Woodruff

From the first time I met Dana, I have been so impressed with both her knowledge of and dedication to the plants and herbal medicine and her willingness to talk about topics that herbalists don’t tend to talk about: healthy sexuality, gender identity, social justice and power, and more (you can read about some of those on her blog!). I have especially been interested in her work in prisons and with migrant farm workers, teaching them about herbs, learning from them, and helping them get rights they are often denied. Like Sandra Lory’s work (with whom Dana often teaches workshops), Dana is doing incredibly important work educating about self care and building community health and making sure that this knowledge is accessible to whoever wants it. I was thrilled to finally be able to hear about Dana’s work. Dana’s blog, Dandelioness Herbals is an incredible resource with recipes, resources, reflections and more. Dana also sells her herbal remedies at her Etsy shop. Check them out!

Ann: To start, I’d love to hear how you first got interested in herbal medicine, a bit about the training that you’ve had, and the focus of your work with plants.

Dana: Like so many raised in the US, much of my ancestral lineage has been lost by the process of assimilation.  My childhood in Central Maine wasn’t infused with the plant medicine traditions of my ancestors from Ireland, Scotland, and England. Living rurally, though, I was surrounded by plants.  My mom took us out on wildflower walks, in the spring Grammy and Pop-Pop took me to harvest Dandelion greens. We’d eat fiddleheads and we’d eat out of the gardens in the summer. I grew up in a family with a history of being healthworkers, crafters, and farmers.

Click here to read the entire interview...

Wednesday, February 05, 2014

Dandelioness Herbals Valentine Elixirs to Stir You Up and Heighten the Senses!

In honor of Valentine's Day, Dandelioness Herbals is offering elixirs and other herbal products to encourage self-love, heart-opening, and more!  These remedies make great gifts for yourself or a loved one and come with an 'In Case of (Emotional) Emergency' form to fill out as well as an IOU to either carve out an evening of me-time or abandon all responsibility and go out on a hot date (with yourself, a sweetie, whatever you want)!  This post includes two items that are exclusively available here and through a special offer!  Other items can be found on Dandelioness Herbals' online Etsy shop.  Please be in touch if you have questions: dandelionessherbals (at) yahoo (dot) com.

Especially for this Valentine season, I brewed up Damiana Rose Elixir to heighten the senses, with Damiana, VT Rose Petals, and Vanilla Bean infused in Brandy and Vodka, added to a Damiana-water infusion and then combined with VT Linden and Honeysuckle Honey and flower essence of Magenta Lotus.

I concocted a new batch of Chocolate Spice Elixir, a warming aphrodisiac to stir you up!  Ginger Elixir (fresh local Ginger infused in Brandy, local Honey, and Grain Alcohol) is combined with Cinnamon brought back from Mexico (true cinnamon), Vanilla bean, Fair-trade Cacao powder, and homemade Cayenne flower essence.  The local honey for this elixir is also the linden and honeysuckle batch.  Yummmm!

An earlier batch of Chocolate Spice Elixir is also available - also a warming aphrodisiac to stir you up, just with slightly different ingredients.  This is a combination of herbs and spices that have traditionally been used as aphrodisiacs and to promote circulation, infused in brandy and blended with a homemade chocolate syrup made with Fair-trade Cocoa and Fair-trade Sugar.  The herbal ingredients are Damiana leaf, fresh Ginger root, Cardamom pod, Cinnamon bark, local (Vermont) Cayenne pepper, and Vanilla bean, infused in Brandy and Water. 

These elixirs can be taken by the drop, dropperful, or used as a syrup for drinks, desserts, or drizzling where you like (as they contain natural sugars, please refrain from drizzling inside orifices other than your mouth!)

Please order these right away if you'd like to receive them for the Valentine holiday.  

Damiana Rose Elixir

Chocolate Spice Elixir - new batch

Chocolate Spice Elixir - earlier batch

This year Dandelioness Herbals is teaming up with Ashley Hetrick of Intentional Bodywork (and here).  Celebrate Valentine's Day by booking a massage at Intentional Bodywork for the week of Valentine's Day (2/10 thru 2/14) and receive a free 1oz Dandelioness Herbals Valentines Elixir of your choice: Damiana Rose Elixir: to heighten the senses or Chocolate Spice Elixir: warming aphrodisiac to stir you up!  

Also available this Valentine's season is a Heart-Healing and Heart-Opening Herbal Gift Basket with Heart Elixir, Honey Rose Facial Cleanser, and Rose Relaxation Bath Fizzies Spa.

-Heart Elixir: Remedy to Open, Heal, and Protect the Heart 1oz- perfect for times of grief, heartbreak, and heart-opening. Fresh Vermont & Maine Rosa Rugosa rose petals harvested at their height in summer and ripe autumn Hawthorn berries, infused in Brandy, then combine with VT Maple syrup, and hand-made Flower essences of Hawthorn from Ireland, Johnny Jump-up/Heartsease Pansy, Magenta Lotus, and Yarrow. Take by the drop or dropperful - directly or add to water/tea.   Each Heart Elixir comes with the following quotation by Lebanese poet Khalil Gibran, "The deeper that sorrow carves into your being, the more joy you can contain." or a message of your choosing.  More info here.

-Honey Rose Facial Cleanser: Gentle Exfoliant with Lavender and Sunflower 2oz - hand-made in small batches, with Sunflower seeds, Rose petals, and Lavender ground to a fine powder, and then combined with local Honey, White Kaolin Clay, home-made Rose and Lavender water (hydrosol), and Jojoba oil to create a smooth cleanser to gently exfoliate the face.  More info here.

-Rose Relaxation Bath Fizzies 2 to add to a warm bath or a warm foot soak. Rose petal-infused coconut oil soothes and moisturizes the skin while the warm bath water and essential oils promote relaxation. Light a candle, soak, and then send your stresses down the drain when you're done! Made with Baking soda, Non-GMO Cornstarch, Citric acid, ME & VT Rose petals infused in Coconut oil, homemade Lavender and Rose hydrosol (distilled flower water), Rose petals, Flower essences and 100% pure Essential oils.

These items are packed in a small reused basket. If you would like a hand-written message or IOU certificate included with your order, please be in touch: dandelionessherbals (at) yahoo (dot) com.
Heart-Healing and Heart-Opening Herbal Gift Basket $25

Brilliant Lip Shimmer gives your lips a subtle, natural shimmer and tint. And with nourishing ingredients like Calendula and fair-trade Cocoa Butter, this blend also soothes dry lips.

This lip balm begins with hand-harvested Calendula and Alkanet root infused in Fair-trade Palestinian Olive oil and Coconut oil, and then melted with fair-trade Cocoa butter and local VT Beeswax. Real Mica is added to give a bit of shimmer to the blend and it's rosy color comes entirely from the Alkanet root. You can choose unscented (just the balm's own coconut and cocoa butter flavor!) or sweet orange with 100% pure sweet orange essential oil. 

Brilliant Lip Shimmer is made for *all genders* - anyone that wants shimmery, tinted lips!!!!  The label contains glitter(!) on a .15 oz clear or silver tube.  More info here.


Custom orders welcome!  If you have any trouble with your order or have questions, please be in touch: dandelionessherbals (at) yahoo (dot) com     If you'd like to order multiple items and save on shipping, please email for a shipping quote.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

I Love Our Timebank!: Nourishing Networks of Community Support

what I've given:
Red Wriggler worms for worm-bin composting, some of my
Dandelioness Herbals products, and I gave my opinion.

what I've received:

Life coaching, Massage (unfortunately my massage didn't involve any snakes,
but it was still really good), and installation of my bike basket and mud guards
 (bicycling according to José Guadalupe Posada).

Okay, there aren't many things that I like to testify about. Timebanking and Uterine/ abdominal massage are the big exceptions.  (More on the uterine/abdominal massage another time!)  I love the Timebank.  OUR Timebank. I love offering services and receiving services, and I feel really good about the exchanges.  

I had a spell of time that was particularly chock-full of fabulous Timebank exchanges. I met with a lifecoach at the perfect time to help me realize where I wanted to focus my energy, I met with another timebank member at Freeride Montpelier Community Bikeshop, who put on my mud guards and basket so I could be less car-dependent and more bike-fabulous, a computer/graphics maven member shared their fonts and Word expertise to help me learn skills to create zines, handouts, pamphlets, etc., and I received a massage where a warm compress of lavender water was placed on my back to relieve muscle tension!

During this same time period, I made a large amount of herbal Iron Syrup for a friend, a member attended my Herbals Salves for Social Justice workshop, and I sent a care package of tinctures and salves across the country to a member who had moved away and wanted to use up the rest of their remaining community credits to receive herbal products. I've become the personal herbalist of a friend who orders shampoo, bath salts, and body scrubs for herself and as gifts for family and friends, using Timebank community credits. I've also received credits for sharing worms (for Vermicompost) and kombucha mamas, filling out a survey for the Timebank, recruiting new members, and redirecting stuff from my workplace that would've gone into the trash or recycling, but instead went to the ReSOURCE (formally the Restore) and was transformed into art!

Giving and receiving hours.

In a culture that thrives off of creating a false sense of scarcity and perpetuating inequality where some are overprivileged, which in turn creates poverty and oppression, Timebanking is a pretty radical concept. In these Timebanking networks, time is the currency that is exchanged and each person and their skills are valued equally, whether they're providing childcare, accounting, massage, driving someone to the store or airport, giving tech support, etc.

In a mainstream culture where some people's time is valued at hundreds of dollars per hour, while others aren't compensated with money at all for their labor (such as raising children, caring for elders, cooking, cleaning, and other domestic/caretaking realms), valuing people's time and skills equally creates a whole other culture of reciprocity, abundance, mutual respect, and a strong sense of community.  It gives us permission to ask for help when we need it, to give support that's needed, and to realize the balance and reciprocity in this.

Had there been hourly rates applied to the services that I received and offered, the labor of all those involved would've differed greatly.  Some of the services I received would have been completely out of my reach. And as I'm committed to making my herbal remedies and workshops accessible, had the exchanges been money-based I would have had to sell many, many elixirs and teach many, many classes to make the money that others may earn in just one hour.  The Timebank not only makes these services accessible, it creates fertile grounds to share skills in the spirit of community interdependence.

While I was really interested in the concept, it took me many, many months to finally become a member of the Onion River Exchange (ORE) timebank, and then later the REACH Care Bank, two local timebanks that have since merged.  You can check out their website here.  I felt that I couldn't commit to yet another project.  I didn't want to make offers that I couldn't follow through with.  Once I finally became a member, I realized that you don't even need to post requests or offers, you can simply look over the list of what people are seeking and offering and contact members directly if there are services that you would like to receive or give.  

And what did I need to do? What I already do and love to do! Folks come to my workshops - Herbal Valentines, Do-It-Yourself Bodycare, Spa Day at the Garden of Seven Gables, Lip Balms for Social Justice, Herbal Gift Giving, The Dandelions are Coming!, etc. using Onion River Exchange Community Credit hours instead of money. People in the community have also responded to my offer of herbal products - elixirs, salves, lip balm, syrups, flower essences, and custom made concoctions (such as Lavender Body Butter). I love opening my herbal apothecary up to the community, and it feels especially good when there is a mutual appreciation and an exchange free from money and the capitalist system.

Other exchanges include:

I received a locally- and home-made (rather than sweatshop-made) oceany colored crocheted rag rug for my bathroom, a rust-colored crocheted cozy for my Mason jar water/tea bottle, and a pink and red carrier for my tincture bottles. I got all done up with a consultation with makeup artist, filled my belly with a member's soup that they brought to a member craft bizarre, a fellow herbalist shared their label-making skills with a Photoshop tutorial, and another member gave me a ride to the train.  I renewed my membership with a community health and healing organization, took sewing classes and received a tutorial in using my serger (like a sewing machine, but with multiple needles), a friend gave me a hand putting plastic on my windows for winter-warmth, and someone with a truck helped me move.  I provided companionship to an elder while her family was away (and I got to learn new fun boardgames by playing them with her!).  I've received massage and cupping, as well as help with mending clothes and weeding my garden.  I've used credits to 'rent' community space for workshops, birthday parties, dinners, and ceremonies.  And on and on and on...

When I think of the Timebank, I sometimes get images dancing by like cheesy montages at the end of the final episode of a 1980's sitcom.  The skills learned, the time shared, the support given and received...

Filmmaker Olivier Asselin visited our local Timebank as part of his Possible documentary project:

The “Possible” documentary project is about telling the stories of individuals and communities who are actively engaged in creating a better, more sustainable future. It’s about showing that normal people are doing real things, things that are within the reach of all of us. The aim of this project is to debunk all of the false barriers people create for themselves when they start thinking about transitioning to a more sustainable way of life. I don’t have the money… not enough space… not enough time… I don’t know how… it will never work… I’m alone.

By showing real life examples, people of all ages, of different economic backgrounds, in rural or urban settings, living in all kinds of climates or settings, it will become obvious that no matter who you are, no matter where you live, you can do something.

And here we are...

A 700-member time bank in Central Vermont from Olivier Asselin on Vimeo.