I've enjoy sending (and bringing) herbal remedies to protests and community apothecaries. Answering an herbal call-to-action is a simple way to support community and grow the revolution towards a more kind and more just society. Many of my herbal peers do the same, but this summer there was some of the largest outpouring of herbal support that I have seen in recent years. There were call-to-actions spurred on by the Orlando Grief Care Project in response to the Pulse massacre, multiple for local Black Lives Matter groups, and later by the needs of the ongoing Standing Rock Camp.
First, let's take a moment to appreciate the time, energy, and sheer will of organizing that the Orlando Grief Care Project continues to maintain. The original call for donations to create herbal care packages for friends, family, first responders, and other community members in the wake of the the Pulse nightclub shooting has transformed into the Herbal Action Network (you should join!). I'm really excited to see the direction that the Herbal Action Network is headed in and hopefully it means that there is an easier and more effective way to alert the vast, diverse, and awesome herbal community of call-to-action needs.
Read the Call to Action Carefully
Communities know what they need and if they have put together a specific list of requests as well as instructions for proper packaging, mailing, etc. then please make their jobs that much easier by following their guidelines. The healers and medics at Standing Rock Camp, for example, requested alcohol-free remedies to support the rules of the camp. The Orlando Grief Care Project requested Bach Rescue Remedy and Rose-based remedies. Our work as herbal support is to reduce the amount of work that the organizing team is having to do. Pay attention to the details!
Choose Accessible + Appropriate Remedies
If you have read the call-to-action, then hopefully you will know what sort of situation your donations will be headed to. Is it a mobile street medic operation? A long-standing clinic? Is the purpose to have clients come and see herbalists or for herbalists to go out and distribute remedies to the community? When I have donated to up-and-coming or already established location-based apothecaries I'll send larger 4 to 8 ounce jars of liquid extracts or bulk bags of herbs. If, in the case of the Orlando Grief Project, I know that the remedies are being put in care packages, I made sure to prepare and send easily distributed remedies in individual-use packaging.
Unless requested, I don't send herbs that require greater attention and expertise regarding dosage such as Lobelia (Lobelia inflata) or Wormwood (Artemisia absinthium). I stick to herbs that are generally considered safe such as Milky Oat (Avena sativa), Elder (Sambucus nigra), Yarrow (Achillea millefolium), Rose (Rosa damascena) to name just a few.
Hot Tip! Whenever making good first-aid and crisis care type remedies for yourself, your business or community, make a few extra to keep on hand to mail out quickly when a call-to-action arises.
Limit Packaging Waste + Keep It Organized
Regarding packaging waste, be mindful of where you are sending your box. If you're sending it to an encampment with limited trash management capabilities, be as streamlined and minimal in your packaging as possible. Write letters of support on the inner flaps and walls of the box, for example, so as not to include access paper waste.
If I am sending multiple packages at once I will label the outside of the boxes "Box 1 of 3" and so on, so that the organizing team has a quick visual clue that they should be expecting more than one package from me. It it also nice for when boxes are being quickly organized and stored.
I know what it is like to receive a well-packed and organized package for an event versus a chaotic cacophony of stuff. Remember that we are wanting what we send to feel supportive, inspiring, and help the organizing team feel good as well as serve those who need help.
Poorly labeled remedies are such a waste and add extra work to the organizing team. Employing clear labeling practices is an easy way to prevent a lot of confusion. Here is what a clear and useful label should contain:
- Name of remedy
- Common and latin binomial name of every herb contained
- Any additional contents such as type of alcohol, water, glycerin, etc.
- Date made and best used by date
- Brief instructions on use
- Sometimes this does not fit on a label, so I will include a handout (or handouts if herbal care packages are being made) on recommended use.
- Your name and contact information (such as a website)
Hot Tip! Have a base label ready to go either printed out for you to fill in by hand with all of the above information or one that can easily be filled out on your computer and printed.
Whether or not you send remedies, promoting the call-to-action is vital in making sure that the herbal community knows that help is needed and for those who need help to know that they have resources they can access. You don't have to be an herbalist to promote and it is of immense help to those of us who have less time to do it because we are actively making remedies to send.
One great way of promoting and making remedies to send is to have a remedy-making party. Invite over friends and family, educate them about the call-to-action and then teach them how to make a simple remedy that everyone can then recreate then and there in bulk. It is a fun community-building way to educate and disseminate resources!