Let's talk about transformative justice. This may not seem like it has anything to do with herbalism, but bare with me a minute, and I'll tell you on how it does.
Transformative justice. You may have heard of this or its cousin term 'restorative justice'. These two terms have similar yet differing meanings. Restorative justice is the practice of responding to a crime or misdoing and holding the responsible party, well, responsible. While the goal of restorative justice is for all parties to share their experience of what happened, to discuss who was harmed by the crime and how, and to create a consensus for what the offender can do to repair the harm from the offense(1), transformative justice is a series of practices and philosophies designed to create change in social systems. There are several types of transformational justice: as an alternative to criminal justice; policy and practice responses to socioeconomic issues in societies transitioning away from conflict or repression; and climate change action(2).
Something I learned later on in my herbal education is that herbalism is activism. When you begin to care for yourself with herbs and then advocate for herbal wellness, you are participating in activism!
I've heard people use the term 'radical herbalism', but herbalism by nature IS radical. Because by opting for natural remedies (when appropriate), over conventional medicine, you affect the fundamental nature of healthcare. When you advocate for herbal and natural remedies, you begin to create social change.
This is NOT to say that you should not take advantage of what allopathy has to offer. This is also not to say that herbal remedies are a replacement for seeing your doctor. That would be highly irresponsible of me. Modern medicine is a valuable tool that we should have in our wellness toolbelt! But, the medical industrial complex model is based in symptom management and 'fixing' problems that arise. Herbalism is about self care, nourishment, and practical life practices that may (or may not) keep the surgeon or pharmacist at bay.
With all that said, I am writing to you today to offer you some resources for learning more about how you can be an activist in your community and the world. On my website, I have linked several organizations, farmers, movies, etc, that are operating to lift up underserved communities, educate the public on environmental and climate issues, and offer services to those who fight for equal rights and environmental causes. This is transformative justice.
How do you act to create change in social systems?
>>> Here are ways to learn how <<<
When we learn to care for ourselves with plants we can:
When we look beyond ourselves to the community at large, we can:
Some climate justice approaches promote transformative justice where advocates focus on how vulnerability to climate change reflects various structural injustices in society. This includes marginalized populations and even plant populations. Many communities and societies rely on local plants for food and medicine. But many of these populations are witnessing food shortages and environmental disruption which is leading to dwindling plant populations. This is how herbalism is involved in transformative justice. I always talk about plant saving in my classes and in my community. We must learn about these things in order to know how to make changes.
I hope that you find this helpful and perhaps eye-opening. Be the activist you can be!
Cheers and wild herbs,
1 Transformative justice
2 Restorative justice
Sarah is a community herbalist, raising children, teaching children and adults the ways of herbalism and nature, and handcrafting herbal products for the community.