I am probably naïve. I am sure every generation experiences this. But I am convinced that this will be the year for botanical medicine in the United States: the year when we move from dreaming in wildflowers, from building roots in the forest floor, from holding precious seeds in moist moss, into a time of great action. We are everywhere, and our experiences and connections are deep and rich. This will be the year when our culture will call on us, when our neighbors will need us, when we will all collectively realize how important these wild plants really are. Not as alternatives to drugs, not as replacements, but as a whole cultural system that rewilds, renews, and strengthens our species and our ecology.
There are many signs: the addition of Chinese herbal medicine in one of the nation's premiere hospitals, the crafting of medicinal cocktails in cities across the country, the myriad integrative clinics where massage, herbs, and food work alongside modern technological medicine are but a few examples. But what excites me is how the research focus in medicine is shifting to ecology and systems, and away from molecules and receptors: what is our microbiome and how does it affect us? how do our ecologies and our communities impact public and individual health? how can we blend psychological and somatic interventions in crafting treatment protocols for chronic disease? These are all questions for a new kind of medicine.
This is, in fact, twenty-first-century medicine, and at this crossroads of research and practice sits the herbalist, picking up weeds and scattering seeds, talking about the flow of weather and energy, speaking the language of systems. I am probably naïve, but if you're sitting here with me, I think we are going to have to get up soon and become seriously engaged in this conversation. What is twenty-first century medicine? Folks will turn to herbalists for answers - because herbs work, because our physiologies and ecologies recognize and miss them, because the research basis is there (and is so solid), and because twentieth-century medicine is running out of answers. I hope I will be ready, and I hope you will be with me.
We are going to have this conversation this spring, on the shores of Lake Champlain, up here in Vermont, just as the trees and flowers burst into bloom. Urban Moonshine has organized what promises to be a new kind of gathering: one where, yes, we learn and have a lot of fun. But also one where we start talking more specifically about twenty-first-century medicine, and how we, as plant people, fit in to the puzzle. You can come to hear some amazing teachers. You can come because all the proceeds go to the Vermont Center for Integrative Herbalism, where people can get to know plants and experience this new (old) kind of medicine by trading currency, work, or receiving it as a gift. Or you can come because we need to hear your voice as we intentionally discuss the future of botanical medicine.
To me this last reason is the most important. Please come and join us. I'm excited to hear a bunch of short, informal presentations on the work herbalists are doing today and their visions for tomorrow - through this interesting PechaKucha format. There are still spots available for you to tell your stories. And I'll have some stories to share with you as well.