Community safety and community healing go hand in hand.

The trauma of being directly impacted and doing criminal justice reform, anti-violence and anti-criminalization work all day takes its toll physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Long term exposure to trauma affects our family, social life and poses major health challenges.  By creating healing and supportive experiences and opportunities, we lead change that emphasizes our ability to heal ourselves, our teams, and our communities.

“By developing a micro-culture of supportive friends and family, we create an environment that sustains us, just as the Earth does. By being compassionate to ourselves and others, we ground ourselves. This is where we come out of isolation, tap into the core energies of Mother Nature, and tend to both our individual and collective health and wellness.”¹

Community Resources: Sometimes we don’t know the wealth that is in our own backyard.

Early in March, we hosted our first healing community workshop, “Medicine and the Media”. We discussed how violence and community health are influenced by the media and what kinds of messages and narratives are helpful or harmful. We then made our own natural wellness supports using medicinal and culinary herbs.

It was a very cold and windy evening in March when we decided to debut this series. We were fortunate to have a warm and cozy refuge inside of the newly-opened Goddess Herbs on West McNichols in Detroit. Herbal goddess and business owner Tissheama Williams has lovingly created a space for healing of all types to take place. There are yoga classes, meditation, and sister-circle group discussions. Plus she sells a wide variety of teas, herbs, roots, and more. We were very happy to be able to support this Black woman owned business and highlight this valuable community resource.

We brewed a steaming blend of herbal tea, set out some healthy snacks and hoped that folx would not be put off by the weather. They weren’t! Soon we had twelve lovely souls pulling up chairs and weighing in on the hot topics of the night. Honestly, we had such a conversational vibe going with great contributions from all that we didn’t want to stop talking!

What are the connections between individual health and violence?

We asked the participants what they believed was the connection between individual health and violence. We came up with an extensive list of the ways in which the health of an individual can determine the likelihood of engaging in or being a victim of violence. What also became clear is that there are multiple forms of violence that are impacting the individual on a daily basis. Some of those acts of violence are inflicted by corporations, a flawed medical system, or laws and policies that harm.

Connections between individual health and violence:

  • mental health, untreated mental illness
  • violence creates mental health issues
  • toxicity of food consumption leads to violence, and violence leads to toxicity  
  • criminalization
  • violence to Earth and other life-forms
  • low self-esteem leads to violence, imploding and exploding
  • medications openly have violence as side effects, with no mental health scrip ( is this an issue at play with mass shootings???)
  • water toxicity is a violence that companies are doing to us.
  • constant pain / opioid use
  • childhood upbringing / environment
  • consent or misunderstandings of consent
  • lack of social supports and empathy equal violence
  • being socially hyper-vigilant conveys weakness and results in bullying and violence
  • trauma: individual, societal, ancestral and internalized

What are the connections between individual health and the media?

Next, we had a rich conversation about media and individual health. We found it interesting that only one person had a positive thing to add to the list, that being media’s potential for transformation.  We then talked about how, for some people and certain communities, the internet or online community is very vital to being able to interact with people at all. These observations help us begin a “root cause analysis” of the media and its associations. The reality is, the media is transformative. It just so happens that transformation can be positive as well as negative. It does what it does. “Media” is basically the system and organizations of communication through which information is spread to a large number of people. People are wired in such a way that we vacuum up all this information and it in turn shapes our attitudes, values and beliefs.

Think of the media with this analogy: The media does what it does much like the sun does what it does. The sun can bring forth life, create warmth and shed light.  It’s the best source of vitamin D. The sun can also burn you. With long term exposure, one can develop cancer. The sun does what it does. The effect depends on how we interact with it. Just like one would never advise a person to go outside and sit in full sun without any form of protection and without hydration for a full day, we need to consider the all the potential short and long-term effects of exposure to the media as well as consider the sources.

How does the media influence/affect individual health:

  • identification of the “other’
  • programming, essentially terrorism in our home
  • mass distraction
  • Best conditioning of a collective consciousness
  • even if you opt out the message gets to you
  • change frequency
  • medical commercials for pharmaceuticals
  • constant advertisements that tell you you are not ‘right’  in some way.
  • hypnosis
  • media responsible for the spread of pedophilia, sex trafficking, porn etc.
  • perverts in charge of the media
  • rapidly transforming social trends and ideas
  • cyber bullying and its connection to suicide
  • normalizes fantasy, delusion
  • less real (real life) connections

Positive:

  • it can be transformative

These lists will inform a series of blog posts. (A LOT of blog posts!)  

Practical Tools for Community Wellness

After our discussion we moved into the hands-on part of the workshop where participants were able to take part in creating natural wellness supports for themselves, their family, and their community. We feel that it is very important to share practical, everyday tools for navigating the various systems and set-ups that are not designed with our best interest in mind. Community can be empowered right now! These tools will help sustain us as we work on the huge challenges around policy changes that will create a more safe and free Detroit.

In this session we got down to the business of boosting the immune system with an herb infused vinegar that could be turned into a syrup for cough, cold or flu, or used to create a salad dressing or marinade full of healthy herbs.  We made an herbal tincture as well.

Healing Herbs That We Learned About:

Elderberry (anti-viral, immune boosting, decongestant)

Thyme (anti-bacterial, adrenal boosting, immune boosting, expectorant)

Dandelion Leaf (restorative, digestive aid, blood and liver tonic)

Cleavers (adrenal boosting, balancing to the body, nourishing, helps the body to recover in stressful situations)

Hyssop (decongestant, fever reducing, cough suppressant)

Clove (antiviral, pain relieving, immune boosting, antibacterial)

Each person had a turn stirring the large bowl of dry herbs and took time to infuse their best intentions into the healthy mixture we were creating. Someone pointed out how us coming together as a group is a contribution in and of itself to the collective healing process of the community. Although it can be daunting to think about community health, safety and the media’s impact, we agreed that our contribution is of the very best that we have to give. It is an energetic contribution to the whole that can ultimately contribute to a tipping point toward healing on a large scale. Very powerful work happening here!

Community Medicine Making

“…us coming together as a group is a contribution in and of itself to the collective healing process of the community.”

We would like to thank everyone who came out and shared of their time and we look forward to getting together again soon!

We will be scheduling the next one soon so stay tuned! In the meantime, feel free to message us for more info or if you have any questions!! In our next Workshop we will explore more questions around community health, violence and the media.

#MedicineAndTheMedia, #ForceFieldMedia #ForceFieldMedicine #CHESS

Community Health and Empowerment Strategy Sessions (CHESS) provide exploration and hands-on application of a variety of tools to address community health and promote safety and well-being. Part of the mission of Force Detroit is connecting community members to these resources for empowerment.  This was the first in a series so we hope you will come out and take part!

¹Lipsky, Laura Van Dernoot., and Connie Burk. Trauma Stewardship: An Everyday Guide to Caring for Self While Caring for Others. Oakland, CA: Berrett-Koehler Publishers, 2009.