Monday, December 1, 2014

Update on the Meristem Health Distro (and more!)

It has been so long since I have updated this blog (uh, I think I may have written about this before as well).  Anyways, here is an update for the Meristem Health Distro

Well, the distro still exists and many new zines have been added and are available at SubRosa (in Santa Cruz).  I hope to also create some original content about lyme disease...local plant medicine and more.

Also, another distro has spun off from Meristem called Out of the Broom Closet: a radical witchy distro.  It is has a few titles and carries zines along the lines of what the title states.

Meristem and Out of the Broom Closet will be tabling at the East Bay Bookfair this Sunday in Oakland, so if you go come by and say hello. 

It's due to rain buckets tomorrow and I hope that brings out the mushrooms (maybe more on that later).

In reference to past posts...I made some fire cider again for this winter with some friends.  I have really appreciated having this fire cider to take when I have felt like I was getting sick, and I have also given tincture bottles of it away to friends.  The link to that post is here.   Also, I went out looking for bay nuts over the past few weeks, and didn't find much.  I haven't done this often enough to know the pattern over time.  Perhaps this will be a leaner year for the bay nuts...does it fluctuate like acorns?...less because of drought?...will come in abundance later?...there is so much I do not know and appreciate this realization as it points to an area of growth for me.  I want to be more aware of and connected to the land where I live, and to get to know it in this more intimate way, over time.  The post about bay nuts from last year is here.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Conflict Engagement and Exploration Protocol

An aspect of health and well-being also involves how conflict is approached.  Conflict is a part of being alive, and avoidance of conflict can be problematic (and unhealthy).  At the same time there are various ways conflict can be approached, and I feel it is important to be intentional about that.  There are many resources out in the world around this, and below is a protocol that I and others put together for Free Cascadia WitchcampHere is the link for the Conflict Engagement and Exploration Protocol, and the full text is below (Artwork by Amara).

Conflict Engagement and Exploration Protocol:

We hold that conflict is inevitable, and honor that conflict can be a gift or opportunity for individuals and a group to grow and evolve. We commit to not shaming the phenomenon of conflict, or the primary vessels which it may be moving through. We acknowledge that we each carry our own shadow, and that the collective shadow work of the group may move through different individuals at different times. We will aspire to tease apart what may be inter-personal, and what may be a group energy moving through individuals. We will try to the best of our abilities to approach conflict with an eye to its complexity, and an awareness of possible deeper group archetypal expressions. We understand that conflict does not exist or impact individual relationships solely, but also exists within and may impact a web of relationships. While we might not be the primary actors in any given conflict, we accept that it is still the group’s conflict, and that the group may be secondarily or primarily responsible for holding that conflict with compassion and a consciousness to lend to exploration and transformation. We agree to utilize the below options (which may be amended or supplemented in the future) with respect and regard to the circumstances and context of any given conflict.

If you are having difficulties with another camper, group, or structural elements at camp…

1.) Check in with yourself first.

Is this an issue that needs to be addressed for your own or the community’s well-being, or is it just a moment’s irritation? Do you need the voice of the person you’re having difficulty with to address it, or can you look within yourself to understand and defuse the situation?

2.) Check in with the other person next.

If your conflict involves another person, or people, have you addressed it directly with them? Their voice would often be the first you seek to explore/transform the conflict. Are you ready to talk to them in a way that permits both of you to be heard, or are you still in the throes of emotion about the conflict? Take time, a cooling off period may be needed, take a breath, take a walk if you need to. This cool off period can be vital for some and painstaking for others. We ask that you negotiate what seems to be a workable agreement for those involved with respect to these needs.

Check out the Wellness Tent for resources on engaging with conflict--reflective listening, non-violent communication...etc.

Here’s some basic tips:

- Ask before you act; engage a process of inquiry before you make assumptions.
- Consider using the basic NVC formula:
“When this happened _________, I felt _______, because_________, Would you be willing to _________?”
- Be specific and avoid judging or blaming language.  
- Guidelines for reflective listening: Sincere listening, attentive and open; able to reflect content of the teller; able to reflect feeling of the teller.

3.) Check in with your immediate circle  

In moving toward transforming the conflict, is there a friend with whom you can discuss the conflict to give you some additional perspective? Do you just need to vent, or are you open to hearing that you might have contributed to the situation in some way? As you consider possible next steps, perhaps it is also a time to consider what you are learning about yourself and what you might be projecting onto the other person. Remember, the goal is to transform the conflict--be mindful about how talking widely about conflict can cause it to ferment in ways you didn’t intend.

4) Invite in an Ally/Mediator/Wellness Support

If you are in a conflict that exceeds your ability to engage in a good way, consider inviting in an ally whom both parties trust to ground the interaction and help both people hear each other calmly. Consider if it would be helpful to have a buddy who can help you communicate your concerns. Many campers have experience mediating and/or offering support around conflicts and have stepped up to be Tenders, identified by an armband. Calling in some additional tools, perspectives, or ways of structuring the conversation might be just the thing.

5) Initiate Group Support

If after a discussion, one or both parties continue to feel like they would like additional support regarding a conflict, reach out to Wellness, and the concern can be brought to camp organizers. We accept that the group as a whole may be responsible for holding conflict with compassion and consciousness to lend to exploration/transformation. Often conflicts at camp are manifestations of ideological conflicts at camp that are just under the surface, and bringing it to a larger group can illuminate the web of relationships and impacts within which we act. There are recourses for addressing conflicts at camp that are accessible to all campers, and Wellness and other organizers can help facilitate group support. Additionally, conflicts contribute to the cultural growth and lore of camp in a variety of ways.
In the case of individuals breaking camp agreements, in order to maintain a culture of responsibility, such behaviors can be brought to camp organizers.

If difficulty or concerns involve access to camp resources, concerns regarding camp     structures, groups, or other larger community concerns, a format for collective engagement could be explored, possibly through all camp meetings. If you need support in bringing these concerns to the larger community, you are encouraged to reach out to Wellness, camp organizers and elders (that is, people who’ve been attending camp for many years--there are many elders around of a diversity of ages)!

Possible tools for addressing conflict could be, creating a fish bowl, Ally Circle, Elder’s Circle, Empathetic Mediated Discussion, or negotiated agreement. Check out the Wellness tent for further resources.

If conflict remains untenable, Gate Agreements are broken, or problematic behaviors remain, individuals could be asked to refrain from participating in path, rituals or be asked to leave camp.

Let us move towards conflict when it arises, towards understanding ourselves and each other more fully, especially when this is difficult, with the awareness that there is support at Free Cascadia Witch Camp to do so.

These steps and perspective on conflict have been adapted, with consent, from the original contributors, rain crowe and Prince Dmitri, from their work with the Applegate Winter Forestry camp, and additionally from JP Hartsong from the Nomenus Wolf Creek Sanctuary's conflict engagement approach.  They have been edited for FCWC by the Wellness Working Group 2014.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Opportunities for Connection in Santa Cruz

An important aspect of my overall health involves my connection to others and opportunities to meaningfully engage.  In Santa Cruz, there are a number of projects where such engagement is possible (and part of the intent).  Here are some of these below.

from the D.I.Y. Guide to Santa Cruz

There are many inspired and energized people in this town who are motivated to create new ways to relate to each other and the world around us. Here is a short list of some of these kinds of projects in Santa Cruz.

-Anarchist Library
at SubRosa, 703 Pacific Ave. 831-426-5242
Rad books! Topics include anarchy, cultural studies, history, ecology, gender and queer studies, indigenous studies, kids books, and more! Knowledge is power and can be inspiring and fun!

-Bike Church
703 Pacific Ave. 831-425-BIKE
A community bike shop and tool cooperative. Mechanics help you learn how to fix your bicycle. We encourage you to get your hands dirty and familiarize yourself with this machine that you rely on.

-Central Coast Rising
A collective organizing to empower communities to protect land, air, & water. Our current focus is to stop the fracking of the Monterey Shale.

-Computer Kitchen
703 Pacific Ave.
Strives to reduce the amount of technology that ends up in landfills while providing a space, tools, and advice for people to work on and learn about this technology. Open Wed & Sun.

-The Fábrica
703 Pacific Ave.
A community textile arts cooperative organized by a collective of artists for the purpose of artistic collaboration and creative reuse. A space to work on projects or learn to sew, knit, etc.

-Free Radio Santa Cruz - 101.1 FM
101.1 FM. 831-427-3772
On the air since 1995 without a license, broadcasting 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year, in defiance of federal regulations. Broadcasting programs unavailable on corporate controlled stations.

-Free Skool Santa Cruz
Calendars distributed widely around Santa Cruz
A completely grassroots, collective effort to create an autonomous, mutual-support network. It is a direct challenge to institutional control and the commodification of learning and how we relate to each other.

-Guerilla Drive-In
An outdoor movie theater under the stars that springs up intermittently. Showing great movies, bringing a broad community together, and reclaiming public space.

-Meristem Health Distro
Zines available at SubRosa 

Information to empower ourselves and each other, take our well-being and healing into our own hands, and find ways to minimize our reliance on western medicine. Topics include herbalism, women's health, mental
health, emotional support, and more!

-Really Really Free Market
at SubRosa, 703 Pacific Ave
A completely free market every third Saturday based on a gift-economy striving to subvert exploitative exchange. Bring food to share, special items that you don’t use but can’t throw away, and/or special talents to offer people.

-Santa Cruz Food Not Bombs
All volunteer project that recovers foods that would be otherwise discarded and prepares and serves vegan meals at the clocktower on Pacific, Sat./Sun. @ 4pm. We also share meals in solidarity with local groups seeking peace, social justice and a sustainable future. Contact:

-Santa Cruz Forest Keepers
Community organizing to protect the beautiful forest of Upper Campus from UCSC development plans. Check out the Spring Forest Walk calendar available at the above links.

-Santa Cruz Fruit Tree Project
A network of volunteers working to make use of surplus tree fruit, and to support tree propagation and maintenance.

-Santa Cruz Indymedia
Indymedia is a tool for the creation of radical, accurate, and passionate tellings of truth, and is dedicated to improving the coverage of local events. You can easily publish articles, audio, photography, and video. Find & contribute online.

-Sin Barras
Contact for meeting info.
A community-based group that works to build coalitions to eradicate the prison industrial-complex. We are working to build a long-term movement for a world without cages.

-SubRosa: a community space
703 Pacific Ave.
An anarchist and radical space offering anarchist literature, coffee and tea, shows and a weekly open mic, art by local artists, and a garden courtyard social space. It also hosts the Anarchist Library, Free Skool classes,
Meristem Health Distro, GDI, and more!

-Support the Santa Cruz 11
The Santa Cruz Eleven are community members who are charged with a variety of offenses arising from their alleged involvement with the occupation of a vacant bank building in 2011. The remaining defendants go to trial sometime in 2014.

-Union of Benevolent Electrical Workers

Creating technical infrastructure for both local and global radical communities. UBEW provides mutual support to anti-authoritarian groups making radical social change through direct action, community
involvement, and education.

Another world is possible and we can create it in the here-and-now. At times our actions must also involve struggle against oppressive forces to protect and nurture that which we value and love. Of course, there are many more possibilities for meaningfully-relating than this short list encompasses. Act alone and with others to make this area a more vibrant place to be alive!

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Fire Cider!

Winter is here and it is a great time for fire cider!  This is fun and easy to make with friends, great to give to loved ones and also very tasty! Making and taking Fire Cider can be a simple way to take care of yourself and those you care for.  Here is a recipe from the website Community Herbalist (thanks).  Also, at the bottom of this post I included a couple of other links to other sites that have info on Fire Cider.  Enjoy.

Fire Cider

Fire Cider is a classic herbal remedy for use at the first sign of a cold or flu. It is also an excellent external liniment for use on the chest for congestion, or to ease the pain of sore muscles. The vinegar is a preservative so you don’t need to refrigerate this after you press it out. It is a long lasting remedy.

Get organic ingredients if you can, and, the most potent, freshest cayenne that you can find.

Onion- chopped: 1/2C
Ginger- Grated: 1/2C
Horseradish Root- grated: 1/4C
Garlic- chopped: 1/8 C
Cayenne: 1 Teaspoon
Apple Cider Vinegar: 1 Quart

Place the above ingredients in a Quart jar and cover with Apple Cider Vinegar. Use wax paper with a rubber band on top of jar as the vinegar will eat through metal lids.

Leave to steep for 4-8 weeks. Shake daily for best results. I prefer to steep a full two months but it can be used anytime before that if you need to.

Use a strainer to separate herbs from vinegar. Then, take the remaining herbs and put in a thin cloth and squeeze that last vinegar out.

Pour into a clean container. Store in a cool dark place.

At the first sign of a cold take a shot or a half of shot a few times a day.

Medicinal Properties of Fire Cider: 

Ginger – Zingiber officinale is antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory and settles the stomach. It helps stimulate digestion.
Garlic – Allium sativum improves immune function; antibacterial and antimicrobial properties. It is a diaphoretic (opens pores to reduce fever).
Horseradish – Armoracia rusticana is an anti-bacterial herb, mildly antibiotic, stimulating herb, stimulates mucus surfaces throughout entire body, and topically is a rubefacient (increases circulation).
Onion – Allium cepa is an expectorant and relieves congestion, antiseptic, antifungal, anticoagulant (reduces hypertension), rubefacient (when externally used dilates capillaries, and has analgesic or pain relieving properties).
Cayenne – Capsicum spp. stimulates circulation blood flow and heats body to clear out the mucus.
Apple Cider Vinegar – balances your body’s ph

Contraindications: The herbs in this formula can affect individuals who are taking blood thinning medications or aspirin. Anyone undergoing any surgical procedures should stop taking blood thinning herbs at least two weeks prior to and one week following surgery. This formula should be used with caution by any individual with a sensitive stomach, acid reflux or chronic heartburn, gastric ulcers, irritable bowel syndrome, Crohns, or flatulence. (from

Also check out the site Herbal Remedies Info for more Fire Cider information.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Thoughts on the Winter Solstice

The Winter Solstice has just passed and now the days grow in length again...but still the nights are long.  This can be a slow time, to reflect, to go inside (literally in one's dwelling and also in one's own being).  

An aspect for health for me involves being in touch with natural cycles and being in my own rhythm with that.  I definitely feel the need to go inside myself at this time and am feeling the need to slow down.  There is something stirring in me that feels a bit elusive right now.

On the Winter Solstice, we had a gathering of friends where I live and below are some of the intentions and seeds for thought that were offered forth.

Intention:  in the quiet earthy darkness and stillness there is a light that emerges, a spark to tend, a light to share.

Seeds to consider:  What is the light that emerges from embracing and honoring the darkness?  Where there is light there are also shadows, and how do we acknowledge them?  How can we support each other through these times?


Healing, feeling, being one.
Take your time go slowly.
Listen deeply to yourself.
Simple things are holy.

(from a song i learned at Free Cascadia Witch Camp. 
i don't know the origin or if i have the lyrics correct...however i do like this version)

Monday, November 25, 2013

Hooray for Bay Nuts!

from the SubRosa- a community space blog.

Today three friends and I harvested more bay nuts, each of us has already been out collecting, either together or with others (one of my friends is eight years old, and I am glad to have this special time with her in this context).  In Santa Cruz, the California Bay Laurel tree is very abundant in the wild spaces around this area.  From where I live, it is a ten minute walk to the river where redwood trees, sycamore trees and bay trees share the land.  In other seasons, nettles can be found, and soon mushrooms will be popping up.  

For me, harvesting these foods is a way for me to connect to the land, and to do that with friends creates a special kind of bond between us.  In a small way, we are meeting our needs for basic sustenance, and in a larger way we are also bypassing the capitalist alienation of how we get our food.  It is also important for me to mindfully do this gathering, as this also involves a kind of relationship, one with the trees and nuts and land from which they grow.  I also give back, gratitude and tend to these areas.  This attention to how I relate, to myself, to others, to the land is an important aspect of anarchism for me, where I embody my theory in the how-I-am in the world.  And the bay nuts are really tasty (and have a caffeine like effect).

Here are some links that give some directions on how to process bay nuts.  There are two primary methods, roasting in the shell and roasting outside of the shell.  I have tried both, and you can too.  Whatever the method you use, be sure to not over-roast the bay nuts.

-Baynutting: Tips for Harvesting, Storing and Using California Bay Nuts in the Shell
-Handout on Harvesting and Roasting Bay Nuts Out of the Shell

Also see the article posted on this blog about Ethical Harvesting.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Autumn Equinox

It has been awhile since I have written in this blog.  This entry is a bit different from the previous ones in that I discuss spirituality in the context of the community where I live.

For me a part of being healthy involves nurturing my connection to the land where I live, the people in my community and to a sense of spirituality.  We in Santa Cruz, where I live, are having an Autumn Equinox ritual celebration with the following intention...

As we transition with the Autumn Equinox we celebrate and honor the abundance we share:  of the land, of friendship and of spirit.
We have the desire to make magic together and explore ways we can deepen our affinities with each other, the land, and spirit...and for us carry that out into the world!  That last piece is very important to me, where I want to have an active engagement with the world, and the deep affinities I nurture can be fuel for that work.

 Wood, Stone, Feather, and Bone
(adapted from a song by Joules Graves)

-this is a song we will sing in the ritual
and has been changed by friends to be Santa Cruz related-

wood, stone, feather, and bone
roaring of the ocean guide us home
wood, stone, feather, and bone
roaring of the ocean guide us home

coyot and raven
coyot and raven
in my soul, in my soul
in my soul, in my soul

river, sea, redwood tree
howling of the wind gonna set us free
river, sea, redwood tree
howling of the wind gonna set us free

owl and salmon
owl and salmon
in my soul, in my soul
in my soul, in my soul