For years now, since my pregnancy with our second child, I have had this little idea in the back of my brain that has grown and taken different shapes and forms, and sometimes I haven't thought much of it for long stretches of time but it's always there. It's a combination of some of my biggest passions - holistic health, natural birth, community-style living and work, family support, good quality health care available to ALL people - and the best part is that my husband is fully on board and supportive of this plan. So after a great deal of discussion and brainstorming, we've decided that it's time to put one foot in front of the other and start moving forward towards this plan, even if it's at a snails pace. We have a name and a vision and even a pretty solid plan that we've talked out, so I don't feel like we're flying blind. I'm not fooling myself into thinking it will be easy - in fact I think it will be a ton of very hard work. But we're ready to try!
What I'm envisioning is a large piece of land where we can set up multiple buildings, where we can live and also where we can have office space to rent out. My main vision is of a health center with a focus on pregnancy and birth, but I'd love to be able to offer whole life services if we can get enough interest and participation from providers. We would provide a beautiful space - complete with community vegetable gardens, workshops, and other activities to get people together and helping each other - where natural health care providers can come together to serve clients, outside of the standard idea of a hospital or clinic. A place where we can come together to promote wellness and good health, and take a holistic approach to managing health care by making it easy for the entire team to come together to help the ENTIRE client. Are you feeling me? I'm very excited about this, and I'm even more excited about how into it my husband is! I can see this being something our whole family would work together on.
One place for your natural health care. This plan originated when I learned about The Farm in Tennessee, the midwifery center which was started by the wonderful Ina May Gaskin, a pioneer in modern midwifery in the US. As soon as I learned about what she does, I wanted to create a place similar to that where women and their families could come to ease into a comfortable and safe place for birth, a haven where they would have access to midwives, doulas, maybe aromatherapists, massage therapists, counselors, and more. And yes, recently I've gotten into the show Private Practice (late to the party, as usual!) and I love the idea of a health care co-operative. Expanding beyond pregnancy and birth services and offering options to all age ranges - pediatrics, family practice, in my wildest dreams even hospice services, because I believe that we all deserve a peaceful birth and a peaceful death.
Services to support the entire life span. Workshops, not only about health and wellness related topics, but also about good old fashioned life skills. Community gardens, and workshops where we can learn how to work in the gardens and what to do with the food we harvest from them. Cottage style homes so that we could offer the different practitioners an on-site place to live, or at least a comfortable place to stay while waiting on a laboring mama. Birthing rooms, or birthing cottages, where the entire family can be comfortable for the whole duration of labor, where supportive and safe people are on premises to help care for the older children while the parents work through labor and birth together. The ability to have sliding scale payments or bartering services so that low income families can have access to the same good quality health services.
This is an enormous plan and feels overwhelming, but we'll never get anywhere by sitting and thinking about it, so after a great deal of discussion we've decided to go for it. And it still feels overwhelming, and I'm still not quite sure how to get it going, but we've been gathering lots of information about how to create a nonprofit organization and we're slowly heading down that path.
What we need now is to know who will be enthusiastic and supportive of this plan with us. Who will our supporters be? Anyone who would want to be involved with a project like this. A practitioner, a client, a lawyer, an activist, or "just" a caring community member. And ultimately we'll need to start fundraising. It will be slow going because I will be carefully looking into laws and regulations at each step along the way to make sure that we're doing things properly right from the start. But I believe in this plan. I believe that this is something that will fulfill a major need, and I believe that it is possible to make this happen. I believe that it will be a TON of work, but that it will be well worth it when we see it take shape.