Pillars of Our Shared Work
– sharing the foundation of Six Degrees –
When we say “health”, it includes not only physical health but also holistic wellness, which is often related to the intersection of systemic oppression. In an effort to continue nurturing a culture of health, we decided to start a new section – “Pillars of Our Shared Work” – in our monthly newsletter to talk about the foundation that Six Degrees is built on. We are eager to share with you thoughts and resources on some of the topics that we are passionate about. In this section, we ask: How can we together build a community that values awareness for inclusiveness, respect for shared labour, and creative fostering engaged participation? We would also like to invite you to get in touch with us on any related topics that you are interested. This month we focus on the topic of labour in our shared work.
A labour of love, daring and community
Initiated by Susanda Yee and supported into its fruition by Susanda, Matt Sedo (in the early years), Lamia Gibson (as time continues) and every single person who has contributed to create this healing space, Six Degrees is a multi-disciplinary Traditional and Natural medicine health centre rooted with a a community economic development vision.
In the beginning Susanda imagined a health centre where anyone could access empowering, effective Natural and Traditional health care. She envisioned a space much like what she had seen at Lincoln Detox during her NADA training (amazing history and place: read more here) where many people from diverse communities and varying social and economic locations inhabited the same space with the shared purpose of healing.
She wanted to create a space where new practitioners could launch their practices wholly, meaning they would be able to afford the rent and have the support to focus predominantly on their practices. So often, Natural and Traditional health providers live a double life. One part of their work is for paying the bills, getting their basic needs met, and the other part (the medicine related work) is done half time as they build a practice that can sustain their whole lives. This means a lot of practitioners don’t make it, especially those who do not have systemic support due to many reasons related to race, money, class, gender, sexuality and ableism.
To birth a wholistic medicine practice requires time and attention, LOVE, and much labour. Trying to do this while also holding down a 20 to 40 (sometimes up to 50!) hour work week somewhere else is very trying and results in less focus and more stress. (On the other side, there is also the stress of having no or next to little work which is among many things distracting, depressing, and stagnating.)
The labour of a wholistic healing space has many parts
Six Degrees works to offer a home to health practitioners who want to include a sliding scale aspect to their practice. Often folks practicing are charging more than they feel ethically at peace with because overhead costs are high. Together we co-create a space where people can share healing space, tools, knowledge and infrastructure.
Another integral branch of labour at Six Degrees is its work exchange program. We often refer to it as volunteer work, but volunteering doesn’t quite capture what is happening on a deeper level. Our work exchange program engages in an economic system that is rooted in an exchange of Qi.
Qi = vital energy in all matter everywhere.
Qi is the basis of our labour. Labour is made with Qi and it is regenerated by the flow of giving and receiving it.
Without this exchange Six Degrees could not happen! Our Office Assistants, Cleaning staff, Promoters, office manager and work exchange coordinator are all funded through this program. A system where people can access treatments by bartering their time, skill and wisdom is a healthy, viable way to build a healing space that serves and includes most people. When you receive a service at Six Degrees, it contributes to a much bigger vision of how we can, together, create sustainable, healthy, viable, and wealthy communities.
We hope you enjoy the inner workings of the Pillars of our Shared work, coming next month we will speak to the “Engaged Economics” pillar at Six Degrees. We welcome feedback and comments via direct email, facebook page or anonymously.
Co-authors: Lamia and Susanda