Decolonizing Natural Medicine: Increasing Access to Holistic Health for All

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Rescheduled to December 2, 2017

One of the members of our organizing team Connie Sahlin was on a mushrooming and food foraging trip on Thursday, Oct 14 for the conference near Cougar Hot Springs and was separated from the group and was lost in the woods in very wet and cold temperatures for over 36 hours. We had to focus on the search for her, but we are grateful she was found safe, and is well. Important lessons we learned, and were inspired to add an additional post conference workshop.

Sunday, Dec 3, 2017  Post Conference Workshops Heron Brae from the Columbines School of Botanical Studies  will be teaching wildcrafting orientation. More details posted as soon as possible.

   Conference Information

Saturday,  December 2, 2017      8:00am to 5:15pm
Post Conference Workshops Sunday, Dec 3, 2017  9:00am-12 & 1-4:00pm
Eugene, Oregon


We believe health care is a right, not a privilege. Access to holistic health providers as well as healthy food is often limited to those who can afford it. Poverty and trauma, including historical trauma, create toxic stress in our bodies that research has shown promotes problematic health conditions. Herbal medicine, acupuncture, energy healing, mindfulness, movement, massage and other body work, should be accessible to everyone, including the poor and traumatized who cannot afford such beneficial pathways to health.

The objectives of this conference are to learn mind-body-heart-spirit tools that professionals can integrate into our practices to further the healing of those we serve.

Target Audience

This one-day conference is designed for healers and health professionals, including MD, DO, ND, DC, RN, LAc, PA, NP, Herbalists, Midwives, Energy Healers, Counselors, Community Health Workers, LMT and body workers, as well as students entering the healing professions.


$75 includes lunch. $40/student or low income, with work trades and scholarships available. For those only wanting to attend the lunch and the panel discussion, cost is $12.00.


As this is a one-day conference, we have arranged no lodging. However, some in our group have Airbnb, or we may be able to help find people willing to host overnight guests. Please contact us for more information.

Venue ( We are waiting confirmation from LCC about the Longhouse, if unavailable for those dates we have an alternative venue in central Eugene). 

We are honored to be able to use the Lane Community College Longhouse for this event. The parking is excellent on a Saturday, it is the furthest building when entering the main parking lot. LTD bus runs regularly.  This is a sacred place, please respect the following guidelines for its use.

Lane Longhouse Code of Conduct

  • All users must comply with Lane Community College policies and procedures, and with the Lane Community College Student Code of Conduct.
  • Consumption of alcoholic beverages is prohibited. Intoxicated individuals are not permitted in the Lane Longhouse.
  • Lane Community College is a smoke free campus. Smoking is permitted in designated areas only.
  • The Lane Longhouse is a place of respectful interaction and contemplations. The use of profanity is inappropriate.
  • Exchange of money between parties is prohibited in the Longhouse. All parties prohibited to buy or sell products in the Longhouse.

CEU – 8 hours or 8 units of Continuing Education is offered for Health Professions (RN, LPN, LMT, PT, RT, CD, CPM, LM, LDEM, etc) by Lane Community College at no extra fee. Certificate given at the end of conference.

Conference Schedule

7:30 – 8:30 am  Registration & Continental Breakfast

8:30 – 9:30 am Movement Therapeutics; The Diagnostic Skills of Tai Chi   — Michael Vasquez

Practice and discussion around the framework for returning to Natural Intelligence, how traumas are released, and the ways to recognize and work with imbalances. Movement Therapeutics is a primary tool in Mind/Body centering, behavioral changes, cognitive repatterning, and the overall release of cellular constriction.

QiGong/Internal Practices give us a foundation to develop and evolve our nature, a self-learning tool that develops our diagnostic sensory intelligence; the ability to feel and interact with an imbalanced area/problem. This naturally develops a deep foundation for working with others. As we choose to face the traumas and imbalances within ourselves, we develop the capacity to work well with others and respect all forms of life.

When we consider working with decolonization, we know that we will need to work with others, play well with others, and find and share our common connections. Learning to appreciate different perspectives, being generally flexible and open, harmonizing and shifting in timely manners, and looking for “workable solutions” is what one might refer to as primary evolutionary skills.

Michael Vasquez After over 30 years as an executive chef, Michael currently works full time teaching in the arts of Tai Chi, QiGong, Yoga, herbs, diet, and Traditional Chinese Medicine.  He is the Director of Transformation Arts  which provides educational presentations, online instruction, and instructor training programs to schools, corporate wellness programs, non-profit organizations, and Native programs, as well as community, senior, and child wellness programs. He is the Co-Founder of Red Earth Descendants and is currently the lead in the Golden Garden Elder Lunch Project.


9:30 – 11:00 am   Healing Community with Plants  — Shelagh Brown

What does it mean to decolonize?  Recognizing provider privilege, unpacking and providing real tools to provide the most effective and just holistic care should be the cornerstone of our practice. We all live at various intersections of both privilege and marginalization, so learning how to best navigate that will allow us to truly practice in a way where we do no harm. We will also discuss being culturally humble, understanding the population you serve and understanding non-compliance in your clients and how to address it. Using group visit models many integrative practices are using, Shelagh will discuss how she has found giving herb walks is a phenomenal way to bring patients together in community to meet one another and spark and interested in nature and have a more vested interest in their healing.

Shelagh Brown, MSc

Shelagh holds a BS in Herbal Sciences and a MS in Acupuncture and East Asian Medicine from Bastyr University. She also has completed a yoga teacher training at the Samayra Center for (Human) kindness as well as additional training in Integrated Movement therapy (a yoga based therapy), medical qigong, craniosacral, and aromatherapy.  Shelagh approaches all aspects of care through an anti-oppression lens and is deeply dedicated to carrying forward conversations about race, privilege, and institutionalized oppression and how these things affect health as well as access to care.

11:00 – 11:15 am  Break

11:15 am – 12:15 pm  Creating New Healthy Traditions — Jakob Sletteland

Evolving from foraging in the wild to foraging in grocery stores,  we have lost knowledge of indigenous foods, understanding heredity diets, food traditions, and lost food security.  Diet and lifestyle related ‘diseases of civilization’ such as metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease have reached epidemic proportions globally.. This disproportionately affects people of color and the poor, and can only be described as a public health disaster. Informed by traditional medicine and modern research, this session will introduce participants to the etiology and politics of insulin resistance, and provide a no-nonsense natural therapeutic approach.

Jakob Sletteland MSc RH(AHG) In addition to a background in ecological defense and social justice activism, Jakob Sletteland is a practicing registered herbalist and clinical nutritionist with ten years of experience in the field. Jakob regularly volunteers his time as a practitioner with Occupy Medical in Eugene, a free integrative medicine clinic, and has organized and run back-country bush clinics at annual indigenous ceremonies in the Pacific Northwest over the  last eight years. His private practice, Vital Force Natural Health, is located in Eugene/Springfield.

12:15-1:15pm  Lunch

Plant Based Buffet Lunch focusing on Indigenous and Locally Grown Organic Foods

Tickets for lunch only are available on the registration page for guests who do not want to attend the conference.

1:15 to 2:15 pm Food Grows Community Panel Facilitated by Clare Strawn

Modern research indicates what Indigenous peoples have always known: That growing and harvesting food has incredible health benefits, such as soil microbiomes that have antidepressant and antioxidant properties; access to fresh organic non-GMO foods; valuable exercise; and a connection with the earth that is healing to the spirit.  This panel will discuss several innovative community garden programs.

Clare Strawn, PhD puts her PhD in Urban Studies and Master’s in Education to work using collaborative action that empowers communities. Her perspective is that health and resilience reside with individuals in community. She is the vice president at Zaniyan Center.


Golden Garden Elder Lunch Project  – Michael Vasquez – Reality Kitchen is a nonprofit café and bakery in the River Road area which hosts a weekly free lunch for Elders. The Golden Garden project uses a donated plot and volunteers grow food to support the Elder lunch as well as the local food banks. Volunteers from across the community gather and contribute time and talents to harvest and help prepare food. The convergence of organic food grown within a few miles, together with enthusiastic volunteers and young adults in conversation with elders, has created a lively and growing community worlds away from institutionalized free lunch programs.

Eagletree Herbs –  Daphne Singingtree – Located in a North Eugene suburban neighborhood on less than ¼ acre, this permaculture urban homestead focuses on growing medicinal herbs, but it also has over 15 different varieties of fruit trees and berries, vegetable gardens, mushrooms, bees, and chickens. Eagletree offers a program for interns to learn to grow and harvest herbs as well as make herbal products. To date Eagletree has trained more than 100 student interns at no cost.

Food Gathering Traditions from the Northwest Tribes –– Stephanie Craig
The knowledge of gathering and harvesting of plants for food, medicine, baskets, and items for everyday life was in danger of being lost completely with the cultural genocide of the native tribes of the Northwest. Stephanie will share knowledge of plants from her tribal heritage the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde, Kalapuya, Umpqua, Takelma Rogue River, Clackamas Chinook and Iroquois.

Stephanie Craig, MA is a traditional basket weaver and owner of Kalapuya Weaving. She has a Bachelor of Arts in cultural anthropology with an emphasis on Northwest Native American cultures,  an interdisciplinary  Masters of Arts degree comprised of coursework in cultural anthropology, cultural museum studies and folklore studies.  She is passionate about giving back to the community as part of the next generation of Tradition Bearers, teaching foraging for native foods and medicines.

Eugene Avant Gardeners – Plaedo Wellman – A Eugene organization focused on using artistic and innovative approaches towards creating a resilient local food network, that uses permaculture techniques to encourage and inspire people to grow food together. The Avant Gardeners have given away over 10,000 plant starts, hosted over a dozen workshops and over a hundred work parties, given away hundreds of pounds of food, assisted numerous other organizations and have published a series of popular zines.

Plaedo Wellman is a philosopher, artist, activist gardener. Check out his TEDx talk “Find your Farmily with Community Gardening” linked from his website


2:15 – 3:15 pm   Herbal Pain Relief;  Effective Alternatives to Opiates  — Daphne Singingtree

A look into the physiology of pain and the herbs and categories of herbs that can be used to treat pain. How herbs can be used for chronic pain management as alternatives to opiates. Make herbal formulas for pain, some specific herbs, we will very briefly discuss cannabis, review kratom, and examine the connection between chronic pain and depression and mood disorders, and learn some specific tools using holistic methods that are simple and easy to use.

Daphne Singingtree, MEd,  is  a Medicine Maker and owner of Eagletree Herbs, a retired midwife, the author of The Birthsong Midwifery Workbook and numerous other midwifery publications. She helped write the Oregon Midwifery Law for Direct Entry Midwives and is a co-founder of the Midwifery Education and Accreditation Council.   She is the founder and president of Zaniyan Center. Her heritage includes Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and she is active in the Water is Life movement.  She is in the process of developing an Holistic Community Health Worker Program.

3:15 – 3:30 pm  Break

3:30 – 4:30 pm  Moving Toward Trauma-Sensitive Healing Arts Practices  — Elaine Walters

Individual and collective experiences of violence, abuse and other trauma are at the root of many of our most challenging health and social problems.  These problems have existed throughout human history, as have efforts to survive and heal from them. Many modern approaches to treating or healing trauma have roots in traditional healing systems that have been in use for thousands of years.  At the same time, many practitioners have not been adequately trained on how best to organize their work in ways that are sensitive to the needs of survivors in their care.  This presentation will introduce participants to new research on the connections between early life adversity and later life health problems (the ACE Study), and provide an overview on trauma-sensitive practice, including information on preventing and managing vicarious trauma and promoting workplace safety.

Elaine Walters is the founding Executive Director and lead trainer at the Trauma Healing Project, an organization that provides professional and community training and direct healing support for survivors. Prior to this position she coordinated the Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner Program for the Attorney General’s Sexual Assault Task Force in Oregon and the Domestic Violence Intervention Project in Lane County working within two large healthcare organizations. For the last 20 years she has been a consultant, trainer and community organizer working to address and eliminate intimate violence. She has designed and facilitated workshops and trainings on many related topics and has provided direct services and support to youth and adults impacted by violence, abuse and other forms of trauma and oppression. She is involved in the effort to expand accessible trauma healing resources and to implement trauma-informed care practices regionally and statewide.

4:30 – 5:30 pm  Occupy Medical; Bringing Herbs to the People — Sue Sierralupé

A free clinic which evolved from the Occupy street protests, recognizes the role that stress, poverty and lack of access has on health. This clinic provides integrative care to all using conventional medical care, herbs, energy and body work, behavioral health as well as social services.

Sue Sierralupé RH, is a Certified Master Herbalist, Master Gardener, professional writer and Sustainable Landscape Specialist. Sue also volunteers as the clinic manager and herb team leader at Occupy Medical clinic. She is the co-author of The Practical Herbalist Herbal Folio series and author of The Pocket Herbal: Medicinal Plants that Changed the World. Follow her blog at for commentary on herbs, parenting, nutrition, and a whole lot more or find her on Facebook at Sue Sierralupé.

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