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IM4US 2021

The IM4US conference this weekend was pretty amazing. The theme was Decolonizing Medicine… and they actually succeeded to a much greater extent than any other ‘Integrative’ or ‘progressive’ or ‘inclusive’ or ‘diverse’ medical gathering or group I’ve participated in yet.

[yes, I am certain race- and culturally-specific groups are already doing this well – I am comparing at the moment groups that include white people and have been historically led/powered by white people and men.]

Two things stood out I want to highlight:

1. The concept of Interdependence (you may know this as ‘interdependent arising,’ from a Buddhist perspective) with Indigenous-centered (and led) healthcare (everything really), and

2. Acknowledgement of ‘new-age conspirituality’ that infuses a lot of ‘Integrative Medicine’ practice and discussion.

The first can dissolve destructive concepts and structures, at the same time as building and opening possibilities.

The second includes anti-science movements and conspiracy thinking at the same time as blame-focused ‘wellness’ thinking (i.e. that illness is a failure of the person to do things to be healthy).

To take power from the second so it stops harming people and dragging us backwards, we have to continue to build trust and deepen relationships that are honest and caring at their core, so that people don’t become prey to those seeking to sew division and fear. Indigenous-led practices and infusing the concept of interdependence into everything are the best frames for this kind of work, and I’m so hopeful that so many people are successfully incorporating and building with these ways of thinking.

I’d love to hear from any of you who attended what you thought, and those who didn’t- check out the IM4US site, and some of the speakers’ organizations, I’ll list a few below.

Dig Deep Farms in association with ALL IN Alameda county’s Recipe 4 Health program – food prescriptions and food access, learning about farming, and inclusive programs for East Bay families  (bonus – article in Edible East Bay

The Kitchenistas – whole food recipes and building community in the kitchen

Casa de Salud in Albuquerque NM – community built affordable and inclusive health care

Nā Pu’uwai – Native Health Care system in Hawaii – Moloka’i and Lāna’i – culture as strength