Herbalist James

I’ve lived in Portland, Oregon for most of my life, with short stints in Minnesota, Montana and Idaho.  The plan out of college was to work as botanist, but the Bush Administration happened, and after attempting to get work with something of the naturalist flavor, I figured it was best to separate my vocation from a very committed avocation.  

My current day job is in IT as an administrator, mostly in Cloud environments, and I also work a fair bit with Multnomah County Emergency Management. One perk of working with EM was being deployed to the path of totality for the 2017 solar eclipse, where I worked on radio/digital communications and camped in the front yard of the county courthouse.  The only shower available was in a jail cell, which wasn’t my favorite thing ever, but at least I crossed that off my bucket list.

I got involved with herbalism as an extension of permaculture, which was an extension of community organizing around community and ecological resilience, with a focus on city and county government policy. I have worked on a lot of fronts,  including fuel, energy, climate, food, disaster mitigation, etc. Most notably to the herbalist community, growing (and selling) medicinal plants are now classified as food crops, because a small group of herbalists spoke up at key hearings on local food and land use zoning in the City of Portland.  

My experience with herbalism began in 2011, and I have attended many herb conferences in the Pacific NW.  My typical way of working with herbs has primarily focused on herbs that are native to the region or could be cultivated here ideally sitting with the live plant before using it in any preparation . I’ve taken a look at TCM and Ayurveda from time to time before signing up for East West in 2016, and I signed up with the Therapies Track in 2018 specifically to get some hands-on experience with the practical details of formulation and seeing the results of common practices.

Next up for me is diving into the updated materia medica. I’ve also just totally reorganized my yard, and I’m going to try out several plants in this year’s garden and greenhouse, such as He Shou Wu, Goji, Schizandra and few others. I will be looking for what will grow without much attention!

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