Aviva Romm and Friend

Despite their shared love of nature, plants, caring for the earth, animal and human life — herbalists as a bunch have at times had an ironic history of contentiousness that seems to not always serve their higher purpose. I suppose it’s based on an essential rebellious ‘maverick’ consciousness that caused most of them (us”¦ me!) to turn away from the mainstream to once again look to nature as the source for wisdom, knowledge and healing.

If you were to query each of us individually, you’d find that while we share a great commonality in our core beliefs, we also take considerable satisfaction in asserting our individuality and freedom.  This too is the “way of herbs.”

So it is out of a long history of persecution and repression of herbal medicine that I perhaps somewhat naively envisioned the possibility of another future for herbal medicine as integrated mainstream healing and thus able to serve the health needs of larger numbers of people.  It was out of this vision that a number of us came together in the Santa Cruz, California living room of herbalist Christopher Hobbs to ‘feel each other out’ and see if it would be possible to forge some type of union that could at least promote minimum professional standards for clinical herbal medicine and a network from which we could all share and grow a body of experience and knowledge. This was the beginning of what is now the American Herbalists Guild, i.e. the AHG.

Much of what the American Herbalists Guild is at this moment of history is due to the contribution and efforts of many talented and dedicated individuals who have weathered the challenges of ‘cat herding’ iconoclastic herbalists as they set aside their personal priorities to serve the greater good.  Incredibly, the AHG has been in existence for 23 years, and 10 of those were under the guidance and leadership of Aviva Romm as president, and her husband, Tracy Romm, as executive director.  Of all the ‘cat herders,’ none comes close to Aviva.

Aviva’s beauty, charm and quick wit remind me of the more easy-going ‘mother of American herbalism’ Rosemary Gladstar, who likewise uses these qualities to bring people together. Some people have that knack. Rosemary can get us to all clasp hands and dance and sing in a circle, while Aviva coaxed some reluctant individuals to run for governing council. When some council members neglected to follow through with their responsibilities and commitments, if the job was deemed important enough, Aviva, amidst writing  eight books, raising four kids, editing the AHG Journal, running a correspondence course, and getting herself through medical school, would step in to complete the task. The amazing thing through all of this has been her ability to remain current with a large number of friends whom she regarded as her ‘extended family.’

Aviva’s life and the fortune are so entwined with her husband Tracy (Romms shown at left) that one can hardly celebrate the achievements of one without mentioning the role of the other. Tracy as AHG executive director did not come with a background as an herbalist, but rather as a teacher and administrator in the public school system. Therefore, he has had a learn-as-you-go time with the AHG, literally creating his own job description. Further, he has served as a solid grounding influence behind the visioning and workings of the AHG and Aviva for the last 10 years. Aviva and Tracy functioned as a formidable team.

The future for Aviva, now Dr. Aviva Romm, is bright and wide open as she moves into an arena of greater influence and service as an herbalist and licensed medical doctor. I ask you, who would not prefer such an individual as their personal health care provider — someone who knows the best of both worlds?

Personally, and I’m sure I’m speaking for her many friends who still consider themselves in a close bond, wish Aviva, the ‘once-upon-a-time-drop-out-runaway-from-home-15-year-old’ the very best in all her future endeavors. We also hope that she will continue to edit the AHG Journal and to share her teachings and wisdom in future AHG symposiums and herbal conferences and schools around the country.

A word about new AHG President K.P. Khalsa: he definitely has what it takes to be a solid grounded leader of any organization. I’ve had the pleasure to know KP pretty well and he’s a great no-mushy-nonsense friend. The AHG will certainly benefit from these qualities in their new president. I encourage all to rally around and support K.P. and his new AHG board.

If you consider yourself a supporter of herbal medicine and haven’t joined the AHG I suggest that you do so either as a supporting member, student member or professional herbalist. Go to their website at http://www.americanherbalistsguild.com/ and join today.

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