Land As Place-maker, Land As Medicine: Integrated Community Health And Earth-based Healing
Pavey, Laura Patricia
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This work concerns the emotional healing properties of the earth imagined through an anticolonial lens. Its aim is to think about the potentialities of alternate methods for personal and social change - methods that challenge normative investments in Western rational knowledge and cure. It reaches beyond individual trauma, colonizing therapies and considers how generational suffering can be addressed, in Dian Million's words, when "people understand their knowledge as inextricable from their lived experience in their distinct places, in spiritual relationships, with land and life, and from traditions that change but are millennial" (2013, 13). Throughout my research, and specifically in my "Knowledge-Ways" component, I lean heavily upon Indigenous ways of knowing that prioritize the process or journey over arrival or end product. Knowledge understood through journey is not pre-determined, often spontaneous, and does not privilege outcomes. Where Indigenous perspective tends to value knowledge made through story, journey, experience and a relationship to the land, Western knowledge values positivist, empirical and results-oriented methods. The purpose of this research is not to create a one-size fits all way of thinking about healing but to create alternate narratives and ways of thinking to the dominant western medical model. This research will explore the earth and its relationship to health and spirituality, broadening the scope of what's possible for urban marginalized communities. It also explores the challenges faced, particularly among urban groups, to secure land, funding and recognition for the value of earth-centered programs. My literature review takes up earth related knowledge gleaned from the fields of ecopsychology, critical urban studies, and Indigenous studies. While research in ecopsychology demonstrates empirical evidence that support the healing qualities of the earth, my project demonstrated the necessity for an anti-colonial analysis of earth-based healing. My personal narrative essay documents the journey that led me to a project on earth based healing. Through story and art, I describe how my arrival is made from difficult experience, political insight and spiritual growth. Personal narrative, as a methodological approach allows space for non-traditional knowledge-making. In story and art, emotional knowledge is transmitted and difficult experience is processed through the telling. My personal narrative situates me, the story-teller, as knowledge-maker. Finally, I developed a workshop module for facilitating an earth-based healing group. The module outlines engagement strategies, brainstorming activities, knowledge sharing exercises, story-telling circles, artistic mapping activities and closing ceremonies. My hope is to create a workshop template that is flexible in nature but that embodies key strategies for creating space that fosters meaningful community connectedness.