Healing and hoping through mutual aid in Richmond

We sometimes hear the city of Richmond described as a “refinery town”. For those who live here we feel the impact of the fossil fuel industry in and on our bodies and on the elements of the land we live on. We want our community to make the connections between the fossil fuel industry and its severe and harmful impact on our respiratory, nervous, immune and digestive systems, leading to illnesses and diseases that can be terminal. This is where the project for our ROPC firekits was born from. Our coalition is dedicated to providing our Richmond community with relief, care and some information that will keep them safer and rooted in healing. We want to be a gentle and constant reminder of the healing resilience we have as Black, Indigenous and other melanated peoples.

These kits are a practice in communal care, and interdependence. We are all relatives to each other and that includes the land and all its elements. A way to combat the systemic forces that disconnect us from each other and the healing herbs, plants and fresh foods that surround us, is to learn what is accessible and how to honor the medicine it brings. Our plant medicine curators at Urban Tilth took great care to choose a combination of herbs that will help strengthen our bodies and relax our spirits as we navigate a landscape of flaring, wildfires and other environmental and social factors that affect us in deep ways.

This project brought our 9 organizations into the process at several points during our planning and distribution. We collectively worked towards our goal of bringing 500 fire kits with herbs, masks, water and ways to protect ourselves, out to our community. Working collaboratively to blend herbs, package the kits, and distribute to Richmond community members we have relationships with, is a practice of communal healing. We hope to bring this practice often and to more of the community as we move towards a collectively stewarded Just Transition.