Different gifts, shared values: Alternative health collective opens on Main Street

Alternative health collective opens on Main Street

  • Anne Louise Burdett, Christian Toscano and Mira Weil have started The Dreamboat Health Collective in Greenfield. RECORDER STAFF/PAUL FRANZ

  • The Dreamboat Health Collective has opened on Main St in Greenfield with Mira Weil, Christian Toscano and Annie Burdett.

  • Mira Weil, a doctor of Tibetan medicine and massage therapist, Anne Louise Burdett, an herbalist, and Christian Toscano, a midwife and herbalist, each bring their own specialty to the collective. RECORDER STAFF/PAUL FRANZ

Recorder Staff
Published: 6/16/2016 1:13:10 PM

GREENFIELD — With the aim to expand their reach, three alternative health practitioners have joined forces to form a new collective on Main Street.

Christian Toscano, Anne Louise Burdett and Mira Weil recently came together to start The Dreamboat Health Collective, an alternative health and integrated wellness center, classroom and apothecary, which opened its doors at 205 Main St. last month.

“When we came together, it felt like such a natural fit, both because our modalities complement each other and because of our shared mission around accessibility,” Weil said. She added that all three of them have a special interest in sexual health.

The Dreamboat offers services ranging from full spectrum midwifery care to massage therapy and customized herbal formulas. Since opening in May, its owners said there has been significant interest from the community — so much that they’re considering how to offer some sort of open hours. All services are currently by-appointment only.

Each practitioner brings her own specialty to the collective. Toscano, of Shelburne, works as a primary midwife under supervision at the Monadnock Birth Center in Swanzey, N.H., and is also a clinical herbalist.

Burdett, also of Shelburne, has studied herbalism for nearly 15 years and has run her own primary care clinical practice for the past five. She also teaches intensive herbal medicine courses and workshops.

As a doctor of Tibetan medicine, Weil, who lives in Greenfield, uses diagnostic tools including pulse analysis and urinalysis, and various treatments including diet and lifestyle changes, herbal remedies and external treatments. She is also a licensed massage therapist and specializes in sexual health.

All three practitioners are also dulas, who assist women during childbirth and provide support to the family after the baby is born.

Toscano said aside from offering health services, an equally important aspect of the collective is that it offers information, classes and workshops. Burdett said the collective strives to make its offerings accessible to people of all races, incomes and identities.

“We really prioritize making them queer and transgender affirming, and also really bringing into the conversation aspects of the world we live in that impact our health, like the societal oppressions that people face and experience,” Weil said. “I think it’s part of what brings us together as a collective and part of what makes our approach to health so relevant.”

All three also share a special interest in sexual health, which they feel is often overlooked by many practitioners.

“I think there is a lot of shame and taboo about how people talk about it, which needs to be worked through, and I also think sexual health is a real mirror to people about what their internal environment looks like,” Burdett said, adding it relates to how other things are functioning in the body and how people feel about themselves.

For Weil, that interest began in high school when she noticed she and many of her peers were feeling underserved in that realm. As an adult, she said she really began to recognize the depth of the shame and taboo, and the questions that often go unanswered because of that.

“I see a lot of people for things like indigestion and sleeplessness, but the truth is the interconnections between our sexuality and our emotions and how we feel as we move throughout the day and the actual internal workings of our body are totally inseparable and interconnected,” she said. “It feels really important to bring that awareness into a focus around sexual health that could offer a lot of healing on a bigger level.”

The three also hope to collaborate with other alternative health practitioners in town and throughout the county to form mutually beneficial relationships, working together to support each other and create more awareness around what all of them do. They also want to bridge the gap between themselves and the allopathic, or mainstream, medical community, which they said provides critical, lifesaving care to people.

“It’s not just one or the other,” Weil said. “I think we really need to be working together.”

For Toscano, midwifery already bridges that gap — honoring the body’s natural systems as well as the science behind them.

And to help those who may not be able to afford their services, as insurance may not cover much of what they offer, the practitioners launched an Indiegogo campaign to create a health care fund and help cover startup costs.

“Our services aren’t covered by insurance, basically, and we’re very aware that that’s limiting to a lot of people,” Toscano said.

Weil said a goal of the collective is to find a way to provide care to those who may not be able to pay their prices out-of-pocket, while also allowing the practitioners to make a sustainable living.

“It’s very different than getting a job that you know you are going to be paid for. We feel there are actually two sides of this story that are really important to address — one, the accessibility of non-allopathic medicine, and two, the sustainability of practitioners outside of the allopathic model,” she said. “This isn’t just about individual health. This is really about the health of the community, and so we’re calling on the community to support us in how to make this work.”

The Dreamboat hopes to raise $21,000 to help cover startup costs and overhead for one year of operations, as well as the health care fund; classes and community events; and educational materials and donated herbal medicine. The campaign can be found at: goo.gl/Gz8V3O

For more information about the collaborative, visit:
thedreamboathealthcollective.com

You can reach Aviva Luttrell at: aluttrell@recorder.com
or 413-772-0261, ext. 268

On Twitter: @AvivaLuttrell




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