The Wise Woman Tradition is the oldest tradition of healing and one that is rarely recognized. Herbalist Susun Weed’s extensive writing on this tradition is a portal into health, healing and wholeness. The Wise Woman Tradition of our foremothers invites compassion, simple ritual and local herbs and food for healing and nourishment. Flexibility, being grounded in the cycles of life, death, and rebirth and remaining open to transformation are valued in this tradition. Midwest Women’s Herbal offers opportunities to explore this tradition of healing while finding creative ways to incorporate and weave it into our modern lives. For more information see Susun Weed’s book Healing Wise and visit her website to read more about the Three Traditions of Healing.
The conference was founded in 2012 by herbalist and community organizer Linda Conroy. Since that time, many other women work on and coordinate a wide variety of programs including kids camp, teen camp, a vibrant work exchange program and much more. As our offerings grow, so does our team. We are incredibly grateful to all of the women past, present and future who contribute their talents and enthusiasm.
In 2015 the conference team held a visioning retreat and designed an organization based on permaculture principles. The core organizing team is the hub and the programs are an interconnected web, supporting program participants at the conference, as well as the other events that we host. Our team practices nonviolent communication in our interactions with each other as well as those we come in contact with. We also implement principles of shared leadership and are continually increasing our understanding of what this means.
The 2020 organizing team is a group of women who have experienced previous conferences and/or have been steeped in wisdom through herbal apprenticeships in the Wise Woman Tradition. The team is passionate about the energy and connections that arise when women gather to share traditional wisdom. We are spread far and wide, as is typical for the Midwest, so we connect on weekly conference calls - where we thoughtfully, deliberately co-create the conference.
“Purge that which is ‘bad’ and you inevitably weaken yourself
and make yourself less whole. But nourish the best, and the
least falls away. Focus on what is optimally functional
and what is not working will change.”
Several of our events are held at Camp Helen Brachman, a camp that offers kids from the inner city of Milwaukee the opportunity to spend time outdoors. We are proud of how our resources are used to make the world a better place. From the camp, to the caterer who supports local farmers and wild harvests nettle for our meals, to the local handcrafts offered in the marketplace and a strong focus on the plants that grow around us, the conference continually commits itself to a mission of creating community and fostering the health of the earth and the women and children who participate. Women often share with us that they are excited to share with their families and communities the wisdom they harvest at the conference.
We were nominated in 2017 for the Victoria Fortner Award in Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. This is a special awareness offered through the American Herbalist Guild and recognizes our ongoing work on diversity. We were one of 5 strong candidates for this North American Award. In addition to broadening the diversity of our organizing team and instructors, we have offered diversity scholarships and extended invitations to women who would not typically be able to access the conference. They often return to their communities and share the knowledge they gain, which creates a beautiful ripple effect.
Midwest Women's Herbal has twice partnered with United Plant Savers by bringing a day long co-gender conference to this region. This partnership has served as a grassroots launching point for more herbal events in this region. It has not only brought the annual Midwest Women's Herbal Conference to the area, but also offered herbal immersion trainings to deepen access to advanced herbal education.
Other event coordinators in the region have recognized our strong organizing skills and asked us to consult with them on the logistics of putting on a large event. We have supported and partnered with the region's newer herbal events and our long term program coordinators, have applied what they learned by working with the conference, to launch events in their communities. The Midwest is becoming a very rich place for herbalists to congregate and we are proud to be paving the way!
"The upcoming Midwest Women's Herbal Conference looks powerful and exciting. Congratulations. The effort you've put in tending and growing this gathering of women has changed people's lives; I know, it changed mine."
“The kids camp is completely invaluable and maybe the single most important factor in deciding whether or not I would be attending. The chance to have my daughter in an environment where women come together and learn with and from one another is priceless.”
“The speakers and workshops were excellent. The quality of information and the knowledge of the presenters was really outstanding. It is evident that an enormous amount of time and effort went into the planning of this event and it did not go unnoticed.”