1. Success!

    We are really proud to tell everyone that, with the last minute heroic support of a capital contributor, we were able win the vehicle auction for the Mobile Clinic bus! Thank you to everyone for their overwhelmingly generous support!  Over the next thirty days, we are going to provide ongoing updates about the development of the project, while working closely with existing programs and individuals with experience in outreach primary care and harm reduction in Boston to bring some of the benefits of their experience, insight, and advice to to our clinic and community space. Along the way we would like to offer an open door to people interested in contributing their time or resources to the planning and development of the bus itself and its mission as we work towards becoming operational.

    However, we still have work to do.

    Our primary capital contributor has donated one thousand dollars and was able to front us five thousand dollars to get us started and pull us through this auction. Over the next thirty days, we will be working to raise the funds to re-reimburse our generous capital contributor while pushing forward to develop our organizational structure, re-fit the bus to operate as a clinic, and perform an in-depth community needs assessment to tailor the services we will offer to make our clinic and community space as useful as possible to those who will be participating in the space and accessing health and community resources.

     

  2. Down To The Wire

    We have received offers of support by two of our donors, one of whom is currently bidding on our behalf as “p********r” to cover the entire amount of the price of the vehicle, up to the highest amount they feel comfortable bidding.  We would still have to pay this donor back through additional fundraising should we win the auction.  However, this means that we now have a substantial amount of available capital and a shot at getting the vehicle.

    What does this mean if you’re thinking of donating?

    The more we are able to raise in the next hour and a half, the more our capital contributor will be comfortable allocating more funds to this project.  Your donation, whether small or large, will make a difference and help to bolster the confidence of our capital contributor.

    In addition, another of our donors has offered to make matching donations to your contribution, up to $50, for the next hour and half until the end of the auction.

    Follow the auction as we get close to 9pm here: http://www.municibid.com/detail.asp?id=15056&n=1987-Ford-B-700-Bookmobile

    Want to donate?  More info here:

    https://www.wepay.com/donations/mobile-outreach-clinic-project

     

  3. Healthcare is a Human Right, One We Can Provide For One Another.

    About Us:

    We are a group of activists who first worked together as volunteer street medics through Occupy Boston. Street medics are trained to provide emergency response and community wellness services in protest environments, in the wake of disasters, and in our own communities. We have traveled to national political actions, done relief work in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, and worked with houseless youth in Harvard Square. The Mutual Aid Street Clinic is our vision for better health care delivery.

    Our Project:

    We want to build a free mobile health clinic, library, and printing press for homeless youth and adults in Harvard Square and the Boston Commons, run out of an old Book Mobile bus being sold by the city of Beverly. The space inside the bus would be a platform for harm reduction style health care, DIY hand publishing, and community building. By making the bus a welcoming and participatory place to hang out, we hope that this space will operate as a foundation for forging ongoing relationships of trust and constructing a community of mutual support. As street medics, spreading health knowledge and encouraging others to take on the provider role is how we project health into our communities and empower people to serve others. Our mobile clinic would scale up that philosophy by training homeless and street involved youth as peer health educators who would work alongside the nurses and EMTs on our team to provide walk-in health services. As a group of people with experience volunteering with existing youth outreach and mobile health services around Boston, and as a community of medics accustomed to working alongside, rather than merely providing for, those in need of care, we are uniquely positioned to build and train a team of peer health volunteers. Our on board clinic would provide primary care consultation, chronic disease management, abscess and wound care, emotional support and crisis counseling, narcan, condoms, socks, healthy snacks, and hot coffee to people living on the street. The library would be staffed in part by volunteers from the Lucy Parsons Center in JP, and would feature a tabletop printing press for making handbills, zines, or publishing poetry. Both the clinic and the library would offer avenues for direct involvement, would seek to foster the sense of competency that comes with such agency, and offer all the opportunity to serve one’s peers with knowledge, empathy, and solidarity.

    How We Will Use The Funds:

    We are raising money to buy the vehicle to use as a platform for this project, a “Book Mobile” currently being auctioned by the Beverly, MA Public Library:

    http://www.municibid.com/detail.asp?id=15056&n=1987-Ford-B-700-Bookmobile

    Interested In Supporting this Project? More info can be found at:

    https://www.wepay.com/donations/mobile-outreach-clinic-project

     
  4. The Health Tent at Dewey Square, during Occupy Boston.

     

  5. A protester receives medical attention from two Boston area street medics, after sustaining several broken ribs after having been beaten by the Chicago Police Department.  May, 2012 during the NATO Summit protests.

    http://www.chicagotribune.com/videogallery/70046586/News

     

  6. So, what’s a street medic?

    Street medics first became active during the civil rights movement, when radical health workers and students began organizing to provide first aid inside police lines during the increasingly bloody demonstrations throughout the late 1960s.  As the medic community grew, a greater emphasis on training others resulted in the development of the 20 hour street medic course, a peer built curriculum designed to teach anyone what they need to know to provide first aid during a an action.  The focus of street medic practice also evolved, to include supporting long-term wilderness direct action campaigns and to organizing emergency services in the wake of natural disasters.  Today, street medics both travel to support their fellow activists during mass protests, and also serve their local communities by raising awareness about issues such as promoting a sex-positive culture of consent, providing healthcare to those living on the street, and by spreading health knowledge.

    Want to learn more about how street medics operate?

    http://thephoenix.com/boston/news/133998-anarchistic-and-self-trained-are-street-medics-th/

     
  7. Charlotte next to the bus we hope to turn into a mobile outreach clinic.  Boston has the highest rate of heroin related ER visits in the country, many of which could be preventable with better access to Narcan, a life saving medication which reverses the effects of an overdose.  Help us make a peer health outreach clinic a reality by supporting this crowd-funded project: https://www.wepay.com/donations/mobile-outreach-clinic-project

     
  8. Charlotte and I took a trip to Beverly to take a look at our prospective mobile clinic platform.  Take a look!

     

  9. This is a barnstorming fund drive to raise $2000 in 4 days for a mobile clinic and library space designed to serve house-less and at risk folks in Boston. The people behind this project are a group of street medics who have worked closely together providing health care at Occupy Boston and throughout the Occupy Sandy relief efforts. We come from diverse backgrounds in and outside of the health care system, with experience in emergency medicine, primary care nursing, harm reduction and addiction counseling, experiential education, herbalism, and holistic health. Our goal is to create a space of trust and refuge in which to provide solidarity health support on a participatory basis. We aim to create a clinic in which medicine is not merely a service to be received, but a vehicle for fostering a core of volunteer peer providers directly from among those with whom we will be working. These peer health volunteers will be able to project knowledge, health, and empowerment throughout the communities we will be serving together. We hope to provide primary care consultation and referral, abscess and wound care, therapeutic massage, emotional support and crisis counseling, and rapid HIV testing. We would provide all services on a confidential/no-reporting, walk-in basis, and free of charge.

    We are hoping to acquire a vehicle currently being auctioned by the City of Beverly and convert it into a suitable platform from which to launch this project. More information about the vehicle can be found here: http://www.municibid.com/detail.asp?id=15056&n=1987-Ford-B-700-Bookmobile

    In addition to the clinic, this vehicle platform would also be used to host a small free/lending radical library and community space in a separate room at the front. By encouraging both medic volunteers and members to hang out in and make use of this space, we would provide the opportunity for respite, access to books, and a venue for developing trust in the space and its volunteers. The relationships which develop out of the community space would re-enforce the mission of the clinic by providing a deeper foundation upon which to better meet the needs of those who use the space.

    There are currently two primary organizations operating mobile health clinics in the greater Boston area; Healthcare for the Homeless and Bridge Over Troubled Waters. Healthcare for the Homeless primarily serves the downtown area between the Boston Commons and Pine Street, while the Bridge van serves both the Commons and Harvard Square, but only sees patients under 25 and requires documentation. This means that older individuals in Harvard Square, whose need for chronic disease primary care management is generally higher, are not adequately served. Additionally, travelers, those running open warrants,or minors may be wary of providing their personal info to a provider, and so would also be facing a barrier to care at the Bridge Van. While both of these organizations provide urgently needed services, we would hope to fill the unmet needs of those who currently face barriers to accessing care.

    Interested in supporting this project?  We are currently collecting start-up funds: https://www.wepay.com/donations/mobile-outreach-clinic-project

     

  10. Occupy Sandy Rebuilds Together

    Far Rockaway.

    Sand is still being swept out of open doors down the narrow church hallway when we arrive. I walk in a narrow file with six other medical volunteers, carefully balancing the box of glucometers and other supplies on my shoulder. “Where do you want us to put the clinic?” one of us asks the wiry parish superintendent in a yellow safety vest. “Come this way,” he gestures rapidly, turning briskly on his heal, and dodging through the jostling crowd of frantic activity choking the hall. We weave after him among the dozens of others criss-crossing through narrow doorways carrying brooms, drills, and boxes of food. There are volunteers who drove here to help like ourselves, as well as those who live only a few blocks from this place. For now, all of us are set firmly together to the task of building an ad-hoc relief center to serve this neighborhood. Outside, residents are piling the contents of their homes into the streets, from personal possessions to the waterlogged plaster of their own walls, to be carried away by itinerant garbage trucks.

    We have arrived in Far Rockaway, a far strand of Queens whose point stretches south into the face of the Atlantic. When Hurricane Sandy hit this urban beach-side neighborhood, the storm surge swept across the entire width of the narrow peninsula, drowning the first story of every building here in five feet of water or more. For dozens of blocks, the carcases of storm struck cars litter the streets beside the rubble of displaced structures. Vast phantom stretches of intact boardwalk lie draped over inland roadways; the occasional upward curvatures of its wood-slatted spine suggesting the contours of the lost vehicles crushed below. A mixture of coastal mist and toxic dust cloak the battered streets and hide the upper stories of public housing high-rises. Driving through the surviving town, the silhouettes of National Guard Humvees occasionally emerge out of the haze, their empty gun turrets lumbering above the roof lines of self-directed traffic. For the first week following the hurricane, little to no relief reached this area, and residents were largely left on their own. Now, alongside volunteers from Occupy Sandy, they have taken charge of providing for one another.

    As a part of a small team of volunteers from Boston, I have traveled down repeatedly to join the recovery effort. What we found was an emergent ecosystem of citizen run relief, expanding outwards upon a well-spring of good will from hundreds of New Yorkers who have volunteered and donated supplies, and facilitated by core groups of Occupy Wall Street activists. Those activists began Occupy Sandy as a provisional community response to the storm, but as the first week passed with FEMA and the Red Cross failing to make an appearance in many of the affected neighborhoods, it became increasingly apparent to residents and organizers that we would have to help one another, because no other help was forthcoming. Many of the core organizers, mostly veterans of Occupy, have quickly found that their unique experience running a self-directed, cooperative mutual aid network during the occupation of Zuccotti Park is now an indispensable asset in helping communities recover from Hurricane Sandy. The federal bureaucracies and non-profit organizations which are nominally responsible for the relief effort are accustomed to top-down mobilizations and a tightly managed response, and were not able to adapt as effectively or move as rapidly into affected neighborhoods as the autonomous and cooperative efforts of Occupy Sandy. Established organizations’ procurement-based supply lines couldn’t process mountains of items donated from individuals’ pantry shelves, and their professionalized workforces couldn’t absorb the thousands of “untrained” residents who wanted to help their stricken neighbors. Occupy Sandy could do those things, rapidly orienting and dispatching new volunteers, collecting masses of supplies, and setting up community relief hubs in which local residents took leading organizing roles.

    At 520 Clinton Avenue in Brooklyn, a cavernous Episcopal cathedral serves as one of the two major nerve centers of Occupy Sandy. Here, donations are collected from around the city and increasingly across the country, as new volunteers are rapidly oriented and briefed before being dispatched to communities in Coney Island, Far Rockaway, Red Hook, Astoria, and Staten Island to distribute survival supplies, perform medical checks, and help residents clear out their waterlogged homes before black mold can take root.

    Several hours after our small team arrived at the church in Far Rockaway, we had set up our generator and connected it to the existing wiring in the two rooms which were to serve as the community clinic. Our medical volunteers were a mix of Boston and New York area street medics, as well several nurses from NYU and one physician. With a bare-bones clinic established and serving walk-in patients, a number of us set out in pairs to perform door to door check-ins. I paired up with a nurse from NYU, whose hospital was flooded during the storm and which is just now beginning to re-open. Walking the streets and talking to neighbors, we were able to bring people necessary medications, advise people on how to stay warm in the cold, and distribute hand warmers and food.

    Well into the night after our fist relief trip to the city, my friends and I walked back towards our bus to Boston, all of us dead tired from the long days behind us. We wandered through the eerily blackened towers of downtown Manhattan, where thousands of feet of obsidian glass shimmered above us in the new moonlight. The dark offices, host to powerful multinational law firms and their clients, were empty, but the streets below them were a hive of well-lit, official activity. Troops and federal workers came and went from the gaping entrances to these buildings’ subterranean garages, all of which had been rigged with improvised lighting to facilitate the uninterrupted effort to pump seawater out of each parking lot, around the clock. It was an impressive sight, watching hundreds of soldiers and emergency workers clean out the concrete caverns where nobody lives.