April 17, 2008

What is North Star Health Collective?

The North Star Health Collective includes health care workers, students and community activists.  It was created to provide a meaningful response to the Republican National Convention (RNC) in St. Paul September 1-4, 2008. We coordinated and provided health care services, resources, and training to ensure the safety of our community – the weeks before, during, and after the RNC. Thousands of community members and families attended protests against the RNC.

We believe in a broad definition of health that includes human dignity and rights for all. We reject the idea that health care should be distributed based on ability to pay.

Membership is open to all who share our principles of unity.

What are our Principles of Unity?

Our principles of Unity:

· Resist the commercialization and corporatization of our health care.

· Organize on the principles of decentralization, autonomy, sustainability and mutual aid.

· Work to end all relationships of domination and subjugation, including but not limited to those rooted in patriarchy , race, class, xenophobia, and homophobia

What are the Goals of North Star Health Collective? What do you do?

Our Goals include:

· Train new street medics to serve the sixty-thousand protesters who are expected

· Assist in staffing existing wellness clinics to meet increased demand for services

· Bridge the gap between the streets and the medical system

· Support long term networks to provide affordable, quality health care for all.

We are networking with national medics throughout North America, providing trainings well before the RNC begins and creating a lasting network that will improve our diverse communities’ access to health care, even after all the protesters and delegates go home.

Who is involved?

Our organizing collective care includes health providers—from physicians, nurses, healers, herbalists to doulas. Many of us are also long term community organizers with diverse experience across a range of social sectors—affordable housing, environmental justice, women’s health, human rights. Besides health care organizing, we have interests and ongoing projects in labor movements, deconstructing white privilege, promoting an anti-rape culture, standing up against police brutality, and supporting political prisoners, to name a few.

Why the RNC?

Why the RNC? Because it’s coming here. As a part of the State, the Republicans are responsible for an enormous amount of the horror and devastation currently experienced by the world and its peoples.

We want not only to ‘protest’ something, but also to continue to build a culture of liberation, where all people can be free. Most people are appalled with what the government is doing, but their dissent stops with voting for the other guy, or with cynical disengagement from the political system. Our resistance is justified, and we want our resistance to be constructive and creative.

By providing quality free health care during these events we are actively creating the world we want our kids to grow up in.

How are you working with organizers and protest planners?

We work in alliance with mainstream and anti-authoritarian organization to create a safe and healthy event. We stand in solidarity with the need for diverse strategies and tactics. We will not denounce fellow activists or organizations. That said, we believe in harm reduction. We are working behind the scenes to reduce risks. We believe in maintaining open lines of communication. We hope to position ourselves as a neutral collective that has credibility both with the streets and the health care system to disseminate accurate information to minimize the chance of harm during the RNC.

What’s your stance on violence and property destruction?

Violence bad. Destruction bad. Property bad.

We know what you’re against, but what are you for?

Healthy people in a healthy world.

What are street medics?

Street medics in the U.S. originated from the 1960s Civil Rights Movement and Anti-War movement. Based on the philosophy of medicine as self-defense, street medics provided support to the revolutionary movements of the 60s and 70s including American Indian Movement (AIM), Vietnam Veterans Against the War, Young Lords Party, Black Panther Party, and other revolutionary formations of the 1960s and 1970s. Also street medics staffed many free community clinics during this era.

Recently street medics attended to protesters who were injured by police and use of chemical weapons such as pepper spray and tear gas at newer rounds of massive anti-globalization mobilizations.

Interestingly, the street medic pepper spray removal protocol (MOfibA – Mineral Oil Followed Immediately by Alcohol) was later adopted by the U.S. Military.

Street medic collectives are scattered across the USA.

How is this different than traditional street medic models?

At every well coordinated protest there is a well coordinated medical support system. For us here in the Twin Cities, that medic system is being organized by us, the North Star Health Collective, a transformative collective involved in coordinating point of protest care while also actively promoting locally accessible, comprehensive free health care for all. (Yeh, that’s a mouth full)

  • We are building community knowledge about health, not just training activists. We are serious about facilitating discussions with activists and the broader community about health promotion, disease prevention, and first aid. These health trainings will be free, held at times and locations accessible for working families, with childcare available, to reduce barriers to attendance.
  • We collaborate with existing clinics and movements to support the excellent work already being done in our area. Our goal is to strengthen the amazing work our community is doing everyday.
  • Our collective is not exclusive to an activist scene, but include everyone from newbie activists to students to elders in community health care.
  • We blend in with other health care providers when we need to.
  • Like other collectives, we align ourselves with anti-oppression movements.
  • We cross train health and legal teams to ensure that throughout the RNC events, people receive appropriate and nonjudgmental health care regardless of political affiliation.
  • We will distribute and promote information about resources for our community including a list of free clinics, information on how to apply for social service programs like medical assistance, and who to turn to in times of need.
  • We promote system change in health policy in addition to providing quality health services. We work in alliance with universal health care organizations.

How can I get involved? How can my organization ally with North Star Health Collective?

We’re super excited to work with you as long as you share our points of unity. Contact northstarhealth@gmail.com for questions


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