Next Friday, December 9th, a very important meeting will take place: 'A Community Visioning'. This meeting, hosted by yours truly, is an invitation to all 'Community Stakeholders' to come and discuss a plan for creating community-based maternity care; what it would look like, and what it would take to make it happen. I have been planning this meeting all year long. I don't want 2012 to come without a plan of action in hand. All year long now, I have been looking at the vision board in my bedroom next to my bed. It is the first thing I see when I wake up every morning. A large poster board covered in sticky notes and timelines foretelling a seemingly impossible dream; an urban prenatal clinic, birth center, and midwifery school. All quite heady stuff for a former teen welfare mom. How do I galvanize the considerable resources of this community to make it happen? Well, it will start with this meeting. I have sent out my clever and attractive EVITE invitations. I have enlisted a top notch talented facilitator. I have a state-of-the-art, large meeting room. I have my mother's cinnamon rolls and fresh fruit for feeding the participants. And I have an agenda.
In many ways I have been waiting 20 years to host this meeting. I have agonized over the invitation list for months. I understand that whomever is meant to be there, will be there. I also understand that this is the first step in taking my dream PUBLIC. Oh sure, lots of people have heard me talk about my plans to do this or that, but this is the first time in 20 years that I have invited anyone else into that conversation. Its like leaving your five year old at kindergarten for the first time- it finally hits you that someone else will have influence on the way your little one thinks and behaves. In taking my dream public, there are risks. On the other hand, alone I can only accomplish so much. Already, I have been flooded with offers for space for housing the project. I will be out next week, looking around Troost Ave. for the perfect store front.
I'm picturing it already:
"UZAZI VILLAGE" the sign will read. (Swahili for birth) In small letters beneath it, it will read: "An Afro-centric community dedicated to maternal infant and community health". To start, there will be free pregnancy tests and resource referrals. Childbirth classes (the good empowering kind), and breastfeeding support groups will be a staple. Other classes will be added: parenting classes, finance management, employment preparation, etc. I intend to invite others who are already doing these things to do them at Uzazi Village, not duplicate them. I hope other support groups will spring up; fathering support groups, infant loss support groups, perinatal mood disorder support groups. Again, there are already folks out there doing these things, I will invite them to do an Afro-centric version at Uzazi Village. In this way I expand the capacity of organizations who have already perfected this work (whatever it is). Uzazi Village will be divided into Houses: Umoja (unity) House will be our think tank, leadership, and administrative council (Council of Elders), Kujichacalia (self-determination) House will house job readiness, GED completion programs and such. Ujaama (cooperative economics) House will house a business incubator for nonprofits supporting maternal infant health, and courses on entrepreneurship and nonprofit leadership. Imani (faith) House will house faith-based initiatives and church volunteer groups and hopefully a parish nurse ministry. Kuumba (creativity) House will maintain art programs and community gardens. I will add clinical services as soon as I graduate from midwifery school, unless a practicing midwife or physician wants to offer clinic hours sooner. The Ida Mae Patterson Perinatal Wellness Clinic will thus, be born. Named for my grandmother, Ida Mae, who had 24 babies, but only saw nine live to adulthood, this clinic is the crux of the vision. Clients of the Ida Mae clinic can expect home visitors known as pregnancy doulas to visit them at home and do assessments and education. Hierarchies will be flattened as care providers retrieve their clients from the vibrant and active community room (no waiting rooms) and walk them back to their serene and tastefully appointed, mutual exchange suite (no exam rooms) I hope the place is filled with students wanting to learn: nursing students, midwifery students, medical residents (DO, OB, family practice) etc. As it evolves from an education center to clinical services, I will also add birthing rooms: The Nia (purpose) House. I chose this name because of Morningstar's quote in her book of the Cherokee birth blessing, "May you live long enough to know why you were born." I want every child born at Nia House to know their purpose, to know why they were born, to be an integral part of the community that has welcomed them. I hope there will be tutoring, a community garden, a daycare... I hope it expands to take up the entire block... the entire city... the entire world... I want Uzazi Village to be a sustainable, replicable model of community-based wellness care that supports maternal infant health that radiates forth to positively impact family health, that glows outward to support community health.
Now join me in my vision. What do you see...?