Our Student of the Month for April 2009 is:
Sidney Barthell loves learning. Her strong suits are researching, writing, reading, interpreting, music, and art. Her perfect world includes a garden with a compost heap and Hansa Roses, and plenty of hiding places. She signed up for the East West Herb Course in April 2008 on an inspired impulse.
"Pursuing this course, with the Tierras, and with these classmates, is the best choice I could have made for an ethical, viable future," Sidney says. "We have treasures of thousands of years of knowledge, wisdom, and relationship to bring forward. This is a good tribe."
The Midwest was home for Sidney from birth. Strong early interests included eating ants, playing cowboys and Indians, horses, drawing endlessly, chewing on grass stems and mashing up leaves in bowls with no real idea why.
Her suburban background did not include formal gardening or herbs. Credit must go to J. R. R. Tolkien for awakenening the wildling healer, which also in part explains why she left dental hygiene at Southern Illinois University in 1970 to pursue a musician's life on the west coast, where she met more curious people who made her greener. When the opportunity came to move to the rural Northeast in 1973, she went, remaining for 24 years.
Marriage and raising a son oriented her toward the garden more than the apothecary, yet she continued to get lost in the pages of Back to Eden. She also helped with home business, cooked from scratch, kept her boy home when strep was raging, and later, homeschooled. Eventually after many years and lots of stuff, she came to live in the Pacific Northwest, where she became a massage practitioner, and also teaches guitar and performs locally.
"Herbalism, like massage, like music, is a work of the hand," Sidney says. "In my business, Simple Arts, I help people reorient to the 'by hand' arts that used to sustain us through illness and mental malaise." Sidney looks forward to incorporating herbalism and TCM in her massage practice. She supports the growth of low-tech practical community and local arts, and plans to raise her own herbal capabilities to professional status with the American Herbalists Guild upon completion of East West Herb Course.