Healing Clinic Collective Shares Their Vision for the Next Decade of Healing

The communal spirit soared high at Humanist Hall on October 14, 2023, celebrating the decade-long journey of the Healing Clinic Collective (HCC). Dozens of folks came out to partake in the music, love, and laughter that — along with incense of copal and tobacco — infused the air at a space affectionately known as “the Fellowship of Humanity.” In the sky above, a rainbow: a perfect symbol of the event’s unity and warmth. 

The joyful event was an anniversary celebration and a truly multigenerational affair. The air buzzed with the energy of connection as attendees captured memories in a photo booth, their faces framed by paper mâché flowers. Laughter mingled with blessings as people hugged in the Oakland sunshine. A communal feast featured fresh strawberries and a colorful array of local heirloom tomatoes. A soundtrack of music, dancing feet, and the infectious laughter of children  was reminiscent of multi-generational households or family reunions — a living homage to HCC’s ten years of nurturing and healing.

Folks gathered outside, around a sacred altar, to welcome and honor ancestors.

In that time, HCC — a fiscally sponsored project of Movement Strategy Center (MSC) — has inspired the launch of 25 new healing projects across the country. While we have previously reflected on HCC’s history, we now want to recap the celebration and turn our gaze forward to the future ahead. 

The photographs throughout this blog are a compelling visual narrative by Dr. Blanca Gordo. Gordo, who has naturally assumed the role of HCC’s visual archivist, is a social science investigator, policy strategist, and visiting scholar at University of California, Berkeley. Alongside these visuals, we share insights from Carla Perez — HCC’s co-founder, core member, and lead coordinator — as she recaps the party and shares her vision for the next decade.

At “the Fellowship of Humanity,” commonly known as Humanist Hall, attendees sit attentively as HCC's core members speak.

HCC’s path ahead is vibrant with potential: community care that transcends the notion of impersonal, sterile clinical environments by curating offerings — not merely services — that resonate deeply with ancestral values. Each offering, Gordo said “is color, it’s warm, it’s meditative flow.” 

Moving forward, HCC intends to foster the connections made among individuals who were once strangers. Emphasizing the importance of curiosity and engaging with the community, Gordo reflected on her decade-long relationship with HCC: “we’ve evolved from a vision to a possibility, to an experience that reconnects participants with their intrinsic healing nature.” She recalls one young man who had never gotten a massage. [He was experiencing] “a lot of stress because of what was happening … Constant shootings in Fruitvale, where he lives, and nobody had ever touched his body.” He said “it felt good.”

Maria Jose Montijo, known musically as “Esoterica Tropical,” blended deep-rooted healing practices and captivating melodies.
HCC has always been a communal effort, yet Perez has been a consistent presence. With that in mind, she was presented with flowers celebrating her dedication.

A Focused Look Back to Move Forward

The vision shared by core members of HCC, including Perez and Gordo, is of a future where healing is not just imagined or individual but actively shaped and shared. There is a collective consensus that HCC’s role will evolve to unite healing justice organizations. Perez sees this as crucial — an opportunity to “reach out to our allies, people in our network” She continued, “now that we did what we intended to do … How can we be most supportive?” Perez believes “it’s about threading networks of healers, amplifying our collective pulse,” and emphasizing the enrichment of practitioner networks through exchanging knowledge and mutual support.

“We're all learning. And if we stay on that path, we will be taken care of. We will be sustainable because we will always be needed.”

All smiles, emcee Gopal Dayaneni, co-founder of Movement Generation, photographed with Susana Cáceres, resource mobilizer, coach, consultant, and founder of CipotaVoz Strategies.

Gordo highlighted the importance of building a sustainable, learning-by-doing model using a garden as a symbol for the organization. She noted the evolving needs and experiments of HCC’s network of practitioners. “We’re all learning. And if we stay on that path, we will be taken care of. We will be sustainable because we will always be needed.” She continued, “it’s not a fashionable thing for us. It’s a commitment. And for me, a prayer is a commitment. I prayed over this.” 

Continuing with the garden metaphor, Gordo recalls insights from a peer in a documentary filmmaking class — a concept she affectionately referred to as “total bonsai.” He spoke of propagating new growth from bonsai clippings, and nurturing these cuttings into healthy new plants. “Humans bloom with love, which is what I feel, [healing clinic] spaces provide.” She believes these spaces communicate a “we love you” and “your love matters” kind of feeling.

Perez (left) and Angela Angel (right) are pictured seated at the heart of a sacred circle before an altar aglow with candlelight. Here, they guided attendees in reflection, setting collective intentions, and paying homage to the ancestors whose footsteps have carved the path we now walk.

Deepening Partnerships and Expanding Models

Perez spoke of a focused future where HCC will identify key partnerships to deepen its healing model and mentor the next generation of healers. Along with other core members, Perez will  work toward a future where culturally rooted ceremonial leaders will be able to offer direct engagement and paid opportunities through “courses or classes with cultural elders.” She further underscored the significance of the healing clinic model, suggesting institutions like the University of New Mexico as potential collaborators in this healing arts renaissance.

As dusk turned to nightfall, guests experienced Mexica danzantes around the altar.

Let’s champion the spirit of HCC, for their journey reflects the heart of community care and resurgence. Gordo reminds us, “the journey from vision to reality is not just ours — it’s a passage back to what has always belonged to us”  — a journey of healing expansion as we belong to one another and foster connections for decades to come.

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