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Frequently Asked Questions

Is this a beginner, intermediate, or advanced intensive?

While I wouldn’t say this is an ‘advanced’ intensive, I do believe that people of all experience levels (from never having taken an herb course before, to a seasoned practitioner) can get quite a lot out of it. For those with more experience, I do recommend the shadowing add-on which allows for a more individualized experienced in working directly with me in the apothecary.


Are there requirements?

In terms of requirements, I ask above all:

Respect - both for myself and my time, the space of the apothecary, and other students in the intensive.

  • First and foremost, show up. This is not an online course (although there is a supplemental online component), this is an engaging, hands on, and in-person intensive. If you do not show up on time for the class days, plant walks, and all other happenings, this impacts the overall quality of the course and negatively impacts both your learning and the learning of other students.
  • I invite discussion and dialogue at several key points throughout this intensive. Where discussion and dialogue is an aspect of learning, respect is key. Due to the book discussions and community engagement aspects of this intensive, conflictual topics may arise. Conflict is OK, even crucial to the cultivation of strong dialogue and group cohesion. But sharing must always be respectful. Here are some guidelines for respectful dialogue:
    • ‘Listening’ – Take the time to let what others share sink in. Try to imagine where they are coming from.
    • ‘Responding’ – Ensure that other people feel that they are heard by responding to them. Share your own ideas but remember to respond to others’
    • Engage in conflict without character assaults
    • Withhold judgement (if someone shares an opinion, it is not helpful to judge that person, but rather to unpack the origins of the opinion in order to achieve mutual understanding)
    • Dialogue is about exploration and understanding, not ‘winning’. In this way, it is possible for empathy, disagreement and conflict to coexist
    • In short, you need to be able to get along with, and be kind to other people whose opinions about politics, spirituality, culture, social issues, diet, etc. may be radically different from yours.
  • Respect also includes arriving to each class on time. Yes, I already said this but it bears repeating. This intensive is possible because you are here. If you are not here on time, and ready to go, you are choosing to not participate, which affects the dynamic of the class and impacts every other student present. Your presence and enthusiasm are important for a lively and fruitful dialogue and are important for learning to occur. If you must miss a class day or shadowing session for any reason, contact me at least 24 hours before (by phone, no text).
  • Lastly, I ask that you not use your phone during class, book discussions, tea tastings, and shadowing sessions, unless its use is course related (i.e. using a calculator for tincture math / blending, confirming dates, and others as they come up). If you want to take a picture with your phone, go ahead, as long as it is conducive to staying present within the flow of the class. Learning is an embodied activity. More often than not, phones and other ‘screens’ encourage us to disconnect from our bodies and environment, piercing the container that holds the subtle energies of focus, learning, and embodied engagement with the present moment.

(If you have any questions or concerns about this, please let me know)


Is there homework?

Yes. I assign readings for classes, some of which is written by me, most of which is written by my teachers and other amazing herbalists, authors, poets, and visionaries. I ask you to read both required texts and those provided via the online portion of the course, write informational and educational content for the zine, write about 6 plants in the form of plant monographs throughout the course, and contribute any additional assignments related to the Community Apothecary. 

Of course, there are no grades, no diplomas, no ‘rewards’ of that sort. The assignments are here to nourish your learning and challenge you to explore areas you might not have considered. They are also provided to ensure we are all contributing to the collective effort of community outreach and care. Since, in this intensive, we are all working together to contribute something back to our community, your choice to not do the work just means someone else has to take on the burden of your work.


What if, due to COVID-19, there are stay at home orders or other restrictions that prevent class from occurring in person?

If this happens, we'll migrate entirely to our online community forum to replace the in person class (hopefully temporarily). Classes, tea tastings, and book discussions will take place via zoom. Shadowing sessions will still likely be held in person if possible (while masked), or postponed until we are able. I will figure out those situations as they occur and get you all the particulars as soon as I am able.


What if I do not believe in COVID-19, and do not want to wear a mask/distance/not have in person classes because of the government's policies regarding it?

This topic has become quite polarizing in our culture, and it has become viscerally apparent the differing opinions and ideologies surrounding the virus. Your teacher trusts the CDCs recommendations and follows all protocols related to the virus and pandemic. If you don’t, perhaps I am not the teacher for you, or maybe another year might work better for you to take the course.


If I make a payment and something comes up and I can't partake in the intensive, are my payments refundable?

Intensive deposits are non-refundable. Please make sure you are certain you want to enroll in this intensive before submitting a deposit.

If you decide not to take this intensive after payment of intensive deposit and before 3/1/2024, you are not obligated to pay for the remainder of the intensive beyond the initial deposit.

Refunds of all payments after the initial $400 deposit (either full payment of remaining balance or multiple installments through a payment plan) and before 3/1/2024 will be offered minus any associated processing fees.

All payments made after the initial $400 deposit (either full payment of remaining balance or multiple installments through a payment plan) are non-refundable after 3/1/2024.

While I do not offer refunds after this time, I would, however, be absolutely happy to apply any tuition paid as credit to your balance for a future year of the intensive, to any herbal consultations you may seek from me, or for other classes I may offer in the future.

Similarly, if you need to drop out of the intensive, I may offer the remaining missed classes as a credit towards a future year, herbal consultation, or other classes I may offer. I ask that you speak with me if you need to drop out for any reason so we can discuss these options. Such credits are offered at my sole personal discretion. I do my best to make things work for people, so make sure to be in open communication with me and we can likely work something out.


Are there any other expenses?

Other than the cost of the intensive, I ask that you purchase a copy of each of the required books (estimated at ~$60-100 for all books combined). Other than that you may find yourself spending money on basic medicine making supplies and herbs. This is not required, but I anticipate it is something you should account for, because once you start learning, you will definitely want to try making some potions at home. As a part of the intensive, I provide some recommendations for some cheap medicine making tools and supplies.

You should also account for travel expenses to and from classes and plant walks. Plant walks may be as far as 1.5 hours from the city driving and some parks may require entry fees (typically $5-15 for a day). For this reason I highly encourage carpooling to plant walks and splitting gas and entry fee costs.


What if I miss a class?

If you do have to miss a class for any reason, I highly encourage you to ask others in the intensive to meet and discuss course material, this might help everyone deepen their own understanding of that month’s topic!


How do I know whether you’re the right teacher for me to learn from?

I’ve been a teacher in different overlapping capacities for over a decade now: 4 of those years as a small-group facilitator for an adult education non-profit, 8 of those years teaching in a University setting, and 4 of those years in teaching herbalism, medicine making and ecology. In this time I’ve learned that I’m not here to reach everybody, and I am definitely not the right teacher for everyone.

In learning with me, know that I do my best to create the most engaging, participatory, and lively intensive experience. I deeply encourage connection and collaboration between students of the intensive and emphasize community engagement and a social justice awareness related to herbal medicine and land stewardship. I encourage those who tend towards quietness or withdrawal in group settings to share their voice more than they are typically comfortable, and I encourage those who tend to speak more or dominate the conversation to allow more space for silence / others to speak.

While I encourage an open and brave (as opposed to ‘safe’) space for dialogue, I also believe that any act of teaching and learning is inherently political, and that our political ideologies inform what we are able to learn and how we are able to participate in a group setting. Know that I do not identify as left, moderate, or right on the political spectrum. I find these labels limiting, and burdened with baggage. But that doesn't mean I'm apolitical. I am anti-capitalist, anti-racist, and anti-fascist and I have no patience for bigotry, hatred, or political social opinions that engender harm (some might consider these values to be left-leaning... I just consider these to be sane human values). I also have no patience for vitriolic wokeness that silences genuine questioning and curiosity in the name of supposed social justice. I welcome disagreements and differing opinions, but all within the context of dialogue, mutual understanding, respect, care, humility, and love. If you feel that your political/social opinions are radically at odds with mine, I might not be the teacher for you.

I have high expectations for everyone I work with and hold my students to their commitments.

I defer to the plant and non-human world as the primary teachers, and emphasize rituals and practices that help attune our senses to the teachings the nonhuman realm offers.

Feel free to learn more about me and my experience here. And if you have any questions or concerns about any of the above, feel free to reach out at alex@firstcurveapothecary.com