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Health Activism Takes Root

Jaisal Noor Sep 12, 2008

Third Root Community Health Center, which opened its doors Aug. 22 in Flatbush, Brooklyn, seeks to provide alternative healthcare services to the community at affordable prices.

“The current debate focuses around the healthcare system, which is only 100 to 150 years old,” says Third Root co-founder Jacoby Ballord. “We focus on healthcare solutions based on long-standing traditions. Rather than fighting for reforming the system, Third Root seeks to create an alternative to the system.”

Focusing both on prevention and the treatment of acute and chronic conditions, patrons can choose from massage therapy, community and individual acupuncture, herbal medicine, nutritional counseling and yoga. Community health workshops are held on Saturdays and focus on a wide range of education services.

The center provides its services on a sliding scale, so members are only asked to pay what they can afford. For those who cannot afford to pay, community health scholarships are available to allow for free access to services. The center also seeks to offer services for marginalized and oppressed people, regardless of race, gender, sexuality, class, immigration status or age.

The cooperative healthcare center is owned and operated by its eight founding members. “Practitioners are owners of the business and share in responsibilities and decision-making processes,” says Ballord, who teaches yoga and serves as an herbalist and health educator.

In contrast to most corporate or nonprofit ventures, Third Root was financed by more than 20 small business loans, ranging from $500 to $5,000. These loans were taken mostly from friends, families and acquaintances interested in social justice work.

“We created a model appropriate for our community,” Ballord says. “Our hope is some of the model is replicated by others, while other elements must be tailored for individual communities.”

Third Root Community Health Center is located 380 Marlborough Road, near to the Cortelyou stop on the Q train in Brooklyn. For more information, thirdroot.org or 718-940-9343.