Health Justice Commons


Where Health Justice Begins

Mordecai Cohen Ettinger, HJC Founding Director

Health justice is grounded in our collective right -- by the virtue of the incalculable miraculousness of being alive -- to feel at home and safe in our own bodies and for the systems and institutions which exist to care for our health to support and create the conditions to uphold this right.

Health justice means going beyond equal access to compassionate, affordable healthcare.  Health Justice centers Disability Justice and health pluralism. Be it Reiki or radiology, acupuncture or aspirin, the recognition that healing comes from many systems and cultures and that all experiences of health and healing are legitimate is essential.   

Health Justice is a new mindset.  It is a way of seeing our society, its institutions and our daily interactions within them which prompts us to evaluate how our social dynamics support or compromise health.  Health Justice also proposes a guiding set of principles to support communities and networks of communities to re-imagine and re-design healthcare, healing and health institutions for the 21st century.  These principles are a map not the territory.  They are a work in progress to be refined with increased community input and experimentation.  Finally, health justice is a bold and open hearted invitation to dream the world anew and a collective call to action to all those who feel moved to heed it.

The Health Justice Commons was created to bring people together to do just this.

The Health Justice Commons has two main programs:  Health Justice U and the Health Justice Dreamatory.  Health Justice U provides innovative curriculum and consultation on health justice and transformative healing.  You can learn more about consultation support and upcoming workshops here.  Coming in early 2017, the Health Justice U will be offering a Health Justice Advocate Certification Program.  

The Health Justice Dreamatory is a solutions incubator.  It may sound whimsical, but we’re not messing around! The Dreamatory brings together activists, progressive scholars, innovative organizations and interested, committed community members like you to research, explore, create and implement impactful health justice solutions.  Potential Dreamatory campaigns include Universal Basic Income, Reparations, and mobile app projects to help people document human rights abuses in medical settings and track the environmental causes of illness.  It’s our hope that responses such as these will prevent the next Flint from ever happening and leverage resources to take care of our communities in the here and now.  


In the United States today it is difficult to locate anyone who hasn’t experienced a health emergency.  It is becoming increasingly commonplace for these health emergencies to turn into horror stories due to medical misconduct, abuse or simply lack of access to healthcare in the first place. 

Furthermore, the ongoing crisis in Flint has helped to bring to light the pervasiveness of lead poisoning and toxicity in many US cities and Native American communities, such as the Dine’ Nation.  People of Color and poor people are disproportionately sickened by the increasing toxicity of our air, water and food supply.  None of us are immune.  The rapid rise of rates of cancer, chronic pain, auto-immune disease and Multiple Chemical Sensitivities across race, class, age, ethnicity and gender makes this clear – our bodies bear the burden of proof, many of us much more so than others.  

This is no better highlighted than by the #BlackLivesMatter Movement which currently faces the full onslaught of a white supremacist backlash amid police violence against Black people at epidemic proportions – a true public health emergency. Still people continue to claim all lives matter, but our Real lives and the statistics demonstrate a very different reality.

Despite this our current healthcare system encourages us to look to ourselves and our personal habits as the primary means of illness causation and prevention.  In truth more often than not the actual causes of life threatening disease lay outside of us and are far beyond the control of any one individual.  Corporate polluters and local and national governments should be taking far greater responsibility to ensure our collective health and well being and that of the planet.

The Health Justice Commons was formed to address these profound problems by bringing people together to re-imagine and re-design healthcare and healing in service of collective liberation and our wildest dreams for a peaceful, healthy planet.

If you are excited and moved by this vision of Health Justice, your next question may be, “how do we get there?”  Clearly, our dreams for health justice are far from our current health reality.  Ready to get involved and walk the path with us?

Become a member or schedule a health justice training or consult for your organization, school, professional group or community group.