“Der schönste und vertrauteste Ort ist das Zuhause”

“The most beautiful and familiar place is home…”

ruinaulta, 20. Januar 2017: In Tenna soll ein Hospiz entstehen. Die Idee hat der Verein Tenna Hospiz ins Leben gerufen. Wir haben uns mit dessen Präsidenten Othmar F. Arnold unterhalten.

Judith Sacchi „Ruinaulta“: Verein Tenna Hospiz: Wann wurde der Verein gegründet und wer steht dahinter? Die Idee für eine Pflegeeinrichtung im Safiental gibt es schon

Interview by the local newspaper (in print only!) about the Tenna Hospice project (in German). Read more about Tenna Hospice as a home-like place in English here: Tenna Hospice.

via „Der schönste und vertrauteste Ort ist nach wie vor das Zuhause“ — Verein Tenna Hospiz

Healthism – a war on wholeness

“We choose to define ourselves” [ad line]

Healthism is a holistic ideology, which focuses on an individual’s responsibility for his/her health based on informed choice (MacDonald, 1998). Health promotion is deeply embedded in this ideology. Healthism is the culmination of individualistic and consumerist thought, making one’s own body as the sole focus of values and decisions. Health, as a narrowly defined medical standard, and beauty, as expressed in outward physical appearance, become the most important indicators of personal well-being. In combination with these individualistic thinking patterns, the physical environment is being seen as a constant threat to human health and well-being. Society and cultural expression become almost irrelevant in the context of health.

Pfarrkirche in Vrin, GR, Switzerland: Gedenkstätte für die Pestopfer - Memorial for the victims of the Black Death.
Pfarrkirche in Vrin, GR, Switzerland: Gedenkstätte für die Pestopfer – Memorial for the victims of the Black Death.

Healthism is an expression of extreme privilege. It makes us believe that we can be creators of our own fate and destiny. Continue reading “Healthism – a war on wholeness”


Ein Krieg gegen die Ganzheitlichkeit

For an English version of this article, please click hereHealthism – a war on wholeness

„Healthism“ (aus dem Englischen und ungefähr mir Gesundheitswahn übersetzbar) ist eine ganzheitliche Ideologie die darauf aufgebaut ist das jedeR Einzelne, auf der Grundlage von bewussten Entscheidungen, verantwortlich ist für ihre/seine Gesundheit und Wohlergehen. Gesundheitsvorsorge ist mitunter ein wichtiger Teil dieser Ideologie. Healthismus ist eine Kulmination von individualistischen und konsumorientierten Gedankenwelten, die den eigenen Körper ins Zentrum stellt für alle Wertüberlegungen und Entscheidungen. Gesundheit – in der Form eines eng definierten medizinischen Standards – und Schönheit – ausgedrückt in der äusserlichen körperlichen Erscheinung – werden somit die wichtigsten Indikatoren für das persönliche Wohlbefinden. Dazu kommt noch, dass in dieser Denkweise die natürliche Umwelt als konstante Bedrohung für die menschliche Gesundheit und das Wohlergehen angesehen werden. Gesellschaft und Kultur werden beinahe bedeutungslos in dieser Vorstellung von Gesundheit.

Pfarrkirche in Vrin, GR, Switzerland: Gedenkstätte für die Pestopfer - Memorial for the victims of the Black Death.
Pfarrkirche in Vrin, GR, Switzerland: Gedenkstätte für die Pestopfer – Memorial for the victims of the Black Death.

Healthismus ist eine Ausdruck von extremen Privilegien. Die Ideologie macht uns vor dass wir die Schöpfer unseres Schicksals und unserer Bestimmung sein können. Continue reading “Gesundheitswahn”

Is perpetual direct democracy good for your health?

A friend of mine, Ion Delsol, operates a website – pasifik.ca – to support a vision of perpetual direct democracy. One of the experimental features is a section called “Now Polling” that is used to assess the will of the people on an ongoing basis. It is Ion’s firm belief that democracy should happen more often than on election day every four years. To read about Ion’s vision, visit this link: Perpetual Direct Democracy (available in Spanish as well).

I was recently asked by Ion to share my views and experiences of the health care system in British Columbia and Canada. The discussion started with a critique of the current health care system. It continued to consider more fundamental factors than bigger and better machines and shorter wait times: Social determinants of health. Income equality, social justice, and political empowerment will make people healthier.

Ion taped and edited the conversation and it will be broadcast on the community cable channel in British Columbia. The interview is also available online on pasifik.ca and YouTube:

Determinants of Health – Part 1

Determinants of Health – Part 2

Determinants of Health – Part 3

Determinants of Health – Part 4

Map it out – the extent of obvious misery

Here I am in the Kensington area of Philadelphia.

The row houses in the Kensington area were originally built for workers in the vicinity of the factories that employed them. They are a monument to industriousness and dignity. The factories were not social institutions, but apparently it was possible for many families to live in their own little house in the neighbourhood. It was a short commute to the workplace. There were many little corner stores selling things of daily needs, and bars for those who had daily or occasional wants. Some avenues were commercial districts with a variety of stores and shops. I have seen a library in a park, schools and a hospital – all in a similar architectural style making use of brickwork, just the way the factories were built. And there were many churches to comfort the ones hit by hardship and to celebrate with the ones who were able to make it.

Industrial Beauty - a restored factory portal in Kensinton
Industrial Beauty – a restored factory portal in Kensington

Continue reading “Map it out – the extent of obvious misery”

A Better Yukon for All – the governmental strategy for social inclusion and poverty reduction

A critical review by Othmar F. Arnold

(All mentioned documents are linked directly to the original source.)

The preamble to the new strategy document outlines very nicely what a better Yukon for all means: “A socially inclusive society is one where all people feel valued, their differences are respected, and their basic needs are met so they can live with dignity. It is a society where everyone has the opportunity to participate and to have their voice heard.’ (p. 8) And it continues with deep insight about social exclusion: it “is the result of barriers in the social, economic, political and cultural systems” (p. 8).

In the introduction, the scope of the strategy is presented as a guideline to social policy development; or in other words, how government will facilitate a way of meaningfully living together. From the research the government conducted, it concluded that service delivery and access to services appear the main reasons for the fact that some people in the Yukon do not feel included. Furthermore, “poverty is one of the most obvious factors contributing to social exclusion, but social exclusion also stems from and is exacerbated by inadequate education, housing, health, social participation, employment and access to services (p. 8)”.

Continue reading “A Better Yukon for All – the governmental strategy for social inclusion and poverty reduction”

A Better Yukon for All – a new strategy paper

The Government of Yukon has recently released its long-awaited

Social Inclusion and Poverty Reduction Strategy

It has been in the works for a while and there were several delays in releasing the document. But I am glad that it has finally seen the light. The entire strategy document can be downloaded from the following page: A Better Yukon. On the same page, the government released the 2010 background research report: Dimensions of Social Inclusion and Exclusion.

A socially inclusive society is one where all people feel valued, differences are respected and basic needs are met so they can live with dignity. Barriers in social, economic, political and cultural systems can prevent people from being part of their community. Everyone is affected by social exclusion and poverty, and everyone plays a role in finding solutions.


A Yukon where social exclusion and poverty are eliminated, diversity is celebrated, and all Yukoners have the opportunity to prosper and participate to their full potential, free from prejudice and discrimination.

The strategy document provides guiding principles, goals, and a commitment to measure success.

Evidence of Homelessness in Whitehorse: abandoned camp along the Yukon River
Evidence of Homelessness in Whitehorse: abandoned camp along the Yukon River

Continue reading “A Better Yukon for All – a new strategy paper”


Dear Friends,
please enjoy and get inspired by this teaser film for a documentary called “LandFillharmonic” I found on an other blogsite. It is excellent evidence that we can make the best out of whatever we have, even if we have nothing!

“One day it occurred to me to teach music to the children of the recyclers and use my personal instruments,” explains 36 year-old Chávez, who worked as an ecological technician at the landfill. “But it got to the point that there were too many students and not enough supply. So that’s when I decided to experiment and try to actually create a few.”

Working beside the families for years Chávez eventually made friends and became acutely aware that the children needed something positive in their lives. He was inspired to do something to help. He began using the trash in the landfill to create instruments for the children.

The town of Cateura was built virtually on top of a landfill. Situated along the banks of the Paraguay River, the landfill receives over 1,500 more tons of solid waste each day. There are seven different neighborhoods built around the landfill, accounting for over 2500 families living in close proximity to dangerous waste. Most of the families, including children, are employed by the landfill as recyclers. The poverty has forced children to work in the landfills, neglecting any education that might lead them to a better life. (from: artjournal.com)

It matches the powerful message of my own film project about community development, empowerment, and resourcefulness “Healing in Babalmé”. Watch the short film on YouTube or follow this link:

Hope on the Horizon – the movie

Here is the link to the Landfillharmonic video: The world sends us garbage…

Scribblings from the Bluegrass

Check this out:

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Nursing with indigenous communities: The question of membership

Membership and belonging are important factors for well-being on an individual level. It is a topic that resonates strongly with me for a long time. In 2004/05, I have written an article on community membership and belonging from a nursing perspective with a particular focus on cross-cultural practice in indigenous communities. It was never published, but might be of interest to some.

Nursing practice with Aboriginal communities: An exploration of the question of membership.

Othmar F. Arnold, RN, MN,


For most nurses working with Aboriginal people, such a posting is a professional challenge. Nurses do not hold any formal membership in the cultural and ethnically diverse communities they serve. The importance is placed on competent and efficient delivery of needed services for populations that are known for significant health disparities and marginalization. Drawing from Nuu-chah-nulth origin stories, it appears to be important for the realization of Aboriginal health, healing, and well being that health professionals acquire community membership. The difference between the two world views poses an ethical dilemma, possibly constituting a form of cultural imperialism. Nursing science based approaches for bridging the intercultural gap are explored.

Health Centre, Carmacks, Yukon, serving the Village of Carmacks and the Little Salmon/Carmacks First Nation


Membership from an Indigenous Perspective

Membership from a Discussion among Community Nurse Practitioners

Membership from a nursing theory perspective

Ethical questions

Recommendations for action at micro, meso, and macro level
Continue reading “Nursing with indigenous communities: The question of membership”

A call for lateral love from down under

Today I learned through a follower of this blog about an important indigenous healing initiative in Australia. It is called Lateral Love Australia and is intended to explore and help overcome the opposite of lateral love: Lateral violence.

Lateral violence happens when people who are both victims of a situation of dominance, in fact turn on each other rather than confront the system that oppresses them both.

I was touched by this initiative. I have witnessed many instances where people in marginalized communities I served in were hurting each other. Instead of pulling together towards healing from various forms of colonial trauma, people engage in acts of lateral violence (gossip, bullying, blaming, alcoholism, drug use, domestic violence, suicide). This only creates more hurt and pain, helps reinforce stereotypes, and perpetuates racism.

Inuit children in Ikaluktutiak/Cambridge Bay practicing lateral love. Family dance Christmas 2008.

Continue reading “A call for lateral love from down under”