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Colorado Street Medics create the world's first (free) street medic museum

In this week's cover story, "Medic!," we featured the Colorado Street Medics, an international network of activists with more than forty years of history. Much of that history is recorded in Denver, where the community's first street medic museum will be launched inside the 27 Social Centre.

Click through for a closer look at some of the objects and artifacts inside of it.

When collective founder Doc Rosen died in July 2007, the result of a brain hemorrhage, the news struck a blow to the Colorado Street Medics community -- but he had already taught its members to recover. After his death, his wife, Carol Garlington, and their two children donated boxes of his medical belongings to Zoe Williams, the group's new leader. Right now, these boxes and their contents line a room that will soon be finalized as the first physical street-medics museum in the world (aside, perhaps, from early medic Ann Hirschman's home, which we've heard is an impressive memorial in its own right.)

Many of Doc Rosen's street medic relics are featured in the space.
Many of Doc Rosen's street medic relics are featured in the space.
Mark Manger

The hundreds of relics are varied: Inside the space are Williams's own medical books and material, in addition to years of Rosen's. The Denver-based collective will also be able to come to the space to do research and pick up any pooled supplies.

"It's going to be both usable and historical," says Williams, who estimates a May finish date. "You'll learn a lot about our history through Doc's history alone, but we intend to keep collecting things ourselves and from other communities as that history grows."

Early signs from Doc's acupuncture clinic -- he was the first acupuncturist to register in the state, No. 001 -- line the space along with his art and the handbooks he penned on acupuncture and Chinese medicine. Armbands from the Medical Committee For Human Rights, aged and yellow with "AIM" and "MEDIC" scrawled on top, feature among a stash of other medic insignia. Most of it is removable, so as to become anonymous quickly.

Rosen, who was shot in the arm at Wounded Knee in 1973, kept his Wounded Knee veterans tag, which sits next to a WTO protest call from Seattle in 1999, Sundance memorabilia from the American Indian Movement and an array of street medic gear and hats from past marches. (The Colorado Street Medics are not concerned with looks: Trucker hats figure prominently in their street style.)

The museum's literature includes magazines Rosen kept to document his travels and concerns, such as a 1965 Newsweek about the march from Selma to Montgomery and features on the National Caucus of Labor Committees. An October 1960 Harper's Magazine announces a cover story on "The Crisis in American Medicine," which covers access to healthcare -- a topic that continues to dominate political discussion today.

In the background, jars of fake blood await the next street medic training, when Williams will douse fellow medics in the stuff while they feign symptoms and await a diagnosis to test new trainees. On the same sillier side, Williams collected Rosen's magic tricks, which he used to comfort children during rallies and marches. One of these tricks, in which he procured multiple foam rabbits out of nowhere, has left evidence all over the space. Dig into any sector of memorabilia and red foam rabbits jump out in response.

"It's important, especially if people are taking themselves too seriously, to just pull a bunch of streamers out of your mouth," Williams jokes. "It's important to us to document it all, silly and serious."

For more information, or to donate material, contact Zoe Williams at zoethemedic@gmail.com.

Click through for additional photos from the Colorado Street Medics' history.

For years, Rosen taught kung-fu on New York's Broome Street, where he founded Woo Ping Wuen Kwoon, or Peaceful Harmonious Fist School.
For years, Rosen taught kung-fu on New York's Broome Street, where he founded Woo Ping Wuen Kwoon, or Peaceful Harmonious Fist School.
During his life, he traveled abroad to serve as disaster relief in countries affected by natural disasters.
During his life, he traveled abroad to serve as disaster relief in countries affected by natural disasters.
His grandfather, a word-class strongman named The Mighty Atom, could pull an airplane with his beard.
His grandfather, a word-class strongman named The Mighty Atom, could pull an airplane with his beard.

More from our Follow That Story archive: "Colorado Street Medics: Meet Ann Hirschman, one of the earliest teachers of street skills."

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27 Social Centre

2727 W. 27th Ave.
Denver, CO 80211

720-583-3905

www.27socialcentre.org


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