Past the post office Park Avenue continues a little way as Portland Street before it dead-ends at the looming wall of a parking garage. A curious mix of establishments lines this five-block stretch: a couple of hip eateries, a plumbing supply company, a seedy-looking variety mart, some homeless support service places, and, at number 47, a handsome multi-story office building. Ride the elevator up one floor and you’ll step out into the chartreuse-walled entryway of Justice In The Body, which is, to quote their mission statement, “a socially responsible education, training, and movement center devoted to integrating well-being, love, justice, and liberation with individuals, groups, and social movements.”
JITB was founded two years ago by Sage Hayes and Shannyn Vicente, both practitioners in the space. Sage offers somatic experiencing and biodynamic craniosacral therapy. Shannyn is a yoga teacher and LCSW. Two other part-time practitioners share a third office, and there are pay-what-you-can classes in, at the moment, yoga, meditation, and herbalism. The space also includes an apothecary, also pay-what-you-can. Sage seems particularly fond of the apothecary, enumerating with eager warmth the herbs, teas, salves, and syrups, many locally sourced.
The concept for JITB came out of Sage’s daily experience of stares, comments, and other micro-aggressions as a trans person. “I thought, if I’m gonna endure that for the rest of my life, how free in this body can I get?” This line of inquiry lead to conversations with Shannyn in which they together worked out the cluster of structuring ideas which make JITB more than just another group office space.
First of all, from the Philosophies section of their webpage: “We are born perfect and it is our environments—familial, cultural, and institutional—which alter our sense of inherent goodness, self-worth, and connectedness.”
And then there’s how both founders came up through nonprofit work and social activism and found them to be realms of lack and unhealthy self-sacrifice. At JITB, they say, new people and new ideas are warmly welcomed, and there is a sense of plenty. “It’s been so refreshing to believe that there can be another way to work with people that is about possibility, not about scarcity,” says Shannyn.
And then there’s the idea of financial accessibility. Hence the classes and herbs by voluntary donation. Accessibility also figured in the search for a location. “We chose this neighborhood partially because we think healing hearts should be available to everyone,” says Sage, “and oftentimes wellness studios are more in...how would you say?” Shannyn picks up the thread: “I would say middle to upper-middle-class communities.”
And finally, the idea of embodiment. “Embodied” is a favorite adjective here, and it explains why JITB has a physical address rather than just a virtual one. Says Sage: “If we didn’t have a space, we wouldn’t have a body to practice our principles in, you know? We would just be teaching about them, and really I don’t believe a good teaching is something that can just stay in the head. If it doesn’t drop into the body it’s not real.”
If the speech modalities of alternative healing make you impatient you might not like it here, but if they resonate for you, you’ll feel invited, welcomed, loved. Sage again: “I know ‘love’ is a cliché, kind of almost cheesy word, but it’s one of the most underrated free energies that really is what a lot of people are walking around most deeply wanting.”