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You might be familiar with the concept of sliding scale with doctors or therapists, but what about massage and wellness services? If you're familiar with the concept of sliding scale, have you ever heard of the "Green Bottle" system?
What is "The Green Bottle"?
The Green Bottle system represents a way to assess one's own resources based on one's ability to consistently meet one's own needs, as opposed to trying to determine need based on yearly income. It represents 3 (or sometimes 4) levels of "fullness" that corresponds to the amount of resources a person has in order to meet their needs.
Written in each bottle are statements that can be used to self-reflect on where a person might fall on the scale. It was originally designed by Alexis J. Cunningfolk of Worts and Cunning Apothecary, a creator of resources for intersectional herbalism & Magikal Arts (Consider supporting through patreon!).
We've given a lot of thought and discussion to the topic of how we go about sliding scale, and this method checks off a lot of boxes on our list of values we strive to embody in our work as wellness practitioners. We've also been practicing this with our Patreon since we started this endeavor, and we will continue to embody these values as we grow our massage and wellness practice.
Four Reasons Why We Use "The Green Bottle" to Determine Our Sliding Scale.
1) It offers ease and flexibility for our clients and us.
We know that situations can change much more rapidly than between each tax return, so we wanted a system that could allow for a person who may be fully employed one month, to still receive the care they need the next month while they look for work. We also want to give the opportunity to those who may find themselves in an improved financial situation to continually evaluate their resources and share what they can reasonably afford to share. With the Green Bottle system we don't have to wait for tax returns to get a sense of what's in our "bottle", so we can be more dynamic in how we allocate resources.
2) It protects the dignity of those whose "bottle" may be less full.
There is no shame in having access to fewer resources, and we want our systems to reflect that belief. We don't require anyone to disclose their income and expenses, or otherwise spend any time justifying to us why you might have less to share with us. If you paid our scheduling fee, you've already reached the minimum level of resource sharing for us to continue to be resourced well enough to keep providing quality care to you.
Is it possible that someone might abuse our trust? Perhaps. It's possible. We also recognize and hold compassion for the fact that trauma (caused by a lack of resources, holding one or more historically marginalized identities, interpersonal violence, etc) can understandably lead to a scarcity mindset, which may play a role in folks genuinely feeling like they have less than they actually do. If an individual struggling with a no-longer-adaptive scarcity mindset makes an appointment with us, we hope to be able to support their journey in recognizing the abundance around them.
3) It provides an opportunity to reflect on how we show up in community
Speaking of folks of the middle and left "green bottles", we hope to encourage reflection on how we can show up in community if we find ourselves with sufficient and abundant financial resources. We'd like our payment system to be an opportunity for our clients with greater resources to reflect and notice what it feels like to realize, "I have enough, I can afford to pass this money on to support someone else's well-being."
We'd love to hear any stories about how this feeling might show up in the rest of your life, too. Perhaps you create a line in your budget to contribute to a nonprofit, organized mutual aid, or to have on you to give to the unhoused population when the opportunity arises. Maybe you take a friend who might be struggling out to dinner, or tip 100% the next time you order a latte. How would we provide for each other if we felt secure in having "enough"?
4) It invites us to unlearn capitalist programming
How do we define scarcity and abundance? What emotions lie beneath our ideas about money, and about our own financial resources?
Do we feel a sense of scarcity as we drive around in our used (but reliable) vehicle, simply because it is not a flashy status symbol? It's possible that fear and shame may be part of the story, but they don't have to drive the narrative forever. Most of us were raised on the narrative that we should always be striving to accumulate more resources, either to maintain some kind of class status or to attempt to escape another, but what if we started introducing the concept of "enough" into the narrative? Would we relate to each other differently if we had a felt sense that our "bottle" was actually full?
Or, do we find ourselves paying more than we can actually afford in order to avoid being perceived as "poor"? Where did we learn that lacking resources is a moral failing to be ashamed of?
We hope when you receive bodywork from us...
It feels restful knowing that at the end of the session, you are only expected to give according to what you have, and that you're helping us build a more equitable system.