Community Conversations: Sister to Sister was officially founded in Cambridge, MA in 2009.
Over the past 20 years, CC co-founder Dita Obler often found herself engaged in rich, deep and not infrequently challenging and profound conversations that occur daily at her local Cambridge hair salon. Sometimes these conversations touched on medical questions or concerns. As a genetic counselor with experience in navigating the complex maze of medical systems in Metro Boston, she found herself informally sharing medical information, strategies, resources and guidance with other patrons at the salon. These conversations exposed a pressing community desire for more, better, and easily accessible information and resources.
As a long standing patron of the salon, and friend of the owner, Dita recognized a unique opportunity. The salon already had a well established culture of exploring challenging ideas as a community. Here was a natural chance to bring into a community setting some of the many local medical, scientific and public health resources available. Given the culture of conversation already active within the salon, why not provide information and resources, while examining the very real barriers to improved health and well being, in a place where folks already felt comfortable.
Reaching out to Erinn Pearson, the salon owner and main stylist, and their mutual friend Shelley Flaherty who also happened to be a childhood friend of Erinn’s and a long-term patron at the salon, Dita pitched the idea of a series hosted at the salon that brings Black women together -- health care providers and consumers of health services -- to explore health challenges, information and opportunities that affect Black women, families and communities.
That organic pilot grew to include a community of nearly 500 healthcare consumers, providers, and community partners. Today, we cover a wide variety of health topics that include physical, behavioral and mental health, cognitive well-being, family and community health, and social support and networks. Our topics are selected based on input from community members, a Community Steering Committee, and a recruited faculty of women providers drawn from medicine, public health, and science.