Sadja Greenwood, leader in health, moves to Oregon

David Briggs
Dr. Sadja Greenwood started one of the country’s first teen clinics in 1968.  

Longtime Bolinas resident Sadja Greenwood, whose articles on health and medicine have appeared in local publications for years, moved to Portland last month, though she will continue publishing on her blog. 

Her writings, which appeared nearly monthly in the Light for the last several years, digest the latest medical studies for lay readers on everything from the potential benefits of chocolate and the effects of breathing on healthy brain function to the dangers of certain chemicals in common plastics. 

The death of her partner, Alan Margolis, last summer and an invitation from her son, who lives in Portland, spurred her decision to move north, Dr. Greenwood said. “It’s difficult to leave—I’ll miss my friends, my band, the beauty and quiet,” she said last week from her new apartment, where she was still waiting for her belongings to arrive. 

Dr. Greenwood said playing in the American and Celtic roots band, Midnight on the Water, which held its last performance of 20 years at Smiley’s Schooner Saloon a few weeks ago, contributed to her good health. (She plays flute and penny whistle.) So does a healthy diet—she doesn’t drink alcohol or eat white flour or sugar—along with regular pilates and meditation.

She also noted the benefits of learning how to listen. Soon after she and Mr. Margolis moved to Bolinas in 1980, they found themselves entangled in a civil dispute with a neighbor, and participated in a private mediation program. 

Drawn to the nature of the work instantly, they both became mediators, helping to resolve issues locally between neighbors, landlords and tenants, and
partners. “I learned how to listen,” Ms. Greenwood explained. “I learned how to do what is called ‘effective listening,” which is really listening to another person and repeating back to them the gist of what they said and asking, ‘Did I get it right?’ And then how to say something that indicates that you aren’t blaming them, or using language that would be insulting.” 

She added, “It is transformative to be trained in this—you look back in your early life with parents and friends and see how you could have done things differently.”

Dr. Greenwood and Dr. Margolis were both doctors who met at the University of California, San Francisco. After purchasing their home on the Big Mesa in 1980, they settled there full-time in the late ‘90s. 

Dr. Greenwood was an assistant clinical professor in the Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology, and Reproductive Sciences at the University of California Medical School in San Francisco. She also worked at Planned Parenthood in San Francisco, where she started one of the country’s first teen clinics in 1968 and, soon after, an abortion clinic. 

Together, she and Dr. Margolis created an educational film on safe abortion techniques in 1973. She is also the author of “Menopause, Naturally,” and a novel, “Changing the Rules.” 

The novel, which draws in part from her own past, features the journey of a young medical student from the East Coast and themes of abortion rights, feminism and romance.

Dr. Greenwood said she is excited to get settled in Portland, connecting with the friends she has there, playing music with her son and finding a new pilates teacher.


Sadja Greenwood’s articles can be found at