I have been involved in the Community Acupuncture movement since the early days, and it has been hugely important to me. I'm one of those people who, if they couldn't do Community Acupuncture, wouldn't do acupuncture at all. I helped start two CA clinics in two very different cities, helped midwife POCA into existence, and volunteered for various projects within POCA. This was the first POCAfest I was able to attend in the past year and a half and it felt like a really long time had passed. In between I dealt with some Big Life Stuff, including a cross-country move. I felt overwhelmed, exhausted, and isolated, and on top of all that felt bad about not having any energy to give to this ongoing project that I had been so involved with co-creating.
Starting to work as a “punk” again for LBCA a few months ago saved my sanity; I felt re-connected to a community that I had been missing for a while. Going to POCAfest felt like a big drink from a deep well. It was wonderful to be with longtime friends and co-conspirators and feel like we could pick up where we left off; it was lovely to be there with Susan and Karen and feel like we were all there to help make LBCA even better, in our own roles; and it was almost equally wonderful to see new faces and hear the voices of new co-op members, including the POCA Tech students (who are now, amazingly, in their second year).
My colleague Whitsitt once said that POCAfest is always great because in our jobs we are used to connecting with people quickly and getting down to the nitty-gritty, finding out what hurts (and sometimes what's funny, or just plain sweet); we're also pretty good about allowing each other quiet time when we need it.
Each POCAfest starts with a roll call of all the attendees from various states and provinces (and sometimes other countries besides the US and Canada), and ends with a closing session in which folks voluntarily share what they got out of the weekend. I was reminded then that many people were in similar situations to mine: they had been around for years but had gone through lots of Big Life Stuff in the meantime, and had had to take breaks from helping more directly with POCA projects. Some of them (like me) had gone from being clinic owners to employees; some had made the opposite journey. Some had started new clinics, often with the help of POCA micro-loans, which your POCA membership helps fund. Some had been students and were now full-fledged punks; many were super support staffers, like Karen. Some were now students, “fired up to do this work,” as one of them said during the closing.
The fact that SO MUCH has been accomplished (including the absolutely herculean task of launching POCA Tech) in a relatively short number of years is partly due to the incredible, dauntless leadership from a core group of people--but also because we realized a few years ago that we needed to be a co-op. Because people would naturally have to take breaks because of Big Life Stuff, and that other folks needed to feel empowered to pick up the slack when that happened. Because patients and support staff needed to be a part of this, not just the “professionals.” Because folks had such great ideas for enormous projects that would have been impossible to execute without many hands making the work lighter. Because Community Acupuncture liberated us, and we wanted to share that liberation. Join us!