PCA is part of a larger organization, a cooperative of community acupuncture clinics, patients, and punks, called the People's Organization of Community Acupuncture or POCA. We would love for any of you that wish to, to join POCA and to be part of this movement to build the kind of local resources, healthcare options and economies that excite us. As a cooperative, POCA is also helping us learn about new ways to work together towards our common goal. Some of our sister POCA clinics around the country have been discussing coops too. One of our comrades, John Vella from Working Class Acupuncture in Portland, was talking with Eric Bowman of Northwest Cooperative Development Center. John's words describe some of how it feels for us at PCA to get to work with all of you: The relationships that cooperatives foster tends to be fundamentally built upon a genuine intention to do what works for everyone involved and related to a project. This flies in the face of how much of current society seems to think we should work.. . . . . .most people really do want to engage their lives from a more heart-felt approach... when we take the risk to approach the relationships of an enterprise from the heart of sincerity we are so often surprised at the genuine response it elicits. -John Vella (More of this discussion here.)
Providence Community Acupuncture, is a social business and member of The People' Organization of Community Acupuncture (POCA), the multistakeholder cooperative "designed to build a long-term stable economic relationship based on fair treatment for everyone." For the next month, PCA along with around 250 other member clinics around the country and beyond, will be reaching out to you, our community, to encourage all of YOU to become members of POCA. POCA's goals are: To make community acupuncture as widely available as possible.
To establish affordable acupuncture training and continuing education programs.
To establish best practices for the operation of sustainable community acupuncture clinics.
To create job stability for community acupuncture employees, staff, and clinic owners.
To build healthy relationships and foster collaboration among our practitioners, staff, patients, and communities.
You can join POCA by signing up in the clinic on our computer from March 5th to April 5th. Or in the meantime, feel free to go right over and sign up at the POCA home page by clicking on this link. You'll be helping to make the goals above happen, and you'll be strengthening these relationships that "tend to be fundamentally built upon a genuine intention to do what works for everyone involved and related to a project." We've been imagining that by all of us working together at existing clinics, we'll be able to bring about many more new clinics for communities that don't yet have them. Please join us.
(Take a ride with PCA acupunk Melissa Tiernan. Kind of a love love letter to Providence and to community acupuncture. Originally posted on the POCA website.)
I drive by my childhood home two blocks from where I now live my new life with a job and work community I love, a man I love, a family I love nearby and the adventure of being in an old/new place with ocean nearby after 22 years in desert.
I go past the public library where my mind first began to expand, surrounded by trees I climbed and where I collected chestnuts for childhood games. On past the cathedral style Catholic church where I lost myself in singing & stained glass and which was a center of the community when I was a child, and hopefully still is for many families.
I turn on to a street where one half is lavish old New England homes, the other half traditional three story tenements. I stop at the traffic light and look out at the bluegreen water of the bay, sometimes with a tanker or container ship gliding by. Seagulls and hawks often whirl overhead.
Through a mile or so stretch where the population is almost completely people of color. I see only non-white faces of folks walking, driving, strolling, working in their yards to clear snow, with families, working in shops.
Past Cerritos Liquor store that still has the 8 foot fiberglass painted chicken on the sidewalk next to the front door. It is actually a rooster but everyone refers to the store as the chicken liquors and we all know where that is.
Railroad tracks appear in the road as I pass through a working waterfront with ginormous modern windmills next to mammoth oil tanks, ships being unloaded. The world’s most enormous scrap metal pile, where giant empty dumpsters look like kids’ toys tossed on top (something about this is somehow thrilling to me). Next door is the four story road salt pile; further up, the asphalt pile, as well as three diners for breakfast, lunch and coffee break for port workers, drivers, machine operators.
Past the nude dancing joint, the adult video store and the unfortunately named “gentleman’s” club.
Past the empty graffiti covered textile mills and the electric company’s turreted brick building surrounded by house-sized transformers; next to the storm water gates that protect the city against hurricane floods.
Under the swooping cloverleaf of five highway overpasses, where individual nightly dwellings are tucked in; people wrapped against the cold.
Then, two blocks later, I am turning in towards the clinic past Planned Parenthood, the diner that just says E-A-T in giant retro letters, across from the Clam Shack and the neighborhood dive called Nick-an-Nees’s, with its own comic mural of patrons and pool players. Across the street, the breakfast joint with photos of the original owners from generations ago when this was a vibrant jewelry district. The clinic parking lot is just under the giant painted green dragon that hangs over the edge of the Children’s Museum building and I see families coming out with squeal-y kids lit up with excitement and wonder.
The clinic is on the edge of downtown, just off the main highway, by areas re-gentrifying as they are developed by Brown Medical and Johnson & Wales trade school. Mostly older office buildings and parking lots. The inside of the clinic is warm and cozy and dim and a wash of white noise and lamplight and snoring from 20 chairs. Front desk staff is friendly and familiar and laughing with everybody, like family (and many of them actually are).
Patients are easy going. I don’t know how else to say it, but they just feel like regular people to me: down to earth, friendly, and warm. They mostly don’t care what their pulse says, they just see results for their pain or anxiety or sleep and really settle in for the restful refuge PCA provides in their week. Lot of babies being born to patients lately and also many older patients being brought in by family members, who occasionally get treated themselves. A lot of men here. One skeptical auto mechanic in this week for aches and pains from working in the cold, got pleasantly, surprisingly knocked out during treatment and woke up in a room that had changed from mostly women to mostly men —yay machopuncture!
Something about this daily commute has really driven home how community acupuncture allows for this care, this warmth, to be had in the sometimes industrial and real places we call home. A reminder that there really is no separation, and that the simple good things lie side by side with the grit and grist. Maybe it’s the contrast or the collective, but I am finding it exceptionally beautiful and look forward to doing this commute for a long while.
I thought this photo Cris took of the clinic deserved another look. We hope any hardships from the storm were kept to a minimum for you and your family and neighborhood, and that you're skating safely on your way, or snug at home. We are back in full swing and will be happy to see you walking in through the parking lot and not over a glacier.
More than occasionally, we're asked by a patient, "can i take one of those home to show my husband (or mother or neighbor)? They're scared of needles and maybe this will help". Well, no, we can't send you home with a needle. But, the following article has some great images of the kind of needles we use, along with some basic information. We hope it's useful.
Our POCA Tech fundraiser has been a big success. We raised about $750 in December through mostly donations of five to fifteen dollars. Thank you all so much for contributing, and for moving us all a step closer to making an affordable acupuncture school happen so we can train the future punks we so desperately need to keep community acupuncture strong and growing.
Thanks to: Jean M, Laura BL., Loretta A, Steve Z, Mary D, Karen L, Ted S, Joan N, Shawn O, Alycia M, Karlo B, Lehlohorolo M, Sarah M, Gail A, Laura G, Barbara P, Anne S, Lucille R, Karyl C, Juan D, Kari T, Kathy K, Natalie J, Donna D, Forest M, Ana Christina, Barbara T, Anthony A, Bob W, Terry L, Ashley T, Robert A, Lucille R, Carmen C, Arthur L, Lori O, Steve M, Mary H, Beth T, Aimee M, Laura R, Liz A, Gale G, Deirdre H, Alan B, Louella H, Bob S, Sue b, Jim S, Susan H, Emma S, Gregory S.
This weekend, the New England regional node of The People's Organization of Community Acupuncture met at the clinic. A warm and jovial mood filled the place as old and new friends arrived from New York, Connecticut, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island. We were there, ostensibly, to keep the planning going for POCA Fest 2013 which will happen this spring here in Rhody.
Among the participants were front desk persons and administrators from various clinics, patients, people interested in attending POCA Tech, POCA members who'll be teaching or leading activities at the fest, owners and acupunks at existing clinics, and one long time acupuncturist who hopes to open a second Rhode Island clinic soon. As our international coop, POCA, heads in the direction of a more horizontal and less hierarchical structure, the meeting felt like a wonderful and important step in that process.
Everyone offered ideas and volunteered for various jobs at POCA Fest, about which we're all very excited. It'll be the first big community acupuncture happening planned and attended by not only acupuncturists, but by all these stakeholders in the coop.
Stay tuned for more info about POCA Fest 2013, taking place May 31 - June 2 at Camp Aldersgate in N. Scituate, RI. We'll be putting up a website soon, where you can register for a day or the whole weekend. Any of us at the clinic can answer questions about the event as well.
These two old blog posts from Lisa Rohleder, and the reader comments which follow them, keep coming up in my mind. Every day I work with patients at PCA, I feel grateful for my job, and for how I get to spend my time.