A Beautiful Weekend

This past weekend Skip and I went to New York to do two workshops back to back:  a big workshop at PCOM on Sunday and a smaller one on Saturday for some students from the Swedish Institute who couldn't go to the one on Sunday. We took the redeye flight from Portland to New York on Thursday night and arrived bleary and mostly sleepless on Friday morning to find New York in the grip of what seemed to us (wimps from Portland) seriously nasty weather:  20 degrees, snow showers,  piercing wind. 

But it was a beautiful weekend.

I was a little worried about what it would feel like to teach the same workshop two days in a row. The Saturday workshop went really well: it was very intimate and focused, which is I guess what happens when there are only eight people and you are in someone's living room (thank you, Alison!). I left thinking how much I enjoy small workshops and feeling trepidation about the next day, because I knew that 50-odd people had signed up.

It was amazing. It was nothing like the small workshop, of course — in fact it felt a lot more like a true conference than a class, because many of the people who attended came explicitly to make connections with other people who were interested in community acupuncture. When we went around the room at the beginning, with people introducing themselves and saying what they needed from the workshop, it emerged that multiple people were already doing community clinics and they were attending for inspiration, to feel the support of other acupuncturists, and to network locally. And it just got better from there.

Two of the people in attendance, Andy Wegman and Kevin Campopiano, have been doing CA for long enough to accumulate some really great experience. Both of them are treating around 100 patients a week, so of course we shanghaied them into being presenters. And fabulous presenters they were. For me, to listen to other people talking about how much FUN it is to treat a lot of patients in a community setting, and about how happy they are practicing this way, is pretty much the ultimate payoff — along with seeing people in the audience lighting up with the hope that they can do this too.

Over the course of the day, listening to people talk about their plans for clinics and realizing that there is going to be a corridor of community clinics in towns along the Hudson River within a year or so — not to mention two clinics opening up now in Brooklyn — I realized that something amazing is happening. We really have built a grassroots network of acupuncturists who are turning to each other for advice and support. There is a groundswell of realization among acupuncturists that we can do this whole thing differently:  we can look on each other as allies instead of competitors, we can approach our businesses creatively rather than being oppressed by insurance companies, we can treat a diversity of patients that reflects the diversity of who we are as practitioners. We can have community instead of isolation. And all this really is happening in a local, decentralized kind of way.  It's not a top down thing, and it's not just about WCA or even CAN; it's rising up all over.

I wanted this so badly and yet it still knocks my socks off to see it HAPPENING. 

Thank you, everyone, everywhere. This is beautiful. 

Author: lisafer

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  1. That is just so


    Watching this movement grow is just so darn amazing, and inspiring.
    Its so inspiring that it carries over into all parts of my life. The fact that the healthcare revolution is snowballing like this gives hope to all other parts of the revolution, too. If a group of people can work together so effectively to bring accessible, good-quality healthcare to the people, I have hope that the teachers can unite, the farmers can unite, and the home-builders can unite. Perhaps accessible, good-quality education, food, and shelter is around the corner.

  2. New York Conference

    Hi, Lisa!
    First off, I wanted to thank you for coming to PCOM. The whole school was buzzing about you guys for days afterwards. It was especially sweet for me because I have been promoting you two so strongly since October, and now a lot of the people that were unsure of how they felt regarding CA have had their minds definitely changed – which I knew would happen if they could just hear what you have to say.
    The best part is to hear how people are starting to think about ways to fit CA into new and inventive models that will work in the mega-urban environment. The pressure of the high rent is, I believe, going to be the mother of invention in this regard.
    For my part, I am going to Brooklyn this weekend to meet with the Brooklyn Health Collective about running their community clinic starting this summer. This is just a preliminary “meeting of the minds,” but it is exciting to be (finally!) working on solid plans to open clinics here in NY.
    Anyway, just wanted to say THANK YOU again for all your hard work, spreading the seeds and all like that.

  3. Training for Swedish Institute acupuncture students

    Hi Lisa:

    I’m Geleni Fontaine from Brooklyn, NY. I was supposed to be the ninth person on that snowy Saturday last month, but had to miss at the last minute because of a flu and fever.

    Thanks so much for the workshop! Of course I’ve been hearing about it all from my classmates, and I’ve read about CA and WCA for some time now. I would still like to take the training sometime in the future, if possible.

    I come from a long background of working with grass-roots social justice groups, and I was exposed to the idea of sliding scale through programs that I taught and coordinated. Since I first came across your model two years ago I’ve known that I it was the right direction for me. I believe WCA is a true practical example of responding to inequity by challenging old paradigms, and embodying the change one wants to see in the world. I feel deeply inspired by the work you’re all doing.

    I graduate in August and will be starting my own CA practice using your model. (I also hope to work closely with other practitioners in Brooklyn.) The prospect of being part of such a great and centered community makes me feel even more excited about finally finishing school 🙂

    Thanks again for your work, generosity, and support *

    ~ Geleni