A Lovely Shade of Blue

Here we are, four years and 2.7 months
into the community acupuncture experience at my Cape Cod clinic, and I am
noticing some changes I thought I would report.

My pre-CA practice was
mostly retirees, of the middle class and upper middle class income variety. 
Others would wander in from time to time (the odd yoga teacher or realtor) but
unless they had pretty deep pockets, they couldn’t come often or stay for

Even a year into my community conversion, I was still, as one of my
associates described it, offering “working class rates to middle class
patients”.  But hey, they kept coming in, and sometimes they even brought in a
spouse or other family member, so I figured I was on the right

What I see happening now is a gradual increase in blue collar
folks.  More home health aids, supermarket employees, police and fire department
workers, landscapers, restaurant workers and teachers’ aids.  I didn’t know how
to reach these people, and in the early years I wrung my hands over how to make
the connection and get the word out, but somehow time has done what my marketing
strategies could not.

This is making my office more colorful as well.  I
have more people of color sitting in my chairs –hooray!   Because these working
folks are younger than my previous client  base, I also see a lot more tattoos
— four out of 8 chairs had prominently tattooed folks in them the other week. 

People with blue collar jobs in our communities are often putting their
bodies on the line each time they go to work.  They do the most physical, least
forgiving jobs, work that over a lifetime, really takes a toll on the joints,
tendons, muscles and bones.  Whether they be fishermen and masons or house
cleaners and manicurists, they often live with the physical consequences of this
work the rest of their lives.  My clinics — our clinics — can help them heal,
help them stay strong, ease their pain and otherwise make their lives a little,
sometimes a lot, better. 

That makes me happy.  I still see plenty of
retirees, elders, summer home owners and the like, but the presence of
affordable acupuncture is slowly seeping in to the working community on Cape
Cod, and turning my clinic a lovely shade of blue.

Author: Diana

<p> I had just hit 10 years in practice when I stumbled on the Working Class Acupuncture model in 1995, via Lisa and Skip's "Little red book of working class acupuncture". After reading this 3 times in the first two weeks, I was ready to jump, and two months later I was offering Community Acupuncture part time in my <a target="_blank" href="https://www.acuforall.com/">Cape Cod, Massachusetts clinic</a>. </p> <p> While my boutiqe style practice had always been enough to pay the bills, I was forever needing to recruit new clients, and the ones I had often ignored my recommendations for a treatment plan, mosty due to cost. This made me feel frustrated and not very effective. The opportunity to transform my practice in ways that better support me, my community, and my values has been life changing for me. While it's all still a work in progress, there's no question that this is what I want to be doing, and helping others to do as well. </p>

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  1. Diana, I love this blog!

    OK, THAT’S news to everybody, no doubt. But really! This issue comes up all the time in workshops: how do you reach out to the community, how do you market to working class people — and I always end up saying some clumsy version of “um, you can’t, you can’t force it, you just need to let them find you”. A better way to express it is what you said here: it just happens, the simple existence of your clinic over time is how you reach out to working class people. It’s not a big splash, it’s a slow seep.

  2. nice color palette

    I love that how you articulate how you noticed the palette changing during the time you’ve been open.  How delightful!


    Build it and they will come – how true, especially when the “they” are the ones we most want to see in our clinics but also the most difficult to get the message across to.  So much baggage to undo, and yet, simply by you being there, holding that space, they find it and really, fully show up.


    Hurray!  Thanks for your lovely post.


    Julia in Berkeley

  3. That’s wonderful, it’s great

    That’s wonderful, it’s great to know that things can keep changing and growing over time.  I think new and not so new Canners expect too much from themselves and their clinics right away.  A slow build is more the norm with most things in life, it’s important that we just be available for people without worrying too much about trying to force our clinics to be what we think they should be.

  4. Yep.

    I’ve noticed the same thing. We’re in our ninth month, and it started out with “middle class patients at working class prices”, mostly carryovers from my private room practice, but as we’ve settled in, the “slow seep” is happening. Disabled folks, seniors, young people working minimum wage jobs, truck drivers, and wonder of wonders in uber-white Salt Lake City, some folks of color in the chairs. And we didn’t market this at all that way. The patients do it simply by talking about it to the people they know. Kind of magical and very very cool. 

  5. ditto

    nearing the end of the first year, and every single week the makeup is changing, becoming way more diverse, and way less airy-fairy. we seemed to start out with lots of people fascinated with energetics and acu-theory, coming with “complicated” problems that they just knew could only be solved with exotic, ancient healing practices.

    so of course i also wanted to figure out how to meet everyone with practical problems and show them some practical solutions. and a few found us, and the slow steep started. so now we have lots of hairdressers and bartenders, one fisherman, laborers of all kinds, a few postal workers, a few ups workers and so on.

    as diana said, lots more tattoos, lots more young people, lots more ethnic diversity. and now, thank god, we found someone who speaks both spanish and portuguese to work several shifts, so now we can extend our reach even more.

    i loved this post diana, thank you.

    by the way, everyone is TOTALLY freaking out about the traffic we’re getting…the salon next door, other people in the building, neighbors…and they all want to know what we’re doing for advertising. i tell them we don’t advertise. new people are 5% web, 5% locals, and 90% referrals.

    and holy sh** i would rather have this group of really down-to-earth people as a referral base than any other. I LOVE COMMUNITY ACUPUNCTURE, OUR LOCAL CLINIC, MY JOB, AND MY LIFE. sorry for yelling, it just came out.

  6. behind on commenting

    but I read this days ago and it’s stayed with me.  I wish I had something more eloquent to say in response to your eloquence, but I just think this is a really helpful post.