A Self-Organizing Parade

POCA Fest is over for now but I’m still floating in the POCA Over-Flow- the abundant heart-felt, head expanding, energetic surge that comes from getting together with all of you. POCA Fest is what I want the world to look like: groups of friends, old and new, deepening connections, work on and work-out stuff together, kids running around, break-out sessions happening simultaneously with people being treated in the on-site clinic. The on-site clinic is like the kernel of the fractal, and in particular this version of the fractal had a whole bunch of concentric amazingness spiraling out from its center. There were people being treated all weekend long, punks, receptors, students, patient and community members. Even the camp’s directors, counselors, and life guards got treated.

The fractal wore a multi-colored, multi-layered cape of sorts; the amazing Receptors at PCA conceived of and fabricated a life-sized diorama that included in some form, every working element of our clinic set-up, both back and front of the house! It was like Pee-Wee and Pteri had decided to open their own CA clinic there at POCA Fest. Heh-HeH! As a fractal of the fractal, Terry-our front desker- and set-designer, recliner-chair costume maker, also set up a scale model of  “Your-Community-Acupuncture” clinic where using miniature 2 and 3 dimensional props you could play around with clinic space layout. She plans to make this tool available for free as a printable pdf file soon. Right now she’s probably having too much fun with her grandson, and being out on the bay that it might have to wait until the weather changes again. But look for that on the forum some time, or feel free to call her at PCA if you want to have it sooner.

I think this was the first POCAfest where we actually had all 4 coop-member categories onsite. Joe from POCA Point (the only Org. member to attend) came to demo POCA Point scheduler and EHR, and to hear first hand from receptors and punks what kinds of tweaks would make our lives even more awesome. Some of these are already in place.  Other coops represented at this POCA Fest including the AORTA (Anti-Oppression and Resource and Training Alliance) Collective, who led a training for POCA and other local coop members. At a different, well attended breakout people discussed and shared their experiences with non-profit, worker owned, collective management, and various other organizational experiments that are possible in this time of post-Capitalism and when solidarity is a priority.

A handful of acupuncture students attended from the local boutique  aku-school and one POCA Tech student represented too! We can expect to see more of the punklings at upcoming POCA Fests, including the one coming up in September in Northern California. You will be amazed at the confidence and practical skills exhibited after just 1 year of acupuncture school. Imagine feeling like you could go ahead and treat a roomful of people (other punks no-less) at the end of your first year. This is no fantasy- it’s real!

I love that POCA Fest happens because of our all-volunteer presenters, who put together programming, submit  the mandatory dotted-eyes/crossed-tees to be sent to the land of CEUs, and then make their way out to rural Rhode Island to hang out for a couple of days. The programming and presenters are again the fractal busting through with shared responsibility for the exchange of information and ideas, as well as creating and maintaining the systems needed to contain the chaos.  POCA does bureaucracy with a flare for fun. Where else would you find a self-organizing parade?   Or a weekend of geeking out about various things. One such geek cluster huddled around small laptop for a couple of hours looking at scheduling and EHR software. Not everyone’s typical Saturday night fun-time. The fractal beneath the surface insures that we are learning from each about being part of a community, as well as getting new ideas, support, and just having some fun and taking a break. We do this in small groups, and big groups, around campfires, and lakes, around the continent, and the internets. I think it’s just easier to feel the fractal when we’re all together, just like when we’re all together with our other communities in the clinic, or wherever we find our people.

Because these intensive weekend can be so, well,  intense, it’s good to take a break from all the activity and the onsite clinic  set-up meant that anyone could pretty much get treated all-day long; upon arrival from air/car/train travel, while breakout sessions were happening in the adjacent space, or while crazed and costumed people festooned, and made musical instruments for a parade. I can’t imagine a future POCA Fest that doesn’t have a common place for us to gather and rest, re-group and then resurge. Where better than to do that than in the homey arms of a recliner or upon a rolling stool. It was amazing to see people brand new to CA, as well as one of the punklings, making their way around a full circle of recliners. The vessel that is the clinic holds a lot of the space where the work gets done, and down. Andy’s music mixes made many of us realize that maybe some Hendrix or R&B could be thrown into the usual Eno/STOL for a more rocking Friday evening experience.

This POCA Fest was smaller than previous ones, which made it possible to really dig in with folks, whether as old friends or newly acquainted. One brand new person declared at the opening that they had “found POCA [‘s website] on Wednesday, signed up for POCAFest on Thursday, and here I am on Friday!” Other folks, including the few Left Coasters that attended, had been to every CAN and POCA event to date. The schwag table had some super good deals in the way of the t-shirt archive from past events. Nifty POCA mugs, made by a POCA punk’s family’s business, brand new POCA shirts (on sale in the POCA store now), stickers, and a clinic card and t-shirt exchange had everyone flying, wearing, or drinking out of POCA colors of all sorts. It was a parade even when it wasn’t a parade.

And there was PIE- in the form of the “Extended Pie List” or ELP. At the end of Alexa’s excellent keynote she invited us all to individually and collectively imagine what comes next. A list was compiled by POCA Fest attendees over the next couple of days. The upcoming POCAFest is going to be looking at the ELP much more in depth. It promises to be the best and maybe biggest POCA Fest yet- and it doesn’t hurt that it’s going to take place perched on the edge of the Pacific during the best seasonal weather in the Bay Area. The punklings will be there in numbers. I hope all of you will too.

During the closing circle, which is always full of some sadness as we part ways, and overflowing with joy from being together, I felt a little whelmed (or maybe it was fatigue (note to self: never organize a POCAFest and then teach during 6 out of 7 breakout sessions). Later on I said to Pam from Sarana that I regretted that I had forgotten to thank everyone who volunteered and who made this last POCA Fest happen. Pam reassured me that what she perceives as happening is that we are all thanking each other all the time. I guess that’s what is called: Cooperation.

Hope to see everyone at the next POCA Fest coming up September 25-27 at the Marin Headlands in Sausalito, California. Registration info coming soon.

Author: crismonteiro

I've always thought that I would live to be 100 years old and now that I have an actual idea of what it might be like to inhabit this body for a century I want to be damn sure that Community Acupuncture is around to help me through my days and in the end, on my way. In the meantime, I am passionate about getting shit done, and also having fun.

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