Birth of a Clinic: On Mapupuncture and Membership

Eight months down the road now, and we’ve reached another milestone, of sorts. We just exceeded 333 active patients in our POCApoint database; we are now one-third of the way to the magical 1000 mark.

We also just wrapped up our busiest week ever. It’s been a week of constant reminders of how much better the acupuncture works when the room is full. (It just does. I don’t mean to suggest that private acupuncture doesn’t work, of course we all know that it works. But the added power of a full room, in terms of individual patients’ experience, is striking!) When I arrived for my shift early this morning I could still feel the subtle hum left by the previous evenings’ very busy shift. It gave me the feeling I almost always had when I was at Poke Community Acupuncture, that thing that made getting to work feel like arriving at home. GCA is becoming its own entity, and this milestone is even more exciting to me than the numbers shooting up. And it makes me think of Alexa’s comment on Cris’ blog post ( almost a year ago:

“(this) reminds me of my analogy of the treatment room as a cast-iron skillet.   A cast-iron skillet is a highly useful, sturdy object that gets better with time and wear and requires no special handling.  In fact, you’re not even supposed to wash it.  You cook something in it – sometimes your meal is great and sometimes it’s crap – then you just wipe it off and keep cooking.  It gets “seasoned” the more you cook in it and therefore becomes more useful, because corn bread cooked in a seasoned skillet tastes way better than cornbread cooked in a clean one … Everything that has ever happened in here – good and bad, healing and death – it doesn’t need to be washed away.  It all collects into layers of seasoning.”

I suppose that it’s appropriate that this fall, GCA is truly ripening, on its way to developing a deep and rich seasoning.

This week I got us a map of North America, and about 200 brightly coloured map pins – enough to mark each POCA clinic in Canada and the US. Hanging a “We are Many” map onto the reception area wall has been on the to-do list since we opened. Yes, maps can be deeply problematic ( but I love them. I spent a few hours after my Friday shift scrolling through the entire North American LOC database and marking each clinic with a pin. (You guys, how is it that Needles CA does not have a CA clinic??) The scale of our map is just small enough that Guelph isn’t on it. Instead of a map pin I stuck a one-cun needle into our location, with a piece of green tape wrapped around it flagging GCA.

For those who are more visual, there are some pics of the development of our seasoning here at GCA ( For live action, check out our short video ( Bear in mind that first and last months’ rent, web design, the laptop we use to book patients on, and whatever furniture we didn’t get for free, was all paid for with a low-interest POCA microloan, just over eight months ago.

This is what POCA love, smarts, skills & cash are building in Guelph ON. This is what we need more of, what our patients and their friends and families are asking for — in DuPage County IL, in Saskatchewan, in Alabama, in Sault St Marie ON, and dozens of other places (

Here’s to a lot more mapupuncture, and to growing the membership that makes that possible.

Lisa B.
Author: Lisa B.

Lisa prefers fireflies to fireworks, reverts to bluntness in stressful moments, would happily wear legwarmers year-round, and probably wants to be your friend.

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Conference Keynote: Breaking the Ceiling

The theme for this conference is “Breaking Barriers”. You know, there are so many barriers to break in acupuncture that it was really hard to choose which ones to talk about for this speech. But since I’ve spent so much time talking about classism as a barrier, I thought it might be fun to shift gears a little and talk about numbers.


  1. We’ve got the “photo album” at the front desk with the sign that the lovely OAP volunteer made- and people are stopping to take the time to ooh- and ahh at the pictures and they get right away why we’re doing a membership drive.
    I love how well the fractal works!

  2. 333 is quite a magical number, too. congrats on your full shifts!

    thanks for posting a link to your youtube. i watched it a while back and really enjoyed seeing it again. putting up my map on friday so that patients in orange county can see just how many we are.

    as a resident of california, i’ll have to look into why we are lacking a clinic in needles. 🙂