Our History

Our history begins with the founding of Working Class Acupuncture (WCA; then Window of the Sky) in Portland, Oregon, in 2002, by acupuncturists Lisa Rohleder and Skip Van Meter. The community acupuncture (CA) business model they developed is based on many of the traditional community styles of treatment often practiced in Asia. In setting up the first CA clinic, the founders asked some simple questions: What were the barriers to people getting acupuncture? What is really necessary for acupuncture treatments? How can acupuncturists make a sustainable income providing treatments to more people? The result is the CA model, which includes some fundamental re-imaginings of what acupuncture is and can be, and many helpful systems that help clinics run smoothly. It is also influenced by the concept of social business as defined by Nobel laureate Muhammad Yunus.

In 2005, WCA published their first book, The Little Red Book of Working Class Acupuncture. In 2006, Lisa Rohleder published The Remedy: Integrating Acupuncture into American Healthcare, and began writing articles about social entrepreneurship and affordable acupuncture for industry publication, featured on blogs such as The Integrator; at the same time, WCA began offering workshops for other acupuncturists to share the CA business model, the philosophies behind it and their systems and experience. Later that year, the Community Acupuncture Network (CAN, a 501c6 non-profit) was formed by Lisa, Lupine Hudson, and Michael McCoy (at that time, the Executive Director of the AOM Alliance).


By the end of 2006, 11 clinics had started practicing as community acupuncture (CA) clinics. Within two years, 32 clinics were in operation and the CAN forums were bursting with discussion as people continued to simplify and refine the CA model. Growth continued to increase: by 2009, 115 clinics were open, and Lisa, along with several CAN members, published Acupuncture is Like Noodles. The 200th CAN clinic opened in 2011; practitioners and acupuncture students turning to this affordable sliding-scale community model generated a critical mass of energy that propelled the CA movement into its next stage of growth and development. 


On March 18, 2011, POCA formally incorporated in the state of Oregon. POCA offers membership and leadership to community acupuncture patients, licensed acupuncturists and those in training programs, community acupuncture clinics, and organizations who support our mission and members. Read our Executive Summary, or learn about our Organizational Structure.