A Call for Cooperation

POCA is a place. It’s the community room of community acupuncture. POCA is beautiful. However, even in the creation of beauty there is necessarily conflict, struggle, doubt, and frustration. Our task is not always easy and beautiful. In this room, we find a space of healing and transformation. We come together to heal the pain and stress and promote the general health of ourselves and our wider community. We are here to balance conflicts of american acupuncture vs. community acupuncture, the actual vs. virtual, individual vs. collective, competitive vs. cooperative, and business vs. social business (and more). There are the individual challenges of who we are, along with the inner work of who we are becoming, and the enormous challenges of our society and the changing world.

Most people are familiar with cooperatives that balance the needs of two groups, like producers vs. consumers. These co-ops are called transactional. POCA is not your everyday cooperative, it is a multi-stakeholder cooperative. It balances the needs of several groups, patients, punks, clinics, and allied organizations. And this is where the VS. breaks down and does not work effectively as a way to balance anymore. The multi-stakeholder cooperative is said to be transformational.
And the transformation is of the VS. as well as the parties involved. It becomes a WITH.
Individuals become WITH community.
We struggle as part of the transformation: from becoming ourselves, from learning how to cooperate better.
Just as transitioning from practicing american acupuncture to community acupuncture takes practice, so the punk, clinic owner, and patients can participate fully or “get it”. It takes letting go of some old  ways and assumptions. Sometimes easier said than done, again and again.
Acupuncture is a process of healing pain and stress. Transforming is part of our process, like in the process of healing. Healing uncovers the pain and hurt; we have to face who we are and who we can become. Transformation has ups and downs, ho-hums, joys, and disappoints. It requires a commitment to face the unknown, the setbacks, new circumstances, and new awareness.

The process of transforming can be uncomfortable and tumultuous, lead us through dark moments.
It stirs up personal, emotional, societal and political needs.
This conflict can lead to attacks, disengagement, isolation. It’s tough to find the way forward, to know what side we are on.
(the following was written in response to recent online and offline conflicts)
We are an organization of people with many different points of view and styles of expression and that is to be championed and honored. Differing opinions can lead to divisiveness; this dynamic emerges over time and in groups. Rather than this reoccurring outcome of communicating creating divisiveness, our hope is that it can lead to clarity and honesty about our own needs and wishes, and a continued assessment of what will serve the coop’s mission.
We will not guarantee that discussions won't get heated and passionate. POCA is a place that has always had difficult discussions about uncomfortable things. Please try to stand behind your words, have respect for other positions, ask questions if you are unclear, try to clarify if you feel your position isn't clear. In general, expect that people are coming from a place of respect and also take some responsibility for your experience. Please try to stay engaged and not just pull out when things get going. Because our feelings are hurt doesn't mean someone was automatically harsh; they may just be stating their position passionately also.  Disagreement is not automatically personal attack. We make no guarantees that it won't be uncomfortable at times. With basic respect, we have found that sometimes the really gristy, gritty places are the ones that lead to real growth and deeper understanding of each other and ideas we hadn't considered.

When disagreements threaten to undermine the momentum and direction of the stated mission, we seek to minimize these conversations on our public and/or member forums and instead to continue to shine a light on the mission, and the actionable steps we can continue to take towards our goals. 

We look to maximize the coordination and efforts to cooperatively support our collective mission. We support solo clinics. We promote jobs for acupuncturists to serve our communities. We are growing and learning much about what can be done and done better. We look to find ways to reframe our conflicts and find common cause to make together a new way to confront the many difficulties of our patients, students, employees, clinic owners, and staff.

In practicing community acupuncture, we practice community.
Community gives room for relieving pain and stress: finding new ways of transforming conflicts into construction and promoting general health: engaging in and cooperatively practicing relationships.

POCA is our community room. In this room, some are here for the first time, some are having an ah-hah moment around the ninth or thirty-ninth visit, some of us are just beginning to rest or awaken.  All are transforming. It takes letting go of some old ways and assumptions, so we can “get it”. It requires a commitment to face the unknown, the setbacks, new circumstances, and new awareness. It makes an environment where all this is now visible and accessible. Two recent posts  on behavior  and holding space ; hold keys to creating and practicing community cooperation.
What do you see as the next steps to cooperating? Is it time to volunteer?  To make amends for less than cooperative behavior or cultivate a solution for a seeming conflict? Recommit to participating in one of our projects?

You are here. Teamwork makes the dream work, says Stevie Wonder. By definition we need each other to practice these things, to reach out, ask for help, to practice being WITH each other through the morass of pain and conflict. To survive.
Transforming takes practice, patience, and courage. As the Long History of Cooperation post shows us, we have a direction and calling to lead us on.

Despair not! Take my hand. Let’s transform and create beauty together.

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