Poked, Punked, and PRN-ed: New Free Video!

Sometimes I wish I could make an animated, sci-fi version of the history of POCA and the fractal (because I am a big geek, which you probably knew; but that would entail me being able to draw, which I have to tell you, I can’t). But if I could,  one of the first scenes would have me walking down the block, back in 2001 or so, to catch the bus to my (doomed) public health acupuncture job, and as I walk past a certain big, ugly, vacant building, a giant tentacle comes whipping out over the roof and wraps itself around me. I can’t see or feel the giant tentacle, but it’s got me nonetheless, and I linger in front of the ugly building without knowing why. If I could see the giant tentacle, it would look (despite its impressive size) like a fern frond: delicate and fractal-y. When it lets me go and slithers back where it came from, tiny copies of the fern frond bloom imperceptibly just under the surface of my skin.

A year or so later, I run a fever, and it’s contagious as hell (although it can take a while for the symptoms to fully manifest). My skin is now covered with invisible fern fronds. I am Patient Zero. Of course I go back to the ugly vacant building in order to start doing things I don’t understand at all.

Fast forward ten years, and the tentacles are snaking all over the internet, shooting out of computer screens and grabbing unsuspecting acupuncturists and patients, yanking people into other buildings– and also, into recliners. The infected have formed a support group so that we can swap strains and make each other more feverish. The support group has tentacles. (Oh, you wondered why we call them Circles? That’s because that’s the shape the tentacles make when they catch you. Like a loop. See? All that sociocracy talk is just a front.) We’re all doing things we don’t understand, we’re burning up, but God, we’re happy!

So of course I love it when the fractal decides to show itself a little, and sends a tentacle/frond curling off in a new direction. And it’s even better when somebody shoots a video of it.

You guys, check it out. I loved watching this video and I bet you will too. POCA member Michelle Cox describes how her journey as an educator was impacted by becoming a patient at Providence Community Acupuncture, and the larger POCA-sphere. She’s running a serious temperature. Her goal: create a viable, sustainable and replicable alternative to public school — for everyone.

This video is exactly what I hoped that POCA Tv would do for us. It’s like a concentrated shot of POCAfest in about 30 minutes. It’s helping us see what we’re doing from a new perspective. It’s breaking ground — and how perfect that it’s a patient member who’s doing it. I’ll close with one of my favorite quotes from Michelle’s presentation: “I think that’s what always amazes me: this (POCA) is so much about acupuncture, and then really kind of not at all about acupuncture. It’s about everything else. So I find that an interesting paradox, and it has a real influence on what I’d like to do next.”

Please watch it and discuss below! (Or in the video comments section, whichever you prefer). This is great material for discussion. Spike your fever.

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  1. I don’t know that I qualify as a permaculture geek (aspiring permaculture geek??) but I did go to a workshop on grassroots soil remediation the other night; all about low-cost ways to draw out, or transform, or safely bind, soil contaminants. The facilitator’s name is Leila Darwish and she does a lot of work with folks in communities where the soil is seriously poisoned (like heavy metal contamination) and/or where oils spills happen and no one comes to clean them up (this happens a lot in indigenous communities in Canada and I’m sure in the US as well). And as she talked about how to make the right kinda compost that will spawn bacteria that will transform, or safely bind, contaminants, or which plants will not only grow in poisoned soil but also draw out contaminants, and how to use mushrooms to make nets to filter badly polluted water, I was riveted, engaged mind + heart, for the entire three hours. And the thought that kept coming to me during those three hours was: “We have *all* the tools we need to heal this. We just need to pay attention, and support these processes.” Which was the exact same thought I had during the good parts of acu-school (1st year Foundations of TCM) and the same thought I had (and continue to have) as I learn and observe how community healing spaces function and grow.
    So yeah, community acupuncture and permaculture have big sweet overlap. And mushrooms make some truly magical fractals, just out of sight, in the soil. I’m looking forward to watching this video.

  2. Oh, kismet! My wife has been taking a permaculture class and we’ve been talking about this very subject (she’s also an educator). We’re looking at ways to sort of bring the two worlds together here, so to speak.

  3. Healthy soil, people, communities, and ways to learn up our kids so that they can take care of themselves, each other, the soil, other people, our planetary community- that just about brings in all the pieces- I thought Michelle hit it right on when she said it wasn’t so much an educational crisis so much as a public health crisis.

    If we wanted to describe that crisis in a few words- is it that we’ve forgotten how to take care of ourselves? Or that we’ve been cut off from our innate knowing of how to do that?

    I’ve had many a conversation with other healthcare people, alternative therapies folks who want to “do something like CA,” but it’s usually that they like the high volume,low cost, affordable sliding scale parts of CA. That’s all well and good but it doesn’t quite excite me the way Michelle has taken in various parts of the fractal at close range and from a wide angle- and then allowed it to seep into the systems and culture she knows and wants to create.

  4. I taught pre-school for a handful of years and immersed in the Reggio Emilia approach to learning. It was a bit glossy, but there are a few nuggets from its roots there I’ve always loved. It’s funny to realize how many parallels there are with CA practice. And it sounds similar to the work you’ve been doing at the Met with older young people.

    The curriculum is completely based on children’s interests. The way these are discovered is by having one teacher whose only job is the observe students and what excites them. It is based on the belief that children have a RIGHT to learn and express themselves and it is our job to create opportunities for that to happen.
    The environment is considered the third teacher (student and instructor/guide as the other two). A lot of consideration goes into the way the space creates safety, interaction and discovery. We all know that thoughtful** spaces influence what happens within them.

    And finally, it is based on community culture. Emphasizing that children are social beings and learn best in groups, given opportunities to explore relationship and responsibility through the mutuality of community involvement rather than in educational isolation.
    Its fun to realize how this exposure has influenced and prepared me for work in CA clinics (plus a return to naps!) Thank you for this reminder.

    I’m so excited about this work you are doing Michelle, you are going to rock it! Also how fun to see you grokking so fully the real grit and heart behind the POCA systems–SO glad a POCA tentacle silently grabbed you during those long clinic naps!!

    ** the word thoughtful was chosen carefully. ie CA clinics aren’t too perfect or beautiful or Zen spa like, but carefully considered to create opportunities for discovery and mutuality.

  5. I feel super fortunate to have been snared by the tentacle, and I’m super grateful for all your comments! Talk about folks who are creating a rich environment.

    One I was thinking (okay, one of about a million things) is that in all these threads, I see something very important about holding a paradox, a contradiction – and not just tolerating it but finding the sweet spot in it, delighting in it. Once I was able to do that pretty reliably – and it was not very long ago – my life really changed. At school, I try to help advisors (teachers) see this. They have to do everything they can to help their kids, but let go at the same time, accept that they can’t take credit or blame. We don’t mean the kids should run amok, but yes, the kids know what to do. You may have to help them be able to listen to themselves, but if it doesn’t come from them, it’s nothing. (And if you are talking, they are not going to be able to hear themselves – that took me a while to realize 🙂

    There is really a radical humility to all this, but also a radical satisfaction. I want more giant tentacle hugs! And also a fern tattoo…

  6. What a great video! I used to teach high school well before I ever thought about acupuncture or becoming an acupuncturist, but I’ve never heard the connections between that work and this work drawn so clearly before. That it’s the same work, that it always has been.

    So thank you.

  7. michelle cox, it was a pleasure to hear the first draft of this in our small group during the story slam breakout at pocafest. the educational parallels to the CA movement & your enthusiasm to punk education (!) were exciting and compelling to hear then, and i’m so, so glad you went on to make this video to share with the rest of the POCAverse (and beyond)… you are amazing.