Reactions and Thoughts about POCAfest #1: the Best Conference EVAH

POCAfest #1 took place last weekend at the Marin Headlands Institute, just north of San Francisco, and if you haven't read much about it here so far its because it was such an amazing conference that I am sure that all of us are recovering from it. Really-it was THAT good. Oh-I see you are skeptical. Let me describe it more fully and hopefully some other conference goers can chip in.

Remember what we said about CANference 1, just last year in Portland? That it was the best conference that anyone had attended? That was definitely a good conference: you have to give it an A grade. For the first time we caught a glimpse of the whole CA movement and we liked what we saw. Very good, CANference 1!

CANference 2 in Manchester, NH last fall? We were surprised that it could and did top CANFerence 1. Loads of fun and great connections between people. And incredible high! Grade: A+

So now we got POCAfest 1 in the books. Did it surpass CANference 2 with its gaudy A+ grade? I mean how can you top that? Perhaps out first inkling that POCAfest would far outdistance either of the CANferences was in Demetra's opening speech when some of us looked out  the window and saw in the ocean a couple of dolphins cavorting. Not only a harbinger of things to come but thinking back, those dolphins must have brought to shore some new kind of letter for grading purposes, a pre-A, and uber A, something that humans had not experienced before. Something that takes A's smug alpha-status and smashes it to bits. Like…

*****SPOILER ALERT- skip the next paragraph if you want to see The Avengers*******

There the scene lat in the movie where Loki that Norse god and in this film the Bad Guy, is faced off with The Hulk-as pure an enneagram 8 character as you will find. The scene starts with Loki speaking derisively to T.H. saying, “I am a God. You are a beast.” A split second later, T.H. picks up Loki like a rag doll and starts beating him against the floor, repeatedly. Now if you haven't seen the movie, you might think this is bad somehow but actually its very, very funny a relief even. (Sort of like how POCA is compared to the old acu-establishment IMO. POCA being T.H.  But I digress.) As this scene pertains to POCAfest, that's how good POCAfest was: it was Hulk good. Can't get much better than that. 

*******END SPOILER ALERT*********

But let's go a bit further. Yesterday morning while trying to wake up I wrote to Demetra and Cris with some post-POCAfest debriefing thoughts and I'll share it with you:


POCAfest was extraordinary. It is hard to believe that it went so well-and was obviously better than CANference 2, which in its own right was wildly successful. So why was POCAfest so good-and so much better than CANference 2? I think we can break down the differences between POCAfest 1 ands CANference 2 along three parameters:


1) The weather. POCAfest would have still been great but not quite as great if the weather had been foggy and possibly rainy too. We would have spent a lot of time in various buildings, especially in the Sunset building. That would have been okay but obviously getting a chance for us to walk around the gorgeous surroundings and seeing the ocean and moonrises etc, was special.

2) Everyone stayed in the same place. That was different than either CANference and now that we did it it will be hard to not keep doing that everyone staying in the same place thing. People connected with other people they didn't didn’t know and definitely I saw several new friendships being born.

3) The size. POCAfest had 130-odd 😉 people attending, about 30+ people more than either CANference and those extra people brought that much more energy and creativity. Too bad that we had to cap registration as it could have been 150-175. 

4) Did I say 3? Why do you even listen to me? heh. Hell there’s 4. POCA Committees. Each of them seemed to have doubled in size at POCAfest with possible new members. And even if the newbies don’t continue, just having them there face-to-face was energizing to POCA, the collective. And of course some of them will get hooked in. But in a larger sense it felt like POCA was, well not born, but grew up substantially at POCAfest. Made it out of infancy, say. And what we now see is that there are a lot of punks and clinic workers (I won’t say patients because we didn’t have those but we did have 15-20 receptionists and bookkeepers at POCAfest) who will put in time but not necessarily on-line: more just face-to-face. That face-to-face time is good and it helped to make POCAfest so great. The challenge especially for you two Cris and Demetra, is to figure out how to tease out some of that POCAfest committee energy into the long cold hard months between POCAfests. (I wonder if WCA’s fall BDC workshops could have POCA committee meetings…)


I am going off on tangents here trying to describe how good POCAfest was. The ultimate proof will lie in how the various clinics that were represented take off due to the experience. But lets here from others who attended: first-hand comments are always better than this summing up that I am doing. 

* Oh yeah- we will soon paste on blogs both Demetra's and Lisa's speeches plus we have video of those speeches and a handful of breakout sessions for POCA members to view-especially good if you didn't attend those sessions! But give us a couple of days to throw them up on the site!

Skip Van Meter
Author: Skip Van Meter

Skip is Lead Acupuncturist and Co-Founder of <a href="" target="_blank">Working Class Acupuncture</a> in Portland, Oregon. With the earlier part of his life spent acquiring knowledge about geology, urban planning and teaching high school, he has now been an acupuncturist for 19 years, using about a 1,750,000 needles poking his patients. He likes all things soccer, has three fabulous sons, the best wife in the world, and a great dog and two cool cats.

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