Re: “Time to Look Ahead Together”

Hi Steven,

you sent me an email with the subject header “guild post discusses how we’re working together”.

Let’s talk about that.  Some people found your blog post confusing, including POCA Tech students, and your subject header concerns me, so I’d like to clear up a few things:


You and I are both interested in acupuncture workforce data and sometimes we send each other links. In my world that’s called “corresponding”.

And POCA is not working with the NGAOM. I’m not on the POCA General Circle but I do read their minutes and I’m pretty sure I would’ve noticed if the GC had a discussion about that. Just making sure everybody knows how this works: if POCA and the NGAOM were working together, the POCA GC, and probably the POCA Board, would have to talk about it first. (More on that in a minute.)

2) In your post you said some nice things about POCA — that we have “a plan, a strategic vision, and the will and organization to realize (our) goals”. Thanks. We work hard, and you’re right, we get no acknowledgment from the acupuncture establishment for that.

But the acupuncture establishment isn’t our audience at this point. Our audience is people of ordinary incomes who could benefit from acupuncture. We’re not looking for acknowledgment from the powers that be and I’m not sure what we’d do with it if we got it, with the exception of…

3) POCA Tech. You said POCA has its own  “ACAOM-approved” school, but we don’t, not YET.  Getting ACAOM’s approval means following the steps of their process, which we’re doing. We haven’t yet been admitted into Candidacy; we just submitted our application and we’re waiting for our site visit. Please don’t ascribe accreditation status to us that we don’t actually have — ACAOM really, really doesn’t like that.

And speaking of ACAOM…I hear that the California bill that you were supporting, AB 758, failed to pass. Whew — that’s good news for POCA and POCA Tech. Eventually we’d like to have a POCA Tech campus in California, and having to go through the California Acupuncture Board for approval adds another layer of bureaucracy and expense. POCA Tech is POCA’s biggest project; having a POCA Tech campus in California to provide workers for the many POCA clinics there would be a huge benefit to the co-op.  NGAOM seems determined to make our lives harder with regard to these goals.  How is this “working together”?

4) “The enemy of my enemy is my friend” thing really only goes so far. Neither POCA nor NGAOM like the status quo in the acupuncture profession, but for VERY different reasons. Also, POCA isn’t about who we’re against.

What POCA’s about is prefigurative intervention to the capitalist healthcare system. Look it up.

What POCA’s about is challenging capitalism, “building a new world, not from the ashes of the old, but within the interstices of the old”. Read about it here.

What the NGAOM’s about is driving revenue to its members. You’re unapologetic about wanting to make as much money as possible. You really, really want to be part of the system: CAPITALISM.

Meanwhile, we’ve managed to involve hundreds of thousands of people in what amounts to a decade-long international anti-capitalist performance art project — that also relieves pain and creates jobs. We’re having fun. POCA runs on fun. And what you’re doing doesn’t look like any fun at all. That alone is a huge obstacle to us working together.

5) How we organize matters.

This is on my mind lately because, as you might have heard, my state (Oregon) is currently having a problem with one of its bird sanctuaries being occupied by a small group of militia. Out of state militia. Their perspective is that they’re occupying this corner of Oregon for its own good, to free it from governmental oppression. However, the militia neglected to ask the local residents if they wanted the militia to do this. And as it turns out, they don’t. Many of the local residents have some sympathy with the militia’s grievances (or they used to) but they’re really not happy with the actions the militia is supposedly taking on their behalf — especially since they weren’t consulted.

In your post you alluded to the NGAOM being active in Connecticut. I don’t know exactly what happened there, and I’d be curious to hear your side of the story, because I’ve heard some other perspectives and I have to say, it sounds kind of like the militia and the bird sanctuary. There’s a strong paternalistic streak to your communications in general; you think you know what’s best for acupuncturists, and you have no problem doing things that you believe are for their own good.

Just in case you’re thinking of trying anything like that with POCA — don’t.  And if you’re trying to strengthen the NGAOM by making it seem like we’re working together, remember that you have to actually ask us first.

Here’s a friendly suggestion for the new year: look to your own organizing. What are you really trying to accomplish? Do you have a vision that your members can love, as opposed to just hating the status quo? I mean really love. I know you wonder how we get so much done. Our secret, which isn’t a secret, is that we love it. It’s worth doing for its own sake, not just for material gain. Doing it makes our lives better. It makes us saner, it connects us to the communities we live in, it uplifts us. Working for the common good might not be a source of material riches, but it is a source of joy.


Author: lisafer

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  1. Lisa – Thanks for your email invite to comment on this post: Hi Steven, I responded to your post here: Comments and clarifications welcome. Best wishes, Lisa

    As long as we are being straight up and offering advice let me offer some of my own. My post is on the Guild website intended for Guild readers. Anyone can read what I post there. I am not reaching out to POCA or addressing POCA. So few folks have a POV on POCA. The success POCA has had is worth noting. I believe in free press and POCA is not my editor. I am not your enemy. Apologies if I failed to clarify your candidacy status with ACAOM. I am not writing for readers who I believe are not especially interested in the workings of accreditation.

    You find my tone paternalistic. Not really my concern what you think of my tone. If we were friends I would engage you on my tone in hopes of improving communication. The double standard evident on your POCA posts alienates me. As you point out we are not friends nor are we working together. These are your assumptions.

    I do wish POCA success. I do not think you really have best wishes for the Guild or me.

  2. Well, at least we’ve cleared up the part about how we’re not friends. Your blog post had some people wondering.

    I was hoping to learn more about what happened with the Guild and CT, though.

  3. Also that “how we’re working together” is an EXCELLENT example of the phenomena of “forced teaming.” The undoing of which relies totally on the person being forced having the willingness to be rude and say, uh no we’re not.

    Thank goodness for people willing to be rude. 🙂

  4. There’s also the issue that POCA has a pretty well-established social media machine at this point. If you say something nice about POCA in an article, or a blog post, or a video, POCA people are going to like and share it and pass it around. I don’t think this is un-connected to some of the mainstream press we’ve gotten lately — everybody wants views.

    Back in CAN days, I felt like every time somebody said something online about community acupuncture, I had to respond so that the narrative didn’t get hijacked. That isn’t even possible anymore (nor would I want to try, there’s way too much else to do) and I’m less worried about our narrative being hijacked — but I don’t want to establish a precedent that it’s just fine to use POCA for advertising, ESPECIALLY when it comes to other acu-orgs.

  5. Bravo again Lisa.

    He didn’t “fail to clarify the candidacy status.” He misrepresented the accreditation status, which as Lisa pointed out, ACAOM could seriously take the wrong way at this very critical time.

    Also, he seems butt hurt by the truth.