State of the Coop

A lot  has been happening in the POCA-verse lately. In the past few months a group of POCA punks, POCATech students, and patient members met in Providence to check-in and refresh our vision for the work of the coop. Here is a summary of some of what’s been going on. I’ve formatted along the 7 cooperative principles as laid out by the Rochedale folks almost 175 years ago.

Voluntary and Open Membership
Currently we have:
Total Patient Members: 1269
Total Organizational Members: 9
Total Clinic Members: 164
Total Punk Members: 692
Total Members: 1970

Democratic Member Control
Members Elected our 5th Board Of Directors this past July:
2 new patient members serving on the POCA BOD Donna Khanvali, and Meesh Cobban, join  Bob Whirlow (board Prez) who is serving his 3rd year. Punk members Michael Kalebich and Jim Lorr joined returning BOD punk members: Sarah Lefkowich, and Mackenzie Muir. Jim now serves as the GC OL to the POCA BOD, with Cris Monteiro serving as the Rep. from the GC to the BOD. Skip Van Meter has stepped back from the POCA BOD and is enjoying retirement in Sun City, Arizona. (;])

Members of POCA’s General Circle- composed of 2 members of each of the 5 Department Circles (Events, Membership, Clinic Success, Publications and Content, and Finance) continue to meet every 5 weeks to discuss, brainstorm, and deliberate on Coop projects and business.

Changes to the GC for 2016 include:
Events- Skip stepping back, and Amy Severinsen joining Cris Monteiro as Rep and OL of Events.
Membership- Mary Margaret stepping back and Pam Chang joining Michael Kalebich as OL and Rep of Membership.
Clinic Success continues to be represented in the GC by OL Jim Lorr with Rep Kim Deane stepping back from clinic success and LOC Hammers.
P&C continues to be Wade Philips and Andy Wegman. P&C is our smallest circle so if you are inclined-join up!
And finally Finance- Steve Kingsbury has stepped back as OL. Whitney Thorniley and Molly Fread now serving as OL and Rep.

Member Economic Participation

This year POCA was once again able to contribute $10,000 to POCA Tech’s operational budget, as well as to meet all of our budgeted expenses. POCA has also pledged $18,000 towards completing a Job Task Force Analysis survey that is currently in its beta-testing stage and will be launched shortly.

The vast majority POCA’s income comes from membership dues from all 4 membership classes. As you may have noticed from the total member numbers above, patient/community members are the largest group and it is only through the participation of member clinics and membership drives that we are able to continue to operate. 

Autonomy and Independence
POCA Tech would not exist without POCA Coop. And no one else in the entire acupuncture profession would be willing to build or run a community acupuncture school for us. We have POCA Tech because we need it, our patients, and communities need it, and Dammit we can buld it!

 I'm just repeating what has already been said so well in this blog:

“First, prospective students of POCA Tech, looking at these numbers, I hope you understand why we're so picky about who attends our school and what they do with their education afterwards. The difference between what POCA Tech would cost without POCA and what it actually does cost represents a major obligation for anyone who attends. A lot of people looked beyond their own immediate self-interest to create something much bigger than they could have created alone; POCA is very, very serious about expecting POCA Tech students to reciprocate.

Second,  comrades, LOOK WHAT WE DID. Through our quirky little multi-stakeholder cooperative, we leveraged about $800,000 in order to create a new model for acupuncture education. Hey skeptical experts: WE'RE A CO-OP, HEAR US ROAR.”

Education, Training, Information
See above^^, and POCA continues to add CEU classes to our very affordable online offerings.  Recently added topics include:  scalp, punk parent, fat shaming, Dark Warrior II, and more.

Coops Among Coops
There is a part 2 to this posting, but for the purpose of this summary let’s say that we are a coop amongst coops, historically, and that this history is a rich one that deserves our attention.

Concern for Community
Many Coops are started to serve either producers or consumers; POCA’s structure reflects a desire to serve both, and our mission reflects a foundational intent to serve others.  POCA’s concern for communities is happening every time a recliner is sat in, a needle inserted, a deep restful nap happens, or someone’s pain is eased.

Some of the highlights of the leadership meeting in Providence were:

With current membership at a total of ~1200, the 25+/- people that currently volunteer on a regular basis for POCA are about 2% of members.

The biggest take aways were “We need more volunteers” AND “Membership is crucial to funding all of the things that we want to accomplish.” 

We’d love get 3-4% of POCA members to be involved on a more consistent basis. A new volunteer/ I want to help feature is soon to be launched on the POCA website to help make it easy to get involved.

Last, a wish list:
-more schools, more access to affordable community acupuncture education
-500 clinic members
– scholarships for low income students in under served areas to attend POCA Tech
– streamlined patient communications materials for all member clinics
– vibrant regional nodes
-changes to help users navigate the hugeness of the POCA website
What else is on our Coop wish list?

And what are you willing to help with?

Author: crismonteiro

I've always thought that I would live to be 100 years old and now that I have an actual idea of what it might be like to inhabit this body for a century I want to be damn sure that Community Acupuncture is around to help me through my days and in the end, on my way. In the meantime, I am passionate about getting shit done, and also having fun.

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The theme for this conference is “Breaking Barriers”. You know, there are so many barriers to break in acupuncture that it was really hard to choose which ones to talk about for this speech. But since I’ve spent so much time talking about classism as a barrier, I thought it might be fun to shift gears a little and talk about numbers.


  1. “Many Coops are started to serve either producers or consumers; POCA’s structure reflects a desire to serve both, and our mission reflects a foundational intent to serve others. POCA’s concern for communities is happening every time a recliner is sat in, a needle inserted, a deep restful nap happens, or someone’s pain is eased.”

    love this!

  2. just read this; and I am a member of the first cohort who is extraordinarily grateful for this opportunity!
    If I manage to graduate and pass the boards, I will be a POCA punk for the rest of my life.

  3. It would be so awesome if more of us could be involved! I was at the meeting that Cris mentioned and said that perhaps people are interested in pitching in but aren’t sure what to do or where to go for direction. Well, now we’ve got a new volunteer tasks list so everyone can look and hopefully many more people will find something to interest them.

    Here it is:

    If more of us get involved, we’ll be able to accomplish so much more!

  4. Having this list is soooooo helpful. Thank you Justine, Nicole and Wade for making that happen so fast!

    Looking forward to getting some of these jobs/projects filled and to adding many more hands to the project of keeping our Coop dynamic and getting sh*t done! 🙂

  5. my wish would be that POCA one day has the capital to create a political action committee. we can lobby to get rid of terrible state laws that keep people out of the acupuncture profession. Why does someone need a bachelor’s degree to become an acupuncturist. How about associates? or a diploma from the School of Hard Knocks.

  6. Hey Roppie,
    We definitely need a lobby for community acupuncture.
    In Minnesota at my school they let in people with an associates degree into the program. So it must be different per state.