We recently received an email from a patient who was traveling and visited a community acupuncture clinic in Portland, OR. The email told us that this clinic was claiming us as one of their daughter clinics and shared this photo of a wall map, showing their daughter clinics all over the country. I may have been misreading the tone of the email a bit, but I got the feeling our patient thought this claim might be a bit dubious. While we appreciate the belief in our originality, we are in fact, a descendant of Working Class Acupuncture.
When WCA first opened in 2002 it was the first clinic of its kind. Lisa Rohleder and Skip Van Meter, both wonderful instigators and creators, started the social business model now known as “Community Acupuncture”. This model was the template that Whitney and Roselle (SOAP’s founders) used to open OAP’s original Laurel location in early 2008. Out of WCA’s foundations numerous daughter clinics have sprouted and lots of good work has been done! One of the sprouts is People’s Organization of Community Acupuncture- otherwise known as POCA, something you have definitely heard about if you are a patient at SOAP (Sacramento/Oakland Acupuncture Project). POCA is the national nonprofit, run by community acupuncturists and people who love community acupuncture, to help promote…you guessed it: community acupuncture!
POCA folks work behind the scenes to share information with people who want to open new clinics or are struggling to keep their clinics open and to promote community clinics around the country with their Clinic Finder tool. The most exciting development for POCA has been its focus on training Auricular Acu-Technicians. AATs are non-acupuncturists who are trained to safely administer a 5 needle protocol (5NP) in the ears. 5NP is a fantastic, affordable, and easy to deliver tool that can help with addiction, mental health challenges, and trauma. Once trained, AATs in many states can take this powerful tool right to their communities, bringing the healing power of ear needles to people who would otherwise likely not have access to it.
POCA is partnering with other groups to make legislative changes in California and other states around the country with the goal of expanding access for this amazing and powerful protocol. Sadly, California is a state that likes to keep a tight lid on who can use needles and does not allow for non-acupuncturists to become AATs. Whitney, now a punk at our Sacramento location, has begun working with a growing group of folks to get California laws changed in order to allow AATs to deliver 5NP to the communities and populations that so desperately need it. If you’d like to read more about POCA and its growing AAT program check out the 2022 annual report that Whitney put together.
Does all of this sound kind of amazing? We think so. If you want to support this work, you can join POCA as a community member for $25 and get one free treatment on your birthday week here at OAP, as well one free treatment during the months we hold POCA Membership Drives. We typically do two membership drives a year, with the next one slated for this November!
We love to hear about our patients traveling out there in the POCA universe, getting to know other clinics, and getting the acupuncture they need, wherever they may be. It reminds us, as we bustle about in our little spaces, that we are part of something much larger!