Saturday, December 1, 2007

Community Acupuncture Workshop at PCA

On November 17th, PCA hosted a workshop for regional acupuncturists on community acupuncture. The workshop was lead by Skip Van Meter and Lisa Rohleder, founders of Working Class Acupuncture in Portland and of the Community Acupuncture Network.

About 25 acupuncturists and students from New York, New Jersey, Pa., Delaware, and Maryland attended

Lisa Rohleder discussed classism in the acupuncture industry, and how to date in the U.S., it has been available mostly to the very wealthy in a spa environment, or as charity to homeless and people with alcohol or narcotics addictions, but not to people with normal incomes.

Lisa, Skip, Ellen, and I discussed the "nuts and bolts" of our business model, as a rough blueprint for creating a sustainable practice that supports the practitioners and makes a long course of acupuncture treatments accessible to working and middle class people in our own communities.

Skip lead a mini workshop in the afternoon on a pulse taking method which quickly gets to a patient's underlying pattern and is a jumping off point for creating a simple and powerful treatment.

It was wonderful to fill up PCA with new colleagues and friends trying to figure out how to expand access to the brilliant medicine of acupuncture.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Grand Open House

This last Friday, September 28th, we hosted a Grand Open House to celebrate a successful first month and to thank neighbors and volunteers. About a hundred people stopped through to chat with neighbors, learn about community acupuncture. Everyone enjoyed some of the delightful and healthy food prepared by Rath Radelman, and listened to the beautiful and inventive music performed by guitarist Michael Mantra and violinist Kenneth Parker, both of Audio Emotif.

I had a fabulous time talking to current patients and meeting lots of new people interested in acupuncture. Ellen and I are so grateful to get to practice acupuncture with our own community and with our neighbors we don't yet know in the beautiful sanctuary of the Firehouse. Another BIG thanks to our volunteers, Pascal, Amy, Waliyyah, Jacks, Jennifer, Lou, and Rafik, and yoga instructor Leilani.

Community Acupuncture Workshop

Community Supported Acupuncture Workshop
Conducted by Working Class Acupuncture and hosted by Philadelphia Community Acupuncture
50th Street and Baltimore Avenue in West Philadelphia, on the third floor of the Firehouse Saturday, November 17th, 2007, Philadelphia, PA, 8:30am – 5:30pm

PART ONE: "Working Class Acupuncture" - 8:30am - 12:30pm
–Nuts and Bolts of the Business Model; Classism in Marketing
by Lisa Rohleder, L.Ac.

PART TWO: Jingei Pulse Diagnosis - 1:30-5:30pm
–Nuts and Bolts of the Treatment Model; Treat Anything in a Recliner
by Skip Van Meter, L.Ac. and Lisa Rohleder, L.Ac.

Sliding scale for workshop: $125 - $175 (for CAN members*)
$150 - $200 (for non-members)
$75 - $125 (for students)
*go to
(8 CEUS through NCCAOM for the full day of training)

To register, please email or call 503.481.6515

Network website at:

Thursday, September 20, 2007


I went to a performance/art installation this last weekend as part of the Philly Fringe Festival. I thought it was sublime, fun, full of wonder and mystery. It changed how my body felt and the thoughts in my mind. It connected me to the hundred and fifty or so other people in the room.

The artists, The Headlong Dance Theater, figured out how to lead a whole bunch of strangers into really participating in a conscious ceremony with a beginning, middle, and end. Neither an exact trajectory nor the outcomes of the event could be predicted. However, the combination of the compassionate and curious intention of the artists, the way they stayed committed to their best creative thinking, no matter how daring, and the way an already beautiful and intentionally holy space was infused with the love of the artists created a huge opening. And, given each audience member’s natural desire to connect and to heal, it was hard for most everyone not to go ahead and walk through towards a transformative and hopeful experience.

It was also hard for me not to walk out thinking about community acupuncture, the spaces where it takes place, and the caring, artful intention of those making it happen. Holy.

The performance was partly about the tension between our wanting to watch, on one hand, and the choice we have, on the other hand, to participate. For most people, each gentle encouragement was enough to go ahead and join as an active part of what was unmistakably ritualistic in nature. All attendees were asked to wear blue. Most did. Everyone was divided into four groups before entering the old abandoned Christian Science rotunda. I was in the first group. In the foyer, we were told a story and invited to think about an unexplainable event in our lives, and, then, led through a fabric membrane into the huge domed cathedral where the old wooden floor had been cleared of everything. Explore the space freely, we were told, walking in. A short piece of music played while 6 dancers in orange made swirls of movement around the gigantic space. We all seemed tiny under the ocular window at the zenith of the towering dome. The dancers’ movements were lovely or silly or solemn or rhythmic or not, connected to the others or not.

The music ended, and we, the first group were divided further into a few organic collections of individuals and invited by the artists to create, when the music begin again and the second group entered, patterns of movement of our own choosing which related to the space and the music. This was just the beginning of a long series of group motion-poems facilitated brilliantly by the dance troupe, which all eventually linked together into a fluid ceremony.

One thing that got revealed was our relationship to the space around us, how Everything is intimate and touching. That as energizing as it is when we’re open as individuals to the universe’s qi, when we’re inviting hand-holding with a hundred people, or at least not actively avoiding one another, the energy is even more vast, complex, awesome, potentially delicious.

Some audience members had initial resistance to being led toward this kind of activity. There were slumped shoulders, puffed chests, turned heads, and nervous laughter. Most of these folks got swept up by fun and beauty, not by peer pressure.

About a week after we opened Philadelphia Community Acupuncture, Ellen and I were readying the space for another day. It was five minutes or so before our first scheduled patient and in my excitement I shouted like a carnival barker “it’s show time!”. I certainly don’t think we’re creating fiction or illusion, or that Ellen or I are playing some role other than ourselves. I do believe there is a delicate choreography we undertake to make the clinic click and flow. And, in best moments, patients find themselves floating not only in the acupuncture-induced Shavasina-like state within their own bodies, but also in a collective swirl of benign reality, a real relief from the just barely capped terror, or sadness, or rage we all walk with quite often.

I just thought how interesting it would be to create a time-lapse bird’s eye movie of a whole shift’s activity, the clockwise flow of patients around our space from coming to going and everything in between. You’d see a constant and calm orbit of arriving, checking in, heading around the corner to the bathrooms and into the treatment space, and out the other way back to the reception area. Inside that circle, you’d see the spoke tracing arrows of Ellen and I moving decisively between needle stands and patients. You’d see the subtle movements of the front desk person in the middle of it all, reaching out to every patient, the shifting light from sunbeams across surfaces and textures lovingly and skillfully prepared by Ellen’s artist husband who had to anticipate at least some of this celestial-like symphony.

Art need not hold the beholder away from its body. Religious experience doesn’t happen for me when being told how I’m supposed to feel gets in the way of connecting with mystery. We get to act with the kind of intelligence and love the Headlong Dance Theater showed me. We get to do something that allows this kind of holy space to move through. We get to know that we join all kinds of artists/medicine people doing this work today and all kinds of ancient traditions where opening and listening and moving to the stars with one another makes sense and mends the world.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Philadelphia Community Acupuncture health resource center and community room

PCA's community room will provide a relaxing space for people to congregate, ask questions about acupuncture, learn about natural health, get info on affordable care in Philly, use or contribute to our library, and enjoy a cup of our delicious tea.

Taoist yin-yang theory holds that each body and interior self is a reflection of its environment. You can not take care of yourself without taking care of your community. Health care not only happens to you as a consumer but is something we all cultivate and maintain the more we're connected to one another acting powerfully towards goals of our own choosing. Bodies and minds work better and feel better when they have real security: liberation from fear and isolation.

While acupuncture brilliantly smooths the flow of information (qi) within the body, PCA also hopes to contribute to the strengthening of connections between the different elements in our community. So, we'll house classes, performance, other gatherings generated by the vast collective knowledge and inspiration of Cedar Park and West Philadelphia.

Along with information about affordable health resources, we will also keep contact info for organizations and individuals thinking about ecological and economic justice, international solidarity, art, spirit and play.

Opening Day

We opened today. A great day, with lots of patients we already knew and quite a few new ones. Right now, there's a big left-over mist of good qi swirling up around the vaulted ceilings of the firehouse.

Monday, August 6, 2007

We are now taking appointments - come get a treatment in our new clinic!

We are excited to announce that we will open our new clinic (on the third floor of the Firehouse, 50th and Baltimore Ave in West Philly) on MONDAY AUGUST 13!

You can make an appointment online through our web site ( using our nifty, convenient online scheduling system, or you can call for an appointment (215) 729-2995. You may get our voicemail system while we are still running around getting ready to open, but we will call you back pronto!

Our hours starting on the 13th will be Sundays 2pm-6pm, Mondays 3pm-7pm, Thursdays 3pm-7pm, and Fridays 10am-2pm.

Introducing the Philadelphia Community Acupuncture blog!

Here we will be posting announcements, news, and events about Philadelphia Community Acupuncture. In the future we would like to expand this blog into more of an online community where people can discuss all things related to taking back American health care, taking care of ourselves, and local resources and happenings.