Do I have to be a member of POCA to get acupuncture at the community clinics listed on this website?
No. Just like most food co-ops allow anyone to shop in them, not just their members, anyone can receive acupuncture at the community clinics listed here.
Becoming a Community/Patient member of POCA allows you to support the community acupuncture movement and to receive other benefits listed here.
I have joined co-ops before and this one doesn’t look like any co-op that I have ever seen. Why do you have four different kinds of members?
POCA is a relatively new kind of cooperative called a multi-stakeholder cooperative.
You can read more about multi-stakeholder co-ops here. The purpose of a multi-stakeholder cooperative is transformational rather than transactional. While many co-ops are designed for the purpose of helping their members get a better deal, multi-stakeholder co-ops are designed for the purpose of building long term economic relationships to benefit everyone involved.
The current state of the acupuncture profession does not really benefit patients, or practitioners, or clinics, or most other entities that have an economic interest in acupuncture, whether that interest is receiving acupuncture that they can afford, or making a living by practicing acupuncture, or supplying acupuncturists with products that they use in their clinics. A multi-stakeholder cooperative can help build a more secure economic foundation for multiple kinds of stakeholders so that everyone gets more of what they need.
What about member patronage and dividends? I thought joining a co-op means buying a share and getting annual dividends?
Not necessarily. POCA is based on memberships, not on shares. POCA is a social business, which means that its goal is to produce dividends that benefit society rather than financial profits. POCA’s dividends are affordable acupuncture treatments, living wage jobs, and stable community clinics.
Becoming a member means making an investment in the community acupuncture movement. The return on your investment is not financial but social.
If my clinic becomes a member of POCA, does that mean POCA owns my clinic?
No. POCA does not own its member clinics anymore than POCA owns its member acupuncturists or member patients. When a clinic joins POCA as a member, its ownership remains the same as it was before; the clinic simply has access to the member benefits listed here.
The requirements for being a POCA clinic are different than the requirements for being a CAN clinic – why did you change them?
When CAN first came into being, very few people really understood how community acupuncture worked. The founders and the first clinics involved in the movement were very concerned with defining community acupuncture and making sure that as many clinics as possible survived. For that reason, the CAN definition of community acupuncture was very specific and did not include clinics that also provided non-community acupuncture, even if they only did so occasionally.
CAN kept a list of clinics that met its criteria that had to be monitored by a CAN Board volunteer known as 'The Hammer'. Several successive Hammers noticed that there were many clinics that provided community acupuncture almost all of the time but were not on the list because they offered a tiny amount of non-community acupuncture. As the movement grew and more acupuncturists understood that the purpose of community acupuncture was not to provide a “loss leader” for non-community acupuncture, but to genuinely make acupuncture available to as many people as possible, it seemed reasonable to change the criteria.
Furthermore, CAN was founded to be an ideological organization for acupuncturists, so ideology was very important; POCA was founded to be an economic organization for multiple stakeholders. As long as a clinic provides affordable acupuncture according to the POCA definition, we don’t really care what else they do.