Community Acupuncture for Disaster and Trauma

This past weekend I was in Portland, attending Acupuncturists Without Borders "Healing Community Trauma" training. Since its founding by Diana Fried in September of 2005, following Hurricane Katrina, AWB has evolved into one of the leading acupuncture professional groups with a social conscience. 

Probably there are other groups deserving of such accolades. Certainly the Community Acupuncture Network is another. Both of these groups - for me - fully embody an ethic of responsibility: when an individual receives a gift of healing knowledge, the highest good is to give that knowledge back to the community, not hoarding it for one's own personal gain.

Certainly, when I enrolled in NIAOM in the fall of 1994, I had nothing but wide eyed devotion towards that hallowed institution, back in the heady growth days of acupuncture school enrollments. To accept that a few of the principals of such institutions might have motivations no more enlightened than Wall Street bankers trading empty-bubble mortgage gimmicks is disappointing to say the least. I don't know the full story behind NIAOM's demise, but it seems clear that greed and deception played a central role.

May all our future successes never corrupt our ethical discipline, our commitment to serving the public good. Oh, it is so easy to spout the wisdom of the East, to design flowery websites and clinic waiting rooms with framed pictures of Zen gardens, flying goddesses and waterfall dioramas, but to actually redesign our mental programming is another matter indeed. But let us return our focus to what is positive and good in the world.

To me, what seems the most striking difference between CAN and AWB is not the compassionate motivation present in each, but the method for achieving social good. CAN attempts to serve the underserved through refining and implementing a sustainable business model which supports both the community, and the practitioner. AWB focuses specifically on healing communities in acute crisis - post disaster settings and Veterans returning from war, with less emphasis on specifically reforming the acupuncture profession.

The point is, there are different paths to good, but ultimately, it depends upon our motivation. As someone who is fortunate to have played a very small role in the evolution of both CAN and AWB, I encourage my fellow CAN friends to check out AWB. Consider attending an AWB training or hosting an event for Veterans. Yes, giving away treatments is charity and that's not sustainable by itself in the long run. Or at least, so one line of thinking goes. Giving is so good for the heart though, and not merely in a spiritual (karmic) sense. My 30 days in New Orleans had a life changing impact, and when the next disaster hits a part of our country, I hope I am in a position to contribute. Nourishing the heart is essential for sustainability - both in the world, and certainly in the spiritual realm.

As Community Acupuncturists, we already know a lot about treating people in groups, but specialized trauma situations are different than your average day at the clinic. Let's reflect on the increasing likelihood that natural (and un-natural) disasters are a near certainty in the future. The only question is where and when. An earthquake in the Northwest is certainly high on FEMA's list. Hurricanes, tsunamis, floods, droughts, terrorist attacks, civil unrest - anything could happen in these times we live in. To the extent that we don't prepare for such situations - internally and externally - seems foolish. Acupuncture is so incredibly powerful in such situations. But we have to be prepared.

AWB has accumulated a wealth of knowledge on how to skillfully deal with these situations - in Louisiana after the hurricanes, in California after fires, in Iowa following floods, and with Veterans coming home from war - some of whom have been "coming home" for decades.

May peace reign on Earth and in the hearts of all beings,

Jordan Van Voast

This story was posted on October 16 2008 by River Jordan.

Comments

  • October 16 2008 at 11:01 AM
    seattle jill writes:

    thank you

    Dear Jordan

    Thanks so much for this posting and putting your efforts into the AWB project. I too believe that having something in place to help people in times of need feeds our collective souls. 

    May the darkness lead us into the light.

      0 likes
  • October 16 2008 at 12:58 PM
    River Jordan writes:

    Just wanted to clarify one

    Just wanted to clarify one point in this blog, AWB’s stated vision is “to foster the creation of stable, peaceful global communities
    through its community-based acupuncture services and training which
    interrupt the cycles of unresolved trauma.”  So clearly, that is a progressive social reform agenda.

    All true religions seek to gain access to that level of consciousness which is not ego-bound.</

      0 likes
  • October 17 2008 at 10:45 AM
    River Jordan writes:

    Hey Korben

    I know you are busy bro, but don’t be afraid to chip in with your comments, experience, and humor even if you substantially disagree with me.

    All true religions seek to gain access to that level of consciousness which is not ego-bound.</

      0 likes

Add your 2 cents!

You must be logged in to comment on the blog.


Who Likes This:

-- placeholder --

Who's been POCAing lately.

  • wujiapi commented on the blog post 'Hierarchy of Needs (for Acupuncture)' in the blog 'Prick Prod and Provoke Blog' - Thursday, January 16, 2020
  • bluejena commented on the blog post 'Shift Happens' in the blog 'Prick Prod and Provoke Blog' - Friday, November 29, 2019
  • Carolineaviva commented on the blog post 'Shift Happens' in the blog 'Prick Prod and Provoke Blog' - Wednesday, November 27, 2019
  • Bob W commented on the blog post 'Shift Happens' in the blog 'Prick Prod and Provoke Blog' - Tuesday, November 26, 2019
  • bluejena commented on the blog post 'Shift Happens' in the blog 'Prick Prod and Provoke Blog' - Tuesday, November 26, 2019
  • Roppy commented on the blog post 'Shift Happens' in the blog 'Prick Prod and Provoke Blog' - Sunday, November 24, 2019
  • crismonteiro commented on the blog post 'Shift Happens' in the blog 'Prick Prod and Provoke Blog' - Saturday, November 23, 2019
  • crismonteiro commented on the blog post 'Shift Happens' in the blog 'Prick Prod and Provoke Blog' - Saturday, November 23, 2019
  • StillpointCA commented on the blog post 'Shift Happens' in the blog 'Prick Prod and Provoke Blog' - Friday, November 22, 2019
  • Roppy commented on the blog post 'Shift Happens' in the blog 'Prick Prod and Provoke Blog' - Thursday, November 21, 2019
  • Roppy commented on the blog post 'What Went Wrong with Acupuncture in the West? A Theory' in the blog 'Prick Prod and Provoke Blog' - Wednesday, November 13, 2019
  • jaxrogers commented on the blog post 'Loan Forgiveness' in the blog 'Prick Prod and Provoke Blog' - Monday, November 04, 2019
  • WillC commented on the blog post 'How to Succeed in CA Without Really Trying' in the blog 'Prick Prod and Provoke Blog' - Sunday, November 03, 2019
  • WillC commented on the blog post 'Loan Forgiveness' in the blog 'Prick Prod and Provoke Blog' - Saturday, November 02, 2019
  • OpenSourceEverything commented on the blog post 'POCAfest Marin Keynote: Chronic Pain and Endurance, by Jeff Levin of SOAP' in the blog 'Prick Prod and Provoke Blog' - Wednesday, October 16, 2019
  • Paxcow commented on the blog post 'POCAfest Marin Keynote: Chronic Pain and Endurance, by Jeff Levin of SOAP' in the blog 'Prick Prod and Provoke Blog' - Wednesday, October 09, 2019
  • swiggs commented on the blog post 'POCAfest Marin Keynote: Chronic Pain and Endurance, by Jeff Levin of SOAP' in the blog 'Prick Prod and Provoke Blog' - Wednesday, October 09, 2019
  • ChrisRogers commented on the blog post 'POCAfest Marin Keynote: Chronic Pain and Endurance, by Jeff Levin of SOAP' in the blog 'Prick Prod and Provoke Blog' - Thursday, October 03, 2019
  • ewolfk commented on the blog post 'Come to Marin POCAfest September 27-29!' in the blog 'Prick Prod and Provoke Blog' - Friday, August 16, 2019
  • urbanapuncture commented on the blog post 'YOUR COMMENTS, PLEASE!' in the blog 'Prick Prod and Provoke Blog' - Thursday, August 15, 2019
  • crismonteiro commented on the blog post 'YOUR COMMENTS, PLEASE!' in the blog 'Prick Prod and Provoke Blog' - Tuesday, August 13, 2019
  • Roppy commented on the blog post 'YOUR COMMENTS, PLEASE!' in the blog 'Prick Prod and Provoke Blog' - Tuesday, August 13, 2019
  • catemax commented on the blog post 'Dear Prospective Punk (from a Recent Grad and New Punk), or Why We Need POCA Tech' in the blog 'Prick Prod and Provoke Blog' - Friday, July 26, 2019
  • joanneo commented on the blog post 'Cohort 3 Graduation Speech by Jess Long' in the blog 'Prick Prod and Provoke Blog' - Monday, July 08, 2019
  • Bob W commented on the blog post 'Cohort 3 Graduation Speech by Jess Long' in the blog 'Prick Prod and Provoke Blog' - Tuesday, July 02, 2019
  • melissa commented on the blog post 'Cohort 3 Graduation Speech by Jess Long' in the blog 'Prick Prod and Provoke Blog' - Monday, July 01, 2019
  • mcandela55 commented on the blog post 'Acupuncturists As Endangered Species' in the blog 'Prick Prod and Provoke Blog' - Wednesday, June 26, 2019
  • Lisafer commented on the blog post 'Acupuncturists As Endangered Species' in the blog 'Prick Prod and Provoke Blog' - Tuesday, June 25, 2019
  • melissalac commented on the blog post 'Acupuncturists As Endangered Species' in the blog 'Prick Prod and Provoke Blog' - Tuesday, June 25, 2019
  • zedmunds commented on the blog post 'Keynote POCA Fest Milwaukee May 2019 -- ALL EARS!!!' in the blog 'Prick Prod and Provoke Blog' - Thursday, June 20, 2019
  • engerin commented on the blog post 'Student Circle at POCA Tech -- Guest Post by Shelby and Sonya' in the blog 'Prick Prod and Provoke Blog' - Thursday, June 20, 2019
  • Roppy commented on the blog post 'Acupuncturists As Endangered Species' in the blog 'Prick Prod and Provoke Blog' - Monday, June 17, 2019
  • mcandela55 commented on the blog post 'The Vows of Hua Tuo and Sun Si Miao..Actually Carried Out' in the blog 'Prick Prod and Provoke Blog' - Friday, June 14, 2019
  • mcandela55 commented on the blog post 'Acupuncturists As Endangered Species' in the blog 'Prick Prod and Provoke Blog' - Thursday, June 13, 2019
  • mcandela55 commented on the blog post 'Acupuncturists As Endangered Species' in the blog 'Prick Prod and Provoke Blog' - Thursday, June 13, 2019
  • Presence_CA commented on the blog post 'Acupuncturists As Endangered Species' in the blog 'Prick Prod and Provoke Blog' - Monday, June 10, 2019
  • Presence_CA commented on the blog post 'Acupuncturists As Endangered Species' in the blog 'Prick Prod and Provoke Blog' - Monday, June 10, 2019
  • Lisafer commented on the blog post 'Acupuncturists As Endangered Species' in the blog 'Prick Prod and Provoke Blog' - Friday, June 07, 2019
  • teatree commented on the blog post 'Acupuncturists As Endangered Species' in the blog 'Prick Prod and Provoke Blog' - Friday, June 07, 2019
  • teatree commented on the blog post 'Acupuncturists As Endangered Species' in the blog 'Prick Prod and Provoke Blog' - Friday, June 07, 2019
  • janisx commented on the blog post 'Acupuncturists As Endangered Species' in the blog 'Prick Prod and Provoke Blog' - Thursday, June 06, 2019
  • janisx commented on the blog post 'Acupuncturists As Endangered Species' in the blog 'Prick Prod and Provoke Blog' - Thursday, June 06, 2019
  • swiggs commented on the blog post 'A Successful May Membership Drive!!' in the blog 'Prick Prod and Provoke Blog' - Thursday, June 06, 2019
  • Arene commented on the blog post 'A Successful May Membership Drive!!' in the blog 'Prick Prod and Provoke Blog' - Tuesday, June 04, 2019
  • Lisafer commented on the blog post 'A Successful May Membership Drive!!' in the blog 'Prick Prod and Provoke Blog' - Tuesday, June 04, 2019
  • Paxcow commented on the blog post 'A Successful May Membership Drive!!' in the blog 'Prick Prod and Provoke Blog' - Tuesday, June 04, 2019
  • Cynthia Marie commented on the blog post 'Why more punks in more places…' in the blog 'Prick Prod and Provoke Blog' - Wednesday, May 29, 2019
  • swiggs commented on the blog post 'Why more punks in more places…' in the blog 'Prick Prod and Provoke Blog' - Friday, May 24, 2019
  • Bob W commented on the blog post 'Why more punks in more places…' in the blog 'Prick Prod and Provoke Blog' - Wednesday, May 22, 2019
  • mcandela55 commented on the blog post 'Keynote POCA Fest Milwaukee May 2019 -- ALL EARS!!!' in the blog 'Prick Prod and Provoke Blog' - Wednesday, May 22, 2019