Reactions and Thoughts about POCAfest #1: the Best Conference EVAH

POCAfest #1 took place last weekend at the Marin Headlands Institute, just north of San Francisco, and if you haven't read much about it here so far its because it was such an amazing conference that I am sure that all of us are recovering from it. Really-it was THAT good. Oh-I see you are skeptical. Let me describe it more fully and hopefully some other conference goers can chip in.

Remember what we said about CANference 1, just last year in Portland? That it was the best conference that anyone had attended? That was definitely a good conference: you have to give it an A grade. For the first time we caught a glimpse of the whole CA movement and we liked what we saw. Very good, CANference 1!

CANference 2 in Manchester, NH last fall? We were surprised that it could and did top CANFerence 1. Loads of fun and great connections between people. And incredible high! Grade: A+

So now we got POCAfest 1 in the books. Did it surpass CANference 2 with its gaudy A+ grade? I mean how can you top that? Perhaps out first inkling that POCAfest would far outdistance either of the CANferences was in Demetra's opening speech when some of us looked out  the window and saw in the ocean a couple of dolphins cavorting. Not only a harbinger of things to come but thinking back, those dolphins must have brought to shore some new kind of letter for grading purposes, a pre-A, and uber A, something that humans had not experienced before. Something that takes A's smug alpha-status and smashes it to bits. Like...

*****SPOILER ALERT- skip the next paragraph if you want to see The Avengers*******

There the scene lat in the movie where Loki that Norse god and in this film the Bad Guy, is faced off with The Hulk-as pure an enneagram 8 character as you will find. The scene starts with Loki speaking derisively to T.H. saying, "I am a God. You are a beast." A split second later, T.H. picks up Loki like a rag doll and starts beating him against the floor, repeatedly. Now if you haven't seen the movie, you might think this is bad somehow but actually its very, very funny a relief even. (Sort of like how POCA is compared to the old acu-establishment IMO. POCA being T.H.  But I digress.) As this scene pertains to POCAfest, that's how good POCAfest was: it was Hulk good. Can't get much better than that. 

*******END SPOILER ALERT*********

But let's go a bit further. Yesterday morning while trying to wake up I wrote to Demetra and Cris with some post-POCAfest debriefing thoughts and I'll share it with you:

 

POCAfest was extraordinary. It is hard to believe that it went so well-and was obviously better than CANference 2, which in its own right was wildly successful. So why was POCAfest so good-and so much better than CANference 2? I think we can break down the differences between POCAfest 1 ands CANference 2 along three parameters:

 

1) The weather. POCAfest would have still been great but not quite as great if the weather had been foggy and possibly rainy too. We would have spent a lot of time in various buildings, especially in the Sunset building. That would have been okay but obviously getting a chance for us to walk around the gorgeous surroundings and seeing the ocean and moonrises etc, was special.

2) Everyone stayed in the same place. That was different than either CANference and now that we did it it will be hard to not keep doing that everyone staying in the same place thing. People connected with other people they didn't didn’t know and definitely I saw several new friendships being born.

3) The size. POCAfest had 130-odd wink people attending, about 30+ people more than either CANference and those extra people brought that much more energy and creativity. Too bad that we had to cap registration as it could have been 150-175. 

4) Did I say 3? Why do you even listen to me? heh. Hell there’s 4. POCA Committees. Each of them seemed to have doubled in size at POCAfest with possible new members. And even if the newbies don’t continue, just having them there face-to-face was energizing to POCA, the collective. And of course some of them will get hooked in. But in a larger sense it felt like POCA was, well not born, but grew up substantially at POCAfest. Made it out of infancy, say. And what we now see is that there are a lot of punks and clinic workers (I won’t say patients because we didn’t have those but we did have 15-20 receptionists and bookkeepers at POCAfest) who will put in time but not necessarily on-line: more just face-to-face. That face-to-face time is good and it helped to make POCAfest so great. The challenge especially for you two Cris and Demetra, is to figure out how to tease out some of that POCAfest committee energy into the long cold hard months between POCAfests. (I wonder if WCA’s fall BDC workshops could have POCA committee meetings...)

 

I am going off on tangents here trying to describe how good POCAfest was. The ultimate proof will lie in how the various clinics that were represented take off due to the experience. But lets here from others who attended: first-hand comments are always better than this summing up that I am doing. 

* Oh yeah- we will soon paste on blogs both Demetra's and Lisa's speeches plus we have video of those speeches and a handful of breakout sessions for POCA members to view-especially good if you didn't attend those sessions! But give us a couple of days to throw them up on the site!

This story was posted on May 8 2012 by Skip.
Tags: pocafest

Comments

  • May 8 2012 at 1:40 PM
    Diana writes:

    At the risk of sounding like a groupie —wow!!!!!
    It is always heartbreaking when the tribe meets and I can’t be there, but I am thrilled that it all went so amazingly, I am blissing on reading Lisa’s Keynote, and I’m anxiously awaiting more POCAFest content being shared here.  Retreat/education centers sound like the way to go for these things- when we can all stay together, we can really let our hair down (or in your case, Skip, put it up) and dig in deep. I have been running an (ever busier) clinic and finishing up a new CD of original music, all of which just wouldn’t balance with a trip to San Francisco, but my spirit has been with you all weekend, and I can’t wait to learn more about the amazing work we are all doing, and how I can add my voice to the choir.

      3 likes
  • May 9 2012 at 12:49 AM
    TCCA writes:

    Sitting here typing out treatment protocols for my punk that I learned from Justine and Andy and I realized that I am just simply stunned by the experience of being with such a competent group of talented people this last weekend. I have been to a lot of conferences in my time, but never one like this. I am so proud of everyone I met there. I felt like I was with the Spartans in the “300”!
    I came back energized, talked to two clinic owners who were in need of encouragement and one seasoned acupuncturist that is thinking of switching over to a community clinic and coming down to see mine. I am inspired

      4 likes
  • May 9 2012 at 11:25 AM
    sizzlek writes:

    I am one of the lucky ones who has been able to attend all three conferences in just 13 months.  Skip is right, it just keeps getting better.  For me , I think that one reason is there are so many of us.  Before Portland I had only met Lisa and Skip and my fellow New England punks.  I made many new friends in Portland, but there wasn’t time to meet everyone.  In Manchvegas I got to reconnect with some of these new friends and add more new friends.  This past weekend it was reconnecting with this growing group of friends and again adding new ones.  I think these conferences are so uplifting because so many human heart to heart connections are made.  Very much like what happens in community acupuncture clinics every day.  It all just keeps getting bigger, better and more powerful.

      6 likes
  • May 9 2012 at 3:02 PM
    crismonteiro writes:

    To repeat some of what was said above:  being together all weekend, dining, meeting, walking around the campus, sharing the dorms, etc.  was all key in the experience.  I actually felt like I got to talk to almost everyone.  Meeting lots of new people, connecting their names, and faces to their regions and clinics was very grounding and satisfying.  We’re growing this huge thing: it’s good to know who is on your team.

    I would have been happy to have spent the weekend with all of these folks indoors, but as it was we had one of the most beautiful spots on the planet to hang out in.  No.Cal. shoreline is amazing for its show of the craggy earth tumbling into the churning ocean.  Amazing wildflowers, the cowboy sage, cow parsnip and fennel all showing new spring growth.  Indian paintbrush, California poppy, and sticky monkey flower all made a nice showing too.

    THEN, there was the sunset/full moon rising that I feel so grateful to have viewed at all, and then to do it with all of you.  WOAW!
    Soaking in the glow of the setting sun and rising moon was the perfect compliment to soaking in so much excitement about what we’re all doing together, so many creative ideas, so much passion, and purposeful direction. 

    Let’s do it again soon.

      3 likes
    • Nic
    • Lisafer
    • Nora
  • May 10 2012 at 12:13 AM
    jenniferwoolf writes:

    I definitely agree that staying in the same place all together allowed for lots more after-hours cameradery and creative thinking in the group as a whole, and that “as a whole” part is important.  Clinic Success circle planned to zero in on inclusivity and education about what’s happening across POCA. I felt like we really got somewhere with that goal, largely by having access to people the entire weekend.
    Gorgeous sunset,really put a spring in my step (after I slept off the jetlag).

      4 likes
  • May 10 2012 at 10:16 AM
    MMDobson writes:

    Plus, no one minds if you want to hug them over and over again.  POCAneers give the BEST hugs.

      5 likes
  • May 10 2012 at 11:39 AM
    Roppy writes:

    I have been wanting to be a volunteer for POCA for a long time now, but for what was unclear and a bit daunting.  Having the chance to meet with a group face to face makes a big difference.  I know I can’t be the only one who has been quietly waiting in the wings trying to figure out how to support the ensemble.  So it was great to meet with Woolfie, Melissa, Carey, and Donna at the Clinic Success meeting.

      4 likes
  • May 10 2012 at 9:59 PM
    melissa writes:

    love, giant love and laughs till you fall down with friends new and old. I’ve been saying it was like family reunion (with the ones you actually like)/summer camp with beer, wine, ocean and only fun activites. (last year, at band camp…)

    I actually had some of those surreal moments as we sat altogether with speeches and panels when you know exactly where you are but it feels like you’re looking back at yourself in history, at a particular moment when everything fell into place. Like a state of grace, I think.

    I loved seeing so many of you! I loved that you were willing to share your tricks and tips but also your struggles. I am terrible speaking in large groups so I’ll say it here: even when we aren’t all together, we know you’re out there. Yes, you. We hear you, feel you, want to help and support you, want you to hang in there and not give up because this is the best job you could ever hope for. It’s damn hard work, it’ll break you right the fuck open (which is why we have POCAfests to put ourselves back together and have some damn fun!)but it’s the best thing ever. And so many people need you so much, are just waiting to fall in love with you and your clinic.

    Icing on the cake is being surrounded by a growing army of fellow punks who really are some of the smartest, coolest, funniest, most inpsiring people you could hope to know. And the spirit of this organization is not competition but support and cooperation—seriously how often have you had that in your life, in alignment with work you adore?

    POCAfest puts faces to all this love, support, hard work, paradigm shifting, celebration. I feel like one of the luckiest people in the world to be among you. and when you want to get fired up, make Kerri Casey tell you about charging the net smile

      7 likes
    • Nora
    • sizzlek
    • mollyfread
    • Diana
    • alyssagrace11
  • May 24 2012 at 9:35 AM
    urbanapuncture writes:

    to get drunk on the comraderie,
    that punched out the isolation
    that a freakupunk like me had taken as a given
    lifted my chin to see the horizon,
    a flotilla of CA clinics

    and then a flock of pelicans flew by
    (a symbol of everyday bouyancy and togetherness)


    .............................
    i just cried a little in the revery

      2 likes
    • alyssagrace11

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