Community is defined as a group of people living in the same space or having a particular characteristic in common. It is also defined as a feeling of fellowship with others as a result of sharing common attitudes, interests, and goals.
At BAC we offer community acupuncture. It fits the first definition by creating a clinic where people occupy the same space, for a time, and have the common characteristic of being in need of healing, on some level. However, we like to think that it also fits the second definition. At least this is part of our goal or vision for the clinic. A feeling of fellowship with others. Many of the people who come into the clinic can have varied attitudes, interests, and goals, but we can come together in our shared attitudes toward health care and the attitude that “health care” doesn’t have to be expensive to be effective. We can have a shared interest in seeing people thrive and prosper with the best health possible, with less pain, or with better balance. We can share goals of each other’s health, the health of our patients, and the health of the clinic and it’s workers.
When we share all of this, when “we” as a community of patients and practitioners and volunteers share all of this, we create a cooperative. A cooperative is defined as involving mutual assistance in working toward a common goal. It is also defined as a farm, business, or other organization that is owned and run jointly by its members, who share the profits or benefits. The practitioners at BAC are not here to get rich off of other’s pain, but they are here to make a living doing a job they love. Following the community acupuncture business model has allowed us to do that while offering valuable services to the community in a way that benefits them as well. So the patient population of our community can benefit and share in the profits. Not as directly as getting a check, but by continuing to offer affordable acupuncture, and offering deals when the clinic is flourishing, we share the profits with our patient community. At BAC we have a management group of three individuals who, in addition to being tasked with the day to day running of the clinic, are tasked with holding the vision and the proverbial steering of the ship. These individuals are not exclusively profiting or benefiting from the clinic, as sole proprietors do. They are simply holding the values that were originally set down. These values are based on the values of self-help, self-responsibility, democracy, equality, and solidarity. In the tradition of their founders, co-operative members believe in the ethical values of honesty, openness, social responsibility and caring for others.
Recently we have had many others join our cooperative as members and we are very excited about this. Many of them already felt like members and were a distinct part of the sailing of the BAC ship. We will stick with the ship metaphor for a while since it is such a good one. The management team can be thought of as the captain, sort of a three headed captain. Kinda scary, but actually nice when you get to know her. A ship cannot be sailed with just a captain. It requires everyone working together from all sides. Many people go out and promote the clinic, telling friends, and sometimes total strangers about BAC. Many have given us ideas on how to sail the ship more efficiently. They have donated expertise, ideas, and energy to the BAC. For this, we are filled with the energy of fellowship.The energy of a community. Thank you BAC community. May you continue to grow and blossom.