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Reflections on our 4th Anniversary

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This October saw our 4th birthday come and go.  In recognition of this anniversary I thought it would be fun to reflect back on the birth of hemma and how it all came to be.

In the winter of 2007 I had been practicing acupuncture in BC for 3 years.  During that time I was searching for a way to practice my trade that would benefit my patients and expand the practice of acupuncture in Victoria in order to reach a broader population.  Acupuncture has a long history here in Victoria and there are many devotees of this ancient practice, none-the-less it has always been a relatively small percentage of our total population, and of those who use acupuncture for their health concerns, many are challenged by its cost when compared with the full coverage of western medicine.

In an attempt to expand its use for several years I worked at creating a VIHA funded program that would administer acupuncture to the city’s drug addiction population (I am happy to add that such a program now exists in Victoria).  I trained at a Detox center in Vancouver and was inspired by the way in which acupuncture supported traditional treatments protocols.  The acupuncture was administered in a group setting, daily, to anyone part of the program and interested in partaking.  I was very moved by this experience, and by the testimony of those who benefited.  These experiences guided my formative visions of community acupuncture.

A few years later while I was searching the internet for acupuncture courses, in order to fulfill my continuing education requirements, I came across the website of Working Class Acupuncture in Portland Oregon.   At that time WCA was but a few years old.  Along with the Community Acupuncture Network, which had recently been formed to support acupuncturists interested in the newly birthed idea, WCA was offering a 2-day workshop on Community Acupuncture!  I was very excited, here were a group of people doing the thing that I was trying so hard to envision, and they were going to tell me exactly how to create the same thing in my own community.  In March of 2007 I hopped in my car and headed down to Portland to attend.

The workshop was a life-changing event.  Skip and Lisa, the founders of WCA, and really the mom and pop of Community Acupuncture, were incredibly gracious teachers – eager to pass along tips and techniques necessary for a successful CA practice.  My own vision unfolded during those two days in Portland and I returned home determined to get to work.  At that time WCA was seeing around 200-300 patients a week, more than 10 times the number of patients I saw in my small private practice here in Victoria.  They had succeeded in creating a model that really fit with the nature of acupuncture – that it be administered based on need rather than affordability, and that it be a simple and straightforward experience for the masses of people who had never experienced, or even heard about acupuncture.  As it happened, my wife had a similar vision that month, although hers involved yoga!

By the time I returned home my wife, Aase, was already in the process of negotiating our lease!  We decided to combine our efforts, more for practical reasons than some belief that these two practices fit well together – she had found a place that was big enough to accommodate both, and considering it was our first voyage into small business, it seemed like a sensible choice.  In hindsight though, both practices arehave been very complementary to one another and we often have folks who move from one practice to the other, or combine the two.  In my mind Yoga and Acupuncture are both practices, which support personal healing and growth.  Both support the body and mind’s ability to heal from within.  Supporting this innate wisdom is fundamental to both practices.  So I would have to say that the home of yoga and acupuncture has been a great partnership.

Together our shared vision was to create a home-away-from-home – a place where one could feel a sense of belonging and ease, a place where one could direct their own healing and growth. During the past four years both Aase and I have been deeply moved by the way in which community has emerged, grown and continues to evolve at hemma.

A business takes on a life of its own what you open the door, you start with a vision, an intention, but once it is born, like a child, it takes on a life of its own.  How it grows, the direction it takes, is deeply influenced by the people who walk through the door each day.

After 4 years, I can say that we are very proud of what we have created, and for the way in which hemma continues to contribute to our town and neighborhood, and perhaps more importantly, we are moved by what you have all created through your involvement, be it as a teacher, a student, acupuncturist, or patient, volunteer, or staff.

Thank you for a beautiful 4 years!