This article comes from Guidepoints News from NADA Fall/Winter 2018 Issue. Sign-up to receive Guidepoints in your inbox quarterly. The Guidepoints newsletter is the only publication devoted to the sharing and dissemination of our NADA work on an international scale. Become a member to opt-in for a print copy. Check-out past issues.

Shortly after Michael Smith retired in 2011, we had a conversation about NADA’s annual conference. I had been thinking about what it might be like to have more local, smaller get-togethers and floated the idea by him. He agreed with his usual directive – Yes, do it. Go where the need is.

It took seven years to bring this idea into a reality, but as you’ll see, the idea worked out even better than anticipated. In the summer of 2017, we sketched out a plan for four smaller meetings in: Manchester, New Hampshire (November 4, 2017); Lansing, Michigan (April 21, 2018); Portland, Oregon (June 3, 2018); and Amherst, Nova Scotia, Canada (October 27, 2018).

New Hampshire had just passed an ADS law that summer, and it felt appropriate to have a meeting there to help bring attention and energy to this new law. It was a grassroots organizing effort with only two months for planning, outreach and program development. Over 30 people showed up, and we held a half-day meeting in an event center followed by a pizza dinner at a community acupuncture clinic in Manchester. A NADA training had taken place the weekend prior, and those trainees provided treatments in the community, both at the meeting and at an event the day after. It was an excellent start to the NADA Tour.

Left to right: Elizabeth Ropp (NH legislative advocate for NADA),
Sara Bursac (NADA Executive Director), Representative Peter
Hansen (co-sponsor of New Hampshire ADS legislation) and
Laura Cooley (NADA trainer). Photo courtesy of Eric Zulaski.

Michigan was next on the Tour. It was a good counterbalance to New Hampshire, a brand new ADS state, because Michigan has the largest numbers of active ADSes. And the energy was palpable in that Lansing Community College meeting room. The meeting opened with a overview of treatment programs across the state 4 of Michigan that receive SAMHSA state block funding to administer acudetox services – the number of participating programs was sizeable and in virtually every region of state. This was followed by a presentation from a state acupuncture association president who shared the NADA community can positively collaborate full-body acupuncturists, particularly in the backdrop of proposed legislation that would create a practice for acupuncturists and also an exemption for providers.

It was wonderful to finally be able to attend a conference, because it was close to home. It would be nice to be able to attend more.

We decided to keep Portland, Oregon, as a location. Portland has a rich NADA history, and, Oregon is not an ADS state yet, that possibility is within reach. The meeting welcomed nearly 60 people at the Quest Center for Integrative. We all got to learn about Quest’s WISH  WISH is an integrated medical and behavioral health program designed to treat chronic pain effectively and compassionately, predominantly through the use of non-opioid interventions (see their website for more info). The dynamic team running this program was indeed impressive and had a great impact at the meeting – the questions about their program kept coming. Michael Smith’s sister, Judy Asbury, attended and shared her memories growing up with Mike – this was additionally moving since she had not been able to attend his memorial service in New York.

Exceptional! One of the best NADA get-togethers I have ever attended. I love the intimacy of the smaller group – thank you so, so much!

Another thing we wanted to accomplish by having smaller, more local meetings was to strengthen our already established ties with NADA members in Canada. So our next meeting was in Nova Scotia. About 25 of us gathered in a public library meeting space. Trainees opened the day by sharing their experience from the NADA training that was held in conjunction with the meeting. In the afternoon, we expanded the participants by adding an interactive webinar that NADA members from across Canada joined. In Nova Scotia, NADA has been dormant for a number of years due to a shift in clinical priorities by the regional healthcare authority governing addiction treatment services. This meeting helped to rekindle the connection to the NADA protocol among local members and inspired a sense of mission to reactivate its presence in the province.

Henry Buchtel, member of the Michigan Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine Association, shares his legislative advocacy experience, during his presentation at the Lansing regional meeting.

Although we often hear about the feeling of connection and a family-like environment at our national gatherings, these smaller meetings took that to a different level. The
cozier presentation space allowed for an opportunity to connect more personally and directly. It seemed that all, presenters and attendees, were involved and invested – they were creating community with their NADA peers, a precious occurrence. We look forward to hearing from some of them at our upcoming national meeting in Austin.

This NADA Tour led us to look at some questions with pragmatic solutions in mind: 1) What new avenues can we create for members to find each other and be aware of NADA outreach efforts, sometimes literally around the corner? 2) And how can we stay better connected with each other and our NADA efforts? We are developing an infrastructure that can put your ideas into action – please share your suggestions.

This was the most incredible experience I could ever imagine. I am new to NADA
and look forward to many years of opportunities to learn and share and grow.

A note from Sara Bursać, executive director:

On my trip to Nova Scotia, I picked up a copy of Emergent Strategy: Shaping Change, Changing Worlds (2017) by adrienne maree brown. Its message resonated for me as a beautiful way to understand our NADA work, particularly in these local meetings. The following are the principles of emergent strategy as summarized by brown:

Small is good, small is all. (The large is a reflection of the small.)
Change is constant. (Be like water).
There is always enough time for the right work.
There is a conversation in a room that only these people at this moment can have. Find it.
Never a failure, always a lesson.
Trust the People. (When you trust the people, they become trustworthy.)
Move at the speed of trust.  Focus on critical connections more than critical mass – build the resiliency by building the relationships.
Less prep, more presence.
What you pay attention to grows.