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Why Free Acupuncture on May Day?

Community acupuncture clinics in Seattle and across the continent offer free treatment this Wednesday. Linda and Manu will both be giving free acupuncture 1-5pm (appointments here). It’s Purple Dragon’s anniversary but there is a greater reason why our services are free on May Day. Our colleague Lisa Baird of Guelph Community Acupuncture in Ontario, Canada sums it up well in her article below:

Why free acupuncture on May Day?

by Lisa Baird, RAc Apr 22 2013

Free treatments on May 1st are a community acupuncture tradition. If you’re new to community acupuncture, or unfamiliar with the history of May Day, also known as International Worker’s Day, you might well be wondering Why?

International Worker’s Day marks the anniversary of the Haymarket affair in Chicago.  During a public assembly during a general strike for the eight-hour workday in 1886, an unidentified person threw a bomb at the police. The police responded by shooting at the workers, killing dozens of them. May 1st, the anniversary of that event, has become an annual celebration of the international labour movement.

…So why free acupuncture on that day? Yes, giving free treatments is a tried-and-true marketing strategy. But we give free pokes on May Day for other reasons having nothing to do with revenue.

Working as a community acupuncturist in a busy clinic means treating a lot of people, most of whom would not have been able to afford acupuncture without the sliding scale. It means treating many, many people who experience pain and illness as a direct result of their jobs; work site injuries, chemical damage, toxic levels of stress, deep fatigue from shift work, repetitive strain injuries which never get a chance to fully heal. Of course, people of all incomes and backgrounds have work-related illnesses. We welcome wealthier people too! But as community acupuncturists, we are most often treating people who have less access to care for their bodies. It is impossible to ignore that people working for less money are often required to work the hardest, for the longest hours, under the most challenging conditions. It is impossible to ignore how deeply unjust this is.

So, offering free acupuncture on May Day is a political choice for us, a chance to extend a direct welcome and invitation to workers: “Come in and receive care today, for free.”

…It’s also really fun. We always look forward to May Day! Please join us.

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