A couple of months ago, Marilyn Allen wrote in her column that California was "the land of politics and fireworks." I'm more inclined to think it's the land of outrageously high real estate prices, gas-guzzling SUVs and fair-weather sports fans ...
but that's just me.
There are some good things about California, though. For instance, it's a frequent host of the AOM Alliance's annual meeting. The last time the Alliance meeting was held in California was 2002, but I couldn't attend because of a scheduling conflict. This year, however, it was held in Hollywood, only about 30 miles from Acupuncture Today's offices. So, after much discussion, the folks that run AT sent me up the freeway for a weekend to cover the meeting. This is my brief report on that conference; a more detailed, formal review will appear in next month's issue, courtesy of the Alliance.
The meeting was held at the Renaissance Hollywood, a beautiful hotel right next to Hollywood Boulevard and Highland Avenue. Adjacent to the hotel was a huge complex of theaters, high-end shops, studios and restaurants, and the famous intersection of Hollywood & Vine was only a 15-minute walk away. I spent part of Saturday morning walking along Hollywood Boulevard, checking out the handprints and footprints in front of Grumman's Chinese Theater, buying souvenirs for my girlfriend and trying not to make eye contact with some of the area's more slovenly residents. It really is something to see ... well, it probably used to be something to see 50 or 60 years ago. If you've never been there, cross Disneyland's Main Street with Tijuana's Avenida Revolucion, and you'll get a pretty good idea.
As for the meeting itself, I can sum it up in one word: excellent. The Alliance did a tremendous job of putting everything together. The seminars and workshops were clearly labeled and easy to get to, getting my registration materials was a snap, and the support staff was extremely polite and friendly. As with any large meeting, there were a few minor snafus; some workshops were canceled at the last minute, and the schedule was designed such that you could attend one program you liked, but at the risk of not being able to attend another. I don't blame the Alliance for that; when you have a large meeting, and there are a lot of important issues to discuss, scheduling conflicts are bound to happen some time.
I attended six events at the conference - two workshops ("Green Tea in Traditional Chinese Medicine" by Brent Harvey, and "Treating Stress, Anxiety and Depression" by Andrew Gaeddert), a VSTF Town Hall meeting, an American Herbal Products Association forum on the FDA and ephedra, the Alliance membership meeting, and a meeting of state association representatives - and listened in on parts of three other events. At each of them, I was encouraged to sit in and take notes; in some cases, even to participate and ask questions. It was a thoroughly enjoyable experience.
In addition to providing continuing education and helping people learn the latest techniques and advances in acupuncture and Oriental medicine, meetings like this are also a great chance for people to network. Since this was my first Alliance meeting, I tried to take advantage of the opportunity as much as possible. As a result, I was able to meet and shake hands with about two dozen of the profession's leaders, including representatives from AAOM, ACAOM, CCAOM, FAOMRA, NADA, NCCAOM, the Visioning Search Task Force, the AHPA, a dozen state associations, and, of course, the Alliance. Several people expressed an interested in submitting articles to Acupuncture Today, so chances are good that you'll start seeing some new faces in the publication soon.
I also found time to reconnect with people I have corresponded with before and have a great deal of respect for, like Neal Miller, Mercy Yule, David Blaiwas, Carol Taub, Tom Haines, Rachel Toomin, Michael Gaeta, Floyd Herdrich, Catherine Niemiec, Will Morris, Tierney Tully, Gene Bruno, Diane Joswick and David Molony. I know I'm forgetting a name or two here, and if you don't see your name mentioned above, please accept my apologies.
If you get the opportunity to go to one of the national association meetings - either the Alliance meeting in the spring or the AAOM meeting in the fall - I highly recommend it. You'll learn a lot, and you'll get the chance to meet a lot of great people.
On a related note, both Marilyn and I will be at the AAOM meeting in Las Vegas this October, and Acupuncture Today is planning on having a booth at the exhibit hall, which will give you the chance to meet us and talk about the issues you think are important. We thank you all for your continued support, and we look forward to seeing you there.