This past March 30, Sarah Sanborn, L.M.T., L.Ac., used the space at City Acupuncture of New York to host the first Acupuncture for Activists event. I recently got a chance to catch up with Sarah and find out a little about what Acupuncture for Activists is all about. If you want to learn more, the next event will be this Sunday, April 16, with appointments available every 15 minutes from 6:30 - 9:00. Email Sarah at AcuForActivists@gmail.com for more details.
Despite the working title for her burgeoning charity, “Acupuncture for Activists,” Sarah Sanborn (a Licensed Massage Therapist with nearly ten years experience and newly minted Licensed Acupuncturist), doesn’t exactly identify as an activist. She participated in a handful of environmental protests in college in the liberal northeastern U.S. during the late 1990’s, taught on a Najavo reservation for a stint, and has always been active in staffing volunteer phone banks or distributing petitions in support of causes she believes in, but she’s far from a professional organizer.
That’s why when a good friend who is an immigrant to the U.S. tried to get Sarah to head out to Kennedy airport and protest on the night of the executive order referred to as the “Muslim Ban,” she felt like she had to do something to contribute - but the question was, what? That weekend, when she and a cousin (who is also a human-rights attorney - this family is very big on service) both arrived to a family brunch with posters ready to head off to another demonstration, the idea of doing something more concrete with her skills than marching began to percolate.
“That urge to say ‘I’m going to march!’ has been more resonant currently because Trump responds to that,” Sarah mused. However, she felt that she could contribute in more direct ways. Over the following weeks Sarah was invited to donate her services to raise money for various causes. “A few people asked me to volunteer at events that they were holding - benefits to raise money for other causes - but I didn’t have time. I also thought they were sort of missing the point - using acupuncture to raise money for a group, such as Planned Parenthood, but then donating the proceeds rather than cutting out the middleman and helping an organization directly.”
Sarah and her friends debated hosting a benefit to raise money to send to organizations but ultimately rejected the concept. One of the reasons for the rejection was that charity benefits - where donors typically either write a check at the door, or pay for donated goods or services like an acupuncture session - so often depend on donated goods and services from people who are already struggling to find enough time and money.
That was the impetus for Acupuncture for Activists: Don’t use acupuncture (or any other service) as a way to raise money for a cause. Instead, find the people fighting for a cause and use acupuncture to help them fight more effectively.
Sarah points out that people who make a career of helping other people (whether they are professional organizers, civil rights attorneys, Jesuit nuns, or veterans working with Wounded Warriors) are often unfamiliar with having someone take care of them. Because of acupuncture’s versatility in managing anything from stress, to pain, to anxiety or depression, it’s Sarah’s hope that these events will be a source of needed support in stressful times.
In the long run, Sarah would like to develop Acupuncture for Activists into a bi-weekly session that fosters a sense of hope and connection for those that are working for the good of the broader community. She would like it to be inclusive of all viewpoints - anybody who falls under the umbrella of “activists” working to help local and global causes is welcome, provided they attend with an open mind and are ready to connect respectfully with others who might have slightly different opinions than their own. Ultimately, she says, “We should all be taking care of each other.”
Acupuncture for Activists is currently happening every other Sunday at City Acupuncture, 139 Fulton Street, Room 208. If you think that you qualify for a free session with Sarah or one of her volunteer acupuncturists (or if you just need to manage your stress about current events) then please write to AcuForActivists@gmail.com to book an appointment. Sessions are available every 15 minutes from 6:30 until 9:00 pm.