By Lee Perlman
For the Hollywood Star News, July, 2010
Last month, volunteers installed a model of a giant acupuncture needle in the east side of Fernhill Park, near Northeast 57th Avenue. One of six such installations placed in various parts of the city, it is intended to symbolize the need for medicine, and especially alternative medicine, to be made available to Portland’s communities. In this case, it was also a tribute to a provider of such services: Working Class Acupuncture.
The installation was paid for by a variety of sources, including grants from the Regional Arts and Culture Council (RACC), the Northwest Health Foundation and the Oregon Arts Commission. Working Class Acupuncture contributed $1,700 to this particular needle.
“People told us about this because they assumed that we were connected with it,” Lupine Hudson, co-owner of the clinic at 3526 N.E. 57th Ave., told the crowd at the installation. They also learned more money was needed. “One thing we’re good at is mobilizing our awesome patients, staff and friends. The statue is in keeping with their creed that “everyone should have access to art and good health,” she said.
Kim Tippens of the Helfgott Institute spoke of “the disparities in health and health care in this country by race and economic status. There are disparities even when the people involved are all insured and able to pay.” For instance, she said, Hispanics make up 15 percent of the U.S. population, but 22 percent of AIDS sufferers. Asians have lower asthma rates than the general population, but are 50 percent more likely to die from it. Minority health statistics are worse for Multnomah County than for comparable populations in King County, Washington, she said. And North and Northeast Portland is still dealing with “a history of segregation, gentrification and racial tension.”
She added, “Alternative medicine has something to offer, but if it’s not available, what’s the point?” In this regard, she said, Working Class Acupuncture, with its sliding-fee schedules and other innovations, is a model she will tout at an upcoming American Public Health Conference next month, she said.
Another Speaker, Concordia Neighborhood Association chair Anne Rothert, noted that the needle stands in front of the former site of Whitaker-Adams School. When the school was demolished due to health issues years ago, the Portland School District assembled a task force, upon which Rothert served, to decide the future use of the site. Its report was “accepted by the district and promptly put on a shelf,” Rothert said bitterly. In contrast, the recent Cully-Concordia Study is making a difference because its principal author, planner Debbie Bischoff, is working to get its recommendations implemented, Rothert said. The needle is “one more symbol of our commitment to getting things done,” she said.