So I went to Splore and talked on a panel in front of a few hundred people about harm reduction. I got a few rounds of applause for saying pithy things. The only one I can remember was that the law criminalises event organisers who implement harm reduction practices because it means they 'knowingly permit' drug use at their events, and that I think that's a problem.
I also got to meet Sanho Tree, who is in my view a drug reform superstar, and also turns out to be a lovely man. I made sure to remind him to wear sunscreen. :)
As for the festival itself, I was weirded out by the commercial aspect of it. I've been to only 2 festivals that weren't burn events in the last 10 years, and the focus on commerce really does change the culture. I was there alone (because working) so I didn't have friends to buffer me from the boredom - and boredom it was. Because the focus is on commerce, the only things to do during the day were buying food, and buying festival tat. There were very few theme camps and I only found one workshop. There were some talks but I was in them so, you know.. After I'd had some food and bought some tat and been for a swim, I'd run out of things to do. At a burn, there's always a camp that will welcome you in to participate in whatever they're doing, and that was noticeably lacking at Splore.
Beautiful venue though. Check this out:
And about 30 degrees, so hot enough to really enjoy the swimming. It took me till 4pm on the Saturday to find other burners but once I did they adopted me and it was all good from there.
I also got interviewed about harm reduction for a TV show. It was supposed to air on Wednesday but then the New Zealand public bought a beach. Then it was supposed to air on Thursday but it was World Chilli Day and apparently acknowledging that was more important than the lives of drug users. This is the second time I've been involved in a TV show about drugs that's been given very low priority. I'm beginning to see it as part of the casual othering of drugs and drug users - we just aren't that important unless we provide sensationalism, and normal people* talking sensibly about how to save lives is not sensational.
Never mind that New Zealand just had its first alleged 'bath salts' death this week. It hasn't been confirmed that it was Alpha-PVP that killed him, but if it was, it's also true that the kind of testing I am talking about in the as-yet unaired TV show could have identified the substance in question before he took it. People don't know they can test their drugs because we struggle to get publicity for it, and then people die. Fuck that.
Anyway, I still think Splore was worth doing but it seems we've got a long uphill battle to go before substance testing is mainstream enough to be commonplace.
* By normal people I mean people who don't come across as space cadets, hippies, or any other thing that makes it easy to dismiss us. We have haircuts, jobs, and look like middle aged parents.