This weeks topic on Drugventures is about drug storytelling. In both videos, which you can access from here and here, courageous people of different backgrounds, genders and nationalities shared publicly their stories about how drugs and policies around them have had an effect on their life, sometimes in a positive way, other times not. The location is near the United Nations building in New York City on the first day of the UNGASS meeting, which also happened to be Bicycle Day. Coincidence?
As you can see from the videos, which again used 360 capture, the most negative stories surrounding drugs came from the detrimental drug and mental health policies, not form the actual effects of the chemical substances. This shows, once again, how we need to rethink and change our policy approach to drugs, as the current Drug War- paradigm is causing more harm than good; a reality which has been expressed by among others the former United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan. He had this to say almost exactly one year from today (posted on 22.2.2016):
“I believe that drugs have destroyed many lives, but wrong government policies have destroyed many more.”
Drug storytelling was something I discovered while doing research in New York City. They are organized on the US East Coast (and elsewhere) especially by Psymposia, which is “an events group and digital magazine, that focuses on how the big emerging social issues of psychedelic science, drug reform, & harm reduction affect society, law, & medicine.” Psymposia has numerous videos where people share their stories ranging from personal loss as a result of the failed Drug War policies and laws, to chemical poetics and psychedelic stories that have changed the lives of not only individuals but whole organizations (see MAPS).
I was also very pleased to see that for these videos I received my first Youtube comment from a person who “worked for many years using theatre and storytelling in communities for drug addicted patients.” The commentator, Alessandro Ghebreigziabiher, who is an “author, writer of fiction, storyteller, stage actor and director” said that “one of the most important thing is to tell the outside world what happens inside those strange and often unkown places.” He continues“In my humble opinion, spreading around pieces of life as those, part of our shared society, most of the time hidden in words and images, forbidden stories just to scare the audience of the already scaring TV News, is a noble intention for a storyteller.” (Check out the full story here).
I wholeheartedly agree with Alessandro and therefore I invite you to a storytelling evening on the 8th of March, in Amsterdam, which I´m partly organizing. The key storyteller of that night is a New York-based drug activist Dana Beal who might appear on few Drugventures videos as well.
P.S. The audio quality in the videos is sometimes challenging due to recording outside in the wind, but I tried to transcribe subtitles so just click them on. Will try to translate them into Finnish in due time.