The Southern Convening On Harm Reduction

This past week, I was deep in the heart of the Smokey Mountains for the Southern Conference on Harm Reduction. While I did everything humanly possible to talk the organizers out of having me, I was brought in to discuss the negative and positive realities of sharing stories about drug use and abuse as a woman. I was excited to attend but the trip was LONG- two flights and a forty minute car ride. The day I arrived, nothing at the hotel was open so I had to walk into the town. This involved walking along the grassy side of a busy rural highway. I channeled my inner Eileen Wuornos and hiked down to the breakfast place. The after church crowd was filing in, discussing the sermon. What was pretty clear from this trip was that Harm Reduction or pretty much anything cannot take place with some level of cooperation from the religious community. Coming from the "godless" Bay Area, this was a culture shock but not wholly surprising. 

These types of events energize me as I see there are hundreds of rational folks out there pushing for common sense drug policies. North Carolina, a red state, has over twenty syringe exchange sites including one located at a pawn shop. You have no idea how much I love this. There is no more "any door is the right door" that giving out supplies at the mfing pawn shop. There was also a wrestling show/fundraiser held at a brewery that also had a two step dance class going on. It was kind of other worldly. I have lived in GA, TN, and KY but I had forgot a lot of the flavor of the different areas. 

The Southern Harm Reduction is plugging along despite some of the worst drug laws in the nation. Poverty, race, and the stigma of being a person who uses drugs were hot topics. I was especially surprised to learn about repressive child protective service practises where parents can be separated from their children over weed. Most importantly, I think the conference highlighted that change IS happening. We ARE mobilizing. There are people that care about you. 

I also had a young person approach me and tell me I had provided the correct contacts to their friend to enable them to start the only naloxone program in the state of Arkansas. That was pretty rad. I also loaded up on shrimp and grits AND biscuits and gravy with greens. Lord help my digestive tract. It still has not recovered from the copious amounts of butter. 

I love you and want for you to be safe. 

Here is a dose of the new puppy, Buster Pimms. 


  1. Congrats on your new puppy! My boy is a refugee from one of the highest crime hoods here. He was the lone survivor of a litter that was probably stolen in burglary. They trade them for dope here.....but you probably knew that. I'll never forget that vacant house and all of those dead puppies. He's 8 1/2 now and still little my little boy. You're one of my heroes. Keep doing what you're doing. You are important.


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