I can't remember a time where my friends and I didn't come together with music. When I was 13, it was my brunette best friend and I laying on the floor with 'This Year' by the Mountain Goats humming through us from the iPod dock. Now, I know more lyrics written by friends of mine than I do of songs in the Hottest 100 any day.
Along the way, when venue doors were opened for my friends and their first gig, when paint brushes and pens were put in the hands of people ready to make stuff or when someone whispered "let's dance" to support our friends on their biggest stage yet, I silently thanked a sense of community for the times it valued our voices. On The Penny Mint's first day, as I sat across from two friends and clicked a button that put our names on a new, scary idea, I silently longed that the same community would be there to back me.
The thing about this community is that I never really had to hope too hard. Since day 1 (which consistently shocks me as being not too long ago), people have helped Penny out at every corner and by this point, I can honestly say I kind of knew that would happen. That's just what communities do. They take care of each other.
When I was finally old enough to attend festivals, that sense of care didn't change. Instead, it suddenly felt like our community had grown tenfold and there were so many more people, with stories and voices of their own. That, and many more people to protect, as communities do.
Then there were drugs. In my community, as is in pretty much every community, there are drugs. I always seem to remember a day where my friend was shaking another by the arms, reminding her that no matter what, her safety was what mattered to him, and sending her several links to Ebay pill testing kits. The most memorable part of that was the way he never got mad about the substance or condemned her for her own choices, but rather just wanted to ensure his friend would be okay. I can hardly claim I'm an expert on the topic and would hate to position myself with Channel 7 by pretending to be one so, as it stands, I've chosen to defer to people with qualifications when determining the health risks/benefits of any substance. In the place of having my own “perfect” black and white opinion, I’ve chosen to take a different tact: I don’t care what substances you put in your body, I just care that you are safe.
Luckily, the community around me seem to be on the same page.
In hearing the buzz around public appeals for pill testing at music festivals, Students for Sensible Drug Policy (SSDP) have long been pushing for government authorities to recognise the losses of the war on drugs and create informed, safe and community-centric drug policy. Their campaigns are rooted in a call for collective responsibility - a call for people to look after their own. The best communities are ones that don't abandon people when they need help and #BeHeardNotHarmed - the SSDP's recent call for pill testing at festivals - is a paradigmatic case for this.
Many of us, including myself and including Medium - a Melbourne-based collective for creatives - are seeing the benefits of sensible discussions of stigmatised topics in helping communities change for the better, which made it all the more awesome to hear about "Medium Present: Be Heard, Not Harmed", an event raising money for the cause.
"Being a part of youth culture in Melbourne ourselves, we at Medium recognise the importance of supporting and promoting these positive changes in values within our community. The #BeHeardNotHarmed campaign is doing great work by rallying for a safer, smarter way of dealing with drug use in Victoria. By incorporating discussion based programs focused on the education and destigmatisation of recreational drug use and even directly assisting party goers by offering pill testing kits, the people from SSDP and the #BeHeardNotHarmed program are offering real solutions to the hotly debated question of how we can minimise drug related deaths in Victoria. And we feel that as a collective that prides ourselves on how we can not only offer safe and fun events for young people, but can also represent and reflect the changing values of our community, we have a responsibility to support groups such as SSDP that promote positive change!"
- The Medium Team
Like I said, I can't remember a time where my friends and I didn't come together with music. "Medium Present: Be Heard, Not Harmed" is just one of the millions of examples I have of my community coming together, with music, to show they care for the people around them. It's this Sunday, from 4pm at The Night Heron in Footscray and it only costs $5 to support local art as well as the SSDP's cause. If you come along, I can promise you that not only will the tunes be great, we are one hell of a welcoming bunch.