Wednesday, November 14, 2012
Portland Marriott Downtown Waterfront Hotel
The Drug User Organizing Pre-Conference was held on November 14, 2012, one day before the 9th National Harm Reduction Conference. The pre-conference was dedicated to a day of discussion and presentation on the theme of drug user organizing. The day’s events provided an opportunity for drug users and their organizations to gather in one place to discuss strategies and tactics to further protect the health and civil rights of people who use drugs.
People who use drugs have been central to the development of our most successful and treasured harm reduction initiatives, including syringe access, overdose prevention, safer injection. This history demonstrates the collective power and resolve of persons who use drugs and highlights our inordinate capacity to accomplish great things when we are organized and unified. The pre-conference built upon this far-reaching and influential tradition. Panels and discussions were organized to outline the history and accomplishments of existing drug user unions, explore some of the challenges to successful drug user organizing, and identify potential solutions and lessons learned. There was also a facilitated discussion on key questions, challenges and opportunities related to drug user identity within the context of organizing and user unions. Approximately 50-75 people attended the preconference. A graphic recording was also done to capture the essence of discussions held throughout the day (see below).