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DPA IN THE NEWS: Stefanie Jones Discusses Safer Partying at HARD Summer Fest

Tony Newman

Eighty thousand music lovers came together this weekend in Fontana California for the HARD Summer Fest. Stefanie Jones of the Drug Policy Alliance was there and her mission was to keep festival goers safe.

Jones was providing harm reduction materials and wisdom as part of a service called Project #OpenTalk. Project #OpenTalk was created by Healthy Nightlife and the Drug Policy Alliance and is staffed in part with Zendo Project-trained workers. Their mission is to educate about drugs, sex & staying healthy at festivals! Jones knows that people at concerts sometimes choose to use drugs or engage in other possible risky behavior and it is important that they have information to reduce potential harms.

The Los Angeles Times featured Stefanie’s work prominently in a major piece on the Hard Summer Festival. Here is an excerpt. 

“Festivals usually highlight the biggest names in music. And while huge acts like Scott and Virtual Self headlined the event, there was a tiny tent posted in the middle of this chaos. The booth was an organization with the name Project #OpenTalk, whose members make it their mission to educate festival-goers on the safe ways to have fun.

The booth provides pamphlets to wanderers about different forms of safety, including drug and safe sex education. Co-founder Stefanie Jones, of the nonprofit the Drug Policy Alliance, works closely with the festival’s Maren Steiner. They have a vision for providing a nonjudgmental space for people to open up about problems they are experiencing in the festival.
“We’re not telling you yes or no, we’re just trying to give you information so you can make a smart choice that will be the safest choice and the healthiest choice for you. So that’s what we’re all about, no matter what the topic is, no matter what we’re doing,” Jones said.

Project #OpenTalk has appeared at Insomniac’s prior festivals such as Electric Daisy Carnival and Escape From Wonderland. But this was the first time Open Talk was featured in Hard Summer.

“We’ve got a lot of people that are coming up asking info questions. So we get to do a lot of education about what this is. That’s very exciting because it’s a new community to who this is a new idea. Once you explain harm reduction to someone, they’re like, ‘Oh that makes sense.’ So it’s nice to see that light bulb go on.”

Stefanie has traveled to some of the biggest festivals in the country over the last couple of years with her harm reduction message. She has had success if getting concert promoters to incorporate harm reduction information and give space to organizations and advocates to spread the word. It’s great to see Stefanie’s work not only reach concert goers, but the huge readership of the Los Angeles Times. 

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