Sober Space & Substance Use Policy

anarchy-and-alcohol_frontThis is a living, evolving document, and is subject to revision via consensus process.

In pursuit of fostering accountable, responsible, and safer space, all communal space is sober space, meaning specifically that substance use is not to occur in such spaces and substances are not to be in open view. Wild Roots Feral Futures is not a space friendly to belligerence, be it “sober” or “inebriated” in variety (not all sober people carry themselves in a good way, just as not all inebriated people behave belligerently). If you attend, please keep this in mind. We seek to maintain a friendly space that’s open & welcoming to all, including children and those struggling with substance (ab)use, addiction, & recovery.

Our culture is dominated with substances. There are many opportunities for people to socialize in settings that involve drugs and alcohol. Restaurants, clubs, shows, bars, and even most events at private homes frequently involve drugs and alcohol. These environments exclude many demographics of people- people in recovery, underage people, people at higher risk for arrest, and people who are triggered by inebriated people. Creating a sober space is making a space that is safe for more people than are usually considered in our society. As anarchists we think it is important to be inclusive of groups that are often completely ignored and oppressed. Children need places to go that are safe and sober. People in recovery need places where they won’t be tempted by substances they are trying to stay away from. And people who are triggered by inebriated people need spaces they can go and not have to deal with that trigger. These are just some examples.

Our sober space policy is one of inclusivity, not exclusivity. We do not think it is asking very much for folks who are not sober to simply not consume substances in collective, designated sober spaces. Only a few event organizers and participants consider themselves sober. Everyone however agrees on the benefits of having a sober space. Folks who are not sober and are part of the event simply go somewhere else when they want to drink. We understand that people often use intoxication as a means with which to cope with a variety of issues, such as depression and social anxiety. We also understand that there are many people with chemical addictions to substances which make it hard for them to not be intoxicated. We are not trying to condemn any of these people, intentionally exclude them, or make them feel judged for their use or dependence on a substance.

If people want to experiment with sobriety, or coping with issues in a sober way, we encourage you to come be awkward with us. We would be lying if we suggested we are all full of social grace. However, we have had some beautiful friendships develop, when we are our honest, goofy selves.

We are not maintaining a sober space for the purpose of judging or excluding people who use substances. We hope that is not the impression you get.

One of the things that is really important to our collective is being accountable and respectful to the communities we live around or within (human and non-human alike). We have all seen many situations where non-sober spaces and non-sober events end up resulting in disrespect towards the bioregion or neighborhood they are located in. We are really happy that we don’t have to go around picking up beer cans. And we like not having to worry about one of our friends trying to leave intoxicated and drunk driving. The image that we are able to present as a sober space is more positive for the kids and community members we interact with. We are not trying to imply that substance use always results in these issues, we are just offering them up as examples of things that can become problems. This doesn’t mean we are perfect, or that not having intoxicants or intoxication automatically makes us have better relationships with one another, as well as the larger communities we’re situated within. Those are the sorts of things that take years of work. But having sober space simplifies some issues and prevents us from having to deal with unnecessary problems.

There are probably reasons for having a sober space that we are missing in this statement. And different people in the organizers’ collective have different reasons that make the issue more important to them personally. We invite you to please come have respectful conversations with us if you have any questions or concerns about our sober space. Thanks!

3 responses to “Sober Space & Substance Use Policy

  1. Pingback: Announcing Wild Roots Feral Futures 2016! | Wild Roots Feral Futures

  2. Hi there,
    All of this makes a lot of sense, but I’ve run into an issue:
    I’m interested in attending this year, and have a physical disability that–while it won’t bar me from access–does require various medications for managment. I presume the answer to my question falls under the ‘out of sight and act naturally’ section, but the original guidelines call for “total sobriety,” a state that I am technically unable to achieve at this time. Please let me know as to whether this bars me from attendance or puts me at odds with your efforts.


    • Not a problem, though of course if your meds affect your motor skills you probably wouldn’t want to participate in workshops that require physical activity, like tree climbing, etc.


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