Photo by Bruce Mars from Pexels
With the JUNOs taking over Vancouver at the end of March, Good Night Out Vancouver, a local chapter of an
international initiative dedicated to raising awareness about sexual harassment and assault, is calling on venues in the city to help create safe spaces for music lovers and the industry alike. GNO has partnered with CARAS, the organization behind the JUNOs, to encourage venues hosting events during JUNOfest to undertake their safe space venue training. This training provides nightlife venue staff with the tools to mitigate and report problematic sexual behavior on their premises in a respectful, responsible and controlled manner.
GNO is so committed to helping create a safe environment for JUNO fest attendees that they are offering their venue training FOR FREE. Normally these sessions cost hundreds of dollars per venue, so nightlife space owners and staff really need to step up and take advantage of this opportunity, not just because the JUNOs are coming to town, but because it will help ensure that their venues are safe all year round for everyone.
Much to GNO’s disappointment, and to mine, at the time of publishing only two venues had signed up for this free training. So ADDICTED and GNO are asking that other venues in Vancouver step up and volunteer for safe space training TODAY. Why? Because it’s time we all work together to make our cities’ nightlife safe for everyone to enjoy.
I got the chance to chat with Stacey Forrester, one of the founders of Good Night Out, about their work and why it’s so important that venues in Vancouver commit to training their staff to ensure that every JUNOFEST attendee truly has a good night out.
How did you get involved with the work you currently do?
I started Good Night Out Vancouver with another woman, Ashtyn [Bevin, Stacey’s cofounder in GNO] a few years ago. We are both proud feminist buzzkills and we both have different links to music scenes, and we really just wanted to MORE people to have MORE nights out that are safe and feel amazing. For me it’s a natural extension of nursing- as I believe that access to public and culture spaces is a public health issue, as is gender based violence.
Good Night Out is an international organization aimed at addressing sexual harassment and assault in nightlife economies. We started the first chapter outside of the UK, and help music venues and pubs build capacity to prevent and respond to sexual misconduct.
What are some of the successes (big or small) that you’ve had?
This really started as a DIY project- almost with a riot grrl ethos to it – carving out really feminine spaces in the nightlife industry and taking up space in order to help others feel safe, so any interest in this project beyond helping our friends do shows is success in my opinion. We have managed to take really abstract (to some ) ideas about space and gender and safety and translate them so ANY audience gets it. I think anytime we present to a room of “macho” people and we watch them go from being defensive to having a moment where it all clicks – that’s success. I could do just that for the remainder of my time doing this project, and I would consider it a success. Of course having a national audience now – doing this work with CARAS is pretty big for us.
What’s piece of advice would you give to someone trying to do what you do, or trying to follow their own dreams?
You will know when it is the right time – don’t make the jump until you feel in your bones that it’s the best time. You know yourself and your own life best of all, and you can’t force things if it’s not the right moment. I didn’t really start going full boar with my activism and second round of schooling until I was securely in my 30’s and I haven’t looked back since.
How do you do manage to do it all?
People ask this a lot – How do you manage work and school and everything else – and I am answering this one because I am not always the best at it, and I want to clarify that I don’t always have it as together as people may assume from the outside. The flip side of always being ‘on’ and ‘doing it all’ is includes things like my house sometimes being a total disaster and me not caring about it, or knowing that I have eaten take out for a week because there is no time to cook, or coming home and watching 2 seasons of Grey’s Anatomy in a weekend off because I just need to check out. Doing it all is not always about having apps to manage your time, a perfect color coded day timer, fitting in yoga etc etc, it’s also sometimes living in chaos, and pushing through moments where you are overwhelmed and tired, and dropping it all when you need to. No one tells you those things when they talk about having it all.
I also (something else that isn’t super talked about) I made the choice not to have children a while ago – with the promise to myself to FILL my life up in other ways so that I don’t have a moment for regret to seep in – so here I am!
Why should venues in Vancouver sign up for your training sessions?
If you could pick one charitable organization to ask our readers to donate to or volunteer with, which would it be?
I think the conversations about gender violence and sexual misconduct are so real in everyone’s life right now, and the organizations doing front line anti-violence work, especially those operating from a feminist framework are so brutally underfunded they can’t keep up. So, I would say I want people to donate to the small rape crisis center or violence against women organization in their own town. Check in with them first though and make sure their mandate includes trans women and sex workers. DO NOT give your money to organizations that try to make life hard for vulnerable populations.
If you are a venue in Vancouver and you’re ready to stand up and answer our call to action, reach out to Stacey via email at firstname.lastname@example.org location details (the location is confidential for safety reasons). Let’s work together to make JUNOFEST safe and fun for everyone. For more information on Good Night Out and the work they do, check out the links below.