The Placebo will not, at present, use its 47B W. Third St. space for music concerts; however, it will continue to develop a fledgling program that, members said, is an alternative to Alcoholics Anonymous and other like programs.
"It is just that it's easier to get people in if it's not based on complete abstinence," said James Harkins, Placebo member and Placebo Harm Reduction Collective founder.
The collective will hold a meeting at the Placebo space (between Commercial and A streets; enter through the Third Street gate) today from 5:30-7 p.m.
The meetings are weekly and attendees/members are invited to submit stories, poetry, visual art and photography to be included in a monthly zine that is under development. Material is collected every last Tuesday of the month; there are different weekly themes.
For more information about the harm reduction philosophy, visit www.harmreduction.org.
Twenty-eight-year-old Harkins is a recovering addict.
He said he was diagnosed with drug addiction and a mental disorder. He is recovering from alcoholism and painkiller and methamphetamine abuse.
"I believe in abstinence," Harkins said.
The Harm Reduction Collective, however, doesn't require its participants be completely drug free as a rule to be accepted in the group.
"It's more about helping them where they're at right now," Harkins said. "We have some people in the group that are still using or trying to quit. It's a struggle; drug addiction is really tough."
Harkins said a key to recovering from alcohol/drug addiction is "personal responsibility."
"I'm really against a higher-power thing; it's really tough for me to get over," he said.
He said AA includes a step that asks participants to give themselves to that higher power.
"That doesn't give you personal responsibility for what you're doing with your life," Harkins said. "If you're sober or not, at least you're working toward that goal."
Whatever questions the group had about whether it could hold meetings at its location have been resolved, he said.
The Placebo is located in the same warehouse as Synapsis -- a dance and theater performance organization --" which is at 47A W. Third St. In December, Eureka Assistant Fire Chief/Fire Marshal Rick Bennett ordered Synapsis closed to the public due to numerous Eureka Municipal Code violations in its having held performances in a building zoned light-industrial and designed for storage.
The Placebo wasn't served, but wanted to be cautious, so decided to discontinue live music performances in its space, which the group shares with visual arts group Empire Squared, Placebo board member Julie Ryan said.
The three groups, all The Ink People Center for the Arts members, decided to come together to move forward to obtain necessary conditional-use permitting from the Eureka Planning and Building departments in order to again present live shows.
The meetings are allowed, as long as they number 49 people or fewer, Bennett said on Monday.
He met with Placebo members last week and gave them a checklist of things to take care of before they open their doors today.
They are following the law as long as their activities don't constitute that of an "assembly," he said.
An assembly includes more than 49 people and also involves an activity that includes eating, drinking or entertaining.
"Synapsis was operating as an assembly," Bennett said.
Ryan said among the "minor things" Placebo was instructed to do was repair an upstairs light fixture and post a sign in the main entrance that reads: "This door is to be unlocked during business hours."
The Placebo will also be able to hold its board meetings and its weekly Friday 4-6 p.m. program "Art Hangs!"
The latter is open on a drop-in basis for people to do arts and crafts, read magazines, have snacks -- "a safe place to hang out," Ryan said.
She said the group is being careful about the sort of activities it has in its space, and those activities generally attract small groups.
"We're just being cautious, because we are still going through this process with the city, so we don't want to screw it up," Ryan said.
Placebo has a "do-it-yourself philosophy," she said, and that applies to the Harm Reduction Collective.
"Regular people can work together and make something good happen," Ryan said.
We are careful not to duplicate the efforts of other organizations, and as a grassroots coalition of prisoners and social reformers, our resources (time and money) are limited. The vast expertise and scope of the various drug reform organizations will enable you to stay informed on the ever-changing, many-faceted aspects of the movement. Our colleagues in reform also give the latest drug war news. Please check their websites often.