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What do I do first?

1.Join the national Webforum.

It’s a good idea to join the DanceSafe Webforum (E-Board). This is a board for people around the country to discuss drug use, abuse, research, and other issues. Here you can introduce yourself and meet lots of other people around the country including many other groups that are starting out. It also has a great place to ask questions of other, already-established chapters and read about their experiences. In the Harm Reduction Groups Forum you may also discover other people in your area on the board who also want to form a local chapter.

2. Have a meeting.

The best way to start a group is to get together with a few other interested friends and have a meeting. Don’t start with too many people. Four or five is a good number. Have the meeting at someone’s house or a local cafe, and simply discuss what it is you want to do. You may want to choose a temporary name, since we don’t allow new groups to use the DanceSafe name until they become officially incorporated. Also, designate someone to be the contact person or "liaison" to the national office, most likely yourself or the person who took the most initiative to start the group.

After your first meeting, post a report in the Harm Reduction Groups forum. Tell us how it went. And see what others can contribute overall to any particular situations or issues you came up against.

3. Get your booth materials together.

Put together a basic harm reduction booth. At the very least, this consists of a sign or banner, a table and some literature. We’ve found that the best table is one that is lightweight and sturdy. You can order literature directly from us. Condoms, earplugs and candy are also good things to have at a booth, as well as a donation jar.

4. Contact Promoters.

Once you have your booth together, contact some local promoters and offer to set up a harm reduction booth at their next event. The vast majority of promoters will welcome your presence at their events. Consider asking them for a donation to cover literature or other costs. A lot of local chapters get donations from promoters. Remember, promoters benefit by having harm reduction services at their parties.

5. Staff your first event.

See the next section for some basic do’s and don’ts regarding staffing a harm reduction booth. The most important thing to remember is that you don’t need to be an expert. If someone asks you a question and you don’t know the answer that’s okay. Popular education means, as peers, we all learn together.

6. Have another meeting.

At your next meeting, discuss how it went at the event. Ask yourselves what you did well and what you could have done better? Post a report to the Harm Reduction Groups forum. Also, it’s a good idea to take notes (minutes) at all your meetings.

After you have been to at least three events and have a core group of three or more volunteers who have been to at least three meetings, you can apply to become an official DanceSafe chapter. The application process is explained in the rest of this section.

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