We had the good fortune of connecting with Norma Barratt and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Norma, can you walk us through the thought-process of starting your business?
I met Deanna, Beyond Dope’s founder, at a show a few years ago in New York City at the Beyond Dope table. This encounter was what first truly opened my eyes to harm reduction within this environment. I then moved to San Luis Obispo, California and worked at the local syringe exchange for a year and a half. I kept up with Beyond Dope and continued to want to get involved, but all of their events were in New York or in surrounding areas on the East Coast. I had been wanting to move to a new city and Denver was always an interest of mine. I saw that Beyond Dope was opening a Denver Chapter, I immediately reached out to Deanna and we began a conversation about my involvement once I moved to Denver. After attending a few events volunteering for Beyond Dope, I became the Denver Chapter President. To truly answer the question, I did not start this business, but I am so fortunate to be working under Deanna to help grow this organization that she built. I have only been in this role for a short time, but I am very much looking forward to what the future holds for Beyond Dope Denver.
From our Founder: Beyond Dope was originally supposed to be a single charity event as part of a personal development course I enrolled in. Our goal was to organize a concert to raise money to fight the opioid crisis in memory of my brother, Michael, whom I had lost to an overdose in 2016. The response we received when we announced the event was incredibly supportive and not only did we have a ton of fun organizing the event, but we also sold out! Because there was so much involved in legally organizing a charity concert, much of the leg work was already done to continue growing the Beyond Dope project and we soon started looking into additional ways we can get involved and make an impact in the local music community.
Can you give our readers an introduction to your business? Maybe you can share a bit about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
Beyond Dope started with a single independent fundraiser concert in Brooklyn, NY. We now operate in three locations – Brooklyn, Denver, and Miami – and provide harm reduction and peer support services at electronic music events around the country. Additionally, we host our own fundraiser comedy events and have several other projects like our monthly community DopeChats.
Given the growing number of harm reduction organizations, we have always been looking for ways we can expand upon this collective work by setting ourselves apart. I believe the biggest factor here is our emphasis on community. At events we work, our volunteers typically roam the crowd seeking to engage with audience members to not only ensure folks are safe, but also to dance together and keep people happy and having fun. This winter, we also launched our Dope Artist membership program where we invite musicians to apply to become members of our organization and support them with using their platform to inspire positive change and model harm reduction strategies within the community. At our monthly DopeChats, we invite audience members to gather for an hour before the show to discuss relevant topics to inspire positive change at the individual and community level. We also have our own Discord community, Be Beyond Dope, where community members can gather to find valuable information around substance use, discuss current events, share music, and make friends. In addition to all the individuals and organizations we’ve served, our Narcan training and distribution program has successfully reversed (at least) 4 overdoses.
Getting to the place we are at now has been quite the journey, especially with a team comprised 100% of volunteers located all around the country. We can’t wait to see how these projects and the movement to Be Beyond Dope grows!
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Denver is filled with an insane amount of art, music, amazing people and so much more. Having just a week to show someone the full essence of Denver does not sound possible! For music, we would definitely have to take them to see a show at the Black Box, which is one of the leading venues in the country to showcase underground bass music. For food, Cuba Cuba, an incredible Cuban restaurant with an atmosphere that feels like home. For art, a visit to Meow Wolf, an immersive art exhibit/experience that just opened their third location in Denver this past October. For a bit of a nature experience, the Garden of the Gods, a spot in Colorado Springs that has scenic hikes within beautiful rock structures.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
Wade Appleton – Co-founder of DubDay: Wade was someone we had reached out to for support in learning how to organize a ticketed live music event. He not only had a ton of incredibly valuable advice but was so passionate about the work he asked to join our team! While he no longer has a formal role on the team due to both our businesses growing, he continues to support us and to make sure that we are represented at all events he organizes. It is because of him that we were able to. open a chapter in Denver.
Austin Trout – Founder of Sermon Nation: Austin is another key individual who has provided incredible mentorship and has been a strong supporter of us since the very first event. He also makes sure we are present at all events he organizes.
Other: Discord Community: https://discord.gg/aFpXjwPTRd
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