Michael T. Everett, Team Leader of the Capacity Building Assistance Program, Harm Reduction Coalition, New York
"Harm reduction" is a way of dealing with risky behavior to lessen the potential damage done to the individual and the surrounding community. Yet there are so many misconceptions about what harm reduction means, and who it can serve. Most times it's believed to be solely about drug use, which can play into why some communities reject the notion immediately.Show More
Enter Michael Everett. His work at the Harm Reduction Coalition -- a national organization that works with service providers, policymakers and activists to integrate harm reduction practices into their work -- challenges the stigma around harm reduction, and helps communities see how it can work for them. "The people of color in my community -- teachers, young people, politicians and parents -- are oftentimes already stigmatized as drug users and have, therefore, worked hard to be disassociated with any perceived promotion of drug use," Everett explains. Ever since he was first exposed to harm reduction principles through his advocacy work, which has largely been focused on HIV/AIDS, Everett has worked to find ways to share these principles for what they do best -- promote the health and dignity of individuals and communities impacted by the war on drugs.
Nowadays, he gets to work directly with organizations all over the U.S. -- like Brotherhood Inc. in New Orleans and Bronx AIDS Services in New York City -- to use harm reduction principles to their benefit. He also works with groups to apply these principles not only to the kinds of work they do around drug use, but to the ways their organizations work -- identifying potential harms in how their staffs interact with one another and with the communities they serve, so they can do their work in a healthier, more empowering way for all involved. Read more of what Everett has to say about "harm reduction for agencies" in a fascinating article from the publication Harm Reduction Communication.