Hard News by Russell Brown


Splore Listening Lounge 2019: Keeping it Freaky

As I've done for the past five years at the Splore festival, I've put together The Listening Lounge, a Saturday morning talk programme for conscious (in both senses of the word) Splorers.

Again this year, we'll be talking about drug policy. Feedback in past years has been that people particularly appreciate these discussions – because they generally don't get to hear them anywhere else. But Splore principals John Minty and Fred Kublikowski were also keen to reach into something that happens when Splorers get home from their weekend: we all think about how we can bring some of what's special about Splore back to where we live.

So, Saturday morning at the Living Lounge ...

10.30am FLASHBACK: The surprising promise of psychedelic therapy

This discussion has its roots in a feature story I wrote late last year for Canvas. It looked at the way that Michael Pollan's book How to Change Your Mind: The New Science of Psychedelics has vaulted years of serious research on the therapeutic potential of LSD, psilocybin and other drugs into the headlines. I'll be joined by two of the people I interviewed for the story, University of Otago medical anthropologist Geoff Noller and Amadeus, the founder of the Psychedelics New Zealand Facebook group, and ADHB registrar Will Evans, who has worked on studies with Dr Suresh Muthukumaraswamy of the Auckland School of Medicine and has a strong interest in this fascinating new therapeutic field.

If you want to know what's up with this stuff, this is where you'll find out. 

11.15am PLEASE DON'T F*CK THIS UP: The next two years' drug law reforms

New, health-oriented directions for police discretion, a new medicinal cannabis regime, the Minister of Police praising festival drug-checking, new budgets for treatment and, of course, the 2020 cannabis referendum. We're entering an unprecented couple of years for drug policy in New Zealand – can the government get this right? And what does "getting it right" look like?

I'll be delighted to welcome Chlöe Swarbrick MP, a backbencher who has become a key figure in the Parliamentary drug policy landscape. Wendy Allison of independent harm reduction champs Know Your Stuff joins us again and Geoff Noller (who is also a former boad member of Norml) stays on the stage. I'm particularly pleased to also have someone from the addiction treatment frontlines: David Hornblow, who works independently and with the Waiparera Trust.

12.05pm KEEP AUCKLAND WEIRD: Visions of urban placemaking

I'm stoked to welcome Juval Dieziger, co-founder and Chief Emotional Officer of Berlin's Holzmarkt, an urban development project designed to capture and not simply roll over the spirit of what went before it. Or, as this Guardian story puts it: "what if a city allowed a new quarter to be built not by the highest bidding property developers or the urban planners with the highest accolades, but the nightclub owners who put on the best parties in town?"

We'll be joined by Frith Walker, placemaking specialist at the Auckland Council CCO Panuku Development and Chlöe Swarbrick – who, before she was an MP was a mayoral candidate with some perceptive ideas about Auckland nightlife. Auckland is changing – can we guide some of that change so that it includes the diversity and strangeness that make urban life what it is. And if you think I'll be talking about Karangahape Road, damn right I will be.

It's a content-packed two and a half hours that will be all wrapped up by 1pm, at which point I personally will be vigorously shaking off my respnsibilities. I would also note that if you're onsite at Splore on Friday, do get along to to all-new DJ Stage, where Sandy Mill and I will be opening proceedings from noon til 2pm as Mum 'n' Dad Disco, delivering happy tunes for proper people. Bring the kids!

PS: Splore is sold out, soz.

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