Volunteer nightlife safety team seeks funding to help combat sexual harassment

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Good Night Out (GNO) is an international campaign aimed at tackling sexual harassment in the nightlife industry.

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Photo: Good Night Out Facebook

GNO Vancouver is the first chapter to introduce a roaming street team that patrols Vancouver’s entertainment district. Together, the team works to reduce harassment and violence in the city’s arts, culture and entertainment scene. Street team shifts typically run from 12:00am – 3:00am every Friday and Saturday night.

“I never felt comfortable with the way our nightlife culture was operating,” says Ashtyn Bevan, one of GNO Vancouver’s co-founders and regional organizers. “We wanted to take a more proactive approach to changing Vancouver’s nightlife culture.”

Led by Ashtyn Bevan and Stacey Forrester, GNO Vancouver works tirelessly to keep bar and club goers safe. Street team duties include tracking down overly intoxicated or passed out individuals, calling cabs, charging phones and intervening in predatory behaviour or harassment. GNO members also carry Naloxone kits and provide training to venues and promoters.

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GNO volunteers have non-violent crisis intervention and/or conflict resolution skills and are also trained in first aid and Narcan.

Since launching two and a half years ago, GNO has endured plenty of hurdles, not to mention regular backlash for labeling themselves as a “feminist initiative”. Fortunately, the good outweighs the bad.

“We have had some amazing support from underground electronic scene and alternative art spaces such as Vancouver Art and Leisure, Rent Cheque, Bass Coast and Red Gate.”

Despite having an undeniably positive impact on Vancouver’s nightlife scene, GNO’s efforts are currently under threat; GNO needs to match their existing funding in order for them to continue past April 2018. Funding will go towards safety equipment, snacks, cab rides for volunteers and small honorariums for team members.

“The Downtown BIA has generously offered to fund half of the project but unfortunately we need another funder to allow the GNO Street Team continue,” says Ashtyn. “We are in the process of applying for grant money however if awarded we would not receive anything till after April.”

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Stacey Forrester (left) and Ashtyn Bevan. Photo: Good Night Out Vancouver Facebook

Funding concerns aside, GNO remains admirably focused on their mission to dismantle the culture that enables sexual harassment, particularly in the wake of the #MeToo campaign, which has (finally) ushered issues of sexual harassment and accountability into the mainstream.

Despite these cultural shifts, Ashtyn notes that there is still plenty of work to be done, particularly in Vancouver and not just on Granville Street.

“I want to see these conversations continuing, however we need to realize that there is a long way to go when it comes to change, and actions do speak louder than words. I hope these conversations inspire people to hold each other more accountable, whether it’s your patrons, employees or your peers.”

To learn more about Good Night Out Vancouver, visit their website HERE

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Adam Nanji is the Content Manager at Vancouver Is Awesome. When he’s not scouring the city for awesome news, he performs as ¼ of local band, Belle Game. Adam grew up in Vancouver and earned a degree in Cultural Studies with a double minor in Communication and Gender Studies from McGill University. He’s the co-owner of Fine Print Media, where he has executed social media strategies for TELUS STORYHIVE and LG 104.3. He’s passionate about Vancouver’s social issues and local art. You’ll typically find him standing on a corner, contemplating where to eat in Gastown, Chinatown or Mount Pleasant. Tell him what you think is awesome: adam@vancouverisawesome.com