Towards the start of Knutepunkt 2017 in Norway, we organized a workshop, High on KP, for people who were interested in avoiding or limiting their drinking of alcohol during the conference. The reasons for this choice were varied; perhaps they were drawn to using drink as a social enabler, or they felt social pressure to drink.
This attracted a good mix of people. Some interesting personal stories and strategies were shared. We were also joined, and went on to be approached later, by a number of people who didn’t drink at all themselves but who wanted to help and support those who were avoiding alcohol.
The project was informed in part by our related work on alcohol at larp and at larp-related social events, and the problems that can sometimes arise from it. It became apparent from responses to our survey that social pressure making people drink more than they were comfortable with was one of the factors causing adverse incidents.
As part of the project, we introduced the blue ribbon badge. This symbol is a light-hearted homage to the ribbon worn by those who took the temperance pledge in the 19th century, although our aims for it are rather different. This is what we intend wearing a blue ribbon to signify:
- I am sober;
- If you would like to stay sober, or to drink no more than you have done already, I can support you in that resolve;
- If you want a sober person to help with something practical, I can be that person.
We anticipate offering blue ribbons and running workshops at future KPs – if organizers are happy with that. And we would be glad to see them being used at other social events where alcohol is generally part of the social structure. They’re not official emblems and don’t have anything special about them; any length of blue ribbon, held by a safety-pin, will send the same message.
Finally, we should add – to avoid potential misunderstanding – that this project is absolutely not about trying to discourage people from drinking, or to shame drinkers, or to reduce the amount of alcohol at KP. It is simply meant to help people who don’t want to drink, or who don’t want to drink too much.
The Blue Ribbon Collective
Moving forward, we are developing a Blue Ribbon Collective of participants who are interested in staying sober at events and helping others with alcohol-related issues. Anyone can be a part of the Collective: that just signifies being aware and supportive of our work. Then if someone chooses to wear a blue ribbon pinned to their clothing at a particular larp event, that signals their sobriety (at that event) to others. Being part of the Collective does not mean you should feel under any pressure to stay sober, or to wear the ribbon. Feel free to contact us if you would like to be included on the list.
Current members of the Blue Ribbon Collective:
Sarah Lynne Bowman
Kjell Hedgard Hugaas
Francesco Rugerfred Sedda
Liv Kristine Slyngborg
Mila Ould Yahoui
If you’re interested in the blue ribbon, or in the project generally, or would like to help in future, please get in touch!
(Edited on 14th March 2017 to clarify details of the Blue Ribbon Collective.)
Cover photo: A blue ribbon pinned to the lapel of a black leather jacket. Photo by Sarah Lynne Bowman.