Harm reduction is one of the most important movements of the 20th century, and yet a compilation of its critical stories and voices was, until now, seemingly nowhere to be found. Saving Our Own Lives, an anthology of essays from long-time organizer Shira Hassan, fills this gap by telling the stories of how sex workers, people of color, queer folks, and trans, gender non-conforming, and two-spirit people are building systems of change and support outside the societal frameworks of oppression and exploitation. This is a collective story of Bad Date sheets passed between sex workers in Portland, leading to the identification of a serial killer. It is the story of clean syringes, “liberated” from empathetic doctors offices and passed between punks in squats in the East Village by women of color, and the early AIDS activists who made sure that everyone knew how to use them. It is the story of transwomen of color, street-based sex workers, who created shared housing to ensure that young people had safe places to sleep. It is the story of Black Panthers creating a free breakfast program to feed a revolution and the Young Lords taking over Lincoln Park Hospital in the Bronx to demand and ultimately create community-accessible drug treatment programs.
At a political moment when Liberatory Harm Reduction and mutual aid are more important than ever, this book serves as an inspiration and a catalyst for radical transformation of our world.