Cages performs at Agency’s Neighborhood Watch event at the Fred Wildlife Refuge.
Cages performs at Agency’s Neighborhood Watch event at the Fred Wildlife Refuge.

A newly formed volunteer organization focused on promoting safety and no tolerance in the bars and venues industry held its first fundraising event on Tuesday, Nov. 28.

Agency’s Neighborhood Watch was hosted at Fred Wildlife Refuge, 128 Belmont Ave E., and featured local bands and DJs from the industry, such as Cages, Strugglers, UN and DJ Hellbound.

Agency was created by former No Tolerance members when they wanted to go a different direction in what the organization stands for. While No Tolerance focuses on rape culture within the music industry, Agency wants to broaden its scope and touch on other issues that arise within the bar and music industry in Seattle.

“The big issue was that we didn’t just want to talk about the rape culture but also about transphobia, racism, and how we as industry people can make sure that our spaces are safe in all of those things,” said Sloan Dowdywood from Agency. “It’s talking about how do you handle somebody who is transphobic as s*** and make sure that people feel safe hanging out there.”

Neighborhood Watch was Agency’s kick-off event to introduce themselves to the community and raise initial funds for programs already in place. One of the things the money will go toward is what the organization calls a “Calming Basket” for sexual assault survivors. Agency plans to distribute the baskets, which includes items such as sweatpants, tea, gum and other essentials to help during the recovery.

“At this stage, most likely it would be either a friend of that survivor or the survivor talking to us and letting us know what happened. Further down the road, we hope in getting enough funds that we or the hospitals will have a stockpile ready to be distributed to the survivors,” Dowdywood said.

The funds will also go toward a rideshare account for bars and venues to use to make sure people get home safely and for test strips to check drinks at bars for potential date-rape drugs.

Seattle Police issued a warning in August 2016 regarding several unconfirmed reports of people having their drinks drugged while they were patronizing bars in Capitol Hill. In response, several bars, including Bar Sue, began offering date rape drug detector cards to customers.

Agency is also planning to educate local bars and their staff on how to deal with sensitive situations, such as people being over-served, drinks being roofied and sexual harassment. The bars and venues supporting the initiative will have signage letting people know that the staff is ready to assist whenever someone is feeling unsafe for any reason.

“Our macro plan is to go bar to bar, and go talk to them specifically and offer trainings with bartenders on what to do in difficult situations,” said Anjali Kusler from Agency.

“Two of us are actually studying mental health issues, and most of us have been social activists for many years now,” added Dowdywood. “But we also do have a few people who’d we call to help us with the curriculum and teachings.”

Agency plans to host similar “meet your neighbor” events every three to four months, where industry professionals can meet and share stories and advice on how they dealt with similar situations.