Every year on April 22nd, various events are held all around the world to demonstrate support for environmental protection. Until now, there hasn’t been an Earth Day event that psychonauts could take part in to honor the Earth and bring attention to the concept of psychedelic plant medicine conservation. But that’s about to change.
That’s because Kwasi Adusei, the founder of the Psychedelic Society of Western New York, has organized a new psychedelic-focused Earth Day event named Global Psychedelic Earth Day that is taking place worldwide that will allow psychonauts to gather together and celebrate the preservation of our natural environment. I recently caught up with Kwasi to learn more about the history behind this innovative event and how people can get involved.
First of all, thank you for taking the time to chat with me about your event. To begin, could you tell me a little bit about what Global Psychedelic Earth Day is and how you came up with the idea?
In my personal psychedelic travels, the inward journey found three common themes: take better care of yourself, take better care of others, and take better care of the planet. These themes highlight for me a quintessential truth of life—that we are all one. Based on this philosophy, the psychedelic society I founded in Western New York placed a priority on community service. We began doing regular cleanups of city streets and parks, started a community garden open to the public to source fresh fruits and vegetables, and volunteered in soup kitchens and homeless shelters when help was needed.
Motivated by the practice of community service, I sought to encourage other groups to integrate this model. The encouragement presented itself through the Global Psychedelic Month of Service, which I led by reaching out to psychedelic group organizers around the world, and marketed to individuals through campaigns with The Third Wave, Psymposia, and Psychedelics Today.
The success of that project inspired me to revisit a topic which I was introduced to at Psychedelic Science 2017, the issue of psychedelic plant conservation. Mother Earth provides us with healing medicines that have impacted cultures and individuals for millennia, but due to the widespread use of psychedelics, some of these medicines are experiencing a conservation crisis, particularly with peyote and ibogaine. It was something I never truly considered. Issues of conservation are widespread in nature, even with potable water, so why wouldn’t this be the case with psychedelics?
The notion inspired the Global Psychedelic Earth Day Cleanup, where we encourage psychedelic groups around the world to honor Mother Earth by organizing a community cleanup on Earth Day. In doing so, the project will draw attention to, and support for, the issue of psychedelic plant conservation.
Part of the focus of this event is on psychedelic plant medicine conservation. What is this concept and why should psychonauts know about it?
Using the attention from the cleanup, our website provides brief information and resources for follow up on psychedelic plant conservation issues. We have also created an avenue to receive donations that will support organizations working on the problem.
Peyote's natural range of distribution is located in the Chihuahuan Desert. Native people in and around this region have used peyote for at least 6000 years for its rich alkaloid content, including mescaline. With as many as 57 alkaloids present in any given specimen, peyote has been a staple used medicinally as a panacea by natives. It is a “free medicine” Native Americans have traditionally used because it grows wild and is a rich source of many beneficial alkaloids. The market for peyote has expanded dramatically in recent years and the “free medicine” has been exploited on an industrial scale. As a result, peyote has been over-harvested and is now on the vulnerable species list with the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN). Follow for more information, visit the Cactus Conservation Institute webpage.
And now, on to iboga. Ibogaine is the naturally occurring psychoactive substance found in a number of plants, principally in a member of the Apocynaceae family known as iboga. The primary method of production of ibogaine is through extraction from this plant source, which is endemic to the tropical rainforests of the Congo Basin in Equatorial Africa, principally Gabon. Recently there have been reports that iboga may be threatened in this natural habitat, and that access has decreased for traditional knowledge holders. If these reports are verified, the ramifications could be far-reaching, including considerations for the future availability of some aspects of ibogaine therapy, as well as for Gabonese culture.
In your opinion, what do you think makes environmentally-friendly events like this one especially important in today’s day and age?
Participating in events like this increases our awareness of our behavior. Increased awareness can lead to a shift in habits. For example, after organizing cigarette butt cleanups on one of our downtown streets, one of the participants mentioned that ever since, he no longer throws his cigarette butts on the ground. The state of our home is progressively declining. Our government has put this issue to the back burner, but we as individuals can step up and do our part.
Is this the first-ever Global Psychedelic Earth Day? Do you plan to continue organizing it in the future?
As far as I know, this is the first, but I intend to make this an annual event. My hope is to have every habitable continent represented as the years go by.
Organizing an event like this must be a lot of work! Could you go into detail about what your team has done to turn your vision into a reality?
Including me, the team consists of 6 people. Chase Conatser is a graphic designer based in New York City who developed images for social media marketing. Eugene Zollinger is a student at the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry and runs the Facebook page, sharing articles about conservation issues, psychedelic and more, to educate the people. Jason Palevsky designed the website, and manages submissions for events so organizations that participate will be seen on the map located on our website. Prudence Haze is a psychedelic artist and has been helping to spread the project to individuals in psychedelic oriented groups on social media sites. Duane David, who was influential in the carrying the initiative forward, is founder of an Atlanta based group called the Society for the Exploration of Altered States. He has been helping to get the word out on the project to psychedelic group organizers around the world. In leading this project, I’ve been doing a little bit of everything!
Some people may want to create a cleanup in their own area but may not know where to start. Do you have any suggestions that someone could use when brainstorming what type of cleanup effort to focus on?
If anyone wants to start a cleanup of their own, talk to friends who might be interested in being a part of it, find a street, park, or river that might need some care and attention, create an event through Facebook or Meetup.com, and see who may be interested in joining. Recommended supplies are bags of different colors, one for recycling and one for garbage, gloves, and a small plastic bin in the event that needles are found, something that we’ve run into at a past cleanup.
Where can people go to learn more about Global Psychedelic Earth Day and how can they help support this project?
If people want to get involved, visit our website. There, you will see a link to donate, find a cleanup near you, host one, and learn more about the problem of psychedelic conservation. Also, you can check out our Facebook page.