Forty Years of Ecology, Adventure and Radical Cultural Innovation
Mark Nelson examining a small-scale closed ecological system. COPYRIGHT:© Peter Menzel 1990
Mark Nelson’s forty years as a pioneer in ecological systems and space life support science, along with his natural skills as raconteur—promise an evening of memorable tales and hard-won understanding. You can join Mark for this event Monday, June 13 at 6.00 pm at the October Gallery in London.
Whether appearing in a satellite broadcast to one billion people worldwide when exiting the storied Biosphere 2 mini-world’s 2-year experiment, doggedly pick-axing invasive species from 5,000 acres in the Kimberley, or designing an ecological waste treatment system in war-torn Iraq—this evening of Nelson’s unique history as Chairman of Institute of Ecotechnics (www.ecotechnics.edu) will be a very special event.
Nelson was a member of the first team of “biospherians” 1991-93 inside Biosphere 2, in Arizona. He is associate editor of Life Sciences in Space Research and organises sessions at COSPAR and other space science conferences. In 1987, he was an organiser of the first international conference on closed systems, held at the Royal Society. His books include: Space Biospheres (with John Allen), Life Under Glass: the Inside Story of Biosphere 2, and The Wastewater Gardener: Preserving the Planet One Flush at a Time.
Nelson is also head of the Biospheric Design division of Global Ecotechnics Corporation (www.globalecotechnics.com) and founder of Wastewater Gardens International (www.wastewatergardens.com), which has brought ecological approaches to projects in more than fourteen countries worldwide. He works on reversing desertification in the Kimberley, Australia, and in New Mexico. He received his MSc at the University of Arizona’s School of Renewable Natural Resources, and his Ph.D. with the legendary co-founder of systems ecology and ecological engineering, H.T. Odum, at the University of Florida.
In 1993, Nelson was awarded the Yuri Gagarin Jubilee Medal for outstanding service to international cooperation in space and the environment by the Russian Cosmonautics Federation. He is a Fellow of the Explorers Club and Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society. He is also an international speaker and has appeared in numerous documentaries about ecological issues and biospherics. His scientific papers may be found here: https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Mark_Nelson9/publications.
Institute of Ecotechnics is a UK charity based in the October Gallery premises.
Join Dr. Mark Nelson for this Special Evening at the October Gallery
Get Tickets Here!
MONDAY 13th of June, 6 PM, October Gallery
Please arrive at 6.00 pm for a 6.30 pm start.
Refreshments available and Advance ticket holders entitled to 1 free glass of wine or 1 free soft drink at the bar.
Please note that this event takes place on the 2nd floor of the gallery, accessible by stairs only.
Monday, 13 June 2016 from 18:00 to 21:00 (BST)
October Gallery – 24 Old Gloucester Street, London, WC1N 3AL, United Kingdom – View Map
And if you aren’t able to attend this event with Mark, you can still read about his ecological adventures in Life Under Glass: the Inside Story of Biosphere 2 and The Wastewater Gardener: Preserving the Planet One Flush at a Time.
This article is reposted with permission from the American Botanical Council. You can see the original post here.
By Mark Plotkin, PhD
Richard Evans Schultes
Richard Evans Schultes, PhD, was the greatest Amazonian explorer of the 20th century. Boston-born and Harvard-educated, he set off for the Amazon in 1941 for a six-month expedition. He was so entranced by the plants and the peoples of this great rainforest that he essentially extended this expedition for more than a decade. Now, interested readers can follow his journeys in an interactive, informational story map.
Schultes (1915-2001) first learned of the concept of “ethnobotany” in an undergraduate course at Harvard University taught by the prominent orchidologist Oakes Ames. After Schultes wrote his term paper on the traditionally revered peyote cactus (Lophophora williamsii, Cactaceae), Ames sent Schultes to Oklahoma to experience the sacred cactus firsthand in a traditional Kiowa tribal ceremony. Later, Schultes returned to Harvard, and decided to pursue a PhD under Ames, focusing on the “magic mushrooms” of Oaxaca, Mexico. As a newly-minted PhD, he headed south to the northwest Amazon to study arrow poisons from the curare vines (e.g., Chondrodendron tomentosum, Menispermaceae), which, at the time, were being used as pre-surgical muscle relaxants in abdominal surgeries.
Young Richard Schultes taking tobacco snuff, May 1952 (photo: R.E. Schultes) via Harvard Square Library
Cartographer Brian Hettler of the Amazon Conservation Team decided to recount Schultes’s travels and research in a compelling new story map.1 With commentary and explanations supplied by this author, Hettler traces Schultes’s phenomenal journeys through the rainforest in search of healing plants. Using the capabilities of the story map format, Hettler has organized this information in a way that allows readers to click on a location and see photos of the location and/or the people that lived there. Perhaps even more impressive, readers can click on a list of plants collected by Schultes and see the actual herbarium specimen he collected in high resolution.
Hettler’s story map allows readers to follow the late ethnobotanist into some of the world’s most remote locales in search of exceedingly rare plants. It is hoped that this intriguing initiative will not only teach about the history and importance of the science of ethnobotany, but also will inspire others to use the story-map format to teach about botany in general, and medicinal herbs in particular, in new and compelling ways.
Mark J. Plotkin, PhD, is an ethnobotanist whose field research focuses on the plants and peoples of northern Amazonia. He currently serves as president of the Amazon Conservation Team, a nonprofit organization that conducts environmental and cultural sustainability activities in the Amazon basin (www.amazonteam.org). He is the author of several books and is a member of the American Botanical Council Advisory Board.
- Amazon Conservation Team. The Amazonian Travels of Richard Evans Schultes. Amazon Conservation Team website. Available at: http://amazonteam.org/maps/schultes/. Accessed May 4, 2016.
- Cox PA. Medicinal Plants and the Legacy of Richard E. Schultes. HerbalGram. 2013;98:73-75. Available at: http://cms.herbalgram.org/herbalgram/issue98/hg98bkrvw-schultes.html. Accessed May 4, 2016.
- Davis W. The Lost Amazon: The Photographic Journey of Richard Evans Schultes. HerbalGram. 2005;66:50-59. Available at: http://cms.herbalgram.org/herbalgram/issue66/article2831.html. Accessed May 4, 2016.
- Blumenthal M. The Lost Amazon: The Photographic Journey of Richard Evans Schultes. HerbalGram. 2005;65:73-74. Available at: http://cms.herbalgram.org/herbalgram/issue65/article2788.html. Accessed May 4, 2016.
- Davis W. One River: Excerpts from the new book about the life of ethnobotanist Richard Evans Schultes. HerbalGram. 1996;38:32. Available at:http://cms.herbalgram.org/herbalgram/issue38/article1219.html. Accessed May 4, 2016.
To travel further into the explorations of Amazonian peoples and sacred plant medicines with Richard Evans Schultes, explore Vine of the Soul: Medicine Men, Their Plants and Rituals in the Colombian Amazonia and Where the Gods Reign: Plants and Peoples of the Colombian Amazon written by Richard Evans Schultes himself.
Written by Michael Gosney
Here’s a report from our last symposium. New events coming in London and NYC this November, details found on this link: https://www.synergeticpress.com/understanding-ayahuasca-indigenous-origins-neo-shamanism/
On Wednesday April 6, 2016 a Synergetic Symposium and Salon was held at Synergia Ranch in Santa Fe, New Mexico. This symposium and salon marked the first in a series of events with the goal of raising Earth Consciousness. One hundred and fifty people attended this high-frequency gathering entitled “Earth Consciousness and the Lore of the Amazon – Conversations on Ayahuasca, Ethnomedicine and the Biospheric Imperative.”
The crowd gathered in the geodesic dome at Synergia Ranch
The primary inspiration for the event was the forthcoming July release of the Ayahuasca Reader, but it also served as the launch of the Synergetic Press Earth Consciousness Campaign and seemed to be the perfect timing to bring together leaders on the cutting edge of psychedelic research in this year of rapid evolution. The event, featuring a 4 hour symposium, a gourmet dinner, and an evening Salon and dance party, was a resounding success. Video of the presentations will be available at synergeticpress.com in May, 2016.
The Symposium featured Dennis McKenna, providing an overview of the 45 year history and his journey of discovery with ayahuasca; Rick Doblin, presenting the new era of entheogenic/psychedelic-assisted therapy and the cutting edge research underway with the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS); and Ralph Metzner providing a framework for understanding the process of shamanic use of psychedelics and consciousness expansion, along with an addendum to his talk on the importance of activism on both the drug decriminalization and environmental frontiers. The Symposium concluded with a panel discussion and Q&A with the presenters and moderator George Greer.
(Left to Right) Allan Badiner, Gay Dillingham, Valerie Plame Wilson, Ralph Metzner, Dennis McKenna, Michael Garfield
After dinner in separate Synergia Ranch buildings, guests returned the dome for the evening Salon portion of the event. Kicking off the evening was the Earth Consciousness Roundtable moderated by Zig Zag Zen editor Allan Badiner, with Ralph Metzner, Dennis McKenna, author and ex-CIA agent Valerie Plame, filmmaker Gay Dillingham (Dying to Know), and musician/artist Michael Garfield. The discussion touched on the broader aspects of raising Earth Consciousness, including biospheric science and social and political opportunities and challenges as well as further examination of the applications of plant teachers and synthetic compounds for therapy, personal growth and transformational work.
A “biospheric poetry” reading by John Dolphin Allen with Robert “Rio” Hahn providing visuals, provided the transition to the evening’s entertainment, starting with a dance performance by the Daughters of Lilith followed by musician Michael Garfield and DJs offering attendees a chance to dance with the incredible energy of the day.
More Synergetic Symposium Salons will follow, as well as the launch of the Earth Consciousness Campaign. This multi-level initiative will not only promote the release of the Ayahuasca Reader, but also widely disseminate essential information from the book and the work of its multiple contributors, who are in fact the world’s leading authorities on the subject. In addition, informing people and groups about the eco-evolutionary side of the equation, which means human stewardship vs. destruction of the biosphere. Indigenous wisdom/eco-psychology + biospheric science/sustainability solutions = Earth Consciousness.
In conjunction with the Synergetic Symposium and Salon, Santa Fe Radio Café host Mary Charlotte welcomed several of the contributors to the salon to her show to deepen the discussion in raising Earth Consciousness. You can listen to the episodes below.
Don Lattin, Allan Badiner and Ralph Metzner
April 15, 2016
Allan Badiner activist and writer, contributing editor to Tricycle Magazine, editor of the new edition of Zig Zag Zen: Buddhism and Psychedelics, published by Synergetic Press, on the board of the CBD Project
Ralph Metzner Psychologist, writer, founder of the Green Earth Foundation, author of many books, including Allies for Awakening and Green Psychology
Don Lattin Author and journalist; his books include Distilled Spirits, The Harvard Psychedelic Club, and his forthcoming books is titled, Changing Our Minds: The Reemergence of Psychedelics for Mental Health and Spiritual Growth.
April 11, 2016
Dr. George Greer conducted over 100 therapeutic sessions with MDMA for 80 individuals from 1980 to 1985 with his psychiatric nurse wife, Requa Tolbert. Their review of this work remains the largest published study of the therapeutic use of MDMA. He is a Distinguished Fellow of the American Psychiatric Association and Past President of the Psychiatric Medical Association of New Mexico. He is Co-Founder and Medical Director the Medical Director of the Heffter Research Institute since 1998.
April 11, 2016
Dr. Dennis McKenna is an American ethnopharmacologist, research pharmacognosist, lecturer and author. He is the brother of well-known psychedelics proponent Terence McKenna and is a founding board member and the director of ethnopharmacology at the Heffter Research Institute, a non-profit organization concerned with the investigation of the potential therapeutic uses of psychedelic medicines.
April 7, 2016
Dr. Rick Doblin is founder and executive director of the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS). His undergraduate thesis at New College of Florida was a twenty-five-year follow-up to the classic Good Friday Experiment. He wrote his doctoral dissertation (in Public Policy from Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government) on the regulation of the medical uses of psychedelics. His professional goal is to help develop legal contexts for the beneficial uses of psychedelics and marijuana and eventually to become a legally licensed psychedelic therapist.
Sign up for our newsletter at synergeticpress.com to find out about upcoming events in this exciting series and for more news on Earth Consciousness.
Raising Earth Consciousness
This Earth Day 2016 feels like a particularly poignant moment in the relationship between humans and the Earth. Just as on Mother’s Day we take extra time to reflect on our debt of gratitude to Her who gave us life, we similarly take the opportunity of raising Earth Consciousness on Earth Day to consider our connection with and appreciation for our Mother Earth.
Earth Day began in 1970 as a reflection of the growing awareness of our responsibility to the planet and the web of life – including us – that it supports. At the time the influence of Eastern spiritual thought and the introduction of psychedelics inspired a more holistic view of our relationship with the natural world. The realization dawned that our industrialized civilization was having negative impacts on the biosphere and that environmental protection was a growing necessity.
(read more below the video)
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Observing Earth Day in the Anthropocene
As we reflect on the Earth in the early decades of the 21st Century, we see radical imbalance. The Ecologist reported that climate scientists have reached a consensus
that human activity has been driving climate change. There is a growing recognition that we have entered a new geological time period known as the Anthropocene
. The Anthropocene Working Group has found t
hat “humanity’s impacts on Earth should now be regarded as pervasive and sufficiently distinctive to justify a separate classification.”
Humans have introduced entirely novel changes, geologically speaking, such as the roughly 300m metric tonnes of plastic produced annually. Concrete has become so prevalent in construction that more than half of all the concrete ever used was produced in the past 20 years.
Wildlife, meanwhile, is being pushed into an ever smaller area of the Earth, with just 25% of ice-free land considered wild now compared to 50% three centuries ago. As a result, rates of extinction of species are far above long-term averages.
But the study says perhaps the clearest fingerprint humans have left, in geological terms, is the presence of isotopes from nuclear weapons testing that took place in the 1950s and 60s.
We can feel overwhelmed when we see the environment faced with so many threats. How do we begin to change our lives in ways that will have a meaningful impact on the global situation? We need to embrace the challenge of living in harmony with the planet.
A new kind of nature is being created, one that is shaped by humanity. It consists of the sum of all the changes caused by humans on earth.
As we come into a deep understanding of the impact of our actions on the global community, Nature is calling us to redesign our lifestyles, adopt new social structures, rewrite the codes of our major institutions, and regenerate the planet’s natural systems. To do this requires breaking free from conditioned consumerism and enforced separation. We have the responsibility to care for the Earth by making choices that support the flourishing of the planet and its people, from our next-door neighbors to the members of remote tribes. This responsibility is also to ourselves, as we owe our existence to this interdependent web of life. By making changes in our lives at the individual level, we will see that change reflected in the whole world.
Taking on Earth Consciousness – and Taking Action
Now is the time—the critical moment on our timeline—to leverage the overarching vision and tools afforded by our understanding of Earth Sciences and the wisdom provided by traditional indigenous cultures. The message of Earth consciousness is growing louder. It reaches us from the voices of Amazonian plant teachers, such as ayahuasca, and from indigenous wisdom. Scientists have been confirming the healing effects of these ancient sources of wisdom, affirming the use of these tools that lead us to a more integrative, whole system perspective of our relationship to the biosphere.
By changing our habits and activating solutions, we can regenerate the planet; by changing our hearts and spreading compassion, we can heal the world. This Earth Day, you can try one of the four daily practices of love and gratitude for the Earth shared by Pachamama Alliance. By working with practices such as these, or any way that you feel deepens your connection to Pachamama, Mother Earth, we grow in Earth Consciousness.
Get the Code!
Books are some of the most powerful tools to we have to evolve our consciousness and guide our actions. Synergetic Press publishes books that carry the code of a sustainable, regenerative, thriving human future. We focus primarily on Earth science and evolving human consciousness, which we see as complementary aspects of humanity’s continuing evolution. See some of the titles below to explore the ideas that form the foundation of Earth Consciousness.
Written by Alessandra Campos-Miller, MA
Giger’s cat, Muggi III
The documentary film, Dark Star: H.R. Giger’s World, filmed one year before his death in May of 2014, provides an intimate portrait of the life and work of revolutionary artist of the subconscious, H.R. Giger.
The film takes the viewer on a spectral journey, drawing us irresistibly into Giger’s inner world. The work of Hansruedi, as he his affectionately called by his friends and family, is traced from the perinatal through his childhood, youth, adulthood, and present. The work of H.R. Giger is deeply connected to the subconscious and to the personal experiences with darkness and fear that Giger had throughout his life. Carmen Maria Scheifele Giger, H.R. Giger’s wife, eloquently describes the connection between his work and the deep levels of our subconscious, saying “You see his pictures and you feel like you’ve known them forever. They represent the deepest depths of our souls.”
Grof exploring Giger’s Ghost Ride
Dr. Stanislav Grof, whose book HR Giger and the Zeitgeist of the Twentieth Century is seen being prepared for publication at Giger’s home, further explains Giger’s connection to the subconscious. Grof guides the viewer through Giger’s “Ghost Train,” which recreates the perinatal journey in ride form. The ride features a train car which guides the rider through tunnels of lush plant life, flesh, blood, stony fetuses, mechanical bodies, and feminine anatomy.
A still from the movie, showing Giger and Grof working on the book, HR Giger and the Zeitgeist of the Twentieth Century
The ride had been a dream of Giger’s in his childhood, which Grof explains by stating that Giger clearly represents the “dark areas related to the trauma of birth which we have never consciously processed.”
The documentary features never-before-seen artwork, beautiful descriptions of Giger’s work by his loved ones, the opening of the H.R. Giger Museum in Switzerland, and even dedicates screen time to the mischievous prowlings of Giger’s cat, Müggi III. Devotees of Giger’s work, along with those who are new to the visionary work of this influential artist, will appreciate the loving treatment that is given to his life and work in Dark Star: H.R. Giger’s World.
Dark Star: H.R. Giger’s World is available to stream on Netflix. Stanislav Grof’s HR Giger and the Zeitgeist of the Twentieth Century is available for purchase via Synergetic Press.