Reflections from Grassroots Organizers in the Field

Featuring Bia Labate, Joost J. Breeksema, Anya Oleksiuk, Ashleigh Murphy-Beiner, Jonathan Carmichael and Kevin Balktick.


October 28, 12:00pm to 2:00pm PST.

Psychedelic Conferences play an important role within our communities. As interest in psychedelics continues to expand exponentially, it is no surprise to see a surge in the number of learning events devoted to this topic over the last year. However, many of these new forums are produced by less experienced community members, and often primarily driven by the desires of the marketplace. Wisdom, depth, nuance, risks, and ethical considerations are often ignored in favor of a parade of “good news”, and perhaps promises of spectacular ROI. These new entrants raise questions about the integrity of the next generation of psychedelic discourse and practice, and the importance of traditions and values that have guided this community over the last few decades. At this forum, we will hear from a global panel of long-standing psychedelic conference organizers who will share their stories of how they established and grew their organizations, reflections on the value of community gatherings, and dreams and concerns for the future in an era of unprecedented growth.


Joost Breeksema is the executive director and co-founder of the OPEN Foundation, an Amsterdam-based non-profit organization focused on stimulating rigorous interdisciplinary research into psychedelics. He has organized numerous academic symposia and conferences, most recentlyICPR 2020. A strong believer in interdisciplinarity and collaboration, he has organized symposia with the Royal Academy of Sciences, edited a special issue on ‘Psychedelics and Psychiatry’ of the Journal of Psychiatry, co-founded a cross-institutional platform for the exchange of knowledge, ideas and research in the field of psychedelics (Indegeest-network), and co-founded the Association for the Medical Application of Psychedelics. Joost holds a MA in Philosophy and is currently undertakinga PhD at the University Centers of Psychiatry (UMCG and LUMC), where he conducts qualitative research within the context of clinical trials and treatments with ketamine, psilocybin, and MDMA. Interviewing patients and therapists about their experiences and perspectives, he aims to deepen our understanding of the potential therapeutic mechanisms involved and the role of non-pharmacological contextual factors. Underlying all his work is a deep-seated belief in the scientifically grounded, responsible and ethical integration of psychedelics into healthcare and society that respects the multiplicity of other, non-medical approaches.

Anya Oleksiuk is a Co-Owner and Co-Director of the Psychedelic Society UK, leading on video production and curating educational events on psychedelics. She recently launched Women in Psychedelics series, highlighting work of female psychedelic researchers, therapists, healers, artists and beyond. 2017, Anya founded Triptika Studios, which is a creative media agency, working on projects oriented towards social change and improving human wellbeing. She is the creator, director and producer of The Psychedelic Renaissance – a not-for-profit documentary film about the worldwide re-emergence of the psychedelic movement and the crucial role of psychedelic substances, plants and mushrooms in human culture. Anya is associated with the Psychedelic Society of the Netherlands and is a consultant for the Polish Psychedelic Society (Polskie TowarzystwoPsychodeliczne).

Ashleigh Murphy-Beiner is currently working as a Trainee Clinical Psychologist and previously worked on the Psilocybin for depression trial at Imperial College London providing longer term integration support, in addition to guiding patients. Ashleigh is trained as a mindfulness meditation teacher and recently completed psychopharmacological research with ayahuasca as part of her MSc Psychology degree. Her research found ayahuasca increased mindfulness and flexible thinking in both psychedelic naïve and experienced ayahuasca drinkers. Ashleigh has also assisted in ceremonies in Peru, leading mindfulness sessions developed to support preparation and integration. She has since further trained in embodied presence practices and is interested in the interdisciplinary application of each of these varied approaches to the therapeutic use of psychedelics.

Jonathan Carmichael is an ethnobotanical activist who is interested in social justice and the environment. He is a co-founder, conference director and President of the charity Entheogenesis Australis (EGA), which is devoted to critical thinking and knowledge sharing around ethnobotanical plants, fungi, nature and sustainability. Jonathan has been working as its primary driver in a volunteer capacity for almost two decades. He is also a founding member of the charity Psychedelic Research in Science & Medicine (PRISM) and is active on their committee. 

Dr. Beatriz Caiuby Labate (Bia Labate) is a queer Brazilian anthropologist. She has a Ph.D. in social anthropology from the State University of Campinas (UNICAMP), Brazil. Her main areas of interest are the study of plant medicines, drug policy, shamanism, ritual, and religion. She is Executive Director of the Chacruna Institute for Psychedelic Plant Medicines ( She is Adjunct Faculty at the East-West Psychology Program at the California Institute of Integral Studies (CIIS) in San Francisco. She is also Public Education and Culture Specialist at the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS). She is co-founder of the Interdisciplinary Group for Psychoactive Studies (NEIP) in Brazil, and editor of NEIP’s website (, as well as editor of the Mexican blog Chacruna Latinoamérica ( She is author, co-author, and co-editor of twenty-one books, two special-edition journals, and several peer-reviewed articles (

Kevin Balktick is the founder & director of Horizons Media, Inc., a not-for-profit educational charity based in New York City. Horizons creates live and digital forums, classes, and films that examine the role of psychedelic drugs and plant medicines in science, medicine, culture, and spirituality. Horizons: Perspectives on Psychedelics, its annual flagship weekend in the autumn established in 2007, is the largest and longest-running annual gathering of the psychedelic community in the world. His work on Horizons and other projects has been featured in The New York Times, National Public Radio, The New Yorker, The Washington Post, Vogue, WWD, Vice, Hospitality Design, Wired, NHT (Japan), The Guardian (UK), Ha’aretz (Israel), and other publications.

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