December 2010

Mushrooms in the limelight

By Art Goodtimes

SHROOMFEST … Had a two-page spread of gorgeous photos with a smoking gonzo story from Managing Editor Natasha Lewin in the Special 420 Collector’s Issue of High Times (Jan. 2011 – on newsstands now). Telluride garners lots of ink as an “exclusive Colorado resort” along with its five medical cannabis dispensaries (“two on main street”). As for the Mushroom Festival, the wide-angle parade snap says it all — lotsa costumed locals, Tony Corbin in the lead and number two son Gorio Rainbow Oshá lurking to the side above the printed parade mantra, “Fungophiles, unite!” But it’s the partial rainbow over Pandora that took my breath away then, and does so now … As Lewin sees it, “While the festival pays homage to fungi of all shapes & sizes (toxic & edible), the underlying purpose of the yearly trip to Telluride is clearly: to trip … out. Thirty years of wizard hats and fairy wings is nothing to shake a spore at” … Dates have changed for next year’s Shroomfest: Aug. 18-21 – we’re moving away from the Filmfest and Burning Man and the first week of school for most college students, but still in range for the August rains.

THE TALKING GOURD

Extinction Denial
written just before Halloween

Dumped in the curled leaf
of our empire’s autumn
in a sky that smells

like snow

Rushing around in a whirl
Trying to solve the sacred
messiness of life

No time to waste

but all the time in the world
for our luxurious
always-summer tastes

“HALLUCINOGENS … As Medicine” is the title of the peer-reviewed health piece in the December 2010 issue of Scientific American by Drs. Roland E. Griffiths & Charles S. Grob. They catalogue a new wave of research studies after years of restrictions that all but killed modern scientific study of psilocybin (the psychoactive compound in magic mushrooms) and other “classic hallucinogens” like psilocin, mescaline, DMT (dimethyltryptamine), and LSD (lysergic acid diethylamide), blaming “decades” of “anxiety-ridden attitudes.” Science, Griffiths & Grob say, is finally getting a chance to look at these and other substances that the popular media mis-classifies as “hallucinogens” but which appear to have some significant therapeutic value, such as ketamine, MDMA (popularly known as “ecstasy”), salvinorin A and ibogaine … Turns out, the science (in contradiction to the unscientific propaganda of the Drug Warriors) is following up early research from the Fifties suggesting that these currently-illicit naturallyoccurring compounds can have beneficial effects on humans under strict laboratory conditions … Of course, many of us paleohippies have known about the mystical therapeutic value of entheogens (as many of us call them) for a long time, dating back to our own Leary-era bio-assays … “The new generation of hallucinogen research, with its better methodologies, should be able to determine whether these drugs can in fact help people overcome their addictions,” argues Griffiths & Grob. “Beyond treating addictions, studies have recently started to test whether psilocybin can help allay the symptoms of obsessive-compulsive disorder … Recent investigations demonstrated that ketamine, given in low doses (it is normally used as an anesthetic), could provide more rapid relief from depression than traditional antidepressants such as Prozac.” … A recent trial in South Carolina used MDMA to successfully treat post-traumatic stress disorder in patients whom conventional therapies had failed to help. Similar MDMA trials are under way in Switzerland and Israel … Griffiths & Grob conclude, “Understanding how mystical experiences can engender benevolent attitudes toward oneself and others will, in turn, aid in explaining the welldocumented protective role of spirituality in psychological well-being and health. Mystical experiences can bring about a profound and enduring sense of the interconnectedness of all people and things – a perspective that underlies the ethical teachings of the world’s religious and spiritual traditions. A grasp of biology of the classic hallucinogens, then, could help clarify the mechanisms underlying human ethical and cooperative behavior – knowledge that, we believe, may ultimately be crucial to the survival of the human species” … As I always say on parade day at the Shroomfest, “We Love Mushrooms!”

WHITE BUFFALO FARM … What hippie hasn’t heard of the famous counterculture Tennessee farm of Steve Gaskin and friends? But in the North Fork our organic pioneers have been Wayne Talmage and friends at White Buffalo. They’ve managed to weather regional energy boom/busts for their farm and ecovillage from its establishment back in 1974 … I can remember when the old Winterstash Food Co-op/Columbine Grocery in Telluride would make a run out to White Buffalo for organic fruits and veggies and sell them in the old Reid Warehouse building. White Buffalo has remained a major advocate for organic food and sustainable farm systems on the Western Slope. And their organic model in farming and orcharding has spread slowly but steadily in the North Fork Valley and beyond … As Wayne explains it, “We represent a new paradigm in farming and living that will replace nonsustainable industrial food systems in the future” … The farm has 24 acres of fruits and vegetables and has been supplying them to local and regional markets for 36 years. Vegetables are grown year-round in high tunnels as well as on the grounds of the ranch … But bad fruit weather last year ate into reserves and now the survival of the farm is in real jeopardy. Hence, the plea to the regional community White Buffalo has served for more than 30 years … Money to tide the White Buffalo collective over and help it grow in size is needed. However, money is tight. Wayne is on the scout for environmentally- motivated investors … “We currently have plans to increase the number of our high tunnels for growing vegetables and tree fruits,” says Talmage, “as well as building a certified mobile kitchen to develop a value-added line of organic products. We anticipate doubling our revenue streams by 50 percent in the next five years” … Ambitious, but they’ve survived this far on determination and grit. As Wayne says, “White Buffalo farm is in need of further capitalization to support this expansion and remain a viable organic food producer … We are looking for expansion loans for up to 5 years at a 7 percent interest return to the lender.” Contact him at White Buffalo Farm, 16877 Grange Rd., Paonia, CO 81428, 970-275- 2076. Tax-deductible donations can also be sent by check to fiscal agent: The Generosity Exchange. Attn: Mitchell Toms, 10 W. Main St., Cortez, CO 81321.

HEADWATERS 21 … Western State College played a great host to its 21st Headwaters Conference in Gunnison this November, thanks to the generous support of President Jay Helman and the able direction of John Hausdoerfer. In the Passing of the Gourd ritual on Sunday morning, many heartfelt comments were made about the opportunity to learn and develop new skills to make communities resilient – the theme of the event ... Rarámuri anthropologist Enrique Salmón emphasized the importance of stories in maintaining sustainable indigenous foodways and biocultural diversity. He asked a provocative question — “What if Martin Luther King had told the assembled crowd before the Lincoln Memorial back in 1963, ‘I have a strategy’ instead of ‘I have a dream’ ” — to demonstrate the power of story over traditional Western methodologies such as analysis and planning … The brilliant environmental anthropologist Devon Peña of the University of Washington drew the distinction between indigenous complex societies and our own complicated but simplistic social structures, railing against the aggressive and predatory nature of capitalism. He also criticized American society’s structural violence, as in cutting the land into grids of mathematic squares regardless of topography or our initial social tolerance of slavery and racism/sexism/ageism, and suggested that structural violence leads to physical violence like hate crimes, rape and smallpox blankets. … Headwaters Bard Aaron Abeyta read a sad yet hauntingly beautiful letter/poem about nuclear contamination of his Antonito homeland by outside corporate interests… Jerome Osentowski, director of the Central Rocky Mountain Permaculture Institute in Basalt, as well as Broomfield’s New Leaf Gardens founder Alan Wartes showed what could be done to re-learn the skills of growing one’s own food in rural or urban settings. And Western State’s student Food Ninjas walked that talk by feeding conference attendees locally grown and processed food from local providers … Citizenship, naturalized exotics, immigration policy, climate chaos, cashfree bartering and exchange, the derivatives depression, externalities, time-banking, Jonathan Coop’s Institute for Applied Sustainability at Western State, Peggy Utesch’s oil & gas tales, Maria Struble’s refugee studies, Rick Bass’ keynote address on his environmental activism – it was a weekend of delight, insight and interactive discussion … Headwaters 21 was a full plate of intellectual stimulation spiced with poetry, song, theater, beer sessions and bracing walks. Quite delicious! … If you’ve never gone, you should mark your calendar for next fall, probably September.

Art Goodtimes is a San Miguel County commissioner.