May 26th, 2022

Episode #54

OF THE PSYCHEDELIC LEADERSHIP PODCAST

A New Philanthropic Paradigm Supporting Plant Medicine Conservation, Indigenous Sovereignty and Biocultural Diversity with
Miram Volat & Cody Swift

I speak with Miriam Volat and Cody Swift of The Riverstyx Foundation and the Indigenous Medicine Conservation Fund about its origin story, the Native American and other indigenous communities around the world it supports, how to support plant medicine conservation, & how to begin to be in right relationship with indigenous cultures through benefit sharing.

"If there are companies or even individuals who are getting benefits from these medicines that are acknowledged in an international framework as part of indigenous peoples’ rights, then let's start encouraging the frame of benefit sharing, as opposed to reciprocity which kind of implies consent and implies that there's a whole relationship and exchange going."
Miriam Volat, MS
Miriam Volat & Cody Swift

Listen:

About This Episode:

As the world comes to embrace the healing potential of sacred medicines, how do we ensure the original stewards of these medicines are uplifted, honored, and supported in this search for our collective healing? If we envision a future where indigenous peoples, their medicines, & traditional knowledge are honored, respected, and supported to thrive for generations to come then what specific actions can we take to do no harm, to truly be in right-relationship with these cultures?


In today’s episode, I speak with Miriam Volat and Cody Swift of The Riverstyx Foundation and the Indigenous Medicine Conservation Fund about its origin story, the Native American and other indigenous communities around the world it supports, plant medicine conservation & how to begin to be in right relationship with indigenous cultures.


This is an extremely complex topic, and these two emphasize that they are still LEARNING, and LISTENING, and part of what you’ll hear and learn in this episode, is about the serious biocultural crisis happening across the planet for these traditional knowledge holding communities as they lose access to land, plant medicine, and even their own language.

We answer questions like, what does “right relationship” mean? What does “do-no-harm” mean? What is a bioculture? What does “solidarity-based support” mean? We get into the details of how are funds utilized and organized, how are assessments conducted in these indigenous communities and how are their voices being amplified? In this episode, we all expand our perception and outlook on what it means to support indigenous communities and the sacred medicines of the planet and to remind us that we are all one family sharing the sacred responsibility and commitment to thrive on Earth together.

Core Themes

Explored in this episode:
  • Plant Medicine Conservation
  • Indigenous communities
  • Decolonization
  • Keystone Medicines
  • Alternative governance models
  • Indigenous led conservation
  • Indigenous traditional knowledge
  • Biocultures
  • Cultural knowledge preservation
  • Biocultural diversity
  • Community-based assessments/leadership

Links &

useful resources
  • Grow Medicine
  • Riverstyx Foundation
  • IMC Fund
  • NARF - Native American Rights Fund
  • Institute for Psychedelic Plant Medicines
  • FREE 8-DAY Microdosing course
  • 4 MUSIC PLAYLISTS FOR PSYCHEDELIC JOURNEYS & BEYOND
Grow Medicine

Grow Medicine is an easy-to-use platform that empowers the psychedelic community to step into right relationship with indigenous cultures

PSYCHEDELIC PODCAST

Episode Transcript

Episode #54 Full Transcript: 

My name is Laura Dawn and you’re listening to a very special episode of the psychedelic leadership podcast, featuring my conversation with two truly incredible human beings. 

Cody Swift, is a philanthropist, a licensed psychotherapist and executive director of the RiverStyx foundation and Miriam Volat who is the Co-Director of Riverstyx and the co-director of the Indigenous Medicine Conservation Fund, of which Grow Medicine is a project of. 

I am so thrilled to be featuring both Cody swift and Miriam Volat on the podcast today and the work they are doing with Riverstyx foundation and the indigenous medicine conservation fund and the origin story of these initiatives, not only because they are templating and modeling a new philanthropic paradigm, especially in the psychedelic space,  but also because it weaves together the origin story of Grow Medicine, which is a project I am helping to steward,  and through a partnership collaborating Grow Medicine is a project of The Indigenous medicine conservation fund, and I’ll share a little more about grow before we dive in, 

And I know some of you listening have been tracking my journey with this Grow Medicine project, and wondering wait a second, I thought you were launching that last year, well I was about to until I met Miriam from the Indigenous Medicine Conservation Fund, and we entered a partnership agreement and now Grow has really become an integrated part of the fund. 

So for this episode, I really want to highlight the work that Cody and Miriam have been doing at Riverstyx foundation, because Riverstyx along with Dr. Bronners (and other unnamed philanthropists) really helped to birth the Indigenous Medicine Conservation Fund – which is so incredibly needed. 

Because right now we are approaching a crucial tipping point in the psychedelic movement. 

As these medicines rapidly enter Western culture, This rise in demand is placing significant pressure on the Indigenous communities, and biocultures, and their medicines.  

As the world comes to embrace the healing potential of sacred medicines, how do we ensure the original stewards of these medicines are uplifted, honored, and supported in this search for our collective healing? 

 

And how do we step towards right relationship and ensure that these biocultures thrive for generations to come? And this is the work that the Fund is doing and by extension, Grow Medicine as well. 

And so Miriam is the co-direcotr on the fund, and she is a researcher an educator a facilitator and ecologist, she’s also a mother,  and Miriam is the executive director of IPCI – the indigenous peyote conservation initiative and  sits on the board of the MAPS public benefit corporation,  and she is so passionate about biocultural conservation, and I feel very fortunate to have learned an enormous amount from her, especially over the past 6 months. 

  1. Cody Swift, MFT is a philanthropist, qualitative researcher, and licensed psychotherapist. Through the Riverstyx Foundation, he has collaborated extensively on projects addressing healthy society through working with stigmatized populations and issues – those most likely to be overlooked for funding and support- and since 2007, has helped to fund over 20 psychedelic research trials. He has served as a therapist-guide in the Johns Hopkins psilocybin and cancer-anxiety study, and has conducted dozens of qualitative interviews with study subjects into the subjective aspects of their experiences with psilocybin and MDMA. He has dedicated himself to this field, not only because of the efficacy of these medicines, but because of they way they heal- by helping individuals to turn towards difficult or painful aspects of their lives, to reconcile them into greater wholeness, and gain perspective on life beyond illness. He has a passion for reinvigorating religious traditions through psychedelics and has also worked for over 7 years supporting indigenous communities in the conservation of their sacred plant medicines, such as the Native American Church in the preservation of Peyote and the Indigenous Medicine Conservation Fund. 

And Cody is honestly just such a kind-hearted human being, and both Miriam and Cody are both doing such good work and they really bring such a depth of perspective to some of the crucial issues that we are facing in the psychedelic space right now, especially these topics around reciprocity and plant medicine conservation and being in right relationship with indigenous cultures and communities that have been stewarding these medicine and the importance of supporting indigenous communities so they can continue to thrive, but even how to go about that, is not so straight forward. And through their depth of understanding, that really able to shed light on so much of the nuance in these topics and also highlight the importance of the words we choose, that’s been a big learning curve for me. How we talk about these topics and the specific words we choose is really important, like understanding the difference between reciprocity and benefit-sharing, which Miriam will speak to in this conversation. 

so I really just wanted to elevate their voices, give them space to share their perspective, so you can also learn about how they are thinking about these topics and my hope is that it will influence how you think about these topics as well. Because we know that the narratives we repeat actually do inform our behavior.  

And to set the context for this, one thing I didn’t ask Miriam in this conversation was to explicitly share the mission of the Indigenous Medicine Conservation Fund, so I wanted to share it with you before we dive in because it’s really a powerful mission and I want to illuminate the magnitude of what this fund is really doing. 

And the IMC Fund is working to    

Ensuring a future where Indigenous Peoples, their medicines and knowledge thrive for generations to come. 

As an indigenous-led philanthropic vehicle, we work to ensure the resilience of our Peoples in the face of cultural appropriation, environmental extractivism, human rights violations and climate change. 

Partnering with funders globally, informed by robust ecological and community-based assessments, we build alliances with organizations on ground, fund their efforts and do strategic engagement with leaders of each bio-culture. 

Really it’s such a powerful mission. And they are in the process of a 20 million dollar philanthropic raise, and so if you know anyone who might be interested in supporting  on a larger scale, you can learn more by going to IMC.fund. 

 And the Fund has 6 commitments, and I want to share those with you as well, because it illuminates the mission in action: 

  1. Build a new philanthropic paradigm of right relationship and trust between Indigenous communities and funders.
  2. Ensure conservation strategies are Indigenous-led and strengthen the core principles of Unity, Territory, Autonomy and sustaining culture.
  3. Advance the realization and recognition of Indigenous Peoples rights.
  4. Work to ensure strategies are in place that reduces harm from increasing global pressure and strengthens traditional medicines and the Indigenous cultures that steward them.
  5. Amplify the voices of traditional knowledge holders and the crucial importance of the health of their cultures for humanity and the planet.
  6. Create a mechanism for benefit sharing for the psychedelic industry and the broader community – this is where Grow Medicine comes in.

And so Grow Medicine is like the forward facing brand, the crowd funding arm of the IMC Fund, and so we have created an easy-to-use mobile-friendly application that empowers the psychedelic and medicine community to step towards right relationship by donating to support plant medicine conservation, Indigenous sovereignty and biocultaral diversity. 

So Grow Medicine is an extension of the governance and the assessment that the fund undergoes. 

And we are going live May 31st and starting that day, you can go to grow medicine.com 

It’s easy and done in three simple steps

  1. Head to GrowMedicine.com
  2. Select the keystone medicine you wish to directly support that has enriched your life (and their are 5 keystone medicines to choose from. Ayahuasca, Peyote, Iboga, Mu shrooms, or Toad ) 
  3. Pick your donation amount – and we encourage you to hit “make this a monthly donation”

Your donation goes towards Indigenous-led initiatives that are strengthening their communities in their efforts to conserve keystone plant medicines and traditional knowledge that they rely on for their healing and cultural survival.

After making a donation, scroll through the page and learn more about the risks and threats these keystone medicines and their biocultures face, which is also part of the mission of Grow Medicine, to educate and inform people about the impact of our choices. 

 And so the initiatives and Indigenous-led organization we are featuring on Grow Medicine have gone through a very in-depth assessment and Miriam and Cody speak to this process in the conversation it’s all about building relationships, building trust and listening, and supporting in the way these communities asking for support, which is solidarity-based support. 

This is another term we’re helping to grow awareness around,  And you can learn more about these narrative shifts by going to growmedicine.com 

Please sign up if you would like to support the launch and share it with your communities ad help us to amplify this really important message. 

And I really hold the vision that grow medicine becomes an integrated part of the psychedelic movement. 

So again, I encourage you to check out imc.fund to learn more about what the fund is doing, and please check out growmedicine.com and share it with your friends. And all links can also be found at lauradawn.co/54 where you can learn more about Miriam and Cody. 


Laura Dawn: Hi Cody. Hi Maryam. Thanks for joining me today. It’s nice to have you guys here. Thanks for having us Lauren. I thought a good place to start would be for Cody. If you could introduce yourself, share a little bit about your background and I would love to hear the origin story of river sticks

 foundation.

Cody: Sure. So I am a licensed psychotherapist in California and I’ve also been. Directing the river sticks foundation for about 14 years. And Miriam came on about five or six years ago now, um, as co-director and, um, river Styx is ostensibly a small family foundation. That’s a grant making, uh, foundation. So we, we do give grants, but we also initiate projects.

And, um, how it came about is really from my great grandfather, um, who was, um, an early, um, early involvement with ups United process service. And, and my grandmother left me, um, the small foundation called river sticks and. So I was about 21 or 22 at the time and had just graduated with a degree in psychology and, um, really taking on this responsibility of the foundation, which really didn’t have a clear mission or vision.

And so I was tasked with this very interesting challenge to look at the world’s issues and problems, and to try to figure out with a relatively small amount of money, you know, giving away a million, a million and a half dollars a year to try to make some kind of substantial difference. And in these gargantuan issues that we’re facing today of, of climate change and massive economic disparities and you know, really a psychological, spiritual crisis of meaning and purpose and addiction and depression.

And, uh, so I spent many, many years just in this deep, deep grappling, really my own existential struggle with, um, how, how do you begin to trusting some of these issues and through my own process and from my training in psychology, really coming to understand that our collective latent anxieties are really fueling each of these major crises in the world from climate change to economic disparities, either that from our collective anxiety, we’re driven towards this compulsive way of engaging in the world and with each other and in a very exploitive manner, trying to attract.

Uh, that anxiety and that a lot of those anxieties have come from a deep historic disconnection from our ecologies, a disconnection from a sense of spirit and meaning and place in society. And, and so that really kind of drove this understanding of needing to, to help avail tools, tools that could perhaps in gender or reconnection.

And so that was a deep basis for getting early involved with the psychedelic work and finding our way to Johns Hopkins. About 14 years ago, where we began funding trials, uh, with cancer, anxiety, and psilocybin. So cancer patients who are suffering existential distress and, um, and really beautifully finding that the suicide.

W it did not just provide a, an instant cure or relief. It was a deep journey in reconciliation with one’s deepest shadows and one suffering and, and relationship to death and with cancer and, uh, just, uh, a really, really poetic and beautiful way of empowering people on their own journey that wasn’t just about taking away suffering, but helping people to grow through that crisis they had.

And I’ll, I’ll try to wrap up quickly here, but sort of moving into my own graduate school. I in psychology G again, really focusing on how a lot of our collective pathology. We’re really born from this, this breakdown of religion in our culture and how religion used to really serve this, this holding of meaning this fabric of meaning and place and purpose and community, and that the clergy, where are, you know, they were our mental health professionals and that there’s been a significant collapse of, of really.

The whole structure of, of ideology and that con cosmology that’s left us bereft. And I think that was also a, uh, a deep kind of basis for finding our way to supporting the native American church as well. When I first met Sandra our iron rope, who was the president of the native American church of north America, um, and really learning more deeply about the native American church and, and their history and their use of peyote and discovering that there were these traditions, indigenous traditions who, despite all the traumas and the colonialization, everything, all the difficulties that they face, they managed to, to really preserve that thread of, of tradition and spirituality and, and having.

This really remarkable tool and ceremony and culture in place that could help reinforce and recondition and reconnect to the core elements of life, to the water, to the fire, to earth and air. And that for me, personally, that this religion, and I’m almost emotional talking about that this, this way of practicing spirituality was something that I had.

I think I’d always longed for in a way that wasn’t subscribing to this transcendent sort of sense of God that. You know, what’s just talked about, but actually being able to have a context to experience the divine is intimate and immediate and present. And so learning about it, I was just so moved to, to support their ways in any way that I could.

And so trying to dig into that and really listen and learn and be patient and trying to really hear what they want that needed to, to continue. And what I came to discover is that what they wanted and needed most was support to ensure that they had continued access to their medicine. This powerful medicine that has helped them, you know, for tribes in Mexico for thousands of years and, and more recently for the last 150 years in north America.

And so that’s kind of the background of what, uh, led us to make this big investment in ITCI and purchasing the land the six oh five as we call it the 605 acres down in, in Southwest Texas. And, uh, And I, and I, I do believe that, you know, circling back to this again, this collective anxiety that we’re facing in the west, I think that all sort of stems from what we’ve done to native American communities that we have, not that we’ve not taken time to slow down and, and have deep reconciliation and that we just bulldozed so fast, you know, these landscapes and cultures and built up so quickly and that we’ve cut ourselves off from what was here.

And I think that’s probably felt on a, on a deep bodily level and, and starting to do this work of finding a way to, um, to not just give back, but empower those communities to. To come into health. And again, you know, all what they’re asking for is just to have access to this medicine peyote medicine that has helped them so much and to be, you know, to be left, to pray, pray in their way.

Yeah. So it’s just been a privilege and an honor, beyond, beyond words to have gotten, to participate and partner with the native American leadership in this way, that’s beautiful. I’d love Merriam for you to sort of insert yourself into this timeline. Share a little bit of your background. And when did you and Cody meet and was it through the indigenous peyote conservation initiative?

Is that how you guys met? Um, no, actually how we met is all utilized as a way of sharing a little bit about my background. I had the very good fortune of growing up north of San Francisco in the Oak Woodlands and redwoods of Sonoma county. And so. Got to grow up in a place that I was completely in love with and became academically trained to do ecological work, specifically working in Agra ecosystems and bringing sustainability into our food system.

And I would say food and medicine and system, because food is one of the very important medicines. And, and my focus in that arena, working on water and environment issues has always been process. So community process, community health, doing multi-stakeholder work, bringing folks together who otherwise might be in conflict to really come into agreement about how.

Um, their homes and their territories could be, uh, protected. And so one of the projects that I worked on was actually how to legalize and make available the ancient technology of composting, our waste and composting toilets. And, and so that was how I met Cody. And. And, you know, it’s interesting coming from a process perspective and a process background as an ecologist, because it’s really all about relationships.

And so the way that I actually really entered into, um, this work with river sticks was, uh, Cody invited me to come and serve as a facilitator to the national council of native American churches in their conversations and strategy sessions around what to do around contracting. And so from there, they actually requested that I stay on as the sort of initiating director of the organization and river Styx has continued to support me to be in that role.

And you know, this is a little bit about where our commitment to kind of expanding our ability to support indigenous communities came from. Because interestingly enough, it was really hard for funders to understand. The value of supporting this, even though, you know, we were talking about communities with intact set and setting for microscopic amounts of money, compared to the research on set and setting and that’s happening, you could actually support native Americans to continue.

Like Cody said, having access to their medicine on their own terms. And then we started. Supporting assessment work and other kinds of projects in other places like in Gabo and doing community-based assessment and conservation assessment with Ebola and with the Wiki people. And we partnered at that time with ICEERS and burners to support that assessment work and learn that a lot of the issues there were very similar, the pressures from different kinds of industries, but also the psychedelic Renaissance.

And the fact that I began was being this very successful medicine for opiate use disorder and PTSD with bets was already in just 10 years, making major pressures on the populations there and impacting the ability of the local people that we T bond to and pick me to access their medicine the way they had.

Millennia, you know, in that case, you know, the Pygmies learned how to use Ebola from elephants, and then they taught the other tribes. Um, and then we also, um, began to do similar work in south America and the Amazon basin and initially in Colombia and then other places, and we heard the same refrain, you know, where for various reasons, not just psychedelics, but also other.

Pressures from, uh, you know, basically colonial pressures. We can call it that, um, on their territory, it was becoming harder and harder for them not just to access their medicine, but to conduct their way of life, to bring their culture. As a, as a living thing into the future, um, their languages, you know, as offerings to their children, as ways of managing their own mental health, identity security, all of those things.

Miriam: And so as we got deeper into the learning process, which I know Laura, Don, you know, this is a learning for us, this, of how to really support these communities from a place where you’re giving support, but you’re not necessarily even giving guidance, right? Because you, when you do this work, you, you have to be in a big trusting relationship with people that they actually know from their own cultural ways, what they need, but also providing some interface with the bigger world and coming out of Columbia in particular, we were getting these very clear.

Not just for more money, but also, can you help us navigate dealing with funders when they come here because they want these things or they want us to change this. And it’s very complicated and it takes a lot of time technical support. We need support on figuring out how to do these like website things and budget things.

And like all these interface factors. Can you help us figure out how to get our message out there because it gets drowned out and it gets changed and it gets too signaled. I think that was a key word. And so. You know, out of, out of hearing these requests for deeper, more substantive support, that was where the idea in collaboration with our partners, for a vehicle that would serve as a really trusted way for there to be this interface between the broader sort of mainstream communities and these indigenous traditional knowledge holders.

So anyways, that was a little bit technical, but that was essentially the, you know, the origin story for the fund. And then there was some very practical things like how are we actually going to get this pod conservation really fully supported because we can’t do it on our own. And, you know, there are things like that, but really it was, there was a lot of requests from, you know, indigenous groups to have something like this happen.

So there was the river sticks organization. And then I know Bronner’s came in as just a huge support. And then from there you decided how many years ago to say, okay, we are going to start the indigenous medicine conservation fund. Now as this vehicle for trust-building. Well, we actually started three years ago, but this brings up a, you know, and Cody alluded to this sometimes when you’re wanting to do really good, do no harm, right relationship.

These are some of the terms we use support. You can’t go fast. And so, you know, we not only were we listening, but we also started talking to a lot of people on the ground around what would this look like? What kind of governance process would it look? Would it have? We did a lot of research on that. And the initial thing we did actually remember coding.

We had a series that we called it an indigenous medicine contribution webinars. And that was like three years ago now where we just wanted to highlight for funders, some of the issues that are happening on the ground. And then we continued, we’ve continued to build from the. Okay. Great. And so the fund supports what we call five Keystone medicines.

And why do we call it a Keystone medicine? Well, Keystone is one of these, uh, words that comes out of ecology, which describes, you know, an organism or a part of a system that has a particular kind of relationship and an ecosystem. So if it’s a Keystone organism or a Keystone bio culture or a Keystone medicine, it means that if it failed or went away or, or even is struggling, that everything else in the ecosystem is impacted by that.

And so the reason why we’re using that Keystone bio culture language is because we’re acknowledging that these are, um, Madison’s, but also the bio cultures around them, meaning the territory and the people and the ways and the ceremonial knowledge and the material knowledge and all of that. If those are weekend, then everything around them is weaker.

And that really points to this understanding that plant medicine conservation, even though it’s amazing that people in the medicine and psychedelic communities are really starting to think about the importance of plant medicine conservation that we actually even need to think bigger than that. Can you speak to that a little bit more of the importance for people to really get why we need to broaden our perspective on that?

Well, it’s been one of the things that, um, we’ve learned really deeply from the process of doing community-based assessment. So there’s no indigenous, um, medicine, um, holding culture that says that it’s just about a planet. Right. It’s always about that plant in the context of it’s territory, the other animals, the other plants that are there in the context of its history and tradition with a particular group of people, the way it’s passed from generation to generation, the ceremonial traditions, the way that information is passed in ceremony.

Like Cody reference the other elements, you know, water, air, fire, other herbs, other medicines that surround it, just the rhythm of things, seasonal rhythms. And so, you know, we have a tendency in Western culture to want to kind of pluck something there really shiny parts out of something. But one of the things that we’ve learned in these relationships is that you can’t just con concern just this one, you know, kind of shiny part it’s, everything it’s even the Lang you know, the language because the languages of these communities.

Hold the knowledge about what the nuance of the relationship between the medicines, the territory and the people. And so, you know, moving into this kind of conservation, we have had to figure out how to navigate and also. Do education around the narrative around this, you know, we get really excited about IOSCO is just two plants, but really when we’re engaging in a relationship with that medicine, there’s a lot more there, right?

There’s the whole jungle. And there’s like so much knowledge and there’s layers of knowledge. And, you know, we forget that, um, somebody who works with Iowasca and administered. Therapists priests, doctor, you know, whatever analogy you want to make for their people with that medicine. They, those people have not only generational training, but 40 50 years of training.

There’s a lot of knowledge there. And so that’s one of the reasons why we really use this term bio culture is because we can’t actually go in. And just like we had one of the funniest experiences in this process where, you know, and, and I think Cody can agree. We can Huck said, oh my gosh, we can partner with this person or we’ll do a plantation.

We’ll grow a whole bunch of medicine. There’ll be all this greater abundance. And that’s a beautiful, but then the folks say, well, actually we, we, we don’t have a problem growing our medicine. We know how to do that. We actually need support protecting our territory. So we have access to it so that we can grow that medicine.

And then you go, oh, right. So that’s actually an example of having community direct their funding because they actually know what those strategies are to be able to have access to their medicine for a hundred years. You know? And those are the kinds of questions that we’re asking in our assessments. So, yeah.

Cody, did you have something you wanted to ask? Well, Marin did illustrate that beautifully, but I was just going to share a little, a little story about our process and you know, how there’s been a lot of trust-building both ways, you know, for these communities to, to really trust us and, and trying to learn and understand where we’re coming from.

It’s not, it’s not common or usual for philanthropists to step in in this way. You know, I think so much has been taken from them. They’re not used to, to something being given freely and openly. And so we’re, we’re always having to do this sort of self inquiry and self checking of our intentions here and, and try to stay really.

Really clear and honest, you know what we’re getting out of it, even if it’s, you know, gratification of helping in this way in fulfilling our own meaning in our lives, wherever that’s coming from. But the trust is the other way too, and, and trusting them. And, and I recall when we first started with the peyote work, we were really struggling to figure out what was the, the entry point into this conversation of, of really large scale.

Conservation of the medicine, that there would be a real need to, to help restore in the order of magnitude of million million plus medicine a year that has been taking every year out of the gardens. And how do we really get to leverage scale? And, and so, uh, we came across this, this land, this 605 acres, and it was apparent that there was tons of peyote on it.

And we did a, uh, an assessment with the cact-ologist and he confirmed how great it was and how flush of medicine. And I said, well, great. You know, we have to get it. This is, you know, this is perfect. And I asked him, well, how long would that last, the church? You know, how much, how long would that sustain the church?

And he said, well, you know, all the medicine could be harvested within a week. Wow right thought, oh my God. Well, why, why would we, why would we do that? Why would we, um, spend a million dollars to buy this land? If it’s, you know, a drop in the bucket, we could spend that on greenhouses million dollars worth of greenhouses and, you know, get to get to leverage scale that way.

And, and it was leadership of the native American church quietly kept telling me no, you know, blank. No, this is really important and not really telling me why, but just the steady firm commitment to, to how important that would be. And, and for us, it was a leap of faith. It was truly a leap of faith in trusting them, because from our perspective, we couldn’t see what value that would have.

And so we, we jumped and, and bought the land and it’s been really the, the turnkey of the whole project beyond anything we could have ever expected because it, it was real, it made the whole conversation real and, and allowed something that we never could have anticipated, which is a safe home for the native American communities, native American church communities, to be able to pray to their medicine.

On the ground, you know, in its natural habitat, which they haven’t had for, you know, extensively the past 50 to a hundred years, since it’s all been privatized all about land and how challenging it is to, uh, to have access to the Atlanta and how much disconnect there’s been. So this is just a, an illustration of, of really the trust both ways.

And, and even if we can’t understand the value of something, to be able to really listen, listen to those communities and really trust them and, you know, buying this land and it just being the, the turnkey opening, all of these conversations with local ranchers to who saw us as a neighbor now, and was willing to talk to us and be able to get leases on other ranch lands, to be able to, uh, manage their.

Peyote um, fields in a, in a conservation, um, perspective. And, you know, that extends to just the whole conversation around decrim nature and this, this real conflict that we’ve been in around, um, you know, keeping peyote, uh, off the list of medicines to be decriminalized. And, you know, maybe, maybe from, you know, our Western perspective, me and Mary, and maybe that doesn’t, you know, we’re, you know, liberal Californians and, you know, don’t want people to be arrested and at the same time, We really heard, like very, very clearly from native Americans, you know, the point of, of them being, you know, emotional about how scary that is to, to have their medicine being, being unlocked and available to.

White consumers and, um, and how, how dangerous and threatening that felt to them and, and really, and really getting behind that voice, even if it was a diff difficult battle to fight and, and a, and a, in a place to stand in. And so, yeah, again, to tell a straight the trust that’s, that’s had to take place, um, really both ways.

Um, and I feel like this really speaks to what you’re doing differently with the indigenous medicine conservation fund. That truly is indigenous led. And I think that the conventional approaches, like I want to show up, I’m going to help, and I’m going to throw money at helping. And what you guys are doing is fundamentally different.

You’re showing up based on an invitation to engage in a conversation and you’re showing up to listen and to basically follow the lead of these indigenous leaders. Yeah. I mean, I think the form of the governance of the fund really we’ve worked to exemplify that kind of struck, you know, codify or put that into structure so that it can last because I think for, for us Cody and I, and the rest of the river six team and, and Bronner’s as the philanthropy side, Doing this work to capacitate and help this organization form is really about an offering.

And our imagination is that in a couple years, we’ll continue to do fundraising, but the operations of this organization, ongoing assessment, the technical support on the ground, the choosing of not just projects, but also strategies in regions will all be under the direction of indigenous people and already, or whoever they choose.

Right. And already we have a governance structure where we have a conservation committee. That’s made up of representatives from each of the bio cultures. Uh, sometimes more than one because they’re going to get complex enough that we need to have more than one. And also technical advisors who are deeply experienced in being in that kind of bridge, making role, where they can bring in the technical pieces, but they know how to navigate respect fully in these communities and not conservation committee.

Not me, not Cody, not David Bronner make the decisions about where the funding, those, and it’s really a, it’s a different philanthropic paradigm. You know, Cody was said, you know, trusting, it’s like trusting. And sometimes we don’t know exactly which way those decisions are going to go. And that’s really, really, really okay.

And we’re even pushing the limits of kind of conventional philanthropy to the point where we have people who are recipients. Uh, their communities are recipients of funds who serve on that conservation committee because they deeply know what’s needed. However, they are held. And responsible to their communities.

You know, one of our conservation committee members has, has a thousand spiritual leaders that he answers to community. Um, another person, um, the, uh, the woman who, um, is in the bogus seat. She’s the young one. But the communities are so stressed and competitive there, that they came together and agreed that actually this young woman who would be able to hold representing everybody.

So each person who’s, there has a commitment to be integrity in integrity to that. Um, they’re not representative in the like tribal government sense, but just representative to their community and bio culture. And so, um, that’s a pretty unique philanthropic structure. And to show you how that goes. We actually, we, we first had to create a structure that we could get going in.

And then the conservation committee that was formed. Took that structure took all our processes, even in the way, the mission and vision was written. All of the language about how we communicate about assessments, how we communicate about, um, the threats and opportunity, all of that. And they reworked it to actually be fully theirs.

And so, you know, and that brings up the pacing. And of course, it’s not just a philanthropic vehicle for focusing the psychedelic space, but I think this is particularly, it’s particularly important to point out that the psychedelic space is moving very, very quickly. And it’s been a challenge and I think will continue to be a challenge to make sure that we’re honoring the pace of governance in these communities while navigating really.

Supporting the psychedelic community to hear these narratives around Bennett fish, hearing around the responsibility to actually maintain and ensure access into the future of these communities while the pacing is slightly different, right? The pacing of Silicon valley and the pacing of this iterative representative indigenous worldview process, they’re very different.

So a lot of the work of our staff, people like me and Cody and, you know, bend alone and who’s, um, come on as co-director is kind of handling some of the, um, the friction and timing of all these things. And so for people in the medicine community, the psychedelic community, whether people are guides or facilitators or companies or organizations, I think it’s amazing that they’re starting to be more conversation right now about reciprocity, but why did you as a fund decide to not lead with reciprocity as a word that you’re using and instead focus on benefit sharing and right relationship.

Well, maybe I’ll take this first. And then I think Cody can comment on this really well, but I think the question we were asking ourselves and we ask it in other arenas river sticks is okay. If you really look out a hundred years where we’re going to be with this psychedelic movement, that’s happening and what do we want.

And then also, you know, Laura, Don is a systems thinker. What are some of the a hundred consequences and is unequivocally clear that if we get 40 or 50 years down the road and the psychedelic movement or all of that, actually just put pressure more pressure on these communities and skipped over the opportunity to do benefit sharing and even change some of their behaviors.

That it was going to, I don’t know, for lack of better word, just feel terrible. Sometimes I’ve been being a little bit dramatic and say, it will have failed because it will have caused more trauma than, you know, MTMA or any of these or could ever address. And I don’t know that, you know, but it’s being a little dramatic, but I think really it was that it was that serious where this was really, really arrogantly important to address.

And it’s not just pressure on these territories. It’s also pressure on people’s medicine, sovereign entity and biological heritage rights. It’s very, very scary for people in these communities when their medicines are being medicalized and pulled apart because they think of them as relatives. Right. So, you know, when, when somebody is very excited and coming from a beautiful well-intentioned place and wants to commercialize iOS.

That causes trauma. And I owe a lot of Ayahuasca communities and they get very, very concerned about what’s happening. So just starting to think about, okay. This, all these tracks are happening. Where’s the, where’s the right relationship between them. And so then actually it’s probably like four, four or five years ago now in relation to Mescaline, uh, somebody in one of our board meetings asked a question about intellectual property rights and what they were.

And we started looking at, what is this YPO? What is the world intellectual property organization? And what does, how does it impact indigenous people? And come to discover 176 countries are signers to the Nagoya protocol and the biodiversity protocols. And they spent 35 years developing a framework for ensuring that biological and genetic material as well.

Well, as cultural art that was used for business benefit, that there was. Ethical standards for how people would engage them with the indigenous communities who have those heritage connections to those things. You know, an example would be, if you’re using an Aboriginal art all over your hotel, then you’re supposed to honor the artists and give back.

And so we started looking at how this applied and, um, and so that’s where this idea of benefit sharing comes from is that. Oh, you know, if there’s companies or even individuals who are getting benefit from these things that are acknowledged in an international framework as part of indigenous peoples rights, um, then let’s start encouraging that use of, um, the frame, uh, framing of benefit sharing, as opposed to rest of prosody, which kind of implies consent and implies that there’s a whole relationship and exchange going.

And that benefit sharing doesn’t in the same way, imply that there’s like has been a consent process and it acknowledges that there might not have been. And that, that just seemed important and clear, and our partners and the communities have agreed with that. And, um, and wanted to see that language change.

Yeah. Uh, I think that was just beautifully put and I, you know, just. In terms of Symantec site. I like that point that, um, you know, reciprocity does assume some kind of consent of something given back. And I think we, we wanted to come at this with a true place of giving. And without saying that outright, I think benefit sharing really, really, um, hits that sweet spot.

And I would say even further, you know, one word that I think Mariam and I did want to use early on. And I think we feel deep in our hearts and this is it’s tricky language, um, because there’s, there’s often shame associated but associated with it, but reparations, you know, um, I think this is, this is an important thing too.

To say and to name and that we shouldn’t forget of what has been taken from these communities and how, how little has been really given back to, um, to support them. I mean, even just in the philanthropic field point, zero 5% of all philanthropic dollars goes to support native American communities. And a lot of that doesn’t even reach those communities directly.

It’s funneled through, um, institutions and, and academic organizations. Um, and so it just, uh, No, I think there is a place for, for honoring, um, all that the west has come to again, to benefit from of these lands. And I feel as a philanthropist, you know, having benefited and holding these resources that came directly from the fruits of this land, you know, the very, very least that I can do as a philanthropist is, is to ensure that they have continued access to a medicine that they rely on for their healing.

And that we, as a psychedelic community have come to, you know, to really get very optimistic and on board with the understanding that these are our healing medicines and we’re. Validating that in our own scientific parlance. And if we, if we really accept that these are healing medicines, why wouldn’t we by extension want to ensure that those native American communities that have been so, so hurt by our actions have, have access to those medicines in their own frame.

And that’s really where we come from in this, right. And each of the Keystone medicines face such nuanced, complex different challenges and threats. And so even just trying to educate about what those threats are to the audiences that are so different, it has been yes, such an interesting journey as well.

Um, I also love this term solidarity based support. This has been really just what I’ve learned along the way of, of what it means to offer support in a way that these cultures and that these communities are asking for. And so I just want to. Presence that term as well, because benefit sharing in a way that is based on solidarity based support is a way that they are leading the discussion on how these communities are asking for support.

I think that there’s this incredible moment right now, where a lot of things are up in the air. There’s a lot of learning happening. There’s a lot of exploring happening and maybe moments like this don’t happen all the time, but, you know, as a, as an ecologist, I kind of think of it a little bit as like there’s some disruption that’s happened.

And so there’s an opportunity before things get solidified. Um, And some of our structures get in place around how medicalization is gonna work and how, um, new legal frameworks are going to work. And, um, you know, how therapeutic models are going to happen and all of that, there’s this kind of moment of an opportunity to really, it’s not just about bringing in different narratives, but also support different ways of thinking about things and kind of weave in and include that things like benefit sharing would just be of course, an automatic and, you know, they’re built into governance models and philanthropic models and you know, and all of that.

And so. Um, so I think solidarity based support where it’s based on listening to and being with the communities that you’re, you’re addressing their concerns is this is kind of the moment to do that. All the listening that we can do, all the creation of good structures that we can do, hopefully we’ll be able to have really an impact, you know, 10, 15 years from now about how we all do things.

And so I think part of why we’re looking at this kind of philanthropic model and looking at this offering is so that it’s in place and solid. And if in a few years, and it would be amazing if all psychedelic companies in the space would be able to give a percentage of earnings back. And do you think that’s enough?

Like if a company. And I won’t name some of the big names, but if they’re like, I’m donating 10% to be in reciprocity and it’s going to X, Y, Z. Do you think that’s enough? Well, I’ll, I’ll tackle this. I think that, um, no, I mean, I think it’s, you know, it’s, it’s a wonderful thing, but, but what we’ve been talking about this whole past hour is it’s about listening.

And so I think there’s some pieces that need to be picked up and, and I don’t want to speak for people right now because we’re still learning about this, but what I hear on the ground in the communities that we’re supporting, and I think what we’re hearing through our engagement in the fund is that there may be some things that we’re doing just forging ahead doing the actually.

I need to be done. You know, Cody brought up decriminalized nature. It’s been a, or T current decriminalization effort. That’s actually a change in perspective to understand that you can be completely for. You know, freeing the relationship between humans and plants and be for cognitive Liberty and consider the history and the particular moment in time that we’re in and just step back and allow in this case, native Americans, to be the people who take the lead and do all the decision-making on any regulatory policy or legislative change related to their medicine.

And you can just say, you can just step back and just respect that. And sometimes it’s okay to just have a boundary like that and not just go after your own curiosity or Liberty that you, you know, rights go along with responsibility. So, you know, I think some of the, the message of this and some of the. I don’t know, understanding that I hope comes into this space through this conversation is.

It’s not just about rights. It’s also about responsibility and it’s about treating each other, like family. If you’re in a family, you don’t say, well, my rights are more important than your trauma or your experience or your, you know, um, whatever, you know, like when, when there’s kids in a family, sometimes it’s okay to say to one of the kids, that person just got that toy for their birthday.

And so let them play with it. And I’m not, I’m not equating those two things, but it’s just like, we don’t all have to, um, it’s okay to treat each other. Like family, I think is what I’m trying to say. Um, not totally articulately. And when somebody says we need to be in charge of this, it’s at the middle of our culture and identity.

Everybody else can just say, okay, you know, and if this is supposed to be a healing, Um, endeavor, you know, it seems like we need to step up and, um, and do those things. And the fund as a vehicle because obviously not everyone in the psychedelic community or companies or organizations can go down and build a relationship with indigenous cultures, nor do I think any of us want that and, or cultures down there want that.

And so is the fund a good opportunity for companies to be donating to, or just big philanthropists? And I’m curious if you might be open to speaking to why the fund won’t just take money from anyone. Well, this is why we have a governance structure. I think both neither coding or I, and certainly rivers sticks are not going to pretend like we know the right things about this.

Really want the support to get there and enough of it. Right. And in a way that feels good to the people on the ground and is in integrity with their cultures. So this is an example of why we have a governance structure like we do. If there was a question about this, then we pass it to that, into our governance structure and they figure out.

And, and the way that they’ve worked on it so far is there’s a basic set of criteria around, you know, no companies that are engaged in like really extractive industries. But then there’s also conversations. I think the fund is going to be able to serve a role of helping to educate, you know, companies in the space sharing about the principles that are in the NIC way of protocol, and that are in an end, um, United nations, indigenous rights sharing about, um, that there might be other options, you know, So, yeah, that’s how I would respond.

And it’s like, that’s what we’ve created and different communities are going to be different. Different cultures are going to be okay with some things and other cultures aren’t going to be okay with those things. And it’s just not our job to say what those things are. It’s our job to support their being a vehicle for some of those things, those interfaces to get worked out without really doing a big disruption in the communities.

Right. And that it’s really an honor and a privilege to give money. Yeah. It really, it really is any, and I haven’t really had to, to say emphatically how unique of an opportunity this is and rare kind of moment in history and the connections that have been made. I’m just even thinking about our partner who founded Natika in Mexico and.

All the, they just years and years of tireless effort. And, um, and bridge-building that they’ve been doing for instance, with we Radica, uh, we chose communities throughout Mexico and, and really forging these deep, longstanding connections and doing, you know, very much on the ground work, you know, showing up driving days and days to these remote communities, to, you know, to give them cash for gas money.

And just these, these little, these little ways that are so meaningful and so important. And, and that’s, what’s really needed there and, and building that foundation of trust and then us river sticks being able to work with Natika and. And to, to have these really well honed channels of, of where funding can make its way to, um, to communities in a trusted and high integrity way.

It’s, um, it’s really remarkable on the, and same by extension to, you know, appreciating ICEERS and, and what they’ve done. And I, Alaska communities and, and Yohei in Columbia and, and with the BT and Gabo and, you know, and, and, um, and we’ve done a lot of that legwork and I’ll give credit to. Uh, to north, you know, the native American rights fund who has stood by the native American church for decades in their, in their legal fights.

And, and so we’ve just been, I think, really blessed to, to partner with these organizations who have honed in long-term partnerships and, and have a really trusted pathway for, for funds to, to flow. And I would say that’s extremely rare and probably one of the greatest gifts of the, of the fund. Um, and it’s hard to communicate that, but.

You know, for anyone who is interested in this work to try to make their way into their communities without these connections, it’s, you know, it’s, it’s very difficult and, and money can be disruptive. We’ve seen that over and over. And despite our best intentions, you know, our presence has created a lot of disruption and a lot of schism and distrust.

And, uh, you know, we’re just patiently trying to forge ahead and, and keep showing up and, and trying to, to reinstill confidence of, of our intentions again. But, um, yeah, there needs to be a lot of care with how, how resources are deployed and to whom. And to stay really nimble in doing that. I think there’s so many things that make the IMC fund incredibly unique and unprecedented.

And I would love to unpack a little bit for people listening, who might have some distrust around where their funds go. And part of what you’re doing is this incredible assessment process. And I don’t even actually want to use this word vetting. I think I used to be more in that mindset of like, well, how do we vet the organizations?

But what you’re doing is actually so much more relational based where you’re really showing up and partnering and allying with these communities and these initiatives. And so I’d love to share a little bit about that assessment, the needs assessment, the community-based assessment that the fund does and why it’s so different than just a path pass through vehicle for money to come in and just go to organizations that you’re, you’re really intricately involved in that process.

And Miriam can detail this, you know, from just a high level. I just I’ll just share just, uh, the joy, the true joy of getting to really partner with native American communities that, that this isn’t just about giving money. This is really grappling, you know, sitting in board meetings, you know, multiple times a year and going down to the lands and really, you know, and working it out together that these are really viewed as collective shared resources that we are partnering with together to make these projects alive.

And it’s really a beautiful process to be, to be in that level of shared power and responsibility and really creative collaboration. It’s again, I think it’s just such a unique and rare opportunity. Uh, Miriam can say a lot more of the details of how that works. Oh, well, you kind of, you know, you heard it in that there’s these relationships, um, you know, that are a lot about, you know, showing up, being honest listening.

Right. And then, and then what we’ve done is the community-based assessments that you’re describing an example of that, like in Peru or with wa there was a whole set of questions that were generated around, you know, what do we need in order to just still be here in a hundred years? What do we need to be stronger?

Here’s what’s happening in the psychedelic world? What is that going to mean for medicine? How do we want to relate to it? Here’s what’s happening with climate change? How does our medicine and our traditional knowledge to help us engage with that? What do we need in place? You know, these kinds of questions.

And then those were, uh, worked with, with a group of Shipibo. By our technical team and our biggest expense for community-based assessment and the, um, Peabo communities were a couple of boats. And then those youth went out into the communities with foot charts. One of my favorite community tools. I love flip charts with flip charts, with all those questions in Shipibo and people sat around and ate food and talked about these things.

And then, um, the youth captured them on the, um, flip charts. And then those were turned into an assessment report, at least for the needs assessment part, right? Like this is. The elders say they need, this is what they used to say. They need, here’s where they overlap. And we did similar work in and other areas.

And, you know, you find this territory, language, access, territory, language, access, our voices being heard interface across all of the bio cultures. Um, you know, and, and, and each of the medicines we’re working with have their own flavor. I mentioned before in the mass of Texiera, we’re going extremely slowly.

We have very formal letters go out first asking if people were open to having some technical advisors come into their villages to ask them if they wanted to do a community based assessment and what they might be assessing. Right. So that’s the, that’s a little bit of how the, um, community-based kind of, we’re calling it sort of primary research, but then all of that data.

It gets processed by the technical teams, along with some of the partners on the ground. And then it goes to the conservation committee and the conservation committee actually listens to all of this information, listens to the recommended strategies is on the ground, listens to the recommendations for which projects are kind of either already holding a big piece or maybe with some support, they would step into it.

Right? There’s a lot of that. Or if there’s some other organization that needs to be formed, um, like in Gabon, we’re finding that there’s this interesting process happening where the BT healers association is seeing that they need to have some kind of body that handles this kind of benefit sharing, but can do it in a way that addresses everybody’s needs.

So the conservation committee really works a lot with those that material, the technical teams supports. Organization or community component that was, uh, proposed or discovered through the assessment to develop a proposal that the conservation committee can actually look at, does the translation, you know, because sometimes they’re in INGAA or a different language, and then, and then the committee works these proposals together and tell they’re in consensus about either a, um, three year commitment.

A one-year commitment, which involves a lot of further engagement, or we need to get to know this group better. And then, and then the technical committee stays involved with all of those categories of partners. That’s incredible. And you mentioned language, language, language, which is so important. And why, why should we be considering the preservation of languages?

Well, I, you know, again, Miriam can detail this more, but this is a big one for me, again, as a philanthropist in why I’m so committed to this work. I mean, just from an experiential perspective to be. And these meetings and, and be in board meetings and, and sitting down at lunch together and, and around the table, there being Denae spoken and Lakota and Cheyenne, and just the plurality and just the diversity and beauty of all these languages that are situated in a completely different sort of paradigm than our traumatic roots.

Cody: And, and I think there’s just something so precious about just cultural diversity in and of itself. And, and that’s what a lot of this is, is just. Through empowering people with their medicines to ensure that those communities are as, are strengthened to fight their fights, to hold on and to be able to, to empower their communities with, with language and language, uh, education, just so just from a, from a, just a deep value perspective, you know, languages all the way.

It sustains my, my love for this work. And just, just hearing, hearing them and, and people fly all over the world to, to experience, you know, different cultures and different peoples. But right here, right here in our own communities, you know, we have, like Miriam said, you know, the family that we don’t attend to and don’t attempt.

To, to really connect with. So I’m very grateful for this work in that way. Yeah. And you know, one of, one of the issues that we have to talk about, whether we want to, or not, um, within a fund and within these issues is intellectual property. And one of those, you know, you have those little paradigm shifting moments where you catch onto something.

I was helping to escort one of our partners in their pod work to speak to the world intellectual property organization about Mescalin and intellectual property. And so the question was going around to quite a number of people, including him about, well, just what is this intellectual property? And is there ownership and language and culture.

Are part of the intellectual capacity of human beings to understand how to navigate living on this planet and in the particular territory that you happen to live in. And so cultural knowledge is deeply embedded and completely intertwined with language and worldview and ways of understanding things.

So, and that means like how to survive and thrive in a particular territory. And that is part of what our human intellects are for. And so if people don’t have their language, it’s really hard to say. That they have their culture in full culture in the sense of a container for understanding how to navigate living in the world.

Right. And so, you know, from an ecological lens, you know, in this moment of the sixth greatest extinction and human mediated damage across the board, These are, the languages are incredibly precious. They are the intellectual knowledge about how to engage in the world. And so, you know, if we want to support these communities thriving into the future, you know, and we’ve talked about some of the reasons why that might be important language is, um, central and essential and without a language, how can, uh, a grandmother teach a grandchild, uh, cultural story or way of relating to plants or a way of navigating the world, if not in their own language, you know?

And then I’ve also heard many of our partners talk about. The way that they pass their particular relationships is that medicine is tied to the language that they speak to in that language. Those are medicine, languages. That’s the way they address their, um, medicine. And that’s what they hear back from her medicine.

So, um, really, really important to all of that and to identity and everything. Hmm. Okay. So just to start kind of coming to a close here, so you’re in the middle of a big lift. You have a 20 mill raise, 20 million raise on the indigenous medicine conservation fund. Um, you are doing an incredible job. How many projects are on the roster that the fund is supporting and amongst the five Keystone medicines, there’s 24 right now.

But the intention is to do ongoing assessment and bring the other projects, but 24 right now. Okay. That’s amazing. Is there anything else that we didn’t cover about maybe blind spots that you would love illuminated in the medicine psychedelic community, as a lot of individuals are going to be listening to this?

Well, I’ll share one. I mean, and maybe we already covered this, but I think our offering at river Styx of this, to both people in the field as the good vehicle and people in the traditional knowledge, holding communities as a trusted, um, mechanism for receiving support and getting their voices uplifted, I, I just think that.

In 10 years from now, 15 years from now, if we had really robust the, if, if this was really, really robust, it would address so many things and provide so many benefits that I just hope it’s successful. That’s just all I really have to say for all the reasons we’ve been talking about. Yeah. I, I, I agree in, in that, you know, again from a, just a philanthropic perspective, it’s hard to find again, opportunities, you know, to, to go.

Into native communities and try to understand the complexity of, of challenges they face with healthcare and diabetes and low life expectancy and lack of economic opportunities and lack of access to, to food and no food sovereignty. And just on and on and on. It’s really becomes confusing about how to, how to enter thoughtfully and constructively.

And, you know, again, just, I really have come to feel that getting behind. These medicines and, and helping at the very least again, to ensure that they have sustainable access to these powerful medicines that are so supportive psycho spiritually, to help them navigate all of these other different systems and complexities in their lives.

It really feels like I’m empowering indigenous people to be fortified in their activism against this perpetual fight and struggle against the dominant, um, you know, capitalistic forces that are always threatening to, to take their lands and diminish their, their cultures. And so I, I just, I think it’s a really, really important place to, to put funding and river sticks has pledged a, a million dollars.

In addition to the, the million we offer. By the land in Texas and Bronner’s has matched us with another million and we’ve, we’ve raised about five or five and a half now, Miriam, is that right? Yeah. That point. But you are greatly, greatly in need of other, uh, other philanthropists and donors of all levels to be, uh, to be engaged in.

And that’s why, you know, Laura you’re coming in and helping to partner with us with grow medicine has just been such, I mean, it was such a blessing, actually, it was remarkable because Miriam and I had had visioned this way of connecting consumers and connecting individuals who are engaging in benefiting from these medicines to have a direct way of directly sharing that benefit and reciprocating and giving back to those communities.

And, and, um, you know, and to hear that you had already sort of started to build the infrastructure for that and, and in such a beautiful way. Uh, grown medicine was a perfect partner to avail this other dimension of, of access for individuals. And I would just really encourage everyone to, to check it out.

They grow medicine and, uh, and just how beautiful this, um, this offering is. Yeah, thank you, Cody. Well, the prayer was strong and the synchronicity is aligned and obviously spirit was like, okay, we’re going to align you with these incredible people who are doing it in the best way possible. And I know I could write a book at this point about the blind spots that have been illuminated for me in the past eight months.

And I really just want to thank you Mariam in particular, because you’ve been such a incredible mentor and I’ve learned so much from you in this past year. It’s been incredible to just see how much wisdom and knowledge that you have. And I’m appreciating getting to know you as well, Cody. And so maybe we could just end and I can include this snippet.

If you want to add anything about grow medicine, Mary I’m just encouraging people to check it out and we can kind of end on that note. Yeah. I mean, I think this is a moment to define the legacy of the psychedelic. And how all of us, whether big funders companies are participants in grow medicine can engage and take on the honor of doing benefit sharing.

It will make an unequivocal difference to what the legacy of this movement is. Hmm. Thank you yet. So really encouraging people who are listening, if you have bigger funds and you would love to be involved in this movement on that level, then going to imc.fund, there is a lot of great information there.

And if you are an individual facilitator guide in the space, going to grow medicine.com is a great way to get involved and share in the benefits that you have received from these wonderful medicines and giving back to the traditional knowledge holders from which these medicines come. So thank you both so much.

That was wonderful. Thank you Laura Dawn, Thank you for everything.

And as per usual, I’ll be featuring a song at the end of this episode, and I’ll be leaving you with Power of Kindness by Mamus, which is really the perfect fit for this episode. 

Miriam Volat & Cody Swift

Miriam Volat and Cody Swift

BIOGRAPHY

Miriam Volat M.S. is a researcher, educator, organizer, facilitator and ecologist with a passion for soils and nutrient cycles. She works Nationally and Internationally to increase health in policy and community design. She is the Co-Director of Riverstyx Foundation, and is on the Board of Directors of the Indigenous Peyote Conservation Initiative (IPCI) and the MAPS Public Benefit Corporation. She is dedicated to the biocultural conservation of peyote and other medicines being supported by the IMC Fund, and works in any way she can to ensure the conservation of these medicines and their precious ways of life. As a mom, she is fortunate her daughter, Cora, also supports her work and participates passionately on her many adventures. 


T. Cody Swift, MFT is a philanthropist, qualitative researcher, and licensed psychotherapist. Through the Riverstyx Foundation, he has collaborated extensively on projects addressing healthy society through working with stigmatized populations and issues – those most likely to be overlooked for funding and support- and since 2007, has helped to fund over 20 psychedelic research trials. He has served as a therapist-guide in the Johns Hopkins psilocybin and cancer-anxiety study, and has conducted dozens of qualitative interviews with study subjects into the subjective aspects of their experiences with psilocybin and MDMA. He has dedicated himself to this field, not only because of the efficacy of these medicines, but because of they way they heal- by helping individuals to turn towards difficult or painful aspects of their lives, to reconcile them into greater wholeness, and gain perspective on life beyond illness. He has a passion for reinvigorating religious traditions through psychedelics, and has also worked for over 7 years supporting indigenous communities in the conservation of their sacred plant medicines, such as the Native American Church in the preservation of Peyote and the Indigenous Medicine Conservation Fund.

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About Laura Dawn

Through her signature Mastermind Programs and Plant Medicine Retreats, Laura Dawn weaves together science with ancient wisdom. She teaches business and thought-leaders, entrepreneurs, and creative professionals how to mindfully explore psychedelics and sacred plant medicines as powerful visionary tools for inner transformation, fostering emotional resiliency and unlocking new depths to our creative potential.