[4-min read] gina vensel, Event Producer & Marketer
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gina vensel faced a moment of reckoning during COVID when her entire profession dried up overnight. But that pause gave her the clarity to recognize what mattered.
We chatted with gina about finding fulfillment in one’s work, the roles of community and belonging in overcoming stigma, and why anyone interested in psychedelics should consider attending an in-person event.
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Q&A with gina vensel, Event Producer & Marketer
How did you find your way into the world of psychedelic education and advocacy?
I actually started my career in the cannabis space. I wanted to support people who were seeking alternative modes of healing because they weren't finding relief through traditional methods like pharmaceuticals. But during my time in cannabis advocacy, I found that some people were suffering in ways that cannabis alone couldn't help.
That realization led me to explore psychedelics as a tool for deeper healing, especially for people who were treatment resistant and needed to reach a place of wellness.
Why are events so important for the psychedelic community?
Events present an opportunity for like-minded individuals to gather together and connect as human beings. When people meet in person, they can finally be open and authentic about their psychedelic use with others who relate. Events let us put our differences aside and focus on a common goal, whether that’s to either achieve cognitive liberty or expand our minds to find a new level of wellness. Being together in person with others who share our passion and beliefs is a powerful way for us to push the psychedelic movement forward.
In an industry like ours, where many people don’t always feel safe opening up about their psychedelic use due to the stigma that still exists today, connecting in person is even more important. I've had people tell me that they can't even "like" my podcast or show any interest in psychedelics online because of their jobs. However, when they come to events and meet others from different walks of life who share their interests, it gives them a sense of community and belonging. It shows them that they're not alone in their journey.
What have you learned about yourself from producing events for the psychedelic community?
When the pandemic hit and all events were canceled, it was the first time I realized how important they were not only for my professional career, but for my personal fulfillment. I've always been obsessed with bringing different people together, especially for mission-based organizations. Events are such a powerful tool for community building.
During that period, I took some time to reflect on how I could apply my skills to something meaningful. I made a decision then only to take on projects that would make a real impact and leave a legacy. So when events did return, I immediately started working with Horizons to bring the conference back after a year-long hiatus. Then I jumped right into Psychedelic Science. Today, I’m applying my 20 years of event experience in a way that I believe can truly help people and end the stigma around these important medicines.
Events can be very stressful to produce, but to me, it's about creating memorable experiences for brands, organizations, and the community. And working in the psychedelic space gives me the ability to say, "I know that the work I'm doing matters."
Can you tell us a little about Psychedelic Science 2023? Who should consider attending?
This is the fourth Psychedelic Science conference, and this year, it's going to be the biggest psychedelic event that MAPS and the global psychedelic community has ever seen. We're expecting 10,000 people to gather in Denver, Colorado from June 19th to the 23rd, and we've booked the entire Colorado Convention Center for the event.
The first two days will focus on workshops, including Grof Breathwork sessions, harm reduction education with the Zendo Project, and classes that practitioners can take for continuing education credits. Then, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday will be the largest psychedelic exhibition ever with almost 200 exhibitors spanning all aspects of the wellness space. You’ll see everything from functional mushrooms and psychedelic brands to nonprofit organizations like the Fireside Project. With eight programming stages, there will be talks for everyone. Whether you're a business person looking to grow in this space, a practitioner seeking to advance your therapy practice, or just an interested psychonaut, there will be plenty of opportunities to learn and network.
We have a range of speakers lined up, including psychedelic elders who have shaped the entire industry, such as Roland Griffiths, Paul Stamets, and Michael Pollan, as well as newcomers like NFL quarterback Aaron Rodgers, Olympic gold medalist Sasha Cohen, and Academy Award-winning music icon Melissa Etheridge.
It's going to be an amazing experience. We're excited to have so many people gather in Denver for what will surely be a historic event for the psychedelic movement.
Any tips for making the most of conferences as an attendee?
Plan ahead. Don't assume that you'll know what you want to see or hear when there are so many different stages and programming options competing with each other. Explore the schedule ahead of time to find the speakers and topics that interest you the most. Then build your own personalized agenda accordingly.
Also, be good to yourself! Remember to strike a balance between having fun and staying well-rested, as some of the best sessions can happen early in the day. It can be tempting to party late into the night, so try to pace yourself so that you can still attend morning sessions and avoid missing out on valuable information and connections.
Ready for Psychedelic Science 2023? Register now and take 10% off your ticket price with code TD10.
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DISCLAIMER: This newsletter is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for professional medical advice. The use, possession, and distribution of psychedelic drugs are illegal in most countries and may result in criminal prosecution.