Zendo 2017: Co-Creating a Community of Compassionate Care

Zendo Project Volunteers

MAPS Bulletin Winter 2017: Vol. 27, No. 3

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2017 was the Zendo Project’s sixth year in operation, providing psychedelic peer counseling at festivals and events worldwide. We provided services at more events this year than in any year prior. We also expanded our training program, bringing advanced day-long trainings to cities across the US and Canada. Our annual fundraising campaign was hugely successful, thanks to the support of 383 donors from 22 countries. What follows is a summary of our year’s activities and events.

Fundraising Campaign

2017 marked the most successful fundraising campaign ever for the Zendo Project. We exceeded our original $60,0000 goal, receiving a total of over $102,000. Thank you to all of those who donated and supported the campaign. A special thank you to the Riverstyx Foundation for their large contribution. All donations helped to provide psychedelic peer counseling at Burning Man 2017 and other events throughout the year.

Our services this year

Zendo Project Volunteers
Zendo volunteers Bonnie Stoehn and Nigel McCoury practice sitting for each other.

Psychedelic Science 2017: Oakland, CA

At Psychedelic Science 2017, we offered a Harm Reduction panel, featuring Mitchell Gomez (Dancesafe), Stefanie Jones (Drug Policy Alliance), Maria Carmo Carvalho (KosmicAid), and Richard Gottlieb (RGX Medical). We also facilitated a day-long post-conference workshop, and provided psychedelic harm reduction services during the six-day historic event.

Envision Festival: Uvita, Costa Rica

In February, the Zendo Project provided psychedelic harm reduction services at Envision festival in Uvita, Costa Rica, where 50 staff and volunteers assisted 101 guests. Volunteers worked closely with RGX Medical and event security staff to reduce the number of hospitalizations and arrests. This was the Zendo Project’s fifth year providing services at the event.

AfrikaBurn: Tankwa Karoo, South Africa

The Zendo Project continued to develop the Sanctuary space at AfrikaBurn, the world’s largest regional Burning Man event. The Zendo Project has partnered with AfrikaBurn since 2013 to help provide assistance to attendees in need of support.

Lightning in a Bottle: Bradley, California

2017 marked the fifth year the Zendo Project has provided peer support services at LIB. It was the first year that the service expanded to two spaces, both adjacent to medical. We saw 209 guests, a record number for our work at this festival. We were also able to provide harm reduction outreach and education to hundreds more attendees.

Zendo Integration Session
Olivia Moschetti and Shannon Clare Carlin lead an integration session at Burning Man 2017.

Burning Man: Black Rock City, Nevada

For our sixth year at Burning Man, the Zendo space was placed near center camp at 5:15 & A. This strategic placement allowed easier interdepartmental interactions with Rampart (Burning Man’s onsite medical clinic) as well as event Rangers and law enforcement. We assisted 456 guests, and for the first year ever, the Zendo Project space was listed on the official Burning Man map. We have come a long way at Burning Man, and our relationship with the Burning Man community and organization continues to deepen and expand.

Insomniac Events (Escape, Electric Daisy Carnival, Beyond Wonderland, Middlelands, Nocturnal Wonderland): Multiple Locations

Beginning in 2016, the Zendo Project has partnered with the Drug Policy Alliance and Healthy Nightlife to provide peer counseling service at the above Insomniac events. Zendo Project volunteers staff a space in collaboration with Project #OpenTalk, Insomniac’s harm reduction initiative.

Youtopia: San Diego, California

Volunteers traveled to San Diego’s regional Burning Man event from October 19-23, 2017. Youtopia is currently the only U.S. regional Burning Man event where the Zendo Project provides services. With the continued support of our donors, we hope to expand our services to more regional Burning Man events in the coming years.

A huge thank you to all of the volunteers who made it possible to provide our services at these events in 2017. We could not have done this without you. Every year, we train hundreds more volunteers in the principles of psychedelic peer counseling. We continue to develop and expand a community of individuals informed and passionate about psychedelic support services.


In additional to our volunteer trainings at the festivals we attended, we facilitated additional trainings for universities, groups, and organizations in Victoria, Canada, and Portland, Oregon. These advanced trainings are offered for those interested in bringing harm reduction education to their communities and/or developing their own regional peer counseling initiatives. This year, Zendo Project trainings also became eligible for Continuing Education (CE) credits. If you are interested in bringing a Zendo Project training to your community, please contact us at zendo@maps.org.

About the Zendo Project

Creating a Community of Compassionate Care: The Zendo Project, started in 2012, is a psychedelic harm reduction community outreach program which provides tranquil spaces at events with trained volunteers to help those having a difficult psychedelic experience. Our goal is to help transform those experiences into ones that can offer valuable learning opportunities, and potentially even healing and growth.

Sara Gael, M.A., is Director of Harm Reduction for MAPS’ Zendo Project. Sara received her Master’s degree in Transpersonal Counseling Psychology at Naropa University. She began working with MAPS in 2012, coordinating psychedelic harm reduction services at festivals and events worldwide with the Zendo Project. Sara was an Intern Therapist for the recently completed MAPS Phase 2 clinical trial of MDMA-assisted psychotherapy for PTSD in Boulder, CO. She maintains a private practice as a psychotherapist specializing in trauma and non-ordinary states of consciousness. She can be reached at saragael@maps.org.

Sara Gael, M.A., and Ryan Beauregard

Ryan Beauregard received his B.A. in Psychology from Claremont McKenna College, and spent 10 years mentoring at-risk teens and families through wilderness survival skills and nature connection. His passion for community connection, the environment, and intrapersonal healing continued with his involvement in permaculture, natural building, and ancestral grief rituals. As a volunteer with the Zendo Project since 2013, Ryan has had the opportunity to connect and expand the scope of psychedelic harm reduction in communities and festivals all over the globe. As the Zendo Project Manager, he integrates his skills in psychology, design and and community engagement. He can be reached at ryan@maps.org.