Dear Psychedelic Society of Brooklyn members,
Hello! My name is Colin Pugh and I’m the new organizer for the Psychedelic Society of Brooklyn, along with my co-organizer Andrei Gheorghe : ) Daniel Miller, the founder of PSB and a close friend of mine, has recently stepped down as head organizer of the group to focus on practicing as a lawyer. With a pedigree like his and his unrivaled passion for the psychedelic renaissance, I know that Danny is going to have an enormous role in psychedelics becoming something we can all utilize legally, for both personal and spiritual reasons. So I’d like to thank you Danny for all the hard work you did in getting the Psychedelic Society of Brooklyn off the ground. I am honored to carry this brilliant torch I’ve been passed. A lot of exciting things are in store!
I’ve probably met quite a few of you but I know there are a large number that I haven’t, so I’m going to give you a brief introduction of who I am, why I care about psychedelics, and what I see for the future of the Psychedelic Society of Brooklyn.
I was born and raised in Syracuse, NY and went to Northeastern University for college, where I double-majored in criminal justice and philosophy. I currently work in the tech world as a product manager.
I dabbled in using psychedelics when I was in college, and even had some powerful experiences. But I always just considered those powerful experiences pretty neat blips in the system that is day to day life. Powerful, but still just blips. It wasn’t until 2014, when I had a supremely positive experience on MDMA, that psychedelics became part of my identity, both as a cause to fight for and as a tool for me to grow. Some of you have probably heard me share my MDMA story at one of our many psychedelic story nights, so I’ll spare you the entire story save for a sentence: It was like having cumbersome, heavy, calcified armor swiftly evaporated from over my heart, where a tenderness and seemingly infinite depth of warmth resided and had been forgotten since my childhood.
This experience itself, while powerful, is not the integral part of why I am committed to psychedelics. Rather it was the change in behavior that resulted after that experience, a change of behavior in my sober day to day life, that made me realize the enormous potential of these substances made dormant by our current laws. I emphasize the change in behavior over the change in my state of consciousness when I took MDMA because I believe it is this emphasis that needs to be made in order to make psychedelics a legitimate part of our society. That’s not to say the experiences one can have on psychedelics aren’t a gift in their own right. These are gifts that I’m looking forward to hearing about from you, as a member of the Society. But what gets me most excited about psychedelic use is how people’s lives have changed, hopefully for the better, after using them responsibly. My MDMA experience made me realize how out of touch I’ve been with my heart, and how poorly I’ve sometimes treated those closest to me. This experience affected and changed my behavior in my day to day life, and it is these carry overs that I want to be a pillar of our group. As Huston Smith said, “When there are miles to go before we sleep, altered traits are more important than altered states.”
I want our society to be a community, an authentic and nurturing one, where people can meet and make life long friends and be there for each other when the going (or tripping) gets rough. I also want our community to be a place where people can transform both themselves and our society. There is a growing number of Americans that identify as “spiritual” but not religious. And I think one thing that defines living a spiritual life is overcoming your personal barriers and living up to your potential. Psychedelics, for me and I think for probably many of you, have been very important for either seeing those barriers or getting over them. I want the Psychedelic Society of Brooklyn to be a place where someone can share what those are and how they overcame them, or even just meet other people who are trying to play an active role in their growth as a person.
There was a recent podcast put out by the Harvard Divinity School on the future of spiritual communities. They identified a number of secular/non-religious organizations that they think wholly replaced what a church or religious community would normally provide. They narrowed it down to six features that make a secular community “religious” or “spiritual”: sense of community, personal transformation, social transformation, purpose finding, creativity, and accountability. While the Psychedelic Society of Brooklyn will always be a secular organization, it is these six features that I hope to help engender in our community. We are a Society. Society has a plurality of belief systems and ideas of the good life. But I hope the Psychedelic Society of Brooklyn is somewhere an individual can come, as they are, and share where it is on their journey to transform themselves and/or our society for the better.
Here is a small sampling of titles of future events I hope to throw through the Psychedelic Society of Brooklyn: an LSD-spirituality-inspired acting improv workshop, comparative discussions on what a “good life” is (Buddhist, Aristotelian, Christian, Humanist, Cyborg, Post-Modern, etc), show-and-tell nights of our member’s creative endeavors, our classic psychedelic stories open mic nights, comedy shows, some good ol’ parties, potlucks, technology and spirituality discussions, relationships between psychedelics and social justice, lightning lecture series with thought leaders/professors/professionals on psychedelics, and reading groups where we all read an article or a chapter and then discuss it. There will be other, weirder events down the road as well! This is not an exhaustive list nor is it a conclusive one, but I just wanted to give you guys an idea of the flavor of events I plan on organizing : )
I am exorbitantly excited for the future of psychedelics and our community. If you have any other ideas for future events, or if you would just like to introduce yourself, please feel free to message me! Also, if you have any skills you’d like to share (marketing, design, planning, hosting, etc.) please reach out : ) You will see new events popping up in the coming weeks! Have a great weekend everyone.
All the Best,