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    1. "We Didn't Start The Fire" parody - Sherry Vine

      I just saw this parody of "We Didn't Start The Fire" on Reddit. It might be a parody song, but it's also a potted history of LGBT activism in the USA for the past 60 years. We Didn't Start The...

      I just saw this parody of "We Didn't Start The Fire" on Reddit. It might be a parody song, but it's also a potted history of LGBT activism in the USA for the past 60 years.

      We Didn't Start The Fire parody - Sherry Vine

      6 votes
    2. Year of the Planet, Environmental Activism, and Us

      Hi! I'm Micycle_the_Bichael! I'm a pretty passionate local environmental activist. Short summary: I think climate change is bad, but even if climate change wasn't happening the way we interact...

      Hi! I'm Micycle_the_Bichael! I'm a pretty passionate local environmental activist. Short summary: I think climate change is bad, but even if climate change wasn't happening the way we interact with nature is still gross and leaves a lot to be desired (ex: over fishing, whaling, landfills). While there definitely needs to be governmental action on corporations on climate change, there are still changes that can be made in your daily life to help make the world a better place! Enter the year of the planet. This is a community group for making one small change a month to help the environment. Some may be things you're already doing, some may be new. For example: the January goal is to start using a reusable coffee cup when ordering coffee at a cafe since most paper coffee cups are lined with polyethylene and thus not recyclable. The biggest difference for me between this and many other (very great and valid) projects like it is that it heavily emphasizes building a sense of community.

      The group who organized this is The Good Empire, who describe themselves as:

      "Year of the Planet is an initiative of Good Empire. We’re makers of startups and projects for good.
      Inspired by and aligned with the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals, we bring ideas to life that are good for the world. We help change the things that need to change.
      And most importantly, we’re a tribe. A global community of good people, united in purpose, to help create a better and more sustainable future for all.
      Good Empire is not a registered charity, but we partner with registered charities in everything we do.
      We will take no management fees from Year of the Planet, nor will any of the funds raised come through us. All donations will go directly to our charity partners."

      Some of those partners being Wildlife Emergecy Fund and the seabin project which is a project close to my heart along with the ocean cleanup project

      This post has been what feels like a really long rant on a couple of groups and causes that I'm very passionate about. I'll probably DM one of the other Tildes members who does scheduled posts and see about making a bi-weekly environmentalism thread to discuss what people are doing to make a positive change not only in the local environment, but in their community (a lot of good environmental initiatives also make your neighborhood/local community nicer and happier places :) ), struggles people are having, questions, products they have found, etc. and we'll see if it sticks or if it is just me shouting into the void.

      11 votes
    3. Reflections on recognizing and resisting abusive practices in psychedelic organizations

      I have been noticing a disturbing trend in psychedelic groups lately, in which powerful mind-altering substance are being used for emotional and sexual manipulation -- especially among young and...

      I have been noticing a disturbing trend in psychedelic groups lately, in which powerful mind-altering substance are being used for emotional and sexual manipulation -- especially among young and vulnerable demographics. In order to combat the collective trauma resulting from these practices, I am attempting to spread harm reduction information far and wide as it pertains to the subject.

      This is one of my more recent articles. It is licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0, in case anyone would like to build off of it. If anyone has constructive criticism or experience, any feedback would be immensely appreciated. Thank you :)

      Psychedelics facilitate increased intimacy

      There is a tenuous association between psychedelics and cliquey, tribal, or cult-like group behavior. This should be taken seriously, especially in large group whose members bond through regular psychedelic sessions. Psychedelics have a number of potential effects that can make individuals more suggestible, and may occasion rapidly-escalating intimacy:

      • facilitate deep feelings of connection to others
      • induce dissociation, depersonalization and ego loss
      • increase suggestibility, making it easier to impress new beliefs or ideas upon the user
      • re-expose the user to potentially traumatic memories
      • evoke emotional re-association and object transference, including trust and sexual interest that may not otherwise be present
      • invoke religious or metaphysical experiences, that instill a sense of meaning and personal significance
      • create a sense of paranoia or suspicion, in part as a result of being involved in a potentially illicit activities
      • evoke symptoms of mental illness in vulnerable users, making one reliant on external social and economic support

      Not all of these effects guarantee problems, but rather indicate how psychedelics can open users up to remarkably strong bonding. The ability of hallucinogens to connect individuals into family-like organizations is notable, as psychedelic have been foundational to many rituals, communities, and cults through history. In part due to these effects, many psychedelic groups exhibit some degree of organizational eccentricity, marked intimacy, or social drama.

      Identifying safe group dynamics

      If you need help identifying whether or not an organization exercises exploitative practices, consult the following guidelines on cult behavior and gaslighting. Troublesome psychedelic groups are usually large in size and have organized leadership structure, exhibiting the following qualities (as adapted from the Cult Education Institute’s webpage):

      • possessing an egotistical leader of social or creative influence, who may have a record of abusing power or individuals
      • a rigidly directed ideology, and excluding or punishing members who do not conform to it
      • provoking members who are under the influence of psychedelics, or attempting to selfishly influence the psychedelic integration process of another member
      • maintaining a culture of misinformation or fear or threats, in which members are easily excluded or blacklisted
      • illicit dealings and in-group abuse that is concealed by a culture of secrecy, including: promoting or selling increasingly risky drugs, sexual or romantic grooming, or the use of psychedelics as “tools of seduction”

      Perhaps the best takeaway from the association between psychedelics and cult activity is this: psychedelics have the ability to destabilize and rearrange one’s sense of self, which makes them more susceptible to peer pressure and the influence of others. For users who already are mentally liable or require a secure mindset and setting, it is essential to make sure that they feel in control of their drug use, and have the personal autonomy to ensure their trips are safe and serve personal growth.

      The Cult Education Institute’s signs of a safe group/leader are also adapted below:

      • can be asked questions without judgement
      • discloses ample information such as structural organization/finances
      • may have disgruntled former followers, but will not vilify, excommunicate, or forbid others from associating with them
      • will not have a record of overwhelmingly negative articles and statements about them
      • encourages family communication, community interaction, and existing friendships
      • encourages critical thinking, individual autonomy, self-esteem, and personal growth
      • leaders admit failings and mistakes, accepts criticism, and follow through on implementing constructive changes
      • operates democratically and encourages accountability and oversight
      • leader is not be the only source of knowledge excluding everyone else; group values dialogues and the free exchange of ideas
      • members and leaders recognize clear emotional, physical, and emotional boundaries when dealing with others

      Gaslighting & manipulation tactics

      Many of the tactics that both individuals and groups use to manipulate people are examples of gaslighting, or attempts at convincing members that they are somehow mentally compromised in order to control them. This is often done by withholding information from them, invalidating the victim’s experiences, verbal abuse (including jokes), social isolation, trivializing the victim’s worth, and otherwise undermining their thought process. When combined with the suggestion-enhancing properties of psychedelic drugs, these kinds of behavior can be traumatizing to individual victims, while remaining relatively undetected or overlooked by onlookers.

      In order to help identify gaslighting by a group, consider if you relate to its effects, as described by Robin Stern in her book The Gaslight Effect:

      • constantly second-guessing yourself, feeling confused, or as if something is wrong
      • asking yourself “Am I too sensitive?” throughout the day
      • frequently apologizing to people who hold power over you, feeling as if you can’t do anything right, or running over things you may have done wrong
      • frequently wondering if you are “good enough”
      • frequently withholding information from your friends or family so you don’t have to explain the group or make excuses for it
      • you lie to group members, to avoid being put down or gaslighted
      • paranoia about bringing up innocent conversation topics
      • speaking to group leaders through another member, so you don’t have be worry about the leaders becoming upset with you
      • making excuses for group members’ behavior to your friends and family
      • friends or family try to protect you from the group
      • becoming furious with people you used to get along with

      If you suspect you have been involved in a psychedelic cult or gaslighted, you may be experiencing regular instability, dissociation, or feelings of uncertainty. Although it can be difficult at first, finding a new group that demonstrates a high degree of member safety and accountability may help rebuild one’s sense of safety and trust. If you shared psychedelic experiences with group members while being taken advantage of, it may be beneficial to seek out a professional psychedelic integration therapist to help emotionally contextualize these memories. Victims may also benefit from adjunct trauma therapies, such as Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) and Radically-Open DBT, somatic bodywork and movement therapies, therapeutic massage, and other complementary therapy practices.

      Sources

      Douglas, James. (2017). Inside the bizarre 1960s cult, The Family: LSD, yoga and UFOs. The Guardian. Retrieved from https://www.theguardian.com/film/2017/feb/13/the-family-great-white-brotherhood-australia-melbourne-cult-anne-hamilton-byrne

      Evans, P. (1996). The verbally abusive relationship: how to recognize it and how to respond. Expanded 2nd ed. Holbrook, Mass.: Adams Media Corporation.

      Mayorga, O. and Smith, P. (2019, May 19). Forgiving psychedelic abusers should never be at the expense of their victims. Psymposia. Retrieved from https://www.psymposia.com/magazine/forgiving-psychedelic-abusers/.

      Neiswender, Mary. (1971). Manson Girl’s Acid Trips Detailed. CieldoDrive.com. Retrieved from http://www.cielodrive.com/archive/manson-girls-acid-trips-detailed/.

      Ross, Rick. (2014). Warning signs. Cult Education Institute. Retrieved from https://www.culteducation.com/warningsigns.html.

      Stern, R. (2007). The gaslight effect: how to spot and survive the hidden manipulations other people use to control your life. New York: Morgan Road Books.

      Windolf, Jim. (2007). Sex, drugs, and soybeans. Vanity Fair. Retrieved from https://www.vanityfair.com/news/2007/05/thefarm200705.

      8 votes
    4. What are your thoughts on Pride Month?

      Some questions to consider: How do you feel about it as a whole? What is your experience with it like? Do you go out, celebrate, march, get involved? Does it connect you to others or affirm your...

      Some questions to consider:

      • How do you feel about it as a whole?
      • What is your experience with it like? Do you go out, celebrate, march, get involved? Does it connect you to others or affirm your identity?
      • What positives does it bring to the table?
      • What critiques do you have of it?

      This last one can be treated as hypothetical but might apply to some real experiences as well--either are valid:

      • If you chose to march in a parade to bring awareness to an issue, what cause would you represent? How would you show it, or what would your sign say? Who would you want there alongside you?
      18 votes