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Conference Report:
Mind States Oaxaca
by Erowid
Nov 2004
Citation:   Erowid. "Conference Reports: Mind States V." Erowid Extracts. Nov 2004;7:11.
In September, we attended the fifth Mind States conference, held in Oaxaca, Mexico. Oaxaca City was chosen as the site for the second non-U.S. event because of its rich psychoactive history, the amazing ruins within a short distance of the city, and the relatively modest costs of traveling to this part of Mexico.

Unlike past Mind States events, producer Jon Hanna went out of his way to schedule and encourage group activities and lectures about the local culture. Being within walking distance of the center of town made it easy to get a sense of life in Oaxaca City. Several day trips were organized to surrounding areas and nearly every night saw groups of various sizes heading out into the city for dinner or drinks. One group trip visited one of the best known artists from Oaxaca, Manuel Jiménez, famous for his fanciful, brightly-painted wooden animales. Truly amazing.

There was also a day trip to the ruins at Monte Albán, only 20 minutes west and a couple thousand feet above Oaxaca City. The ruins of the Toltecs are a forceful reminder of how long an urban civilization has existed in the central Mexican highlands. Monte Albán is not to be missed on a visit to Oaxaca.

Because of scheduling problems, the conference was held in two different hotels. In the middle of the week, everyone packed up and moved to a different hotel on the other side of town. This provided some novelty, but also made it a little harder to settle in. It also highlighted how much hotel choice can impact a conference of this type. For 80100 person conferences, smaller, more intimate hotels with centrally-located gathering places can help foster community building. The second hotel, with a private café and pool just outside the conference room, was preferred by nearly everyone, despite the smaller rooms.

Presenters included some favorites such as the revered Ann & Sasha Shulgin, the data-slinging Jonathan Ott, and the ever-stellar Alex Grey. Allyson Grey, Alex's partner, showed her amazing art and Zena Grey, their daughter, participated in a discussion on openly psychedelic families. Deirdre Barrett gave two lectures on dreaming and Allan Snyder spoke about transcranial magnetic stimulation research. Other illustrious speakers included Erik Davis, Bruce Damer, Daniel Siebert, Martha Toledo, and Jon Hanna himself. There was not a single speaker at this conference we didn't enjoy getting a chance to meet and spend time with.

The main problem with this Mind States was that, after the first day, talks rarely started on time, sometimes hours late, largely due to late-returning group tours, meals, and related cattle- management. As with all such events, we find the main value is in the incredibly interesting people who attend, most of whom are as knowledgeable about their own particular niche as the speakers. Although some people complain about the exclusivity and expense of non-U.S. events, it is hard to dispute that the people who attend are there because they love the topics and are excited to get a chance to spend a week with 100 others who feel the same.

For more information, see Mindstates.org