Virginia Wright, director of development for MAPS, has planned the event since 2010. It was last held in 2013. Apart from scientific presentations and workshops, Psychedelic Science also offers attendees a marketplace area, live music and off-site entertainment.
Due to the nature of the organization’s research, MAPS encounters misunderstanding from both sides of the law. Some vendors and venues are uncomfortable being involved at first.
“People outside of our work can be suspicious of our intent,” Wright comments. “We support scientific research, but the drugs we research are illegal.”
The event also unavoidably draws a certain number of drug enthusiasts, and MAPS tries to walk the line between discouraging on-site drug use and creating a safe space for those who indulge.
“We do recognize that some people attracted to our events will take drugs,” Wright says. “So we make a ‘smoking’ area, which some people use for marijuana at night, and we ask people not to partake of drugs during the conference.”
International Association of Pet Cemeteries and Crematories
Each year at its annual conference, around 130 members of the International Association of Pet Cemeteries and Crematories (IAOPCC) gather to further their education and relationships.
The organization offers seminars for pet bereavement specialists, pet funeral directors and crematory operators. Attendees can also work toward their Pet Bereavement Specialist Certification (PBSC) at the event.
Donna Shugart-Bethune, executive administrator at the IAOPCC, has been involved in planning the event for the past five years. She explained that her industry is one that places great pride in personal attention and detailed service, which she also looks for in venues. Moreover, since most members are part of family-owned and -operated businesses, many can’t get away for meetings.
“Location and logistics are key factors for us,” Shugart-Bethune says. “We alternate across the country as we try to accommodate our members who may not be able to leave their family business for several days at a time each year to attend the conferences. Our conferences must be held close to a member pet cemetery or crematorium as we always tour a local member’s facility. It gives [them] an opportunity to see other pet aftercare facilities and how they operate and provides a wonderful up-close education for our members.”
American Society of Dowsers
The preamble to the bylaws of the American Society of Dowsers (ASD) defines dowsing as “a faculty employed with intent to expand the perceptive abilities of its practitioner beyond three-dimensional limitations.”
Dowsing is familiar to some people, especially in rural areas, as a means to pinpoint underground water sources and decide where wells should be dug. However, dowsers can also search for missing people and objects, information or energy, according to proponents.
Blair Wolston, operations manager for the ASD, planned this year’s National Dowsing Convention. The event is held each year at Lyndon State College in Lyndonville, Vt. There are approximately 500 attendees, as well as more than 60 speakers and 40 vendors.
While the college is affordable and provides a beautiful, forested backdrop for the event and a quick commute for the ASD office staff, its remote location necessitates a long drive for many attendees. In some ways, that brings people together.
“The individuals attending are truly dedicated to being there, which equates to an amazing, supportive crowd with positive energy flowing everywhere,” Wolston says. “We make sure each and every participant knows how special they are to us.”
And if the time ever comes to find a new venue, no doubt the dowsers will easily locate the perfect place.