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It seemed fitting that the Aspen Ideas Festival 2021 closed on the Thursday before the weekend of July 4th – the motto this year was “American Futures”. Speakers ranged from US Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg to renowned cellist Yo-Yo Ma on the four-day stretch of the Aspen Institute campus, and the conversations that spanned the entire line-up covered everything from national security to security evolving role of the CEO to bring the students back into the classrooms.

The “mushroom boom”

Here the Aspen Daily News gives a brief summary of two particularly relevant presentations. Discussing the research and clinical benefits of psychedelics in psychotherapy may give you a moment of pause and wonder why this conversation is considered particularly relevant at that moment – until you remember that Aspen City Council wasn’t until May discussed the concept during a working session. and Denver became the first city to decriminalize psilocybin mushroom use in 2019. In the past few months alone, three psychedelic drug developers have gone public.

On Thursday, Rachel Yehuda and Gita Vaid, moderated by Axios Managing Editor Alison Snyder, discussed their excitement about what psychedelics can mean for psychotherapy. Yehuda’s resume includes the Director of the Center for the Study of Psychedelic Psychotherapy and Trauma and the Director of the Department of Traumatic Stress Studies and Professor of Psychiatry and Neuroscience at the Icahn School of Medicine on Mount Sinai. Vaid is a psychiatrist, psychoanalyst, and co-founder of the Center for Natural Intelligence.

Yehuda: “We have treatments for trauma-related disorders like PTSD or depression or anxiety, but most people who go into therapy feel that they need to continue therapy because they are not going through a really important hurdle that allows them to Any kind of therapy will reclaim your life or achieve ultimate healing and wellbeing. The history of psychedelics is very well known. In the 50s and 60s, psychedelics were used by psychotherapists to open up patients so they could discuss very intimate and difficult topics – then these substances were banned. I think what you are seeing now is a resurgence because some very brave people decided these tools are too important to keep on schedule and started an initiative to really test these connections.

“At the moment, MDMA-assisted psychotherapy has received breakthrough status from the FDA. Psilocybin has also received FDA breakthrough status for depression. I think this is where science stands up – when the FDA gives a treatment breakthrough status, it’s very hard to turn it down. “

Valid: “Psychedelics, in my opinion, offer a very different approach to mental health and healing, and we need to develop different approaches and have better practices and delivery systems. I think more radical and far reaching is that it enables a completely different process and deeper healing. So using the therapeutic relationship to cultivate knowledge so a person can prepare for the experience and the aftermath to absorb and process it is a very different approach.

“I would say that most people are fit for this approach… there are other practices… like meditation or breath work. Psychedelics are a very good approach, but not really useful for everyone. There are certain people who may have medical or psychological problems that either put them at high risk and require a lot of preparation, or may not be the ideal treatment. “

Take away: Both Yehuda and Vaid have firsthand experience of seeing the benefits of psychedelics in treating trauma. Yehuda describes an eight hour session in which a patient is given MDMA and past trauma is explored in a very structured, guided context supervised by two therapists. After the drug has disappeared from the patient’s system at the end of the eight hours, the patient and therapist allow the patient to “really interpret the events and integrate them into a person”.

Vaid has also seen the benefits in her patients. She told of a rape victim who, through ketamine therapy, imagined her life as a substance in which her rape events manifested as a stain. She also saw “that there are so many stitches in her fabric that encompass her life story and experiences,” said Vaid. “After her experience, she had a completely different, sustainable perspective on her identity and her life story.”

Local media and what it means to the community

The Roaring Fork Valley and its media landscape are becoming rarer, stated Stewart Vanderbilt, President and CEO of Colorado Public Radio, during a discussion he shared with Mita Kalita, CEO and editor of Epicenter-NYC and CEO and co-founder of URL Media June 28th resulted: There are two newspapers in Aspen and four radio stations in the valley.

It’s a welcome change from the news deserts that scatter the rest of the country. Kalita – whose career spanned mostly national mainstream media like CNN before launching an online newsletter that now has several thousand followers and celebrating its first advertiser – extolled the relationships that true local news organizations have with the community and how important those relationships are to the community Rebuilding lost trust between media consumers and media producers. Vanderwilt and Kalita both see the future in a “radical collaboration” between smaller community units to pool resources without compromising the quality of the content.

Kalita: “There is a reality on the ground, there is what government agencies tell you, and these two things don’t collide in our reporting. The way national news coverage works is that you call the agency, take them at their word, and that is reported as fact. So you can understand why people who receive this injustice … start not to believe what is being said.

“We’re so much better as journalists… when we actually do it for the people the government is supposed to serve. I worry that the national news report … there isn’t necessarily some rooting and concern for the community to actually get out of the predicament. “

Vanderwilt: “When we bought Denverite, we didn’t just summarize it in CPR. We said we want you to do what you do, and we’re going to build the infrastructure around you so the Denverite editor-in-chief doesn’t also update people’s credit card numbers because it was such a small process. And we see the future in it. We take what we are really good at and apply it to new platforms and services.

“I think there is a chance for what I call radical collaboration. Cooperation is an agreement. I think there is an opportunity with stations across the state, across the country, with limited resources – take those resources and just focus them on what this community needs and build your service by collaborating with content from other collaborators . “

Take away: Like any industry, the pandemic changed the news industry in particular – but it was changing even before the discovery of COVID-19. Advertising models change; Algorithms determine the fate of which messages appear in a Google search and which do not; As independent retailing is being replaced by corporate retailing, the local newspaper typically doesn’t get the new advertising deal, and Craigslist has long made classifieds less important.

But local news is more important than ever – it holds government officials accountable, celebrates a community’s victories, and mourns their losses. “There is so much at stake,” Kalita said of a dwindling independent news sector.

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