I’ve been encouraged to introduce myself and give a little of my history, and maybe just have a little fun while we are here.
Introduction and meeting the Shulgin’s
My name is Mark Martini.
My background (after dropping out of art school, where I was studying 3D graphics and design) starts at EPA regulated environmental analytical labs, where I worked first as a field technician, then later working my way up through wet chemistry, and instrumentation (GC-MS, ICP-MS, HPLC) until after a couple years I was running their GC-MS equipped mobil laboratory.
After I moved to California in 2009, I spent a few years working at a small (very small, me and the owner) applied-research insect lab in Santa Clara. Here I spent my days fractionating things like chicken and chicken parts looking for the attractive semio-chemicals present that the insects (say yellow-jackets) were keying in on that was telling them that this is food, raising and tending to all our rooms full of test subjects (cockroaches, houseflies, ants, termites, and yes bedbugs), running experiments with said insects (or wild ones in the case of the yellow-jackets), and using our GC-MS to identify active compounds when I would manage to isolate them.
In 2011 I had the great pleasure of attending the annual 4th of July BBQ at the Shulgin farm outside Oakland, CA. Although Sasha rarely got sick during his long life, he was now in his mid-80’s and had been experiencing the effects of dementia for some time. Macular degeneration had also taken most of his sight and kept him from work in the lab for many years already.
Then, just before the BBQ, Sasha suffered a stroke. Needless to say he was not in optimum condition when I arrived that day.
Seeing Sasha in such a condition, and hearing of the massive amount of money needed to both pay normal bills, and now 24hr nursing and medical expenses, we found ourselves reliving the pain and grief of Robert Anton Wilson’s passing a few years earlier.
It was almost impossible to imagine that these amazingly insightful and loved men, who had influenced so many, men that were so often mentioned as souls and teachers that had changed countless lives, could be left scrambling for money at the end of their days. These are not people that lived in any amount of luxury.
These people dedicated their lives to advancing human understanding of who we are, what we are, with hopes of moving away from our robotic nature and becoming more human. Something needs to be done for people like this. They are often marginalized for the taboo nature of their research and ideas, so they often fund their work through writings and appearances. The money simply stops coming as they reach their later years and the writing and travel become less and less.
I began discussing this issue with others at the party and everyone agreed that something should and could be done. The Elysium Foundation Project was born that day to fill the gap between the “idea” and a fully functional low-to-no overhead non-profit organization with the goal of providing financial relief to elderly members of the Visionary/Psychedelic community, like Sasha who, through their research, writings, or general contribution to this field, have made a significant contribution to humanity.
We attempted to reach these goals by maintaining a Facebook page, holding local dinner salons in the San Francisco Bay area, and private networking.
The Facebook page allowed us to have a permanent presence and source of information with which to inform people of Sasha’s condition and needs, promote the Visionary community and their events in order to build a large base of support, and solicit direct donations to the Shulgin’s tax-deductable relief fund.
The local dinner salons allowed us to meet regularly, stay connected, and exchange ideas and thoughts on fundraising for the Shulgins. This also gave us space to stay updated on work in the lab, now being performed by Dr. Paul Daley, and his needs and concerns with continuing Sasha’s actual work.
Separately in our own lives, we each worked to identify, find, and contact potential wealthy individuals that may be able to commit to larger donations to provide a guaranteed period of support. This often took the form of identifying celebrities that have expressed interest and respect for either Sasha’s work directly, or the positive effects of visionary/psychedelic substances in general. We then sought avenues of direct contact if possible to insure delivery of the message.
The Elysium Foundation Project is a loosely organized group of individuals dedicated to helping both inform others of current folks in need of funding, and securing funding and donations for them as well as for projects (such as archiving Sasha’s research library). Much of the work is done independently because most of us had already decided that we were going to do what we could to help both Sasha and Ann. To do our part to ensure their lives were as comfortable and stress-free as possible. To give back something no matter how small. To say thank you with our actions.
With the Hellenic idea of the Elysian Fields to represent our ultimate goal of making their final years as heavenly as possible, the Foundation was formed.
in the end we raised quite a bit of money and a month before Sasha passed, paid off a large portion of the loan they took out for medical costs. Then after his passing we raised more money and provided the initial funding to start archiving his work (which was his dying wish, SAVE MY WORK, MAKE IT PUBLIC) by buying the virtual server, and paying Keeper Trout to start the physical act of scanning (all while he was also editing both the new commemorative editions of Pihkal/Tihkal and Sasha’s upcoming book, “The Nature of Drugs”).
…to be continued