The Zendo Project

Visit for our newest campaign!
Zendo Project
Santa Cruz, California
United States
1 Team Member

Help expand the Zendo Project! Support our new campaign to raise $50,000 for psychedelic harm reduction services!

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The Zendo Project is an onsite harm reduction service where compassionate
care is provided for individuals undergoing difficult psychedelic experiences.

The Zendo Project is returning to Black Rock City in 2013, and we need your help. We are raising funds to cover transportation costs for the structure, equipment, and volunteers, as well as materials to make the space even more comfortable and inviting. The Zendo Project relies on the support of our community—every pledge enables us to provide better care to more people having difficult psychedelic experiences.


Our Mission

  • Provide a supportive space for individuals undergoing difficult psychedelic experiences or other psychological challenges in order to turn those difficult experiences into valuable opportunities for learning and personal growth, and to reduce the number of drug-related psychiatric hospitalizations. 
  • Create an environment where volunteers can work alongside one another to improve their harm reduction skills and receive training and feedback. 
  • Demonstrate that safe, productive psychedelic experiences are possible without the need for law enforcement-based policies.

Zendo Project volunteers, Black Rock City (2012)Zendo Project volunteers, Black Rock City (2012)


Our History

In 2012, the first year of the Zendo Project, we provided compassionate care to 108 guests in the Black Rock Desert. Forty-six of these guests had taken a psychedelic prior to their arrival at our large structure on the playa, and the other 62 were either seeking support to help them integrate a previous experience, or in search of a comfortable place to rest. Volunteers and medical professionals were available 24 hours a day to provide a tranquil space, water, and compassionate care for attendees undergoing difficult psychedelic experiences. The feedback we received was overwhelmingly supportive, with many individuals reporting they felt safer simply knowing the Zendo was there in case they or someone they knew needed assistance.

Zendo Project volunteer training, Black Rock City (2012)Zendo Project volunteer training, Black Rock City (2012)

We also provided training to over 60 volunteers, including 12 doctors, nurses, or EMTs, to ensure that we would be able to respond to any medical emergencies in a timely and professional manner. Volunteers were equipped with radios so they could call for medical backup, if needed, because the Zendo is not a medical facility. The space was full of pillows and blankets, and over the course of the week, it filled in with art that was created by our guests. We provided hot tea and cocoa, as well as backup supplies that are commonly needed, like extra socks, chapstick, toothbrushes and toothpaste, and dust masks. 

Staff and volunteers from the Zendo Project have set up harm reduction spaces at the following events:

  • Boom Festival 2012 - Idanha-a-Nova, Portugal
  • Black Rock City 2012 - Black Rock City, Nevada, USA
  • Envision Festival 2013 - Uvita, Bahia Ballena, Costa Rica
  • Re:Creation Bicycle Day 2013  - San Francisco, California, USA
  • AfrikaBurn 2013 - Tankwa, South Africa




Our Goals

This year, in addition to transportation and staff costs, which are comparable to last year, we need to purchase additional infrastructure to make the space more comfortable and to raise the level of care that we offer our guests. We are aiming to obtain two small tables to help us organize our supplies and make them easier to find; a fan to keep things cooler during the day; a heater to keep the space warmer at night; a rack for hanging and organizing our volunteer nametags, an additional shade structure outside of the Zendo so that we can hold volunteer meetings without disturbing our guests. We will also need to replenish our tea and art supplies, and we would like to buy some additional snacks and drinks, as well as hot soup that we can offer in addition to tea at night, and coffee for tired volunteers. The structure also requires regular maintenance, for which supplies are needed.

Your contribution also helps us show how much support there is within our wider community for psychedelic harm reduction services. Any funds raised in excess of our goal will be used to help bring the Zendo Project to more events around the world, and to set a strong foundation for continuing our work in the years ahead. 

The biggest challenge that we face is the transportation and construction of the Zendo structure. Building a safe and sustainable structure in the desert is very hard work, and organizing builders, acquiring materials, and managing schedules leading up to our presence in Black Rock City will be a major task.

Once we have the structure set up, the next step will be to fill the space with first-aid supplies, pillows, drinking water, blankets, food, fans, heaters, extra clothing, and other essential items to keep our guests and volunteers comfortable at all times. Managing so many materials is a significant logistical challenge, but necessary for creating a comfortable and inviting space.

Training our growing list of volunteers about the risks and challenges of psychedelic harm reduction is a core part of our mission, and the safety and comfort of volunteers and guests are our top priorities. Providing compassionate support for people having difficult psychedelic experiences can be psychologically and emotionally challenging, and volunteers will be provided training in how not to take on guests' difficult or painful emotions.

Your Rewards

To thank you for helping the Zendo Project be all it can be, we are also offering unique rewards for supporters of this Indiegogo campaign, including water bottles, a picnic, and a live harm reduction workshop.

The Zendo Pack is a bundle of useful tools for attendees of any festival or for anyone with an active lifestyle who supports our work. Rewards also make great gifts! 

A Hoo-Rag is a highly useful and dynamic tubular bandana that is "a must-have for all outdoor enthusiasts." Learn more about Hoo-Rags.

TIP: When pledging, you may enter an amount larger than listed if you would like to contribute additional support for the Zendo Project.

What Is Psychedelic Harm Reduction?

The Four Basic Principles of Psychedelic Harm Reduction

  • Create a safe space 
  • Sitting, not guiding 
  • Talk through, not down 
  • Difficult is not the same as bad 

It is not uncommon for psychedelic users to have difficult experiences. This is most likely with first-time users, especially with high doses and without adequate preparation or guidance. These experiences have become commonly referred to as "bad trips."

A difficult psychedelic experience is not necessarily a bad one. With proper preparation and understanding, it is possible to help someone having a difficult experience so they can receive the most benefit from it.

Difficult psychedelic experiences can be frightening, but they are also potentially among the most valuable experiences someone can have. Difficult psychedelic experiences can be the result of external factors, such as a chaotic environment or traumatic events, or the result of painful or troubling emotions that arise during the experience.

By working with these experiences, rather than trying to "talk someone down," together the sitter and the psychedelic user can transform a difficult psychedelic experience a chance for personal growth.

If you would like to volunteer for the Zendo Project, please email We are primarily looking for medical and mental health professionals that have a ticket to attend the festival in Black Rock City.

About Us

The Zendo Project is sponsored by the Multidisiciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS). Founded in 1986, MAPS is a 501(c)(3) non-profit research and educational organization that develops medical, legal, and cultural contexts for people to benefit from the careful uses of psychedelics and marijuana.

MAPS has been involved with psychedelic harm reduction for over a decade and provided all of the funds for the Zendo Project in 2012. Limited funds are available for this year, but not enough to fund all of our goals for the Zendo Project. The Zendo Project structure is built from recycled materials and was donated by Vanja Palmers as a gift to celebrate MAPS' 20th anniversary in 2006. The structure has received an award for best use of recycled materials on the playa.

MAPS is also the fiscal sponsor for the Temple of Whollyness in Black Rock City 2013.

Thank you for your support!

Find This Campaign On
raised by 245 people in 1 month
178% funded
No time left
Verified Nonprofit
$10,000 USD goal
Flexible Funding This campaign has ended and will receive all funds raised.
Campaign Closed
This campaign ended on August 1, 2013
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Select a Perk
  • $10USD
    Zendo Sticker

    Support the Zendo Project's psychedelic harm reduction initiative and receive a limited-run Zendo Project sticker, which you can proudly display anywhere you want! This reward also comes with the satisfaction of knowing you helped build the Zendo Project.

    41 claimed
    Estimated delivery: August 2013
  • $25USD
    Zendo Bandana + Sticker

    The exclusive Zendo Bandana can serve as a fashion statement, an art piece, or as the most important thing between you and a playa dust storm. This reward also comes with a limited edition Zendo Sticker and the satisfaction of being a supporter of the Zendo Project.

    75 claimed
    Estimated delivery: August 2013
  • $55USD
    Zendo Water Bottle + Sticker

    This durable, reusable aluminum water bottle is ideal for the the playa, the gym, the mountains, or just for day-to-day life. This reward also comes with one Zendo Sticker and the warm feeling that you helped make the Zendo Project a success.

    12 claimed
    Estimated delivery: August 2013
  • $75USD
    Physical Training Manual

    This physical copy of the Psychedelic Harm Reduction Training Manual will teach you everything you need to know about psychedelic harm reduction! This reward also comes with one Zendo Sticker and the satisfaction of knowing you contributed to our mission.

    36 claimed
    Estimated delivery: August 2013
  • $125USD
    Zendo Pack

    The Zendo Pack is full of harm reduction tools for the playa and beyond! This bundle includes the Psychedelic Harm Reduction Training Manual, water bottle, bandana, one sticker, and the satisfaction of being a Zendo Project supporter.

    25 claimed
    Estimated delivery: August 2013
  • $250USD
    Limited Edition Zendo Pack

    The Limited Edition Zendo Pack contains a Psychedelic Harm Reduction Training Manual autographed by Harm Reduction Coordinator Linnae Ponté, a water bottle, a bandana, 10 stickers, and the satisfaction of knowing you contributed to our mission.

    2 out of 10 claimed
    Estimated delivery: August 2013
  • $500USD
    Fractal Planet Camping

    Camp registration and a healthy meal plan at the Fractal Planet theme camp, the international collaboration of seven global festivals hosting the Zendo Project in Black Rock City in 2013. This reward also comes with the Zendo Pack and the satisfaction of knowing you contributed to our mission. (Camping and meals only. Festival ticket not included.)

    4 out of 5 claimed
    Estimated delivery: August 2013
  • $500USD
    Harm Reduction Workshop

    Receive an invitation to participate in a live, online psychedelic harm reduction workshop presented by Harm Reduction Coordinator Linnae Ponté. This reward also comes with the Zendo Pack and the satisfaction of knowing you contributed to our mission.

    3 out of 50 claimed
    Estimated delivery: November 2013
  • $1,000USD
    Zendo Artwork

    Receive a signed, original print of Zendo Project logo artwork. This reward also comes with the Limited Edition Zendo Pack and the satisfaction of knowing you contributed to our mission.

    1 out of 5 claimed
    Estimated delivery: September 2013
  • $2,000USD
    Playa Picnic

    Enjoy a picnic on the Black Rock City playa with MAPS Founder & Executive Director Rick Doblin and MAPS Harm Reduction Coordinator Linnae Ponté. This reward also comes with the Limited Edition Zendo Pack and the satisfaction of knowing you contributed to our mission. (This reward is also available to people who can't make it to Black Rock City. Picnic will take place at a mutually agreed upon location.)

    1 out of 3 claimed
    Estimated delivery: August 2013
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