A Stoned Lecture Series with The Goodship
In November of last year, a crowd of stoned-out-of-their-minds Seattleites assembled in King Street Station. They had paid to hear a lecture about death and burial, and more specifically, about the environmental impacts of burial practices.
The subject matter may have been a little macabre, but this was the last chance of the year to experience the camaraderie and open-mindedness of Higher Education—a lecture series that distinguishes itself from the average TED Talk. They invite guests to attend “pre-boarded” (read: having consumed marijuana).
“For some people, all that death was probably a little trippy to deal with while they were stoned. But we like to test that boundary a little bit,” says Eileen Namanny, Marketing Manager for The Goodship Company, a marijuana edibles manufacturer that organizes the Seattle-based lecture series in partnership with The Stranger and The Cloud Room.
Though the lectures only began in the fall of 2015, the idea for Higher Education predates Goodship’s founding in 2014. Owner Jody Hall was in the midst of preparing Goodship’s first line of cannabis confections for retail shelves when Tim Keck, her friend and founder of The Stranger, suggested the fledgling company organize a stoned lecture series.
“It’s that wink-wink feeling you have with everyone there, so you tend to laugh at the same things, and find the same things interesting.”
After some months spent refining the idea, Hall and Keck organized a sort-of “pilot” event, inviting roughly 60 of Seattle’s most prominent creative influencers to arrive pre-boarded and discuss precisely what they’d like to see from a stoned lecture series.
Many of the topics suggested at the initial event have already been covered at subsequent Higher Education lectures, including artificial intelligence, the criminal justice system and most recently, the continued search for extra-terrestrial life. The remaining topics are awaiting the ideal speaker.
“A lot of the speakers we might want aren’t openly cannabis-friendly, so we strike out quite a bit trying to find the perfect fit each time,” Namanny says. “Tim [Keck] has been a great resource for that, since they interview so many people at The Stranger.”
There are exceptions when a speaker is invited and asked to choose their own topic, as was the case with Stranger columnist and LGBTQ activist Dan Savage’s lecture on “Monogamy & Other Lies.”
An Evening of Higher Education
Lectures now occur quarterly at the underground event space of Melrose Market Studios, where beforehand attendees can enjoy un-infused Goodship samples and listen to live music fitting the theme of that night’s discussion. For example, Noel Brass Jr. opened the extra-terrestrial lecture with a spacey selection of cosmic keyboard compositions.
But no matter the topic, each installment of Higher Education allows everyone to delve deeper into the unknown, particularly during the lengthy audience Q&A sessions that follow the speakers’ presentations. During the Q&A, guests voice their questions and stoned philosophical ramblings occur without fear of judgment.
Although most Higher Education attendees have surely been high in public before, it’s an altogether novel experience to be so open about it with strangers who are, in all likelihood, just as stoned as you are.
“There’s this immediate camaraderie that happens when everyone can be present in that state openly,” Namanny says. “It’s that wink-wink feeling you have with everyone there, so you tend to laugh at the same things, and find the same things interesting.”
Namanny enjoys this cannabis-fueled sense of camaraderie, even though she’s usually one of the few to attend the lectures without toking up beforehand. Just as the guests and speakers are encouraged to come pre-boarded, so too are the Goodship employees manning the event, which only adds to the wondrous spontaneity of each Higher Education lecture.
“There are definitely times when mistakes happen,” Namanny says, “and everyone thinks, ‘…well, that sound guy might be stoned.’”