When I get asked why I started the Radical Mycology project, I often say that it was to share the lessons that mushrooms have taught me.
Since I started studying mushrooms as a teenager, I have always seen mycology (the study of fungal biology) as an endlessly fascinating and thought-provoking science. Whether I am using them as a nutritious food source or as a potent medicine, I am always honored to taste their wonderful flavors and alluring textures. Hunting mushrooms in the woods, I love to watch them grow, knowing that they are cleaning the forest soil, protecting plants from disease, and turning decaying matter into fresh topsoil so new plants can thrive.
And using them as remediators, I am awed by the mushrooms’ ability to break down and eliminate some of the most toxic industrial compounds in the world.
Grassroots Bioeremediation workshop with Leila Darwish at the Radical Mycology Convergence
Seeing how the densely branched mycelial networks of mushrooms share nutrients among plants, I also find a wonderful example for humans to follow when working to collaborate with their communities. Further, the incredible spore loads that mushrooms drop in the fall are designed to adapt to any given environment, demonstrating the ability to adjust to challenges and remain resilient during hard times.
These same attributes provide a model for how humans can best relate to each other, whether on a personal or societal level. By mimicking mushroom mycelium, cooperative businesses and housing projects work more efficiently by spreading out tasks and networking with affiliated organizations.
Fungi are also highly symbiotic with most organisms on the planet, so we find, yet again, the importance of collaboration among creatures throughout the fungal kingdom. In essence, fungi act in countless ways as grand harmonizers of the Earth, something that humans can aspire toward to live in balance with their surroundings.
The Radical Mycology project revolves around just this philosophy: that by studying, working with, and learning from the fungal kingdom, humans can best find solutions to problems of personal, societal, and ecological health. To this end Radical Mycology has put a lot of energy into providing free education to the public on the benefits of fungi.
Our website (radicalmycology.com) is a database of all things mycological. We offer two free publications we have written, Radical Mycology and Mushroom Cultivation For Remediation, as well as instructional videos and protocols for mushroom cultivation.
We organize regular multi-day events on mushroom cultivation and its practical applications (the Radical Mycology Convergences), with another being planned for the spring of 2014. And since 2011, two Radical Mycology-inspired volunteer clubs have sprung up in San Francisco, CA and Olympia, WA. These groups teach free workshops about simple and practical mushroom cultivation and community resilience.
The next and biggest project for Radical Mycology is writing a book exploring the theory, practice, and applications of mushrooms for personal, societal, and ecological change. We are currently in the midst of an Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign to fund the book. Our campaign page will soon be up and running. Stop by the Radical Mycology website to learn more about our work.