I have to admit, I needed a bit of a revival. I read the New York Times Magazine article by Nathaniel Rich on climate change and it left me deflated. The story is important (called Losing Earth: The Decade We Almost Stopped Climate Change), but it doesn’t offer any reason for hope. It completely convinced me that politics will never address this issue.
My take-away is that we need to identify and follow the leaders who are pointing in the right direction. It’s up to us. And it’s easy to feel surrounded by folks who just don’t care about reducing their contribution to this time of mass extinction on our planet. At this point, making decisions based on environmental impact in one’s life and business is swimming up stream. Our western culture still has the backwards notion that money and status is more important than addressing the most pressing issues for our environment that we live within and that our future generations will inhabit.
So I was sort of wallowing in a depression around the inability of humans to adapt. But the mushrooms can! I’ve just returned from the Telluride Mushroom Festival. What the mushrooms can do is amazing.
Did you know that mushrooms have been grown over disposable diapers and the plastic waste was reduced by 80%? Fungus can adapt to digest new substrates. They can even break down components of e-waste. Mycoremediation is the use of fungi for breaking down environmental and industrial pollutants. We are talking PCBs, oil spills, and pathogenic organisms. Mushroom mycelium (the underground part) can be bred to attack specific viruses. The potential for medicine for humans, and for earth healing is amazing. Small doses of psilocybin have been shown to dissociate conditioned fear responses. This holds a lot of promise for treating PTSD. Bees can harvest the mycelium that grows through woodchips and duff to increase their resiliency to mites and viruses.
Perhaps you have heard some of this before. The restorative aspects of fungi began to be revealed to the modern world decades ago. But doesn’t all that sound so promising? Isn’t that just the kind of research that need to be seriously developed?
That New York Times article gave me a new window into the incompetence of politics. Not just right now, but over the last few decades. For those of us who really care about our planet, enough to change our lives and our habits, the atmosphere of apathy, hypocrisy, and inaction is painfully obvious all around us.
And that is why I was inspired at the Telluride Mushroom Festival. It wasn’t just the mushrooms, but the mushroom people. The research on the healing properties of fungi is being done! Citizen scientists are taking up this task and sharing their methodology and encouraging others to join their ranks. Why are the mushroom people so advanced with initiating the collaboration that we so desperately need to evolve humanity and heal our planet? Maybe it’s because of the nature of fungi. The mycelium, the roots of the mushrooms, infiltrate everything. They share information and resources between plants to keep different parts of the forest healthy. Our biological role models show us how to share, how to courageously go forward and keep making new connections and alternate pathways.
I’ve learned that for me it’s imperative to take part in the human communities that gather around these important areas of learning. We must treat our water like the sacred element it is, and gathering with the water people to share methods and experiences is necessary. We must find ways to break our addiction to petroleum fuels for our climate. Here in the Southwest US, harvesting the sun is the low hanging fruit. I enjoy sharing techniques and inspiration with the solar community. But right now, for me, it’s the camaraderie of the mushroom people who feed my need to keep growing.
The mushroom community is a living and growing web of connection with a heart grounded in the healing of our planet. The ability of the mushrooms to do this work is astounding. That must be what keeps the mushroom people so uplifted and hopeful. Like the mycelium, we seek ways to help and connect. The fungus has shown us that constant adaptation and innovation keeps our environment thriving. If the mushrooms can do all that, it’s easy to be convinced that with their partnership, we can too.Written by Amanda Bramble
Look out for Ampersand’s Mushroom Inspiration event at the end of September where we will share more information from the Telluride Mushroom Festival and network between mushroom cultivators in New Mexico. If you are not on Ampersand’s newsletter list, email me at email@example.com to learn more.
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