2018 Radical Mycology Convergence Reportback

 

On the weekend of October 12–15, nearly 600 fungi enthusiasts, mushroom cultivators, naturalists, ecoactivists, and artists gathered on the 40 acres of Brown Bottle Farm outside Portland, Oregon for four days of working with and honoring the Fungal Queendom at the fifth Radical Mycology Convergence.

Building on the successes of the previous four RMCs, this year’s gathering was an evolutionary leap from its predecessors on several fronts, and a new window into what a holistic approach to engaging with one of the biggest branches on the Tree of Life can look like.

 

Event poster by Zoe Keller

 

The Art of Fungi

A big addition to this year’s RMC was a rich infusion of the many forms of artistic expression that mycology inspires. Friday night saw the opening of Mush Love, a fungi-focused art show featuring works by 30 artists from across North America and Europe, including sculptures by Lucia Monge, Tiffany Bray, Sage Morgan, Stephanie Kilgast, and Devin Ball; a myceliated fabric installation by Kaitlin Bryson; mushroom embroidery by Pippa Haynes; photos by Madelyn Pederson and Nick Beery; mushroomy short films by David Fenster; audio meditations by Fiona MacDonald; collages by Amy Ross; screen prints by Poke Effle; drawings by Sophia Panayotou and Katie Lindsay; paintings by Christina McLachlan, Dominique Pere, Jane Harbour, and Nigel Sutcliffe; and an incredible mural by Mazatl (of the Just Seeds Artists’ Cooperative) and Kill Joy.

 

Split gills and spores at the Mush Love entrance

Mush Love: An RMC Art Gallery opening

 

The packed opening of the show was enriched with delicious hot drinks (Chaga Candy Cap Mexican Hot Chocolate, Reishi-Apple Mulled Cider, and Turkey Tail Hot Toddy) and dance jams spun by DJ NorthernDraw. Following the opening, the art-of-decay film Wrought by Winnipeg-based filmmakers Anna Sigrithur and Joel Penner screened to a packed barn loft above the art show.

 

A 16-foot long mural by Mazatl and Kill Joy

Attendees watch films by David Fenster

 

While Mush Love stayed open all weekend, other events came on the schedule to keep the arts vibe riding high. Saturday night saw the RMC’s Talent Show in full swing with an incredible spread of talents and expressions from attendees. Closing out the night, Cedar Dreamer and Death Hags performed fungi-inspired music on the forest stage (a.k.a. the Scarlet Cup), while David Fenster screened several mushroom-themed films in the top of the Barnalaria.

 

Jason Scott and Anna Sitkoff hold a medicinal mushrooms workshop on the forest stage (The Scarlet Cup)

 

Several arts-based workshops popped up throughout the weekend as well, including a mycelial game making workshop by Stephanie Maroney, Anuj Vaidya, and Mercedes Villalba; a mushroom dyes workshop by Mattie Morton; and an art and mycology workshop by Kaitlin Bryson. Likewise, this year also saw a big increase in workshops focusing on a mythological and philosophical approach to building relations with fungi, with Nick Lake, Jason Schroeder, Peter Sjöstedt-H, Paula Kahn, and Sammy Castonguay each bringing novel insights to the notion of fungus-as-teacher.

 

New Mexico based artist Kaitlin Bryson gives an Art + Mycology workshop at The Pax

 

The 2018 MycOlympics

On Sunday, the world’s first MycOlympics took place in the farm’s central field. Through six myco-inspired challenges, ten competing teams ran a forager’s relay race, tested the speed and accuracy of their cultivation and field identification skills, dug for Trichoderma spores in an over-sized petri dish, performed mushroom charades, and chowed down in a Spicy Chanterelle Apple Doughnut eating contest. For many, the MycOlympics was a major highlight of the RMC and an hour of fungi-filled joy not soon to be forgotten.

 

2018 MycOlympians bite deep into the Spicy Chanterelle Apple Doughnut eating contest

 

A big thanks to everyone who joined the fun, and another round of congratulations goes out to The Bleeding Mycenas for winning first place, Psychedelic Reindeer Piss for coming in second, and The Fantastic Spore for taking home the bronze prize!

 

Citizen Science

Balancing out the weekend’s arts elements was an increased emphasis on citizen science, as best represented by the RMC’s collaboration with the North American Mycoflora Project, a non-profit organization working to map the distribution of mushrooms across the continent. Nearly 40 specimens were collected during the RMC, each of which were dried and sent to an herbarium for preservation, while tissue samples were sent to Purdue University to be sequenced. The RMC Mycoflora will ultimately go on to help amateur and professional mycologists better understand the fruiting patterns and rarity of mushrooms across North America, and we were honored to help take part in this important and groundbreaking work.

 

Volunteers drop off mushroom specimens to the RMC Mycoflora Project

 

As with each RMC, workshops focusing on the cutting edge of mycological science were also woven throughout the weekend. Of special note, Andi Bruce shared her research on invasive mushrooms, Christian Schwarz discussed the impacts of climate change on fungal populations, Leif Olson shared insights into the bioaccumulation of fungi, Peter McCoy covered the many aspects of mycoremediation, and several teachers took part in a Citizen Science in Mycology panel discussion and Q&A session.

 

Christian Schwarz gives a talk on the impacts of climate change on fungal populations

 

Building Community

Underlying the whole weekend was the RMC’s primary objective of building community around a shared loved for fungi. The range of new workshop topics helped raise the level of dialogue at the Convergence to new heights, while the sunny days and beautiful land hosting the event (along with the Farm’s wonderful stewards Anna and Ryan Falk) created a place out of time where all were free to share in their mycophilia with abandon. As attendees camped in the farm’s fields and forest, volunteered in the kitchen, or took part in the shared mealtime, Brown Bottle’s sprawling open spaces held rich conversations, founded new friendships, and made way for the next steps of the growing Radical Mycology movement.

 

Attendees gather for the morning circle

Sunset over Mt. Hood and the RMC camping area (Campaspora)   //   Volunteers help prepare dinner

Attendees share lunch on the lawn of Brown Bottle Farm

 

Looking Forward

In many ways, the success of this year’s gathering showed the central role that the RMC plays in educating, inspiring, and growing the mycoculture of the new millennium. The growth of the event compared to those in the past has left us at Radical Mycology humbled and in many ways excited about all that is still to come. Those who have followed our work up until now will notice some big changes in the coming months, all of which we see as ever greater leaps into the brighter future of fungi we have worked so long to build. We look forward to meeting you there and hope you will join us in that journey as we spread our network ever farther around the globe and, through it, the wisdom the fungi provide.

 

Thank You!

The success of this special weekend would not have been possible without the extensive support of our many volunteers and sponsors. Of special note we wish to thank Scott Schuster for going many extra miles as our lead chef, ensuring that all the attendees were well fed and warmed with hot drinks throughout the weekend. Likewise, the many kitchen volunteers that stayed extra long hours to help Scott (Olivia C., Marco D., and many others) are gratefully acknowledged for their support. We raise up our incredible volunteer coordinators Kelsey and Morgan, who navigated a million and one big and small tasks with grace to help make the behind the scenes labors roll as smoothly as possible. We thank Robert K., Zach S., Ashley S., Sam T., and José M. for being potent pillars of volunteer support, as well as Cheyenne E. for making the amazing Split Gill piñata that closed out the Talent Show. We graciously thank Zoe Keller for the event’s incredible flyer design. And we thank Brown Bottle Farm for holding such a nurturing and nourishing space for all that the weekend provided.

 

The post-talent show Split Gill piñata drops spores

 

To our many food, raffle, and silent auction donors, we give an extra massive THANK YOU for helping sustain and support the RMC’s many facets. Be sure to check out all these great companies and artists, and support their work where and when you can:

4th and Heart, Amica Farm, Blue Lotus Chai, Bob’s Red Mill, Brown Bottle Farm, Central Coop, Chestnut School of Herbal Medicine, Chthaeus Press, Extracto Coffee, Feral Fungi, Flying Coyote Farm, Fred Meyer, Full Plate Farm, Fungi Farm, Gathering Together Farm, Gloria Galves, Guayaki, Henry Higgins Boiled Bagels, Hollywood Theater, Jacobsen Salt Company, Jasmine Pearl Tea, Just Seeds Artists’ Cooperative, Last Word Books, Lundberg Family Farms, Miyoko’s Kitchen, Mora Mora Farm, Mountain Rose Herbs, MYCOLOGOS, MycoUprrhizal, Nick Beery, Orion Magazine, Portlandia Foods, The Rebuilding Center, Red Duck, Rise Up Remedies, Ritual Arts, Sage Morgan, Sarah Hazelton, Sir Kensington’s, Soma Kombucha, South River Miso, Stoneboat Farm, The Herb Shoppe, The Permaculture Student, Thrive Market, Toby’s, and Tria Prima.

 

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