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!
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
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
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.
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.
(Pre-RMC Course Oct. 5–7)
Things are quickly coming together for this year’s Radical Mycology Convergence, with all milestones pointing toward this being our most immersive and engaging RMC yet!
To start, lots of new, exciting additions have been made the weekend’s schedule to round out important lines of thought that come up at everyone Convergence:
- The world’s first MycoHack will take place on Saturday of the RMC. This facilitated meeting-of-the-minds brainstorm and collaborative design session will be structured to help mushroom cultivators improve the integration of appropriate technologies into their shared practices.
- That Sunday, the world’s first MycOlympics will bring together teams of mycophiles to will push their love for fungi to the limits in games that span from exhausting to absurd to hilarious. It will be rad!
- This year we are honored to take part in the North American Mycoflora Project by holding an on-site citizen science research project to describe, document, and preserve the variety of mushrooms found during the Radical Mycology Convergence – all to help better understand what species need protecting! The Project will be going on all weekend and attendees will be able to learn about and directly engage in this important work.
- This year we are bringing back the ever-popular Culture Barter Faire, Spores & Strains: a non-facilitated, non-commodified, free-for-all, where participants swap cultures of their favorite (legal) species. Bring your slants, syringes, and prints to get in on the action!
- And as with the last two RMCs, the weekend before the main event we are holding Fertile Substrate, a pre-RMC course and work party to prep the land for the gathering and to teach participants hands-on skills for making their own rad events go off without a hitch!
Application Deadlines Approaching
For people looking to engage in the RMC more directly, there are still two weeks to sign up to be a teacher, evening entertainer, vendor, artist in the RMC art gallery, or to be the event’s lead chef.
- For Teachers, we are seeking presentations related to mycology, ecology, permaculture, bioremediation, ecological revitalization, introductory science topics, and fungi-based cultural studies. Travel costs will be covered and an honorarium provided to all selected teachers.
- For Performers, we are seeking fungi- and eco-inspired entertainment for our evening activities. Music, performance, puppetry, dance, and more are all welcome. Performers will also be monetarily honored for their time and travel.
- For Chefs, we are seeking individuals with experience planning menus and cooking for groups for several hundred people. Volunteers and an honorarium will be provided to support your help!
- For Vendors, we are accepting applications for non-profits, and mycology- and ecology-related organizations and businesses.
- For Artists, we are accepting submissions for our myco art show, Mush Love.
See you in October!
Today is a big day for us at Radical Mycology as we are thrilled to announce that this October we will be holding our fifth Radical Mycology Convergence, this time back in the Cascadia bioregion, and for the first time in Oregon!
The RMC is a multi-day biennial gathering of fungi-lovers and educators sharing their knowledge of – and passion for – working with fungi. Through mushroom hunts, art shows, outdoor fungal installations, and a variety of hands-on workshops, the RMC cultivates a rare space for fungi lovers to come together and share in their personal and collective experiences with fungi across all aspects of life.This year’s RMC is sure to set a new bar for this unique event and we excited to have you join us this fall.
Started in 2011 as a pipe dream between two friends – a vision of working with and learning from fungi alongside a community of peers – the Radical Mycology Convergence has since grown to be one of the most unique spaces for fungi advocates, Earth defenders, and naturalists of all stripes to explore the numerous intersections mycology forms with many of the world’s most pressing social and ecological issues.
This event is not just a weekend gathering to pass through, but an intentional moment in time, curated to help both experienced and novice mushroom lovers discover new, and ever-deeper connection to these unique organisms and the ecological webs they sustain. For us, it is more than just a party for celebrating fungi – though there is some of that too! – but a time to reflect on what’s missing from our so-often hectic and disconnected lives. Fungi remind us to integrate into our environments, to find support and allyship with those we live near and ultimately depend on. The RMC is, on many fronts, an effort to help bring some of these deeper fungal lessons to the fore, and give them space for honest reflection.
There will be a lot happening at this year’s RMC, all of which is detailed on the event’s website. Some things to highlight include:
- MUSH LOVE: A MYCOPHILIC ART SHOW. This year at the RMC we are hosting a fungi-focused art exhibition as a part of the weekend’s activities and are currently seeking submissions from artists of all media formats.
- FERTILE SUBSTRATE: A PRE-RMC COURSE. The weekend before the Convergence there will be a work party and pre-course designed to prep the land for the event. Space is very limited for this event, so be sure to sign up soon!
- APPLY TO TEACH! Are you a mushroom grower, citizen scientist, herbalist, or naturalist? Do you have a story to share about your experiences with macro or micro fungi? Or do you have a social or ecological insight you feel is absent from most mycology-related dialogues? If yes, then we want to hear from you!
- SIGN UP TO VOLUNTEER! As a grassroots event, the RMC heavily relies on the support of volunteers to help the event go off without a hitch. If you’re interested in helping with a small or big role, considering signing up and helping make mycological history!
And be sure to follow along at the RMC’s Facebook event page to hear the latest announcements.
Portland-based visual artist Ross Barmache offers up a nearly hour-long music video to accompany last December’s release of the Radical Mycology Mixtape (Vol. 1). Complimenting the various genres and moods found throughout the album, Barmache pulls together hundreds of obscure fungi-based clips from the last century to overlay each track with hand-picked visuals merged, color washed, and down sampled to their mycelial core. The effect is a way of seeing fungi that is familiar, yet novel – engaged, and hypnotic. Dig it.
To stream the album or to pickup a copy of the limited edition cassette tape, check out the Radical Mycology Bandcamp.
After months in the making, the first Radical Mycology Mixtape was released earlier this week.
With artists from around the world, this unique album was created to showcase the many ways fungi inspire the audio arts – with the result being a wide-ranging, yet well-balanced blend of styles arising from the only requirement for submission: that the tracks “relate to (radical) mycology in content or spirit.”
Perhaps the most striking aspect of the mix is the spread of genres. There are singer-songwriter, I-love-mushrooms-type songs from Josh Vogeler, Michael Ching, and Skep. Lef. The classical cello from Patrick Lavoie, SP-404 sampled beat from MTLR, and ambient world sounds of Sporecaster bring in an instrumental perspective to hearing fungi. And there are several non-music-based tracks, including excerpts from Zoe Gordon’s “Curse of the Wild Morels,” a sound effect laced poem-story about alien Morel mushrooms that haunt dreams, and Ernst Karl’s 30-minute collection of mycology-based field recordings known simply as “Mycological.”
Reflecting on the influences of psychoactive fungi, Kamehameha’s “Head Up the Sky” is a psychedelic rock roller coaster through the effects of psilocybin. While in “I Bruise Blue,” OMNIII raps about similar experiences over slappy bass loops, just as Gourmet draws out in their lo-fi track “Mushrooms” and Sam Sycamore relays via shoegaze in “Gold Pavilion.”
Many of the tracks also directly align with the mycopsychology that Radical Mycology has highlighted for years. In “Firemushroom,” AGF sings about the importance of fungi in the environment over sounds sampled directly from mushrooms. Radical Fun Time’s “Radical Mycology Time” is a crust punk celebration of the autonomy found in mushroom hunting and reconnecting with nature. “Very Same Moon” by Connor Albers discusses the intelligence of mycelium in relation to being connected to land, while River Dweller’s “Holy Karyogamy” provides a multi-layered reflection on impending ecological disasters. Meanwhile, multiple snippets from Emji Spero’s poetry book-turned-album “almost any shit will do” are spread throughout the mixtape, providing numerous comparisons between fungal forms and the growth of radical social movements.
Finally, there are the songs that are in a class of their own: Glitter Wizard’s glam/stoner rock tale of corpses communicating via mycelium, cyberboy666 & user43368831’s retelling of a Derek Mahon poem (over mushroom-sampled sounds), Mamoun Nukumanu’s blissed out rap “Helix Trees,” and Baba and the Yagas’ ballad “Cordyceps.” In all of these we find a unique reflection on the influences and importance of fungi in our lives – now, and in the hereafter.
To download the full album or to pickup a copy of the limited edition cassette tape, check out the Radical Mycology Bandcamp.
Mush love to all the artists!
Screening of music videos and narratives from the mixtape:
- Two mushooms KNOCKING (Australia)
- See Through Machine (Providence, RI)
- The Curse of the Wild Morels (Ontario, Canada)
- How Doth the CrocodileDJing by Northern Draw
VJing by Ross Barmache
The event will take place at The Know (3728 NE Sandy Blvd, Portland, OR 97232). See the Facebook event page here.
Photo by Madeline Cass.
Send in your song demo or audio performance to the Radical Mycology Mixtape Project!
Despite the fact that millions of people around the world hold a strong passion for mycology, there surprisingly isn’t much music that directly relates to the topic. Apart from the requisite fungally-themed electronic music albums and occasional country-westernesque mushroom hunting ballad, you’d be hard pressed to find a slamming spore liberation dance jam, mycoremediation battle rap, or myceliated pop-punk chorus. What gives?
At Radical Mycology, we’ve lamented this fact for years and have worked to draw some works out of the soil and wood at each Radical Mycology Convergence’s Saturday night Talent Showcase. Though always good, the lineup at the 2016 RMC’s Showcase was particularly potent, leading to the realization that it was time to finally record some of the world’s underground mycoartists and create a vital resource for the spread of the 21st century’s neo-ethnomycological movement.
So, from now until August 1, 2017, Radical Mycology will be accepting demos for consideration from all music genre and audio performance types – with the only filter being that the piece should relate to or be inspired by (radical) mycology in some manner. Radical Mycology will then produce and release the final album mid-December as a donation-based download and limited edition cassette.
Want to get involved or just know more? Check out all the details here.
Starting this July, Peter McCoy will be hitting the road to leading several 20-hour Mushroom Cultivation & Application Courses across the U.S. Peter has been teaching about mushroom cultivation for over 10 years and as each year passes, this Course only gets more robust, thorough, and immersive.
If you’ve been thinking of getting into mushroom growing, or of taking your practice in the art to the next level, this Course will leave you well equipped to advance and evolve your work with fungi for years to come. Confirmed locations and dates are listed below, each with more information on what to expect.
Soil Fungi Master Class
This August, Peter will also be joined by soil, compost, and bioremediation expert Nance Klehm in Chicago, Illinois for an unprecedented 7-day Master Class on the many functions of fungi in soil systems. Offering a skillset found nowhere else in the world, this Course will provide any food, fungi, and Earth lover with insights and practices for managing landscapes and designing holistic environments through the often overlooked lens of these hidden fungi. Starting with the ecology and forms of soil fungi, this Master Class will take participants through all the skills needed to identify, assess, isolate, cultivate, and apply many types of soil fungi in any habitat, both disturbed and intact. For more information, click the image below.
This month, Peter McCoy and Radical Mycology are being featured in an international art-ecology exhibition at Le Commun in Geneva, Switzerland as a part of a month-long exhibition series entitled La Sémiosphère du Commun.
Over the course of three weeks, Peter held several workshops and presentations on his unique approach to working with and teaching about fungi and also worked in collaboration with filmmaker Marion Neumann and artist collaboratory Utopiana founder Anna Barseghian to design several installation components that were inspired by ideas presented in Peter’s book. Though the project just opened the other day, it has already some great local press in a few places so far. For all the details, check the video and images below and see the event’s full description at the bottom.
The impetus behind the whole exhibition series was to remediate the wooden bricks that make up the floor of the gallery. After denial from the government (which owns the building), the idea spawned into a larger series of questions about how to engage with fungi and other organisms to not just heal the environment, but learn from and recognize our relationship to it.
The five main components were a mini-mushroom lab where liquid inoculum (culture) and spawn are produced, a mock oil spill, mycorediation of household waste, mycorediation of used cigarette filters, mycorediation of “bricks,” and a fruiting environment for mushroom growing. Click on the image for the full resolution panorama.
In the mushroom lab, grains were inoculated on three separate dates, each 3 days apart, to demonstrate how quickly mushroom mycelium grows.
Following up on Peter’s novel approach to growing mushrooms on cigarette filters to degrade the chemicals they contain, part of the workshop series taught participants how to repeat the methodology Peter developed at home.
Dozens of small vials were made.
Oil-soaked cardboard mixed with used coffee grounds, and mushroom mycelium. Over the coming weeks, the mycelium will digest the chemicals into simpler and (likely) less-toxic byproducts.
Mimicking an oil spill, used motor oil was mixed with soil to then be remedaited by a mushrooms (the Pearl Oyster [Pleurotus ostreatus]). Pasteurized straw and mushroom mycelium were added and the timer set to see how long it would take for the mushroom to take over the substrate.
There were a ton of other amazing projects and exhibits as a part of the exhibition. Here, an open-source theramin is hooked up to pads of moss from various polluted sites, with their differing conductivity being translated into down sampled frequency generators.
An employee from CERN demonstrated his hand-made emission detector hooked up to an iPad. As electrons, alpha, beta, or gamma particles are detected, the signal is translated into an audio signal with the Korg synthesizer (upper right).
Soil and water cultures from a lake in Romania polluted by a nearby aluminum processing facility.
The project entitled « The Semiosphere of the Commun » emerges from the very space of Le Commun. We learned that in 2006 the Building Services entrusted the engineering-environment-safety company Ecoservices SA to carry out tests for pollutants potentially present at the BAC. In parallel, the STEB (Service de toxicologie de L’environnement bâti du Canton de Genève – the Service of Toxicology Service of the Built Environment, Geneva Canton) measured the quality of air in a number of spaces of the building. The laboratories tested the samples taken from the floors and the false ceilings for presence of heavy metals, PAHs (Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons) and asbestos, and found an important level of hydrocarbon pollution in all surface samples taken from the wooden and screed floors, dating back and inherited from the industrial period of the building. The PAHs were also present and even released in more or less important quantities depending on temperature variations. Heavy metals were occasionally present in excess. The tests showed presence of asbestos in the glue used to fix the wooden floors on the ground floor as well as in the ceiling panels. The detected asbestos is non-porous and does not present a health hazard as long as it remains untouched. In conclusion, Ecoservices SA considers the site to be contaminated, but without danger for medium term occupants.
In its activities Utopiana is interested in questions and alternative methods of decontamination. In 2015 and as an interventionist artistic gesture, we submitted an in situ project to the Geneva authorities, which consisted in the partial decontamination of the floor of Le Commun by a remedial action thanks to mushrooms and phytomining.
We consider this situation to be an opportunity to enlarge the fields of knowledge so as to address more deeply the question of the environment. In fact, we want to conceive differently the very idea of the environment (Umwelt) so that it integrates different theoretical, institutional, and political factors and takes into account various pragmatic engagements.
Other than the knowledge of ecological processes, the solution to these problems also requires understanding of human behaviour because the semiotic aspects of the human-nature relationships that are important in this context and in others are not yet sufficiently understood or considered.
The scaffold that has been erected from the space of Le Commun presents itself as a “relational biosphere” which attempts to weave new frames uniting “two cultures”: the humanities and the arts on the one hand, and the technical and natural sciences on the other. Or, more generally – the union of the cultural fields and those dealing with natural phenomena. In order for us to understand and to act in the current ecological situation, we propose to consider human culture as a sphere of continuous interplay of signs – as a semiosphere, as an open entity which constantly influences and is being influenced – and to underline the importance of the processes of symbiosis at the interior and exterior limits of this semiosphere. Just as much as the biosphere is necessary for the existence of different terrestrial species, the semiosphere precedes the existence of meanings that populate it. Thus, Le Commun interlocks the real, physical space and the social, virtual one.
We must understand the similar dynamics that manifest themselves on all levels of the living (semiosphere, biosphere, Umwelt) in order to understand the rupture that man has created in his environment through the production and accumulations of materials that no longer partake in the recycling of elements of our ecosystem.
The concept of the semiosphere is considered in its relational capacity for a future of the ecology of thought, of subjectivity, of desire, of power, of affect – in short, of modes of existence.
Peter McCoy and Radical Mycology were recently featured in an article on the many prospects of mycology over at Salon.com. Topics touched on include the infancy of mycology, the need to promote the many non-psychoactive properties of fungi, mycoremediation, and how fungi will recolonize the world long after humans have gone. Dig it.