Tag Archives: garbage

Mycelium Tech

Mushroom specialist Paul Stamets: “we need to have a paradigm shift in our consciousness. If we don’t get our act together and come in commonality and understanding with the organisms that sustain us today, not only will we destroy those organisms, but we will destroy ourselves.[*]

In the early 1990s a close-knit group of geniuses, the Synergists, built and tested the first biosphere in the desert of Arizona. It was to be the first of many, designed with the goal of collecting data and of troubleshooting—so that one day they could create a spaceship or an extra-terrestrial colony on which to preserve earth.

They traveled the planet collecting species for their mini jungle and their mini ocean, their mini forest, their mini meadow. “Do you know how many flowers it takes to feed a hummingbird?” one asked. They made a mystical home, a mini earth, wherein they knew every living being and felt their interconnectedness with all life.

But when they tried to to live off that land, they suffocated and starved. They went insane on carbon dioxide poisoning, fighting and spinning conspiracy theories against one another. The animals suffered helplessly. In the end, the synergists had to bring in oxygen from outside in order to survive the full two years of their experiment.[†]

The SIA had learned two things since then. One, maintain secrecy. Two, depend on the Great Mycelium.

Throughout the earth. the vegetative part of a fungus, consisting of a network of fine white filaments, called the mycelia, link into root systems of trees, plants, and other mycelial webs and transfer information and nutrition.

The synergists had cut their world off from the source of life beneath.

The intelligence of plants, laughed off by some scientists, grew from the complex mind of the mycelium, which grows like neurons or the nerve cells in our minds, like the dark matter of space, like the network of the internet.

According to the research of Suzanne Simard, a forest ecologist at the University of British Columbia, “trees in a forest organize themselves into far-flung networks” and use the mycelium, which “connects their roots to exchange information and even goods.” Trees communicate, “convey warnings of insect attacks, and also to deliver carbon, nitrogen, and water to trees in need.”

Says Stamets, the “mycelium is the neurological network of nature. Interlacing mosaics of mycelium infuse habitats with information-sharing membranes. These membranes are aware, react to change, and collectively have the long-term health of the host environment in mind. The mycelium stays in constant molecular communication with its environment, devising diverse enzymatic and chemical responses to complex challenges.”

Sagebrush warns its fellows of a pest intrusion.

In a 2013 article, “The Intelligent Plant,” New Yorker contributer, Michael Pollan imagined the scent of sage as an “invisible chemical chatter, including the calls of distress, going on all around.” He described the air as “powerfully aromatic, with a scent closer to aftershave than to perfume.”[‡]

A forest will even work across species to share food.

According to Simard, “fir trees were using the fungal web to trade nutrients with paper-bark birch trees over the course of the season. The evergreen species will tide over the deciduous one when it has sugars to spare, and then call in the debt later in the season. For the forest community, the value of this coöperative underground economy appears to be better over-all health, more total photosynthesis, and greater resilience in the face of disturbance.”

Western scientists were naïve to the knowledge of people 10,000 years ago or that of African, Asian, and Indigenous societies, who depended on fungi and the inventions of mycelium to preserve fire, as antibiotics, as anti-inflammatories. And much, much more.

All the while humans were transforming the planet with art and technology and war and pollution, the mycelium had also been at work, resolving the devastations of our time.

“Let your imagination go wild,” said Stamets.

With the leadership of Indigenous scientists who were also members, the SIA had learned to work with the mycelium, to communicate a vision with the intelligence of slime molds and polypores.

The mycelium tech in my mask (and in the recycling centers we delivered garbage to and in the ones that were soon propagated on satellites twinkling in our night skies from 2025-2040) was based in traditional Indigenous knowledge kept by friends and members of SIA that was being put to multiple purposes by the Arks and Islands of the Multiversity.


[*] Paul Stamets is real too. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W57nYOaQmIU Also https://bioneers.org/how-mushrooms-can-help-save-the-world-paul-stamets/

[†] A great new documentary recently came out on this group. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mGvYFB6GHRY

[‡] https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2013/12/23/the-intelligent-plant

Masks and Face Coverings

I found SIA in the winter of 2019. I had been sober for some years and worked recovery on my childhood trauma and resulting survival skills through another 12-Step program. I knew the steps were transformative. I had known them to heal and change me on a core level.

But that is not the story I want to tell.

When the pandemic of 2020 hit, I was a newcomer in SIA. I had a sponsor. I attended meetings. I had only begun to work step one. I learned from the old timers, who had been around the rooms for decades about my powerlessness over structural violence: how we were survivors of it, but how, as survivors, we had also become perpetrators of it as well. Life had become unmanageable. Suicide seemed like an option. For many, homicide seemed viable. Some had done time in prison. Most of us lost sleep and peace fantasizing about revenge. We needed a new meaning for justice. We grieved and we made amends.

I quickly became dependent on the community in the rooms. We laughed a lot. I had felt alone and crazy. Now I was among fellow star beings and magical, mystical wise ones. My heart cracked open as I heard them share what they had survived. I looked up to the elders there: to Juno and to Dido and to Britomart. Camilla, as always inseparable from Gallia, took me into her rough arms and then sat me beside her from day one, grinning and winking at me. The other new ones, Manel and Xan met my eyes deeply.

There were many more beautiful folks in the daily meetings. But these were mine.

I was home.

It was weird, but I kept returning to the dingy room and the cracked cushions on the seats. I drank the bad coffee, with the dried creamer, from the chipped cups.

So when, in March, the pandemic hit and we were told to shelter in place, alone in our homes, I was pretty scared to lose all of that. I went dutifully indoors. I checked the news. I shook my head in amazement at the toilet paper shortage. I did what we all did. I waited for my government to set up testing and to provide guidance. Like everyone, I waited in vain.

My AA and ACA went on Zoom, but when I called my SIA sponsor, she said, “Come on down to the meeting.”

Stephen was there planting flowers when I got there. He smiled his gappy grin. He laughed his hoarse laugh. He had a hard time staying sober. But we had been friends in the rooms for years.

I knew not to hug him. I can still remember the last hug I had had: on March 11th at an AA meeting. Les. Even then, I was afraid one of us would get the other sick. Somehow, I already knew that the asymptomatic could be contagious.

Anyway, hindsight.

My sponsor met me at the door with a carton of disinfectant wipes for my hands. Then she gave me a lightweight, clear plastic, strappy gizmo with a cylindrical center full of what looked like dirt.

“Put this on.” It was a mask. “Keep it watered. Report in here tomorrow at 6 a.m. for service work.”

And that is how I learned how the SIA meetings and the quiet garbage collectors were related. The very next day, I was assigned a shift in my neighborhood.

Gloved and masked in mycelium tech, we went about in our competent way, rounding up the city waste for free.