Radical Mycology

Mushrooms seem to be having a moment, as what was once seen as a fringe interest increasingly looks like a new frontier.

This was visible at the fifth biennial Radical Mycology Convergence (RMC) in September, some 600 mycophiles—folks fascinated by fungi and mushrooms—gathered on a small farm in the hilly hamlet of Mulino, Oregon.

Attendance was double that of the previous gathering in 2016, drawing in working farmers, permaculturists, educators, biologists, artists, social justice activists, entrepreneurs, herbalists, and all manner of others—from around and even outside the country—whose work and interests intersect with mushrooms in some way.

The modern mycological conversation is vast: Proponents highlight the critical role mycelia play in Earth’s ecosystems; their potential for mitigating pollution, waste and contamination; the vast world of culinary and medicinal mushrooms; the growing field of fungal fabrication; and the eerily intelligent behavior of distributed fungal networks—often referred to as “nature’s internet.” Underscoring these wide-ranging discussions was a common theme: that a deeper understanding of the interrelations among plant, animal, and fungal life is necessary to navigate a fraught future.

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