In the year 2000 I moved to Detroit and began volunteering with Detroit summer, an intergenerational collective developed by a group including James and Grace Lee Boggs with the mission to “redefine, respirit, and rebuild the city of Detroit from the ground up”. The idea of power and influence being “from the ground up” idea has always stayed with me, even as I’ve been a part of organizations with all different ideas about power. Then, last summer, as people raised their voices around the country, powerful and transformative ideas were being circulated about how to reorganize society in order for the welfare of all. Many leaders at the top ignored or repudiated such ideas, recognizing them to be anti-hierarchical.
Meanwhile – quietly – in forests across the world, mycorrhizal networks worked collaboratively to provide resources for trees in a functional, reciprocal trade. Mushrooms mediate the world between plants and animals, and grow from a common source. Without words, Fungi show us that they are important players with ideas to share.
Back to the streets – the amazing structures of nature provide inspiration for great ideas, ideas that are rooted in equity, collaboration, love, and reciprocity.
Over a decade ago, my partner and I were living in our friend Winnie’s house in Lincoln Woods State Park, in Lincoln Rhode Island. It’s a 400 acre forest with water, boulders, trees, insects, animals, plants, and lovely, fantastic mushrooms. After a particularly wonderful rainstorm in mid summer, our friends Ellen and David invited to take us mushroom foraging in those woods and they introduced us to the amazing world of edible wild mushrooms. That first trip yielded these enormous bicolor bolete mushrooms, which we sliced and sautéed in garlic, salt, and olive oil. That began a journey into discovering various types of mushrooms. I bought several mushroom identification books and we learned how to take a spore print, to determine whether our mushroom is what we think it is, or is an inedible lookalike. We discovered and ate morels, hen of the woods, puffballs, chicken of the woods and oyster mushrooms. We froze them, dried them, and ground some into powder for soup stock. Mushrooms are fantastic, beautiful creatures. I am amazed at how many varieties there are and how complex their root system is. They have deep roots that spread throughout the forest floor, we see a very very small glimpse of their power. A fantastic book about mushrooms that I recommend is: Mycophilia: Revelations From the Weird World of Mushrooms by Eugenia Bone. One more amazing aspect of mushrooms is how they contribute to the health of our soil. I added mycorrhizal fungi to our fruit tree roots when they were planted and the trees are healthy and thriving and after every rain storm new mushrooms pop up around our yard.
Disclaimer: There are toxic lookalikes for wild edible mushrooms! Never eat a wild mushroom if you’re not 100% sure about your identification skills. Be safe 🙂
This print is a collaboration between Bec Young and Meredith Stern. It’s a one color linoleum block print, printed on an etching press in Providence in July, 2021. It’s a green ink on a tan paper, which has paper threads throughout.
The image is a circle with a tree with hen of the woods mushroom at the base, with several other mushrooms along the ground and used as letters in the text. There are spores coming from the mushrooms, leading into banners with text.
The main text says, “The best ideas come from the ground up!” The exclamation mark is created with an image of a sliver of grass and a ladybug. There is also four ribbons of type that say, “Housing is a human right.” “Community based living.” “Reciprocity.” and “Commons of land and resources.”
Signed and dated by both artists, in an edition of 34. Image is 15″ x 15″, the paper has a couple inch border around the image.