December 18, 2020
We are happy to announce that the felted fungal map is now completed and installed in the entrance of the Kitsilano Community Centre to be enjoyed throughout the winter! Using iNaturalist, community members reported sightings of mushrooms around the community centre. These mushrooms were then assigned to twelve different participants, who created wonderful needle-felted interpretations of them, contributing to this collective map.
December 13, 2020
Today, many braved the heavy rain to join our self-guided mushroom walk. Each assigned a different starting time, participants went on their own fungal journey, discovering the fungal life present around the community centre through a series of audio recordings. We offered some chaga tea and porcini-seasoned popcorn to spark some joy during this wet and cloudy day. The self-guided walk will remain available for anyone to do on their own time. Stream the audio file here and follow directions using this street map:
While simulatuously celebrating the end of our first year as Artists in Communities, we also exhibited some art work created this year and shared documentation of our past projects.
December 3, 2020
We had a sweet time today, felting mushrooms of the neighbourhood with eleven participants, each in the confort of their homes. Each of them was assigned one of the mushroom species living along the streets surrounding the Kitsilano Community Centre. We will collect their work to create a large collective felted fungal map that will be exhibited in the window of the Kitsilano Community Centre in the next few weeks.
November 29, 2020
While people are now moslty sheltering in place, we infiltrated their homes and offered an online Mushroom ID Clinic for a large group of mushroom enthusiats. Willoughby offered a presentation on mushroom identification, which was followed by participants sharing photographs of mushroom specimens they encountered along walks, inquiring about their unique identities.
November 9, 2020
Today, we started working on our fungal map of the neighbourhood. After identifying fungi living around the community centre and consulting iNaturalist data entries that were provided by citizen scientists and mushroom enthusiasts of this neighbourhood, we chose the mushrooms we wanted to needle felt. We are looking forward to continuing this work throughout the month and creating a large felted fungal map that will be exhibited in the window of the Kitsilano Community Centre.
November 3, 2020
On a moist autumnal rainy day, a group of us gratefully followed the footsteps of T’uy’t’tanat-Cease Wyss, indigenous plant diva and artist, walking slowly through the woods along the Vine Maple Trail, learning and experiencing the plant life of Pacific Spirit Park. We hugged trees, breathed together and talked about the traditional uses of local plants. Passionate about the beings of this place, she inspired us to live a more connected life.
October 21, 2020
A lovely group gathered in the autumn sun to learn basic mushroom cultivation skills while creating hand elements and composing a collaborative, living sculpture. We filled cotton gloves with oyster mushroom grain spawn and pasteurized sawdust, placing them in a composition inside a transparent fruiting chamber. The session was filled with engaging discussions on how fungi sense their worlds, communicate, eat and grow. The sculpture will be photographed through its growth process and the images compiled into a short time lapse video and shared here once completed.
October 6, 2020
We had a very sweet and meditative time today, joined by a group of attentive forest lovers for our Forest Movement Practice in Jericho Beach Park. We encounted Armillaria rhizomorphs, rosy conks, artist conks, shaggy parasols, deer mushrooms and earthballs, talked about mycelium, fascia, soil and skin, and moved quietly through the forest, tuning in with all of our senses.
October 4, 2020
Today, we gathered in Connaught Park, behind the community centre, to create stencils that will be imprinted by spore prints and that were inspired by a guided meditation about the mushroom life cycle. We ended our session by going for a short foray around the neighbourhood to discover and discuss some of our local urban fungi, including lichens and wood decay fungi.
September 24, 2020
A small group of us had the delight to move, meditate, write and share conversations together, embracing one of the very first days of autumn. By the golden fallen leaves of a maple grove, we explored the mycelial network underneath our feet and the fascial web of our bodies through contemplative movement, slow walks and written scores such as this one:
Notice a mushroom.
Silently or quietly speaking, acknowledge it.
Find something to offer it. This could be a gesture, a song, a poem…
Allow time to be inspired.
September 3 & 20, 2020
It’s finally mushroom season again! We organized multiple physically distanced walks in Pacific Spirit Park, looking for wonders with passionate nature lovers. Guided by our senses, we encountered a wide range of fungal diversity and concluded our sessions by sensory meditations, drawings and creative writings.
August 9, 2020
Today we joined together in a small group to observe and discuss fungi in Pacific Spirit Park. As we wove in and out of the edge of the trail, we observed many small wonders through 30x and 60x hand lenses, pondering cause and effect, parasitism and succession, symbiosis and communication, the richness imbued by language, and the false concept of the individual in an entangled world. We concluded with a sensory meditation with a surprise guest – a chicken of the woods mushroom.
July 22, 2020
Today, we spent the afternoon crafting some mushroom paper mache puppets inspired by our local fungi. It felt wonderful to connect with some lovely community members in-person for the first time since the beginning of the pandemic. We had great conversations while making a king bolete, a birch bolete and two Amanita Muscaria.
June 13, 2020
As a way to focus on our bodies while the physical distancing measures are still in place, we offered an online session about the similarilties between the fascial network inside of our bodies and mycelium, the body of fungi. We explored these concepts through simple embodied exercises. We also shared a few movement scores and meditations that can be done independently in the forest.
Here is a file we recorded for you to listen to on your own time. Find a quiet place in the forest to stand for 15 minutes. Close your eyes and listen!
May 10, 2020
Today we offered a virtual fungi and art walk to the community, which included information about the patterns of the spring mushroom season, basic mushroom identification skills, honourable harvesting practices, and resources for learning about mushroom identification. We presented a video we made on the Spring Mushrooms of the Coastal Temperate Rainforest and offered an Embodied Writing Exercise for participants to do on their own in the forest. We invite you to watch the video and to try the exercise; instructions are included below.
Embodied Writing Exercise
1. Go for a walk in the forest and look for fungi.
2. Choose a mushroom and sit or stand beside it. Observe it with your senses.
– Observe it with your eyes. Notice its shape, colors, textures, the way it reflects the light, and any other details you may see.
– Observe it through touch. Notice its textures, orientation, density, temperature, and any other detail you may feel.
– Observe it through smells. Notice its scent, the scent of the earth or wood it grows from, the scent of the air around it. Notice if the smells bring back any memories.
– Observe it through sounds. Notice if you can produce any sound or vibration while touching it gently. Place your ear near the mushroom and listen. Hear the wind. Hear the birds. Notice all of the surrounding sounds, near or far.
3. Write for at least five minutes. Describe this mushroom from your embodied experience. Don’t edit yourself, let it flow.
4. Give this mushroom an original name, inspired by your experience and writing.
5. Take a picture of your mushroom and try to identify it, using the app iNaturalist, reference books and/or online resources.
6. Compare the scientific information you find about this mushroom (ecological roles, biology, edibility, medicinal properties, etc.) to the embodied knowledge you gained through observing and writing about this mushroom.
April 26, 2020
While the community centre remains closed due to the pandemic, we offered a mushroom gardening online workshop to an eager group of over 30 gardeners from around the neighbourhood. We also created a log raft inoculated with nameko mushrooms in the community garden of the Kitsilano Community Centre that will hopefully fruit mushrooms to be harvested in the fall. Responding to a desire to share our knowledge with the broader community, we created a series of videos covering different mushroom cultivation techniques, from log inoculation to log raft and shaggy mane mushroom beds. Click here to view these videos.
March 9, 2020
Today we met with the preschool kids and read two of our favorite kids mushroom books: The Mushroom Fan Club by Elise Gravel and Mushroom in the rain by Mirra Ginsberg. We sang a little mushroom song and enacted the life cycle of mushrooms through movement.
March 7, 2020
We spent this crisp morning crafting and sharing DIY mushroom cultivation techniques with an attentive group of mushroom lovers. Each participant chose a mushroom culture (turkey tail, oyster, lion’s mane, nameko, or luminescent panellus) and inoculated a jar filled with sterilized sawdust substrate. From there, they learned simple knotting techniques to create their knotted hanging mushroom jar. They took their jar home and will observe their fungi grow and fruit over the next few weeks.
March 4, 2020
Today we hosted an intimate mushroom reading circle. We spent this sunny afternoon reading about mushroom identification, DIY cultivation, mushroom cooking, natural dyes, ecology, philosophy, embodied art, and more. We shared impressions of our readings with each others, over reishi tea and porcini flavored popcorn. Here is a quote from one of the book we enjoyed:
Feb 15, 2020
We are grateful to have been sharing this rainy day with a wonderful group of mushroom enthusiasts, needle felting wildly diverse fungi with wool over lively conversations. Crafted local species included the famous Fly Agaric (Amanita muscaria), a few Russulas (R. queletii, R. sanguinea), Boletus zelleri, the delicious Pacific Golden Chanterelle (Cantharellus formosus), Laccaria amethysta-occidentalis, and many more.
Feb 8, 2020
We launched The Art & Fungi project this week, engaging in great conversations with the residents of the Kitsilano Community Centre. We looked at fungi specimens through hand lenses, read mushroom children’s books and enjoyed some chaga tea.