Date: Thursday, April 14th, 2011
Time: Doors open at 6:30pm
Place: Longhouse at The Evergreen State College
Cost: Students with valid ID are free; $5 adults
Tickets available at: www.brownpapertickets.com
By A.E. Smith
Want to reduce pollution, improve the health of forests and people, solve the energy crisis, and while you’re at it, save the world? Paul Stamets thinks the solution to all these issues can be found by attending to the often-ignored organisms sprouting from the soil around us: mushrooms. Come to hear Stamets speak about the mysteries of fungi, bioremediation, medicinal mushrooms, and more at this year’s Rachel Carson Forum, which will take place on the Evergreen campus on the evening of April 14th.
A devoted mycologist with over 30 years of experience studying mushrooms, Stamets has in recent years become a vocal ambassador for the beneficial properties of mushrooms and the wonders of mycelia, the vast cellular networks that help transport nutrients in terrestrial ecosystems. He is the author of numerous scholarly articles and books, most recently Mycelium Running, and runs Olympia-based Fungi Perfecti, which sells gourmet and medicinal mushrooms, as well as cultivation kits. The company has worked with Evergreen students to study the role mushrooms can play in improving water quality and cleaning areas contaminated with petroleum.
Stamets’ passionate belief in the power of individuals to effect environmental change makes him an ideal keynote speaker for this year’s Rachel Carson Forum. Now in its 21st year, the forum is an annual event organized by the Master of Environmental Studies program that celebrates the influential writer and ecologist whose work catalyzed the modern environmental movement. Rachel Carson’s best-known book, Silent Spring, alerted the public to the impact of pesticides on insects, birds, and human health, and led to the ban on DDT, but she was foremost a keen observer of the environment, in love with all its complexity.
Like Paul Stamets, Carson believed that ordinary people could make a difference in society and in their own lives by connecting with nature. In her essay, The Sense of Wonder, she wrote that, “The lasting pleasures of contact with the natural world are not reserved for scientists but are available to anyone who will place himself under the influence of earth, sea and sky and their amazing life.” In this time of terrorism, economic collapse, and nuclear disaster, her legacy of hope and activism is as relevant as ever, and it is a message to bear in mind the next time you are walking through the Evergreen forest and see the cap of a mushroom pushing up through the ground.
Stamets’ lecture, “Solutions from the Underground: How Mushrooms Can Help Save the World” will begin at 7 pm on Thursday, April 14th in the Longhouse, and will be accompanied by an environmental community fair (with lots more mushroom information), beginning at 6:30 pm. Entrance is free for students with a valid ID, and $5 for other visitors. Advance tickets can be purchased online at www.brownpapertickets.com.
About Paul Stamets
Stamets has written six mushroom-related books, with his most recent being Mycelium Running: How Mushrooms Can Help Save the World. His local business, Fungi Perfecti, LLC has filed more than twenty patents, been awarded six thus far, and specializes in medicinal and gourmet mushrooms. In 2008, Paul received the National Geographic Adventure’s Magazine’s Green-O-vator and the Argosy Foundation’s E-chievement Awards. In November of 2008, Utne Reader recognized Paul as one of the 50 Visionaries of the Year. In February of 2010, Paul received the President’s Award from the Society of Ecological Restoration. He has been awarded the “Packy Award” from the Sustainable Business Coalition and Whole Foods Market’s Green Coalition for the Life Box™. In September 2010, the Life Box received the Opportunity Green Award, the best green invention amongst 25 semi-finalists. Stamets has also given a TED Talk on how mushrooms can help save the world.
About the Rachel Carson Forum
Students in the Master of Environmental Studies program at The Evergreen State College started the Rachel Carson forum in 1990. The annual celebration of author and activist Rachel Carson’s life and achievements has included speakers on climate change and local sustainability. Carson’s work embodies what MES students are training to do – make a difference. Carson is known for her groundbreaking 1962 book exposing the dangers of pesticides, “Silent Spring.” Her contributions played an integral role leading to the ban of DDT use in the United States.