Fungi. An old relative. Friend or foe, the humble mushroom has been linked with human history throughout the world.
Why we chose a mushroom spore print as our logo
Fungi are present all over the Earth. As old as fungi are, they are still being studied for their life regenerating properties such as “eating rock, making soil, digesting pollutants, nourishing and killing plants, surviving in space, inducing visions, producing food, making medicines, manipulating animal behaviour, and influencing the composition of Earth’s atmosphere” (Sheldrake, 2021, p. 17). We look at the creativity, flexibility and resilience of fungi as a representation of how we hope to approach how we teach, and what we teach, as we face the climate crisis.
Beneath the Earth’s surface, mycelium connect much smaller, visible forms of fruit, like mushrooms. Beneath our present, visible conditions, we are connected to the past – all that has come before – and history –the stories we tell about the past. We cannot control the inheritances we are born into, but we have some agency in how we respond to them. Responsiveness to desirable and undesirable inheritance includes cognitive and emotional dimensions, as we consider limitations and opportunities. Responsiveness to inheritance also includes a responsibility to pursue equity.
We value community, including diverse human and more-than-human beings, and their place-based relationships. We look to support conditions for learning wherein beings come together to reflect on the past, plan for the future, and take action in the present. The lines of the spore print help us see that we exist alongside others, but are nevertheless free to pursue our own winding path(s).
Social studies and history education has been predominantly focused on the study of humans over time, the human use of environmental resources, and human politics and economics. We work to decentre these anthropocentric and Eurocentric legacies, not to the exclusion of humans, but to better recognize interdependencies with other species. We pursue humility in our study of ecologies and relationality.
Our logo is based on a spore print of a chanterelle mushroom that typically grows in gregarious clusters among mossy coniferous or hardwood forests usually near the base of maple, beech, poplar, birch, and oak trees. Chantarelles refers to an umbrella of distinct species of genetically related mushrooms that grow across Europe, Asia, Africa, South America, North America, and Australia. On Turtle Island (North America) they grow between July and September.
The chanterelle is an edible mushroom but can easily be mistaken for the poisonous species in the genus Omphalotus (the jack-o’-lantern) mushroom due to their similar colour and growing conditions. One of the ways to tell the difference is to examine gills under the mushroom cap to ensure that the lines are developed and fork at the ends. The chanterelle will often smell sweet, like dried apricots.
Chanterelles are mycorrhizal and form mutual symbiotic relationships with over 90% of plants on the land. This relationship takes time and care to develop and only appears in mature forests to support the healthy ecosystem of large hardwood trees. As a result, the chanterelle is a prized edible mushroom as it cannot be commercially harvested and must be found in old growth forests which are quickly diminishing because of climate change.
What’s in a spore print?
Chanterelle spore prints are created by placing a mushroom (gill side down) under a cup or small container so that the spores are contained and will fall into a unique pattern. Each spore contains the entire genetic information of the species. The species can be determined by both the shape and colour of the print.