Episode 02 Giuliana Furci: The Future is Funga

Episode 02 Giuliana Furci: The Future is Funga

The Future is Funga with Giuliana Furci

 

Episode Summary: 

I’m joined by my friend and a true heroine of mine, Giuliana Furci, mycologist and founder of the Fungi Foundation, the world’s first non-governmental organization for the protection of fungi. In our conversation, Giuliana reflects on her path to becoming a leader in fungi research and advocacy, her career highlights, and exciting projects that she’s currently working on. 

 

Show Notes:

I’m joined by Giuliana Furci, mycologist and founder of the Fungi Foundation, the world’s first non-governmental organization for the protection of fungi. Giuliana has over 20 years of fungi research experience and was recently awarded the National Geographic Conservation Leadership Award, making her the first mycologist ever to receive the honor. 

 

In our conversation, Giuliana reflects on her path to becoming an expert in fungi research and advocacy. She describes some of the intense expeditions that she’s been on over the course of her career, as well as how the process for field research has changed since she got started in the late 90s. Giuliana is a champion for fungi recognition within legal conservation and protection frameworks, including leading the Fungi Foundation initiative for the word ‘funga’ to be an equivalent term to flora and fauna. 

 

Giuliana and I also discuss the life lessons that she’s gained from working with fungi, like the beauty of the interdependent nature of living organisms. We talk about the current mainstream collective consciousness of the power of fungi and why they’ve gone largely unnoticed in the past. Plus, Giuliana shares the expeditions, collaborations, and exciting projects happening at Fungi Foundation. 

 

To find out more about Giuliana and the incredible work that she is doing with the Fungi Foundation, check out the links below. 

 

Listen to the episode on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, Stitcher, TuneIn, or on your favorite podcast platform. 

 

Topics Covered:

  • Challenges that Giuliana has run into as a mycologist in Chile
  • Guiliana’s top recommendations for identifying a mushroom
  • Recognizing the integral role that fungi plays in nature and humanity 
  • Larger lessons and metaphors that Giuliana has extracted from working with fungi 
  • How Giuliana is working to bring free fungi education to children around the world

 

Resources Mentioned:

 

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Episode Transcript (Auto-generated)

Tonya Papanikolov  00:04

Hi, welcome to The Rainbo Show. I'm your host, Tonya Papanikolov. Rainbo and I are on a mission to upgrade humanity with fungi and expand the collective conscious. This podcast builds a virtual mycelial network of bold, open minded thinkers and seekers. I chat with experts, thought leaders, healers, scientists, entrepreneurs, spiritual teachers, activists, and dreamers. These are stories of healing, human potential and expansion, tune in route and expand and journey with us.

 

Tonya Papanikolov  00:46

Hello, I'm chatting with honestly one of my personal heroes today. And one of the first people that when I started this podcast, I knew I had to interview and I really just couldn't wait to share her wisdom with our community and with the world. She is an absolute force of nature. Juliana Ferrucci, who is a mycologist in the mushroom space, Juliana has been the biggest promoter of the study of and protection of the fungi kingdom in Chile in the last decade. She is the foundress and CEO of the fungi foundation. She's the first female mycologist of non recognized mushrooms in Chile. And she started her career in 1999. As a self taught amateur. She just received a super prestigious award from National Geographic, the National Geographic Award for Leadership and conservation. I am amazed by this woman, her love of fungi is so inspiring and infectious and the way that she does things and with so much love, and such a sense of being a humble servant to the fungi, she always says, and I really resonate with this, that the fungi found her and they chose her in 1999. And a lot of people in the space have that feeling because you're really working with another life form that has a form of intelligence. And the way she approaches everything that she does is really what I feel the world needs so much more of in how we approach business and nature. She's been on a really incredible mission for quite some time now a few years, with the fauna, flora fungal project where she's really advocating for the use of psychologically inclusive language as a way for us to more properly refer to macroscopic nature. And her and her team are working to get this into institutions, government politics organizations, and they've had so much success around this. So we get into an incredible episode, she tells us a lot about her expeditions out into the wild, she gives us some amazing tips around fungi and foraging and how to get into it and Juliana's overall energy and sentiment about fungi is one that I really deeply resonate with. And I know that you will, too. So let's tune in and hear from Giuliana. Hello, Juliana.

 

Giuliana Furci  03:34

Hello, Tanya, thank you for having me.

 

Tonya Papanikolov  03:37

Oh, thank you so much for coming on and chatting with me today. This is a long time in the works. And you are one fantastically mission driven lady that has just been what a year for you.

 

Giuliana Furci  03:53

Yeah, a lot of work. Lots of work has been good. That's

 

Tonya Papanikolov  03:57

amazing. It is so incredible to see all of the work that you're doing and the way that you are just such an advocate for fungi and the passion that you bring to it is infectious. And it's really just lighting up the world. So I really I see that and I'm just so constantly impressed and inspired. So I would love for you to tell us a little bit about what you do who you are.

 

Giuliana Furci  04:22

So my name is Juliana booty. I am a Chilean Italian, British national. I was born and brought up in London, and I live in Chile. And I've been working for the fungi for 23 years now. I started working for global conservation issues, education and awareness in 1999 as a bit of age dropped there. And I founded and lead the Frontier Foundation, which is 10 years old this year 2022 And has offices in Chile and in the US. Wow.

 

Tonya Papanikolov  05:01

And you just received a very prestigious award from National Geographic. Holy moly.

 

Giuliana Furci  05:11

Yeah. Thank you very much.

 

Tonya Papanikolov  05:15

It's incredible. In 1999, do you think that you found fungi? Or did fungi find you?

 

Giuliana Furci  05:22

Oh, they find you? There's no question. I've tried to do other things in my life. And it's impossible. Yeah, there's no way. I stopped trying to do it. Maybe 10 years ago, but for a while, I was like, I started when really very few people were talking about funding, mainly just Paul Stamets, Gary Minkoff, and David Aurora, but they definitely weren't any women involved. So I was always trying to have another area of work, but I was failing badly and having anything work. It was just the fungi. That makes

 

Tonya Papanikolov  05:53

so much sense, because it is clearly what you're here to do.

 

Giuliana Furci  05:58

Very clearly,

 

Tonya Papanikolov  05:59

very clearly. What was the moment? So 1989? How did it come across? How did they introduce themselves?

 

Giuliana Furci  06:06

I saw a mushroom in a forest. And no, I wanted to know who it was. And there were no books on Chilean fungi. And so it was really, that one mushroom, which I now think it was a gianopolous, a native monopolist here in Chile, that caught my eye and was just wouldn't let me be at peace with not knowing who she was. And that drove me to buy books online. And then I sort of went down this rabbit hole of I would just memorize the books. And then every mushroom I see or every fungus I see, I would automatically remember names that I'd seen in pictures in books. And that just grew and grew and grew until finally in 2004. I went to Paul Stamets place and did of course with him. Fungi perfect i When, when that was just small business, then,

 

Tonya Papanikolov  06:54

wow, yeah, I resonate with that. 2011 was when I was first introduced to fungi at a conference. And it was the first time anybody ever spoke of Chaga. So my introduction was to medicinal mushrooms. I've been in the health space and interested in nutrition, human nutrition for so long. And I remember that moment where he was speaking to the black pigmentation of this fungus. And it was like this little pearl dropping into the top of my head. And I was like, Whoa, I'll never forget it. I'll never forget the moment. Yeah, yeah. And then I similarly fell down a rabbit hole in 2017. So beautiful. You work for the fungi. And I just I love that sentiment so much. Because, as I meet people, other people who've been in this for so long and are so passionate, it's like, you know, there's a reckoning of another life form that you get to interact with. It's hard to put words to it.

 

Giuliana Furci  07:49

Yeah, it is funny, because a lot of people think that because you've been doing something for very long, and because put so much energy into it, that you're some ambassador or in my case, you know, a lot of people they are like this bungle queen, and I'm very quick to say, No way. I'm a servant. It's the other way around. About us, it's about them. And not even in question. It's just absolutely a certainty. Otherwise, you can't move forward.

 

Tonya Papanikolov  08:19

Yeah, I love that you're a woman in mycology. And it's funny that we even have to, like, you know, have a conversation about it in 2022. But I guess back in 1999, and as you were coming into this field, was that a consideration for you? Like, were there obstacles that you had to barriers you had to get through? Because you are the first female mycologist of non mechanized mushrooms in Chile?

 

Giuliana Furci  08:42

Yeah, right. That's correct. And also, I mean, you say that we should be mentioned, listen, 2022 and I'll answer your question. I'll give you an example of just how we're just starting to move forward with recognition of women in mycology, my answer is no, I have never had a problem. Because I'm a woman in trying to advance in my ecology, it would be totally unfair to say that that was an impediment. In any case, the biggest issue was that here in Chile, the word mushroom is synonymous to penis. And that was just like, was the only country in the world. We'll be like, oh, you know, I work with mushrooms. And then many men, including senators, probably would be like, Oh, I've got a mushroom. You know, I've heard that one before, whatever. That has been like a challenge. I'm very happy that it's no longer an immediate challenge was when the National Geographic award happen just very few weeks ago, the national media went wild and not once was there a joke? Not once. The only thing I mentioned to everyone when everybody comes up to me is like, Oh, we saw you in the news? No, no. Do you realize that they're not talking about a beaver? Anyway, and I've been helped by many, many men, and by many let's just say it by many old white men as well don't have have that personal experience of being I haven't suffered racism for being a Latin woman in the field, and I haven't had that impediment. What I was mentioned is that even now, just just a few weeks ago, I got an award from the Mycological Society of America, and I was the first woman to ever receive that award. And so, you know, still happening, that there is a disparity in recognition of women in the field of psychology. And there's a huge disparity in some job roles between men and women and mycology. And that said, it can be both ways as well. So they're normally, you know, lab work, there are many more women than men. And there's just a lot of gender stereotypes that are in my colleges that are starting to be broken. I'm very proud that the MSA decided to break one of them by awarding you know, a woman a recognition there was an award. So yeah, it's starting to move even just sometimes now.

 

Tonya Papanikolov  10:56

Yeah, it is. It is crazy. It is. It is crazy. But it's, it's really incredible to you and your work are paving the way for many others. You mentioned about how you got into fungi. And you dove in and you started reading books. Do you have any recommendations for I've been out in the forests for many seasons now. And there's so much nuance to being able to identify a mushroom? And of course, I always have my guidebook. But what do you recommend to people that just want to go out into the forest and do some easy identification that are just getting started? There's so many you know, Latin names. And yeah,

 

Giuliana Furci  11:34

first thing, use a local guide book, you will have no success taking a North American Field Guide to South America or to Australia fungi specific to their substrates and less specific to their son Beyonce. And, and that is very fundamental to understand in you need to use a local field guide. The other thing I would say is learn the parts of the mushroom, pay a lot of people jump the first pages in a field guide and just go straight to the pictures and the names. But where's my ecology with fungi, you really need to read the first pages to start from the beginning until the part where before the photos start and learn that So learn that the insertion of the gills MLA into the site is fundamental to know who the fungus is, because those are the words you're going to read in the description that will ultimately tell you the name of that funder. So that would be my absolute recommendation. Read the first part of a field guide.

 

Tonya Papanikolov  12:34

Yeah, that's so helpful.

 

Giuliana Furci  12:36

You need to learn the names of the parts you need to know different types of an annulus of rain you need to know different types of lamella you need to know what they're talking about when they're talking about a margin or Palia Evolver. This is like trying to identify a cat without knowing what a tail is what an eye is what an ear is. That's exactly what a lot of people try to do. And that's why it's so hard for them

 

Tonya Papanikolov  12:58

and it's really helpful diagrams and photos now to write of the attached versus non attached. That's really helpful,

 

Giuliana Furci  13:05

but it's the nomenklatura. So mycology has a language, we speak the language of a description and I've written several field guides and I always say that language once you learn it, you can be so poetic with it is a beautiful language. So I urge everybody to learn it and to start talking about the current gills or whatever attached guilds free guild. I'd make guild you just in you can get into this beautiful language that will definitely take you to know your mushrooms.

 

Tonya Papanikolov  13:36

Thank you. So you go on really incredible expeditions in Chile and all over the place. Can you share with us an encounter or a moment that you've had on some of these forays and adventures out into some depths of different parts of South America? Right where there's Yeah.

 

Giuliana Furci  13:56

Yeah, weeks in so walking weeks and off grid tents and no electricity. Yeah, like the true expedition meter. do that every year. But otherwise, I wouldn't be able to really, I think serve the fund as as effectively as I can. I've been on many expeditions, I've been on expeditions in close to 20 countries over the years and the Amazon and hammocks, you know, deep Patagonia a lot because I live here in Chile, and we go into the woods, and they're very cold woods. So those are very hardcore expeditions because it's raining and cold, actually freezing and the terrain is quite harsh. I think it might be something similar to what Alaska might be right in northern Canada, but the mushrooms appearance fall here and not in summer. So it's very cold. And I've had several curious experiences. I'd say. One funny thing that happens to me quite a bit is that I have this crazy thing where I found new species on different occasions, just when I go to BVI and that's like a classic that's awesome to see and then you come back and like, oh my god it's happened it's happened it happened to be in Argentina, it's happened in Arizona is the thing. That's one funny one that happens and maybe it's because what it's just sort of, you know, crouching down to the floor just concentrated or just, you know, looking around. Another cool thing that happens a lot in the expeditions is, I don't know if it's cool or not, but you just need, you need a lot of devotion to be able to get up you know, by the pen and put on wet clothes, you know, when it's almost freezing and there's always a reward. So, I've had great rewards of being buried deep into an expedition really tired, really cold and wet and you know, and then suddenly, some feeling pulls you in a direction that there isn't an obvious direction and you find something amazing, you know, the most beautiful fungus that's happened to me finding stink corns in Patagonia and Tierra del Fuego, which, you know, that was not easy to do, but it's just, I remember one occasion I was about 10 or 11 days infinite tradition and really not feeling very well just wanting to be warm and was drawn to walk off the you know, the track of the map and found the most beautiful group of letter near they're called Pink round shapes. Wow, I think ones that are pretty big. Wow. So there's a reward. It's tough. A lot of people think it's very easy, but you need a lot of devotion. I think you need a lot of devotion to carry, you know, one set of wet clothes once at a dry cause they get put those weapons. And then I've had bad stories, Sonia. I once got off an expedition to islands in the Maryland strait. And I've been away for maybe about a month or something. When phone signal came in. Messages started pinging and my son had been in hospital really is really, really ill and I've never found out and reach me. There's some reason I'm gonna read.

 

Tonya Papanikolov  17:07

How many people are with you

 

Giuliana Furci  17:08

normally? Well, definitely always three and more. Okay, I used to do expeditions by myself. No, oh, yeah, go are with one other person. I actually have a very funny story being dropped off on an island by myself by a Nat Geo boat. I hitched a ride on. And then you know, the Navy took me back. But that was a lucky one. I've been with two people at the in the beginning and you know, 2000 2001 got lost with somebody in the in the forest. And that was like, okay, too, is not enough. More than a number of people. What you need is people that you trust your life with and people that you know, know how to handle themselves in very uncomfortable weather and stuff like that. So trust is the key. Oh, yeah. however many people you go,

 

Tonya Papanikolov  17:54

Wow. What's the process of when you're spotting a fungus? Maybe there is a new fungus that's never been identified before. Is it an insert for you? Is it an instantaneous recognition? Like, oh my gosh, I've never seen this before. This is a new species. And then what happens after that there's spores and like,

 

Giuliana Furci  18:13

Yeah, normally it doesn't have to do with I've never seen it before. Because every encounter with a mushroom is a magical encounter, right? You are coinciding in the few days that that fungus is producing a visible form of a spore producing body. And there are species of fungi that don't do that every year and that don't do that for many years. Right? Last year I found a fungus that hadn't been seen in 21 years right so when that happens is the literature so I know here in Chile, I have a very good idea if it's a new species to science because I not only have I seen a lot but I read everything there is for the country. So the recognition is pretty certain or an instance in other places so when I go to a different country, I will make sure to study before I go to try to research as much as I can about what fungus what fungi exists there what I might be able to see associated to that tree or to that biome and then I can get a pretty good idea. And when you find this time this might be a mushroom it might not be a mushroom might be a passport, car Lloyd it could be cut fundraisings, etc different shapes, colors sizes, the first thing you do is not touch it Do not try to take it out or anything. First step for me that is mandatory is just to hang out with that. And I take my time, you know, I'm well known in the fields, I actually just lie down next to them. They hang out for at least five minutes. I will look I will smell I'll observe what it's growing with who what plants or animals might be around very, very carefully. There are more around but there's a first soaking in of where the fungus is deciding To reproduce, and there's a temperature to that. So if you get close to the ground, you'll realize that there are some. So I sometimes know in places I go a lot, I know who might be that just because of the temperature, right, because you know that they're only around when it's around, you know, when it's cold, it's not so. So being present is really important. And then photograph photographs without touching anything from above from below. And in that process of taking photographs, you can start clearing moving leaves out, I go around with tags, so little labels that are numbered, there's only one label per number, and that label normally has a sidebar on it. So I'll put that next to the fungus and just be very mindful of the pictures you're taking, because you'll need them later. So one from above, once a blow one from the side, the label without the labels if you want them without the labels, the size references etc. And then I can move try to quote unquote, dig it out. Sometimes you don't even have to dig them out. When you're doing scientific collecting, you don't cut the forum. I don't say fruiting body very much fruit from plants, I don't use botanical language with mushrooms, I call them small drones. Forum is a spore producing bodies or known as a fruiting body. And so then try to really get to the bottom of it, literally, because sometimes they're really, really deep in the soil. They're not rooted because they don't have roots, right? They're not plants, but they're boron goes way deep into the soil. So there's a process of cleaning around and getting to the bottom of that macroscopic body and then taking pictures in the field, smelling it looking at it was there an insect on it more intense was it attached to something, all that process of just taking notes I used to write in the field, then I went on to recording doing voice recordings, which I use a lot and taking a photograph or making a little video, one of the most important observations is if you touch it from that stain, and you'll see that immediately, because it's not just collecting that mushroom, and then finding all that out when you get back because as they dry, they change color. As they touch things they can change and get stained and get scratched. parts can drop off the observation in the field is important. And then we collect them, put them either in a tackle box or in wax paper or in a basket with a bedding of moss or leaves. So one is we have a saying in scientific collecting. One is nothing to something, three is a collection. Right? So if you only have one little cup fungus, there's not much you can do with it, you won't have enough to do DLA something to do microscopy, etc. Sometimes you won't even collect it if it's something that you've seen before. And then when we take them back, we do cut so we can section them and take photographs, again with measurements and on a monochromatic background and then dry them. Try them in a dryer. If you have to have electricity, you can use a food dehydrator. If you don't have electricity, brace yourself. We use silica gel body he can get really funky

 

Tonya Papanikolov  23:00

is this like? So let's say you're on this 14 day trek expedition you're collecting on that? And yes, are you referring to like a base camp. So when you get back to a tent or whatever you have set up, you'll do some additional drying there or once you're back?

 

Giuliana Furci  23:15

Oh, no, they won't last? Yeah, that's what I was thinking, the same day that you Everything happens exactly the same day you collect. Okay, so after a day of collecting, and many of us, perhaps the number of collections we've taken a day because of what comes when you get back to the past. So there are some mycologists That won't collect more than 1520 species in a day. When you get back to town. You know, while everybody else is you know, having fun having a beer having you know, dinner, you're sitting there taking these descriptive photographs, writing down observations, putting everything in a database and then drying because we don't have electricity, we use silica gel, which we have to actually recharge the silica gel that then you can with a heater with a gas heater and an a pan you can dry it out and reuse it again, or some sort of like a rack on top of a stove or camping stove. But it can't be too hot, can't cook them, you know, just need to dry them at not more than 40 degrees centigrade because otherwise the DNA degrades. Drying is the biggest challenge. In the old days. I would wrap them in paper and put them in my sleeping bag and then just change the paper every hour. And what do you eat? Just be like, yeah, that was like really old school and you wake up with the maggots in your sleeping bag and that there was a hardcore love of love of telehealth. Yeah, Bill helps a lot. But it's the biggest challenge is raising the specimen. And so once they're dry, they can't rehydrate because they'll go moldy. So you have to make sure that they're dry that they've been dried at not more than what two degrees centigrade. And then they're put in plastic Loctite ziplock bags and put inside another bigger watertight bag and carried on And Yeah, amazing. Wow. Sometimes if it's a long expedition, I'll just hang. I'll put them in watertight bags and I'll put them on a tree if there's a path and then I'll pick them up on my way out of the forest. Yeah,

 

Tonya Papanikolov  25:12

right. That's devotion. No. Yeah, definitely emotional devotion.

 

Giuliana Furci  25:17

Yeah. And then everyone's finished eating, and you're still at it.

 

Tonya Papanikolov  25:20

I bet. Yeah. I love the work that you're doing with the Triple S project and how you're, you're really advocating for my ecologically inclusive language. I'm on a quest. You're on the show. It's a quest. Yes. Is an absolute quest. So can you tell us a bit about this? Yeah,

 

Giuliana Furci  25:41

in 1999, with all the 2000s, I was realizing that really, people moved very comfortable talking about fungi as if they were plants. Sometimes they were animals. And I just couldn't help getting very irritated. I'm actually pretty angry about it. And in the year 2017, I was that I was 16, I was at a congress with a an Argentine and Brazilian colleagues, both of them. And we were having some kpd genius. And I was like getting worked up about this situation. I was like, wait is something about this and the whole idea of finding a new term to delimit my logically inclusive language that can be easy to catch on came about? And we were like, hunger is the term let's look into this. It did actually it was actually born from KPV. NIA has to be said, The paper says from an informal meeting during the Congress, we got a right you know, we were partying, but yeah, we decided to start looking into a term that could pair easily onto existing terminology for plants and animals. And we realized that you know, plants and animals most wedding in politics and political fora talk about fortnight and flora, we were like, Okay, well, let's look at a term that can be used to include federal entities, macroscopic groups of life that are referred to, and the correct term is Mike Colter, our microbiota, but fauna, flora, and microbiota doesn't really sound too good. And notice this term fungus had been used in Scandinavian countries, for decades. So there's a very important publication called Vanga Nordica, which is credible series of books that gives me you know, broad outlines of different genera of mushrooms. And so we started making the case and writing a lot and making the case for the term funder, which is an artificial construction to be added on to fauna and flora. And for this triple F proposal to be pushed in a sort of more of a politically savvy way in which, wherever it does spawn and flora, we need to replace it with three. So the two extra League, the three F and include this macroscopic group of life, that gives you the ecosystemic view of nature. And it caught on a lot. We ended up publishing it with a dear professor from Harvard University who took me and I look through all the old you know, first editions of Linnaeus onwards looking for terms that have been used to refer to fungi and, and fungal really was the best option. And then came the push for governments and agencies to adopt it. And that's been extremely successful. Yeah, so it's only in 2018, that that was published or years ago.

 

Tonya Papanikolov  28:17

Wow. And where is it at now? Because I know you had a long list of groups and people and businesses that were signing off on the petition. Where are we at?

 

Giuliana Furci  28:27

So where are we at? So the petition is one petition is a joint effort, the three F initiatives. So one thing is the Triple S proposal, which is this paper that was published in 2018. And that the fungi Foundation has been pushing for a long time. And then last year, I was contacted by a lawyer, a professor at NYU School of Law. And we approached Merlin Sheldrake and the three of us are Merlin's, myself, the foundation and NYU School of Law started working on the three F initiative, which was to impulse governments to adopt this language. And that's the petition that's built around that foreigner, Flora banga.org for people to sign up on. But both efforts together, especially the triple F initiatives that we're doing with Merlin, and we're assessing it and where you blow has basically taken organizations and government institutions and agencies, museums, universities, and 20 countries to adopt that psychological inclusive language. So we have, for example, Iceland, the biodiversity center for biodiversity is includes the term Fangire, Brazil last year changed the name of their national inventory to the flora and fauna of Brazil. In Barcelona, we I mean, it's a long list, it's 20 countries, the 19 countries have agencies that have adopted it already in the last four years. So I'd say we're doing pretty good at the moment. Yes, we're happy with it. But it's only the beginning. We're now moving to bigger international fora. The biggest victory of that campaign was last year. IUCN the International Union for the Conservation of Nature formally and publicly announced that it would adopt my ecologically inclusive language. And that's the largest conservation NGO in the world that informs policy member can

 

Tonya Papanikolov  30:10

credible. Yeah, super good. I guess you know, for somebody that is new, because there's so many new people to fungi. Why is this so important? Can you tell us a bit about this underpinning? And I guess there's a few questions here, because why has something so integral to nature gone unnoticed? And why is this so important?

 

Giuliana Furci  30:32

So why have they been unnoticed? There are quite some, you know, concrete reasons. For a long time, scientists, naturalist thought that fungi were plants. And it was only until the invention of the microscope, that we could see that their cells was different to plants, or animals. So there's an issue with how much we could see of the organism to understand of the differences, because the different some microscopic fungi have a different type of cell, and they obtain the energy in a different way than plants and animals, from plants and animals. But until we could see that cell walls, or the high fever may seem we really didn't know that. The other reason I would say is that super important. I mean, it's not only neglect, it's because the tools weren't available to see the ceiling. And then it was it's very important. And then in 1969, was when there was a proposal for this group of organisms to be named, you know, in a kingdom or kingdom of their own. And that was accepted and it has taken off, but and then it was only until the molecular era, I'd say that we really had a full understanding that fungi were closely related to animals and plants. So tools have been the modern tools to look at organisms have been fundamental in differentiating fungi, and plants or animals before they were just called, like, non photosynthesizing plants, or cryptograms, as well, to Ganic. Now, why is it so important? There are several reasons that they're important. They can be in turn planetary terms, they're fundamental, because they're actually the organisms that allow for plants to live outside of water. So when life emerges from an aquatic ecosystem to conquer terrestrial ecosystems, that was only possible by the symbiosis that was formed between plants and fungi, lichens, right, and lichens are the first life form that come out. But that plants can't do that by themselves. And algae can't come out of water and just live on land. And so that was done with the fungi. So from shaping and making Earth, making soil all the way to allowing for plants to thrive, become trees, for example. So trees can't live without fungi in Oran, not only their roots, but inside their cells, right? We know now that fungi, this huge mass of a tree is actually fungal biomass, almost all the plants, plants on Earth, almost all of them, and then also for animals to be able to digest plants, right? Super important. So as you know, without the funding in the gut of herbivores, herbivores can even break down the cell walls made of cellulose plants have. So they're fundamental for life to exist as we know them and know it. And then you can find for people who don't find importance in that and think that important things have to do with humans. But there are a whole set of other reasons of why are humans starting from the fact that fermentation occurs with them and humanity wouldn't have been able to preserve any food or sterilize any liquid to be able to survive. And then we can maybe talk about antibiotics that have changed the face and shape of humanity. So there's so many reasons.

 

Tonya Papanikolov  33:39

Yeah. That's perfect. They're

 

Giuliana Furci  33:42

basically the firmament, the firmament of life on Earth. Yeah,

 

Tonya Papanikolov  33:46

yeah. It's, it's crazy to think about what things would look like without fungi.

 

Giuliana Furci  33:49

Yeah, I stopped my presentations like that. Okay, when I do, what I used to do more of them, but it's like sort of introduction to find out, you know, this whole movement and sparking the movement has been very deliberate, you know, the elders like, you know, like Paul Stamets and Gary Lin cough and Aurora and so many others who started off with this journey and I come along and you know, in another generation but still before the big bang of my psychological awareness, they would deliver it to make this happen a lot of people think Oh, you're so lucky to see it happen right? No, we we weren't. And so in that process, I give talks and introduction to fungi and you know, before you can just say to someone Hey, you watch fantastic fun day or read untangled life it gives these talks started off with okay let's walk on a planet weapons they don't exist and nothing would recycle and plant would exist you know, there'd be no beer, no wine, no chocolate, no coffee, wouldn't be able to wash your clothes with modern detergents, etc. Basically, nothing was decomposed. You know,

 

Tonya Papanikolov  34:53

that exercise is such a beautiful I mean, also, we might not even be here.

 

Giuliana Furci  34:58

No, we definitely wouldn't be You know that we might we wouldn't be possible? Yeah.

 

Tonya Papanikolov  35:03

Not a planet we would have been able to be on

 

Giuliana Furci  35:06

were unthinkable without fungi. Yeah,

 

Tonya Papanikolov  35:09

it's so incredible. What have you learned, and I know that it's so much but for you, it's it's this beautiful combination of your soul and your spirit and your physical body and your mental capacity to learn and share and educate. It's this beautiful, holy trinity of existence. That's so tied to fungi. So if you could distill it, what has been the big lesson for you? And you're speaking on behalf of fungi? What are they here to tell us?

 

Giuliana Furci  35:39

Oh, I would never try to speak on behalf of fungi. That's one thing I can tell you my experience, I No way feel that I could ever speak on behalf of them. But I've learned a couple of things, I think one of the most important things that I've learned is that this isn't an end. And I've learned that from them. So really, truly just the death of a life form is material for the beginning of many other life forms of energy is energy for many other life forms to conform, you know, become, and that's been something that's, that's important. Because, you know, I was brought up in more of a western culture where there is, you know, there are issues with that, you know, people look at death as a loss and sort of things that you suffer, but fungi really teach you that they're super cool when when life becomes so many others. So yeah, that's one. And I think the other one that is really important is that no one is without another. And really, no one isn't without another, which actually takes you to a very, very profound realization that individuals don't exist, there is no such thing as an individual in nature. And fungi teach you that graphically, graphically, because they live inside their food, right? By nature, fungi live in sight, so they digest outside of their bodies, and then absorb the nutrients. But also, that just takes you to really look at how much of every body not everybody, but every body is other bodies, and our other bodies. So yeah, individuals don't exist. No one is without another and death really isn't an end. That would be a couple of the things I

 

Tonya Papanikolov  37:18

do uniform. Yeah, they they really, we always play around with this word of interdependence. Yeah. And the way that fungi show us that so beautifully. Oh, totally.

 

Giuliana Furci  37:30

Yeah, it's remarkable, essentially. I mean, it's because it's their essence. Because yeah, I mean, just as, as other organisms, they can't live without others, but fungi live inside their food. And that makes it very graphic, right? So they're never without their food. They're never without the other that they depend on, because they have to live in who they depend on. Whereas we don't realize how many others live inside us that depend on us.

 

Tonya Papanikolov  37:59

Yeah, it's a beautiful reckoning. We're at this moment now 2022, of this explosion of fungal awareness. And I know, it's been the hard work of many who have come before that have paved this way. And so a question that I get asked a lot, often as well. But how did we get here? Why now? I think that it's a, you know, this collective conscious piece, there's always this element of like,

 

Giuliana Furci  38:24

Yeah, I think I think the film Fantastic fungi has a lot to do with it, too. I mean, there's one thing about collective consciousness and there's, and that's always existed in a, maybe in a culture that wasn't in the era of communications, etc. But there are some very important people that were always pushing, for example, for the use of psychedelic mushrooms, and the understanding of medicinal mushrooms that's been going on, you know, decades. But the massification of it, and for going mainstream, I think, has to do with things that happened before the movie, fantastic fungi because there was a lot going on before. But also when the movie came out. It really did push for mainstream collective consciousness of the existence of these organisms as they're important. And then merrily, Sheldrake look entangled. Life is just like, just the massive, I mean, it just made it or more serious, I would say in scientific terms, and just really shifted the bar because it's an easy reading of very dense information presented in a way that's just eloquent and beautiful and elegant. And so I think it's a combination of the work of the people who have paved the way that was fundamental right fundamental, the work that was done before so Paul Stamets work and others so many others, including myself, my work with the political changes that had occurred here, you know, 10 years ago, more was this substance that film Fantastic fungi could spark interest for and people could find and then And from that movie then comes interested in, you know, bigger mainstream interested in medicinal mushrooms and what they can do and in psychedelic fungi and what they can do. And still, there are very few of us looking at the politics behind it for conservation, I'd say. Yeah, but it won't get there. I'm hopeful. Yeah, it's happening anyway happened, it was gonna happen there. Yeah, it's been happening for decades. It's just happening quicker now. And it's really fun to watch.

 

Tonya Papanikolov  40:24

But are you excited about what is coming up for the fungi foundation?

 

Giuliana Furci  40:29

Wow, we're excited for what's happening. There are some really cool expeditions and collaborations going on. One is what's fun, the Society for the Protection of underground networks. We already did a big expedition this year in Patagonia. And we'll be doing another big one in a place to be announced in another continent. Next year. Yeah. And I'm also really, really excited about what we're doing in elders program we have which is uncovering and discovering, in some cases, ancestral uses of fungi for humanity and not edible. So there are medicinal, ceremonial, and other uses that are very important than a very old that hold the nature based solutions that we desperately need now for people in planet so that following up and showing the world what we've been working on for two years now in documenting all those uses is something that's very exciting to me this is this part of it is a formal program where we're mapping ancestral and traditional kind of fungi and that's been going on for a long time. But also part of the elders program is a work we've been doing in Mexico and it's been actually a very quiet work we've been doing or something that nearly two years now where we've been helping massive Tech family recover and restore clean and archives built by their father and in wildlife humanist which is where many of them you know, lived and work, she wasn't born there, but that's where she lived and worked. And this archives holds 1000s of documents, photos, videos, artifacts, textiles that speak of the mass TECH CULTURE broken by mass texts that hold for example media savviness story told by herself on video in mass spec hundreds of photos and video footage of her and other good embarrassing good and data not only working with fungi but also working with the Abasto thought I was size into the norm with Morning Glory with cacao with maize and and so we've been working for years now and have managed to rescue that archive build a new storage room right now now building a museum and so it's only very recently been shown a bit to the world that work that we've been doing because the Foundation have chosen to do it we do it in a very sacred Yeah, so sacred and not comes away and the family when the family chooses to communicate and do things they will we do too. But yeah, so that's beautiful. And then I'd say the education program is also the biggest exciting thing we're happening we're launching now in October, the fungi education curriculum developed by fantastic fungi reconsider and fungi foundation and its curriculum paired to us schooling standards to Chilean standard, the man has clips from the movie fantastic fundraiser, they have several lessons there. It's all for free. you enroll in fungi education.org, you find all the lessons there. The modules, webinars for teachers and sponsor many pilots cycle is about to be published in Spanish, we've already translated it, and then to Portuguese. And so we're putting this first three global microsurgical curriculum out for teachers and students around the world.

 

Tonya Papanikolov  43:49

Amazing. And that will be it could be parents, it could be teachers, educators that take so there

 

Giuliana Furci  43:55

are three big pieces. So if you go on to funds education.org, you'll see there's one for citizen science, there's a portal for cities and scientists and you see how to pick out how to collect. Those are meaningful science in their videos and protocols. There's another piece that are for small children with activities. So from kindergarten to so you know, they go to school. And then the third piece is for young school children with the lessons paired to the NGSS standards. And what starting now and what we're actually fundraising for now is to build a bigger, more comprehensive global ecological curriculum. That will be a whole cycle paired to the lessons in biology and the natural sciences and schooling, but it will take you up to senior year and we're working that backwards. So where do professors want a first year undergraduate students to be in like logical terms and we're building the curriculum back so yeah, that's we've been working on that for a very long time as well. But the first one is ready up, and it will be launched October in both languages.

 

Tonya Papanikolov  44:56

So excited for that. Good one. Oh, link to that in the show notes. And so you're sure it's going to be it's going to be accessible to those who want to get in. Thank you. I'm just amazed by you and want to really truly deeply thank you for this tremendous body of

 

Giuliana Furci  45:17

Thank you.

 

Tonya Papanikolov  45:19

I've life work. It's It's so incredible. So, yeah, thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

 

Giuliana Furci  45:25

Thank you very much. I'm only just starting I feel

 

Tonya Papanikolov  45:29

Yeah, it's really just the beginning. I know that people we can find you. You have a personal Instagram that's really really educational. We have fantastic or rather fungi foundation and all of your websites is there anywhere else people can find you

 

Giuliana Furci  45:47

know, well um die foundation so a fungi.org and there are two Instagrams learn English and one in Spanish. You Yeah, we're always available.

 

Tonya Papanikolov  45:57

Thank you so much Giuliana. Gracias mucho gracias.

 

Tonya Papanikolov  46:03

with deep gratitude. Thanks for tuning into this episode. If you liked it, hit subscribe and leave us a review that is always very appreciated. Mushrooms transformed my mind and body. And if you're interested in bringing medicinal mushrooms into your life and health journey, check out rainbow.com for our meticulously sourced Canadian fruiting body mushroom tinctures. Until next time, peace and peace out friends