Fringe Natures #8: Lichen Love (What’s your commiment?)

Green and orange close up of lichen as viewed through a viewing glass

Although the FEELed Labbers are mostly on summer rest, we couldn’t miss the opportunity to join forces with FCCS 2090 (no, that is not a typo) Woodhaven Artist-in-Residence, Tessa Zettel, to conjure up a bit of lichen love.

An image of Tessa Zettel in a grey shirt with brown hair, looking into the distance, in the doorway of a log cabin outside of which hangs a sign that reads "The T. Rudzinskaite Memorial Amateur Lichenologists Society - for the love of lichen."
Artist-in-Residence Tessa Zettel

Tessa was visiting sylix territories on behalf of the T. Rudzenskaite Memorial Amateur Lichenologists Society, which has been in operation for 72 years since its founding in 2018. After hearing more from Tessa about the society’s history and activities, the participants in this Fringe Natures event nosed around lichen HQ, examined lichen through various kinds of technological prosthetics, bantered about various lichen philosophies, and collectively penned a few poetic tributes to these queer little beings inside of whom reside wild and wondrous worlds. What’s in a name?, we wondered (noting that species of local lichen bear such juicy monikers as “edible horsehair,” “electrified millipede,” and “arctic ring”) How does language bring us into closer (or different) relationship with lichen? What are you touching when you touch lichen? What changes when you go through the portal into lichen ways of being? What kinds of new possibilities for collaborative worlding arise?

Black handwritten text on a white page that reads: "LICHEN IS FOREVER By: The Kelowna Chapter of the T. Rudzinskaite Memorial Lichenologists Society (2090)"
Our handmade book!
Handwritten text that reads: "Quarks of peppered moon / arctic ring the bitter taste / identifying / the rock map / diagram / of history."
One of our collaborative creations

To be an amateur or an enthusiast means to love something. Our time together ended with a Skype conversation with lichenologist Trevor Goward, coordinator of Ways of Enlichenment, associate member of the UBC Botany Department, and true lichen lover. While some of us may have joined the event out of passing curiosity, or perhaps even as budding enthusiasts, Trevor and the society opened up a view to what it might mean to be into lichen for the long-term.

A pile of books, instruments, matches. The main texts have the titles "Macrolichens of the Pacific Northwest" "Pyramid Power" and "Kamloops: The Inland Capital"
Various forms of lichen and lichen-adjacent knowledge

So: what’s your commitment? We look forward to welcoming Tessa back at Woodhaven soon to make space to keep exploring this fringey question…

Green chalkboard propped up against a tree trunk. The text on the board reads "Fringe Natures #8: Lichen Love"
What’s your commitment?

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