Portland Winter Lights Festival | Mycelium Lumina

Portland Winter Lights Festival | Mycelium Lumina

Mycelium Lumina

The complex network that connects us all

Mycelium Lumina is inspired by fungi and the organic networks they create to connect the forest. When you walk through a forest, you may not realize that there are thousands of complex exchanges happening underneath your feet at any given moment. There is a vast network of fungal roots beneath the forest floor weaves together the roots of trees and other plants – these fungal roots are called mycelium. Taken together, they make up what’s called the mycorrhizal network. In healthy forests, each tree is connected to others via this network, enabling trees to share water and nutrients. This network is especially important for saplings growing in shady areas where there is not enough sunlight for their leaves to perform adequate photosynthesis. For survival, the saplings rely on nutrients and sugar from older, taller trees sent through the mycorrhizal network. As you peer through the panels of this installation you’ll see an abstracted window into these unseen structures that bind life together.

Mycelium Lumina is a partnership with Street Roots, a local non-profit that publishes a weekly social justice newspaper sold by people experiencing homelessness and poverty to earn an income. Not unlike the organic network that connects every living organism within the forest floor, Street Roots is a truly grass roots effort to advocate for systemic change by drawing from the expertise of vendors who experience homelessness and poverty, and sharing it with our community through award-winning journalism. Each week, about 200 Street Roots vendors purchase copies of the newspaper for 25 cents each, then sell them on the streets of Portland for $1, keeping the profits. More than 800 vendors sell the newspaper during the course of a year. Street Roots makes income accessible to the poorest people in our society through work that is low barrier and, at its best, empowering.

Street Root’s mission to empower, advocate, and provide resources for people experiencing homelessness and poverty resonates with our own mission at Holst Architecture. We are currently collaborating with Street Roots to design their new office headquarters in the heart of historic Old Town, and are honored to contribute our services pro-bono. We are inspired by Street Roots’ ability to connect people and to knit together strong support networks that are an essential role in keeping our city healthy and vibrant. This installation was made of recycled materials from past Portland Winter Lights Festival displays as well as repurposed clear acrylic panels from Holst’s office. The individual panels will be auctioned by Street Roots and all the proceeds will go to them.

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