Monday, October 12, 2009

Symbiosis in plant and human communities

With her permission, I am quoting a message that my friend, Sharon Fulton, posted on Facebook.

One of the most unique features of tree communities is their relationship with underground fungi called—mycorrhiza (micro-rye-zee). These fungi live on or near the roots of the plants and they extend beyond the plants roots to collect water and nutrients for the plants that live in the community. They form connections underground from tree to tree and to other plants in the community, thereby interconnection most of the plants of the plant community.

If one area of the forest has excess nutrition or moisture the fungi will balance the forest and share the nutrients. The connection of many plants underground with these fungi is called a ‘mycorrhizal grid’ and because plants can use this grid to share water and nutrients. Parent trees living in sunshine actually feed their young by means of this underground web of connection.

I learned this from Starhawk last night and I have been thinking about how some people in our communities act like mycorrhiza, being the connection by which nutrients and information are passed between individual members who can't quite touch each other.

Nature has so much to teach us. Amazing!

You may not be surprised to learn that Sharon herself is one of the "connecting" people to whom she refers. Although she had a fulltime job as a nurse, she coordinated the volunteers for the Emergency Weather Shelter at the First Unitarian Fellowship of Nanaimo during the unusually heavy snows of last winter. She herself also worked several volunteer shifts, assisting homeless people at the Emergency Weather Shelter. When I was waiting for my fridge and stove to be delivered to my apartment at Pacific Gardens Cohousing Community, she spontaneously offered to share her fridge and stove with me. The list goes on.

One of the neat things about living at Pacific Gardens Cohousing Community is that Sharon's generous spirit is the rule rather than the exception. I have found my fellow Pacific Gardeners to be supportive and nurturing, within both our immediate group and our wider community.

Although my fellow cohos already were great contributors before we moved into Pacific Gardens, the physical layout of our community enhances the pre-existing spirit of collaboration and cooperation. Thus Kathryn Hazel's piano has made its way to our music room, and the furniture from the large house that Mia Jongkind left behind has made its way into our communal dining hall, guest bedrooms, exercise room and balconies. A delicious communal supper has been conjured up on each owner's moving day. Helpers have appeared out of the woodwork to unload moving vans.

If I went on in this vein, I'd need to write a book. Perhaps I'll do just that. Ah, but if it's about cohousing, it would be fun to do it collaboratively, wouldn't it? Be warned, Pacific Gardeners. This is bound to involve the formation of another committee at some point. :-)

1 comment:

Frostbite and Sunburn said...

I like that idea that some people are the links - and I am sure that some people are much more so the community link than others. Sometimes we do not appreciate these people enough.

I will never think of fungus in the same way again!!