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Lecture Series Special Event: Alan Rockefeller - Mushrooms of Mexico & the World

Monday, March 3rd at 7:30 p.m. at the North Park Village Nature Center.

Lecture Series Special Event: Alan Rockefeller - Mushrooms of Mexico & the World

Alan Rockefeller is a mycologist studying the mushrooms of California and Mexico
. He has been focusing on the taxonomy and photography of Mexican mushrooms for the past seven years. Alan recently returned from five months of collecting in Mexico with extensive field work in the states of Jalisco, Colima, Michoacan, District Federal, Morelos, Puebla, Veracruz and Oaxaca. When he is not photographing mushrooms he is busy sequencing fungal DNA, photographing the microscopic features of mushrooms, hacking computers, modifying electronics and working in the IT Security field. 

Check out Alan's amazing microscopy photos of spores!

Here's what radiophile and documantarian Mushroom Anna (McHugh) had to say about Alan Rockefeller:  

"Another person I think of when I consider mycological autodidacts calls himself Alan Rockefeller. When I met Alan at a mushroom festival, I took him for a degreed microbiologist, perhaps shepherded through Berkeley, Stanford or even Out East Somewhere (Where the Loan-Takin’ Don’t Quit). When I interviewed him at the identification table, Latin binomials spewed from his face like a snow-swollen river, and he simply couldn’t stop touching the mushrooms on the table; he’d pick one up, brandish it at me feverishly and utter some clipped, arcane name and then proceed to tell me every single thing about the specimen: this one grew with ghost pine, that one smells like cedar because it has the same essential oil, the blue staining chemical in this one is so strong it almost burns your eyes when you observe it under the microscope…

I finally got him to slow down and talk about how he got into mushrooms.

"Well, I’ve been hunting mushrooms for 6 or 7 years. I got into it because it’s different from computers and electronics, which is what I usually do. And so I decided that mushrooms were fun to study, because they’re mysterious."

Needless to say, I was impressed by Alan’s mycological knowledge, even more so when I learned that he took it upon himself to become familiar with the unknown, Other, the Weird Fun Stuff That We Don’t Get Paid For. I also concluded that my initial impression was totally incorrect; he was not handed his knowledge through a formal list of courses. He was a seeker with an unquenchable thirst for knowledge— an autodidact.

Subsequently, I had a chance to visit Alan’s home (a Semi Permanent Autonomous Zone called 5lowershop, a warehouse community populated by 20 odd life-students, 7 odd buses, a welding studio, urban farm, beer vending machine and countless bikes and kitties). I also got to see his workshop (a Hopefully Permanent Hackerspace in the Mission that’s cluttered with microscopes— including the sacred electron scanning microscope—, a laser cutter, RPG books, soldering irons and radical thoughts). We also hunted mushrooms all over San Francisco, overturning brush and landscaping to uncover lovely blooms of Psilocybe cyannescens, the iconic wavy caps so many of us have seen rendered on one tapestry or black light poster or another. I am being 100% honest when I say that he only took pictures of them— the psychoactive properties of these urban lovelies were no longer a temptation to Alan. He just seemed to delight in a chance to take their pictures, revel in the rain’s bounty, and come home to discover that someone had welded a whiskey bottle to the ceiling. 

...Mr. Rockefeller used to work for NASA, hacking into their systems and exposing vulnerabilities.

Watch out for the autodidacts, the amateurs. They’re all set to turn the world inside out."

The IMA is comprised of mycologists and laypeople from all walks of life who share a common interest in the study of mushrooms. Individual members often have specific areas of interest and expertise, including mushroom foraging, taxonomy, cultivation, mycoremediation, mycorrhizas, medical mycology, yeasts, lichens, food spoilage, fermented foods, plant diseases, symbioses with animals, and edible, poisonous, and entheogenic fungi.

If you are new to mushrooming, joining a mushroom club will give you the opportunity to learn about the fungal diversity found during the annual cycle in Chicagoland and how to identify species properly and safely. Whether you’re an experienced mycophile or are new to the Kingdom of Fungi, we welcome your knowledge and companionship.

For non-IMA-members, there is a $5 suggested donation to attend our lecture series events. No one will be turned away for lack of funds. Please join us! Membership in the IMA is only $20 per year and includes participation in our monthly members-only forays. While our lecture series is open to the public, forays into the woods are limited to members only. This is because the IMA is a scientific and educational nonprofit that holds a scientific collector's permit to pick wild mushrooms for research and education. That's why only club members can come on forays. Club members also receive a great digital monthly newsletter with articles, recipes, research, art and information on additional events. You can become an IMA member at any IMA lecture series event, or by clicking here 

North Park Village Nature Center is located at 5801 North Pulaski Road, Chicago, Illinois 60646. From the intersection of North Pulaski Road and West Ardmore Avenue, go east into the North Park Village Campus. Drive past the booth, you do not need to stop. At the T-junction, turn left. Then take a quick right. You will see the forest of the nature center on the left. Shortly you'll arrive at a parking lot on your right as you approach the front of the nature center building. The road between the parking lot and the main entrance may be blocked, but the center will still be open and accessible.

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