Kerry Knudsen /116

On Lichen and Life after Capitalism

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Lichens make up around eight percent of our planet’s biomass, yet rarely do we pay much attention to these symbiotic, part algae, part fungi organism. On this episode, For The Wild speaks to one of the world’s leading lichenologists, Kerry Kent Knudsen. Ayana’s conversation with Kerry spans the dreamiest of worlds, from the surreal and psychedelic presence of lichens to the magic of creating life post-capitalism. In addition to Kerry’s field-based understanding of lichen, Kerry also speaks to the times we are living in, “just like the butterfly that beats its wings and causes a rainstorm around the other side of the world, we have to embrace the chaos of our lives.” In embracing this chaos, Kerry reminds us that we may very well find creation, bring our magic to fruition, and embody complete unity with reality wherever we may be.

Just like the butterfly that beats its wings and causes a rainstorm around the other side of the world, we have to embrace the chaos of our lives.
— Kerry Knudsen, Episode 116

Kerry Kent Knudsen is a mycological taxonomist and lichenologist at the University of Life Sciences in Prague. Kerry founded a lichen herbarium at the University of California at Riverside (UCR) and has published 215 papers and articles on lichens. He is a specialist in the lichen biodiversity of southern California and in the order of Acarosporales, which occur around the world. With his wife Jana Kocourkova, who is also a lichenologist, they have begun a four-year project working on lichen biodiversity in the Chihuahuan Desert in New Mexico.

If you have ever wondered what constitutes a good lichen habitat, what our understanding of lichens reveal about the value systems we prescribe to, or how to navigate beyond the chaos of today, then this episode is for you. We are reminded that while lichen may have a smaller presence or hold little “value” in utilitarian terms, they still possess ethereal qualities. Other topics Kerry and Ayana cover include the fragility of lichens in changing climates, the invaluable work of citizen scientists, the limitations of science as a “rational” data-driven field, and how the Anthropocene is shaping our understanding of biodiversity and extinction.

♫ Music by The Savage Young Taterbug


About Our Podcast…

Ayana Young,  Host

Ayana Young, Host

At For The Wild, we discuss the critical ideas of our time and parlay them into action for the defense and regeneration of natural communities. Key topics include the rediscovery of wild nature, ecological renewal and resistance, and healing from the trauma of individualistic society. We will travel deep into ancient forests, align with the struggles and ways of Earth-based people, and rekindle the mysteries of intuition. We will join today’s brightest visionaries in this momentous work of reimagining a world where humanity can find its way back into the web of life.

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