“On a scale of ‘Button Mushroom’ to ‘Mature Mushroom,’” says Peter McCoy without irony, gesturing toward a room full of curious Seattleites, “what’s your familiarity with mycology?”
McCoy sits comfortably at the front of the event space at Seattle’s Hillman City Collaboratory, a slim 29-year-old with a deep, steady voice, a well-worn camo cap, and the word REMEMBER tattooed on his forearm. He’s backed by a series of slides: gigantic fungi and thick webs of mycelium, a statue of an Aztec deity with stone mushrooms for knees, a sticky pool of oil spill crud in the middle of tall grass. In front of him, on display, are a couple of plastic bags of mushroom spawn, a Mason jar filled with sugar water and a gloopy mycelial mat, and a Turkey Tail fungus shaped like a brain. McCoy passes those objects around the crowd and lectures about the myriad benefits of fungi — from restoring human health and forest health to spirituality and healing. It’s all kind of dizzying.