Tending to the baby oyster mushrooms

Tending to the baby oyster mushrooms – photo by Kevin Scott

A few weeks ago, I spoke with Maggie Kaplan, founder of Invoking the Pause, the environmental small grants program that funded my CityLab7 partners and I in the ideation and development of our urban mushroom farm.

It’s been a year since our installation closed, marking the end of a long-term project fed by buckets of sweat equity and three grants. Each of us in CityLab7 came from different educational and professional backgrounds and sought diverse outcomes from our involvement, from the desire for like-minded collaborators and a creative outlet to the opportunity for new business entrepreneurship. During those three years together, our needs and relationships grew and changed in ways that often surprised me.

The alternating rhythms of challenge and delight inherent to our Pause experience were truly life-changing. Much of it had to do with the immense freedom that we were granted as creators, and how we as a group reacted to that freedom. It was difficult to fully understand the impact of The Pause in the moment, though; I was in a mode of prospecting the entire time.

When Maggie encouraged me to investigate the impact of The Pause on my life today, I found that I finally had enough distance to do so.

Though we became a formal collective in 2009, our cohort actually came together in 2008, months before we found Maggie’s call for proposals on the Bullitt Foundation website. CityLab7 took its first Pause on a ferry ride to Bremerton during a temperate September afternoon, leaving early from work so that we could spend time together. We were all prospecting back then, with no idea what we would find, nor that our efforts would result in anything as tangible or successful as they did.

With that, I’ll direct readers to the blog post that I created for Invoking the Pause, which describes the lessons learned and the wandering path that led to the birth of our mushroom farm brainchild.

The story begins here.