Friday, May 23, 2008

The Grand Molecular Disassemblers

Over the past couple of months, I've been sharing my office with my old friend Brent. He has been hugely helpful to the startup project in many ways but, primarily, he's been leading our research effort: exploring the various aspects of social and environmental responsibility, identifying experts that offer opinions about which businesses are most worthy of our support, and organizing the information in ways that will allow us to deliver the brand comparison function that lies at the core of the site we're building.

Brent and I go way back. We did some importantly ridiculous things together when we were in middle school. We skipped school to go fishing. We snuck cigarettes. We got drunk for the first time. We smoked pot for the first time. When we were 12 and 13 and 14, we were a formidable low impact troublemaking duo.

Brent, as he always was back then, remains a man of many talents. In addition to his information gathering skills and commitment to promoting radical social and environmental responsibility, he was a cook for Army paratroopers in Iraq; he tends and communicates with orchids; he's a budding bonsai master; and he spends his weekends scouring the woods for rare and delicious mushrooms.

A couple of days ago, he emailed me this link and explained his reason for sending it with characteristic succinctness:

Paul Stamets is a genius.

I watched the presentation (thank you TED, once again), and I think Brent's right.

The talk focuses around mycelium, the nutrient gathering vegetative threads that make up the sometimes vastly expansive underground webs of life from which mushrooms spring into existence, and it offers up six ways in which fungi can help save the world.

The stories Stamets tells, while sometimes rushed and thus confusing, do nothing if not pique curiosities and tickle imaginations. He makes, for example, what I think is one of the boldest statements I've ever heard:

I believe the invention of the computer internet is an inevitable consequence of a previously proven, biologically successful model. The Earth invented the computer internet for its own benefit, and we, now being the top organism on this planet, are trying to allocate resources in order to protect the biosphere.

Hopefully that'll tease you enough to get you to check it out. Big thanks to Brent for the recommendation, and big encouragement to Paul Stamets as he continues to spread the fungal vision.

Note: Despite any impression this post might give, Brent and I have never eaten mushrooms of any kind together. I promise. I want radical transparency from businesses, so I figure I'll provide radical transparency on the blog. If we'd gone fully psychedelic in middle school, I'd admit it.


Unknown said...

Hi Jake,

I just wanted you to know that I have created a green bloggers forum on which you can post a description of your blog and a link to your site. Go to, select the green forum button, register for the forum, select the Nonprofits Resources and Discussions forum, then select the Green Blogs subforum, and post your thread. No reciprocal link to my site is required . . . just want to spread the word about good green blogs and have people take a look at my site.


wiley said...

Did you mean bonsai master?

Jake de Grazia said...

Hey Jay.

I posted it.

I got a little silly with the poll though. Hope that's ok.

Good luck with We Buy It Green. Feel free to drop me an email if you ever want to discuss your site or mine and how we might be able to collaborate in some way in the future.

Take care.


Jake de Grazia said...

Wiley, you are one of the best spellers I know. Thanks. What's a banzai, though? My spellcheck considers it a word, and Wikipedia says it's a kind of charge, a last ditch military attack. Hmmm. Weird that that's become a word in the English language.