Image from Mushrooms of Southern Africa



Water Stories website launches a new Blog and Calendar
Patagonia founder gives company away – ‘Earth is now our only shareholder’
Number of people employed in agriculture increases
The National Geographic photo competition 2022 winners

To diarise
National Arbour Month
#cocreateDesign Festival 2022 to focus on water resilience in cities
Climate Story Lab ZA
Twyg Sustainable Fashion Awards

Film Festivals and Competitions
Xposure International Photography & Film, UAE
Rio Mountain Festival, Brazil
Inheritance – The Environmental Festival, Ireland
International Underwater Film Festival Belgrade, Serbia

Interesting reads
Small-scale farmers encouraged to venture into mushroom industry
Devil in detail of South Africa’s R150-billion climate funding
Climate reporting guide for South African media launches

We are loving …
Natural Building Collective’s New Project
Plug-in helps South African shoppers fight climate change
Soshanguve learners build one-of-a-kind solar powered train

Who are Mycelium?

WELCOME by Jem Spring

Spring is in the air and as I write it is the Equinox where day and night are in balance.  Flowers are popping up everywhere, the air smells fragrant and there is something different about the quality of the light that comes with the return of the sun. I am  currently in Johannesburg where everyone is waiting with bated breath for the return of the rains, and the amazing smell that comes from the earth as it soaks up the drops; whilst in Cape Town we have been watching the levels of the dams wondering if there has been enough to see us through the hot, dry summer months.

I love having the name Spring (thanks Dad!) – with its multiple meanings that are all generative and alive. The season of Spring, with its feeling of freshness and anticipation, nature bursting with new life. There’s the verb to spring, wildly shown off by our national emblem the Springbok; and the rising energies of the season do give one a spring to the step. And then of course water springs, of which there over 30 around the Table Mountain range, which played a major role in getting us through the recent drought and which  I’ve had the great fortune to learn more about through our Water Stories project.

We are blessed with an incredible water system with springs, urban rivers, wetlands and two aquifers beneath Cape Town. With the changes in the climate and ever increasing amounts of pollution of all kinds winding up in our waterways, wetlands and the ocean, it is being threatened like never before. Yet there is the potential for our city to have a regenerative, resilient system that could provide just water access to all, feed a vibrant urban farming sector, cool the atmosphere and be a space for recreation, rejuvenation, creativity and spirituality.

The City faces a hugely complex task to fix the many issues that are creating the current situation. With our new mayor and his team, who have come in with a commitment to do just that, there is renewed hope for a healthy relationship between all those who are committed to cleaning and protecting our precious Waters. As we move into Spring, our Water Stories project moves into a new phase of supporting all those doing this important work and co-creating spaces and platforms to host regenerative conversations and connections. My hope and intention for this work is that the spirit of the springs who bring life to us all  is infused in everything we do.

Image by Simon Sephton
Water Stories website launches a new Blog and Calendar

Mycelium are delighted to launch our Water Stories Blog – which has been a long time in the works and that we hope will provide a lively platform for stories and news that inform, inspire and connect. The Blog will feature different lengths and styles of posts from short pieces to more in-depth explorations and deep dives into academic research and community-led water activism.  We welcome guest posts from the Water web, so please be in contact if there is anything you would like to share.

In July we held our first online Community Connection which brought together diverse voices of people dedicated to protecting and honouring Water in Cape Town.

Our first Blog post summarises the event and links to the transcript and interactive Jamboards that we created together. We are now preparing for in-person connection events to continue the conversations we began and explore questions like:

What is our shared vision of a healthy city – ecologically and socially? How do we work from a mindset in which ecological conservation / restoration and human rights are integrated? Where are the models, diagrams, artists’ impressions, and creativity?

Can we have generative conversations about hot button topics and use of terms like “land invasions” and “vagrancy”? What does “development” mean and to whom? If we change our language can we change the story?

What does Water as Commons mean? How can this be practised in our communities and city?

Look out for our upcoming engagement event  on the 3rd of November 2022 in collaboration with artists from EITZ on The Ripple Effect exhibition, in which art, storytelling and dialogue around water contamination in relation to climate change are interwoven.

We have also added a Calendar to the website and invite you to let us know about upcoming events so that this becomes the go-to place to find out what’s happening  in the world of water. 

Patagonia founder gives company away – ‘Earth is now our only shareholder’

Yvon Chouinard, the founder of outdoor apparel brand Patagonia, and his family have transferred ownership of the company to two new entities, Patagonia Purpose Trust and the Holdfast Collective, which will direct all profits towards protecting the environment and fighting the climate crisis.  According to a statement shared by the company this week, every dollar that is not reinvested back into Patagonia will be distributed as dividends to protect the planet.

Chouinard, Patagonia founder, former owner, and current board member commented: “It’s been a half-century since we began our experiment in responsible business. If we have any hope of a thriving planet 50 years from now, it demands all of us doing all we can with the resources we have.

“As the business leader I never wanted to be, I am doing my part. Instead of extracting value from nature and transforming it into wealth, we are using the wealth Patagonia creates to protect the source. We’re making Earth our only shareholder. I am dead serious about saving this planet.”

Chouinard founded the California-based company 50 years ago, and has been described as “an eccentric rock climber who became a reluctant billionaire”, turning his passion for rock climbing into a successful $3bn global outdoor brand. A founding member of 1% for the Planet, Patagonia has become recognised for its environmental activism. The Patagonia Purpose Trust now owns all the voting stock of the company (2% of the total stock) and exists to create a more permanent legal structure to enshrine Patagonia’s purpose and values. It will help ensure that there is never deviation from the intent of the founder and to facilitate what the company continues to do best: demonstrate as a for-profit business that capitalism can work for the planet.

Number of people employed in agriculture increases

South Africa has seen a large increase in the number of people employed in agriculture during the first quarter of 2022. This was revealed during an Economic Sectors, Investment, Employment and Infrastructure Development (ESIEID) Cluster briefing.  The Economic Sectors, Investment, Employment and Infrastructure Development Cluster, led by Human Settlements Minister, Mmamoloko Kubayi, and Mineral Resources and Energy Minister, Gwede Mantashe, briefed the media on Thursday on the progress of the Economic Reconstruction and Recovery Plan (ERRP).

The ERRP is a collaborative initiative between government and social partners, aimed at boosting post-pandemic economic recovery. The report focused on eight pillars implemented by various government departments from 2020 up to the end of June 2022. According to the report presented by Kubayi, the number of people employed in the agricultural sector increased by 6.6% in the first quarter of 2022, from 792,000 people in the first quarter of 2021 to 844,000 people in the same quarter of 2022.

The report shows that of the 52 000 jobs created, 31,000 and 21,000 jobs were created for males and females, respectively, between the two quarters. “During the same period in total, the agricultural sector has 249,000 females and 595,000 males, compared to 228 000 females and 564,000 males,” Kubayi said. A total of 37,414 out of 300,000 smallholder farmers (SHF) were supported by the first quarter of 2022/23.

Image by Tessa Barlin
The National Geographic photo competition 2022 winners

The winners of the National Geographic photo competition 2022 have been announced.Themed #ExploreNaturalAreas, this year’s competition, supported by Sunday Times and TimesLIVE, aimed to celebrate South Africa’s natural spaces and highlight the need for their protection.

As part of National Geographic’s Planet Possible initiative, which aims to inform, inspire and empower consumers to live more lightly on the planet, both professional and amateur photographers across South Africa were invited to participate in the 2022 edition of the popular competition.

Professional category winners

The first place in the professional category was won by Hannah Tihen, whose underwater image captured a dark shyshark (Haploblepharus pictus) peeking its head out of the kelp in Cosy Bay. Mohammend Sheth won second prize with his photograph of two male lions on the prowl, followed by Steve Mak who came in third position with his image of a nuanced sunset in the Namibian dunes.

Amateur category winners
Ntokozo Hlope scooped first prize in the amateur category with her captivating photograph of a sunset in Richard Bay. Lidovho Tendani was awarded second prize for her shot taken in the Pretoria Botanical gardens, with Khole Bridgette’s image of an ostrich overlooking the sea in the Cape of Good Hope winning third prize in this category.

South African wildlife photographer and filmmaker and National Geographic explorer Tessa Barlin led the judging panel that was tasked with awarding this year’s entries. “It’s been a privilege to be a judge on the National Geographic Photo Competition this year,” says Barlin. “I’ve had the opportunity to see the world from such unique perspectives. The judges and I decided to place a spotlight on photos that didn’t necessarily display the best kit, but stuck to the theme, showed a clear sense of adventure, a love of nature and an eye for composition. Congratulations to the winners!” she adds.


National Arbour Month

The Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment is the custodian of the greening function in South Africa. The National Arbor Month campaign is aimed at sensitising South Africans about the need to conserve, protect and plant trees for environmental and human related ideals. The idea is to highlight the value and importance of trees and forests to South Africans in general.

As the custodian of the greening function, the department is responsible for the co-ordination of National Arbor Month campaign, celebrated annually from 1-30 September. The theme for the year 2022 is “Forests and sustainable production and consumption”. The theme is adopted from the United Nations Collaborative Partnership on Forests and was used for the International Day of Forests commemoration this year. The 2022 theme aims to highlight key areas of forestry and tree planting in terms of their role in creating and sustaining healthy and resilient communities, through health benefits that are derived in forests that include nutritious foods, medicine, fresh air, clean water and place for recreation.

For 2022, the trees of the year are as follows:

  1. Common Tree: Dais cotinifolia L. – Pompon tree
  2. Tree for Promotion : Peltophorum africunum -African Black wattle
  3. Tree for Appreciation 1: Aloidendron dichotomum – Quiver Tree
  4. Tree for Appreciation 2: Aloidendron pillansii – Giant Quiver Tree.


#cocreateDesign Festival 2022 to focus on water resilience in cities

The upcoming #cocreateDesign Festival will take place in Cape Town from 26-27 October. Under the theme ‘Designing African blue-green cities for all’, the festival will explore the design of innovative processes, systems and products that can lead to a more water-secure future, particularly in an African context.

An initiative of the Mission Network of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in South Africa (#cocreateSANL), the annual festival celebrates and examines the power of design to address current socioeconomic and environmental challenges. It is organised in collaboration with the Craft and Design Institute (CDI), and in 2022 has been curated in partnership with the University of Cape Town’s Future Water Institute, the City of Cape Town and the Institute of Landscape Architects.

The two-day festival will gather academics, policymakers, government officials, water engineers, professionals, civil society members and creative thinkers from the water sector to discuss, engage, learn, and spark new ideas. It will be a hybrid event, taking place in person at the Youngblood art gallery in Bree Street, with a free live stream also available.

As part of the #cocreateDesign Festival, the #cocreate Blue-Green Cities Design Awards have been conceptualised to celebrate inspirational initiatives that represent best practice in terms of water-sensitive design and the transition to water-sensitive cities in South Africa, particularly as it relates to water quality. Entries are open to projects with a strong design element with water as its principal focus. All entries should also comment on any innovations that improve water quality – for example, by dealing with diffuse pollution sources. Entries close 5 October 2022. Click here to enter.

For more on the #cocreateDesign Festival programme and to book a seat (free), click here.

Huawei SA’s women in tech entrepreneur programme calls for applications

Huawei South Africa is in search of tech-savvy women business owners for its 2022 Women in Tech digital skills programme, which provides free online training in cloud computing, digital marketing and leadership development.The programme seeks to help women advance their skills and use new technologies to grow, improve, and digitise their businesses, giving them an edge in the digital economy. This year, there are also prizes for the top three entrepreneurs who will be chosen at the end of the five-day online training.

The training comprises three courses: cloud computing and how it benefits SMMEs, digital marketing for business success, especially in an increasingly competitive online market space, and leadership development. The programme will close with an in-person networking opportunity at Huawei’s office park in Woodmead, Johannesburg.

Dr Jude Clark, clinical psychologist, facilitator, executive coach and renowned practitioner in the area of gender and development in South Africa and abroad will deliver the Leadership course.

“More and more women entrepreneurs are taking on the role of leader and changing the landscape of leadership across different sectors in South Africa. But for many, there remains a disconnect between their sense of personal power and their vision for their enterprises. This programme explores what it means for a woman entrepreneur to show up in her power and what psychological and relational shifts need to be made in order to align personal power with business vision,” says Clark.

The programme is open to all women entrepreneurs, and who will be selected on criteria including their readiness to adopt new technologies into their business. Those interested in applying need to email gro.emllikspu@ylppa and then fill in a short application form and will be contacted if their applications are successful.

Climate Story Lab ZA

The Climate Story Lab Africa invites dynamic and passionate creators who use art or the media for storytelling about climate change to apply to the first ever Climate Story Lab in South Africa (CSLZA). We’re looking for established and emerging creatives working in a range of disciplines (including film, podcast, journalism, fiction writing, poetry (written or oral) theatre, stand-up comedy, web or television series, VR/XR, digital/social media and more) with projects already in some stage of production.

This programme, including an intensive multi-day residential lab in January 2023, is supported by the UMI Fund and hosted by the UCT Centre for Film and Media Studies in partnership with Doc Society and the Climate Story Unit. CSLZA offers storytellers from Southern Africa an opportunity to develop their projects to better support collective action against activities that contribute to climate change and tell stories about solutions that protect ecosystems and biodiversity.

About the Lab: The Climate Story Lab ZA vision is to connect the makers of a selection of powerful stories about climate change solutions and wins with experts, strategists, organisational partners and funders. We’ll share materials and prompts with the creatives behind the selected projects to help them prepare for a 4-day residential lab in January, during which we’ll incubate projects and support the development of strategies for greater impact.

More details on their website. Deadline: Friday 7 October 2022

Twyg Sustainable Fashion Awards

Twyg has been at the forefront of sustainability in the South African fashion industry for several years. Using storytelling, bespoke experiences, workshops, campaigns, as well as its annual Sustainable Fashion Awards, Twyg promotes a way of being that is sustainable, circular, regenerative, and ethical. This year, Country Road is once again a key partner for the 2022 Sustainable Fashion Awards. The beloved Australian lifestyle brand will sponsor the Changemaker Award, and the winner will be awarded a R100 000 cash prize. To enter the 2022 Twyg Sustainable Fashion Awards, click
here. Deadline: 11 October 2022


Xposure International Photography & Film, UAE

At the Xposure International Photography & Film Festival, you will get the opportunity to meet with over 60 of the world’s most renowned photographers producers and picture editors. Dozens of talks, workshops, and focus groups take place over the seven-day festival with over 1500 exhibits on display Winners & Runners up will have their entries exhibited or screened during the festival. Regular Deadline: October 15, 2022

Rio Mountain Festival, Brazil

Accepted films will be short, medium and feature length films produced in digital video; categories in documentary, fiction, experimental or animation; movies about mountain sports, adventure or expedition; films that contribute to knowledge and protection of the environment; films about mountain culture or outdoors lifestyle.Late Deadline: October 31, 2022

Inheritance – The Environmental Festival, Ireland
In March and July 2021, Inheritance expanded to a film festival on Northern Visions, Belfast’s local TV station, serving over 300,000 households. The overall theme of the activities looked at how we have been shaped by our city and our hyper local environment and to consider what the legacy will be that we leave to the next generation. All ages took part in the activities and they came from disability organisations, women’s centres, community groups, Extinction Rebellion, Youth Strike for Climate Change and other youth and older people groups. The arts and environment projects were participatory and concentrated on waste management, consumption, climate change and the elusiveness of accountability.  Regular Deadline: October 31, 2022

International Underwater Film Festival Belgrade, Serbia

International Underwater Film Festival represents an unique opportunity to take a look at the underwater world, to find out more about it through films, photographs, discussions with authors and with other underwater adventurers and enthusiasts. One of this event’s main goal is to give contribution to education and environmental conciousness in our country. This is why the Festival’s motto is Let the waters always be pure”.Regular Deadline: November 20, 2022


Small-scale farmers encouraged to venture into mushroom industry

Mushroom farming, often shied away from by many established and aspirant farmers has been identified as one agricultural sector that has the potential to stimulate equitable and inclusive growth, while boosting SA’s economic recovery plan. According to the South African Farmer’s Association, South Africa produces about 21 000 tonnes of mushrooms per year, and these are exported mostly to neighbouring countries, including Namibia and Mauritius. 

Devil in detail of South Africa’s R150-billion climate funding

A proposal by wealthy nations to mobilise US$8.5-billion (R150-billion at the time of writing) for South Africa to help reduce its dependence on coal has proved more complex than anticipated, which has stalled its implementation. The money was offered to South Africa at United Nations climate talks in Glasgow last year under a deal that was seen as a possible blueprint for helping other coal-reliant developing countries transition to using cleaner energy. Details of the types of financing that will be made available and the terms and conditions attached to it are still being hashed out, along with South Africa’s investment plans, said Barbara Creecy, environment minister. 
Tech Central

Climate reporting guide for South African media launches

The media has “failed in its role to warn society about climate collapse”, said science writer Leonie Joubert at the launch of an
online climate reporting guide for South African journalists. The guide was written by Fossil Free South Africa, a campaign for fossil fuel divestment, with input from civil society organisations and scientists, as a resource for journalists covering climate, environment and energy-related stories. It includes tips for reporters and editors on how to improve their reporting on climate change and how to give the issues “due prominence”.

… these initiatives which support our aim of living in a more sustainable world.

Natural Building Collective’s New Project

The Natural Building Collective have announced their next project will be an early childhood development centre for a hero organisation in Heideveld, Cape Town, collaborating with James Fernie from Uthando SA and Mario van Niekerk from the Greater Commission United (GCU).  The building is an an Early Childhood Development centre for 200 children while also advancing the cause of sustainable building in South Africa.

It’s going to be massive! They’ll be using between 3000 and 5000 large car tyres, eco bricks, glass bottles, cob, and natural plasters so will need your help. Stay tuned because they’ll be sharing some ways that you can contribute! Follow their Facebook page.

Plug-in helps South African shoppers fight climate change

South African start-up
Curbon is empowering South African citizens to make carbon-neutral decisions while shopping online and help to battle climate change. The plugin uses data from global climate science institutions to estimate the emissions of customers’ carts at checkout and empowers shoppers to neutralise the carbon footprint of their purchases on e-commerce stores in real-time.

Dedicated to minimising the environmental impact of the entire e-commerce value chain, Curbon’s API uses the process of carbon-offsetting to reduce, and ultimately neutralise, the carbon equivalent emissions of users’ online purchases.  This solution, a retail-first in South Africa, sits in the checkout flow of Curbon’s partners’ e-commerce stores and is also available for Shopify, WooCommerce, Magneto and other platforms. Bringing together thousands of data points, Curbon estimates each online order’s carbon footprint by calculating the emissions involved in the sales process – from retailer to end customer, and the entire production process of goods and services too.

Soshanguve learners build one-of-a-kind solar powered train

Hard work and sacrifice have paid off for several learners from Soshanguve Technical High School of automotive specialisation. They designed and built a one-of-a-kind solar powered train locomotive. Fondly named Modjadji, after the Rain Queen of the people of Limpopo, it is blue and white, with mirrors, wipers, carpets and enough space inside for two passengers. Grade 12 innovator Lethabo Nkadimeng said the country’s energy crisis and rising fuel costs inspired them to make a solar train. They started working on the locomotive in 2020.