Image from Mushrooms of Southern Africa

IN THIS EDITION

Welcome

News
Hotspot Climate Series to film at COP27
2022 WWF report: Freshwater populations have fallen by 83% in less than a lifetime
Land Bank making progress on debt reduction
FruitLook – a powerful tool for monitoring irrigation, growth and nutrients
Overstrand municipality wins 2022 Municipal Green Economy Change Champions Showcase
Re.Bag.Re.Use initiative receives international recognition

To diarise
All about this year’s Banff Film Festival
World Vegan Day: 1 November
Climate Action Day: 4 November
Generation Africa 2.0

Film Festivals and Competitions
Climate Space, Italy
Champéry Film Festival, Switzerland
Academia Film Olomouc, Czech Republic

Interesting reads
A Soil Owner’s Manual: How to Restore and Maintain Soil Health
Environmental ruling on Karpowership to be made in early 2023

We are loving 

Braille Trail created at Karoo Desert National Botanical Garden
Nigerian company turns e-waste into solar-powered lanterns

E-Learning platform for vineyard workers launched

Who are Mycelium?


WELCOME by Lara Taylor
 

As Spring comes to an end and Summer starts to take hold, we see flowers, fruits and seeds revealing themselves in abundance. Cape Point’s white carpet of everlastings are spreading over the gentle hills and vibrant orange and yellow nasturtiums are on every pavement and crack. For a while now, us at Mycelium Media Colab, have been hatching up a scheme to grow our mushrooms. Our tendrils have always been reaching, connecting and spider webbing. We have been blown away at the organic flow of our co-op but finally we have made it official and our network is evolving. Finally we have new members from all over Africa whom we welcome into this space with open arms. Ready for what they bring, the challenges, solutions and most importantly growth and change.

As our newsletter reveals the shocking decline of wildlife, we hope that our expansion will aid this issue and the ripple of Mycelium will have an effect. We are also excited about the introduction of the FruitLook app – technology really is amazing! You will find that there is lots of space to have your say with film competitions and festivals but please feel free to comment on our Facebook or Instagram page. There you will also meet our new members.

We welcome these new mushroom spores and fruit and can’t wait to see where the mycelium makes it way. I can almost hear it pushing through the earth!



NEWS

Hotspot Climate Series to film at COP27

Mycelium co-chair Jacqueline van Meygaarden is a co-producer and director on the Hotspot Climate Series, which recently became a grantee of the DocSociety Global Climate Story Fund. This fund aims to broaden the climate conversation and drive audiences to collective action. Hotspot is one of 9 projects selected to be supported, and the series profiles Global South activists at the forefront of overlapping social and climate crisis, where millions of lives depend on what activists can motivate their governments to do. We follow activists in 5 countries:  Mozambique, Madagascar, Zimbabwe, Namibia and South Africa. 

Jacqueline will be travelling to Egypt to COP27 with the team to continue filming with two of their characters who are attending the international climate conference, and work with partner organisations to launch the series and campaign.

Read more about the Climate Story Fund grantees for 2022 and view the Hotspot trailer on the Hotspot website.



2022 WWF report: Freshwater populations have fallen by 83% in less than a lifetime

According to WWF’s Living Planet Report (LPR) 2022, wildlife populations have seen a 69% decline on average since 1970, highlighting the stark outlook of the state of nature. With its biggest dataset yet, featuring almost 32,000 populations of 5,230 species, the Living Planet Index (LPI), provided within the report by the Zoological Society of London (ZSL), shows it is within tropical regions that monitored vertebrate wildlife populations are plummeting at a particularly staggering rate.

In particular, the LPI data reveals that between 1970 and 2018, monitored wildlife populations in Latin America and the Caribbean region have dropped by 94% on average. In Africa, that figure is 66%. In less than a lifetime, monitored freshwater populations have fallen by an average of 83%, the largest decline of any species group. Habitat loss and barriers to migration routes are responsible for about half of the threats to monitored migratory fish species.

With world leaders due to meet at the 15th Conference of Parties to the Convention of Biological Diversity (CBD COP15) this December, WWF is advocating for leaders to commit to a ‘Paris-style’ agreement capable of reversing biodiversity loss to secure a nature-positive world by 2030.

Says Dr MornĂ© du Plessis, CEO of WWF South Africa: “If there is one key message from this year’s Living Planet Report, it is that the evidence of the damage we are doing to biological systems is incontrovertible. Although this is depressing to environmental organisations working to reverse this decline, what should fill us with some hope is that this signal can no longer be ignored. Businesses, governments, civil society and individuals must take urgent steps to protect nature and the biological systems that underpin our very existence as human beings. This is no longer an option but an imperative.”



Land Bank making progress on debt reduction


While the Land Bank remains in default to its creditors, Finance Deputy Minister David Masondo says the institution has managed to repay 43% of the debt that was outstanding in 2020 and only R1.5bn of guaranteed debt remains. Masondo made the remarks when National Treasury and the Bank appeared before Parliament’s Standing Committee on Finance recently. The department appeared before the committee to provide a briefing on the policy direction for the Land Bank, as well as to request the committee to support the amendment of Section 45 of the Land Bank Act, as presented previously by Treasury.

Masondo said a further reduction of debt is expected in the current financial year. “The bank has also significantly improved its governance, financial reporting and internal control mechanisms. This resulted in the bank achieving a clean audit from the Auditor General in the past financial year, against a qualified audit in the 2021 financial year, and a disclaimer in the 2020 financial year,” he said.

“The bank is in a healthy liquidity and solvency position and reported a net profit of R1.4bn in the most recent financial year against a net loss of R711m in the 2021 financial year. At the operating level, Land Bank reported a profit of R11.7m.

Masondo said government wants the Land Bank to make a positive contribution to the transformation of the agriculture sector. He said it is important for the Land Bank to work closely with the Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development to ensure that transformation in the agricultural sector is feasible, and to ensure that the Bank prioritises the provision of assistance to small and emerging farmers.



FruitLook – a powerful tool for monitoring irrigation, growth and nutrients


By Natalie Nolte

A trip to Barry Meijer’s regenerative farm is always educational and inspirational. On my latest visit he introduced me to FruitLook, an incredible free tool for farmers!

The rains have barely come this year, and so water is a worry but Barry has found by using this app, he is managing his irrigation more effectively, and getting better results. He’s able to sketch out his fields on the satellite map, which he saves on his profile. For each area, the app then tells him how much water has transpired each day, as well as the biomass production and the nitrogen present. Graphs show how this changes over time, and a heat map shows the exact areas of the field that are higher or lower in these levels. So he can work out how much each area of his fields need to be irrigated. He can also see which areas are struggling and which are abundant.

This is an amazing, free service offered by Western Cape Government, you can sign up to it here: https://fruitlook.co.za


Barry primarily uses Fruitlook for monitoring growth. “The resolution allows me an in depth look at my fields. I plan all my irrigation based off FruitLook.” Barry mentioned that the University of Davis in California has done significant studies on how much water you need to replenish from your evaporation. “If you give me an evaporation number, I know based on my crops that I have to replace about 80% of what evaporated. That is called the crop coefficient.”

Barry says he gets his evaporation numbers every morning at 8 am, which allows him to schedule today’s sprinkler on yesterday’s evaporation. “If you grow lucerne, after you have mowed it, for the first couple of days you actually give it 105% of what evaporated. But as soon as the lucerne starts to grow and covers the soil, the evaporation rate drops off significantly to 70%. Most of my fields are under permanent irrigation, so I can very easily make that adjustment. That is a major use of the Fruitlook program.”.”

“Because of the resolution you can go to the exact point in the field and go and see what the issue is, for example I can see if there is a frog in my sprinkler. You can fix the problem and within a few weeks you see that you have caught up again.”

Barry says that the biggest benefit he gets from Fruitlook is information. “It is a tool that helps you successfully manage your farms production. I can look at Fruitlook on a weekly basis and see how much growth has happened in the past week. That is based on dry material. So, I can quickly just do a calculation and see this was my biomass growth over the last couple of months or weeks.”

Barry works on a 40-day grazing cycle. “I can basically take the number from FruitLook and do a quick calculation and extrapolation to figure out how much food is on that field and how many square meters I have to give every cow. It is amazing that FruitLook is so accurate that I can just use that, and even if it is out by 10 %, it does not matter. It needs to be somewhat fluid to make it work.”



Overstrand municipality wins 2022 Municipal Green Economy Change Champions Showcase

Overstrand Municipality are the winners of the 2022 Municipal Green Economy Change Champions Showcase for their innovative and sustainable project which outsources the operation and maintenance of their bulk water services facilities. These green economy pioneers were announced as the winners during an online event hosted by GreenCape, in partnership with the Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom (FNF), showcasing five green economy service delivery initiatives that are being rolled out at the municipal level across South Africa (watch here).

“The Friedrich Naumann Foundation partnered with GreenCape on this project for the second year running. After the success of last year’s showcase, which saw the City of Tshwane Metropolitan Municipality win with its beneficiation of sewage sludge project with Agriman (see here), we knew this event needed to become an annual affair. We hope that the outstanding sustainability projects that were presented by municipalities inspire others, and ultimately leads to improved service delivery throughout the country,” said Cecelia Kok, head of Research and Advocacy Projects, South Africa at FNF.

“What stood out to us about this project was the long term vision of the Overstrand Municipality,” said Taahirah Ghoor, senior analyst, Circular Economy at GreenCape. “The outsourcing of the operations and maintenance of bulk water infrastructure ensures that the municipality has access to expert technical specialists, increased flexibility and improved access to markets and alternatives facilitating improved efficiency and optimisation of its assets.”
 



Re.Bag.Re.Use initiative receives international recognition

The Hout Bay-based Re.Bag.Re.Use initiative was recently named a co-winner at the ECCO International Communications Network 2022 Awards.

The initiative aims to help people use their skills to crochet products from upcycled plastic and bring in an income. When Re.Bag.Re.Use products are sold, it pays towards a cutter and a crocheter from the local community. The initiative also helps minimise plastic accumulation in the environment and keeps it out of landfill. A percentage also gets donated to a local charity – the Neighbourhood Old Age Home and the Rotary Club of Newlands are the main beneficiaries.

Commented Regine le Roux, founder of the initiative, on the win: “What an honour to be recognised internationally. It’s a nod and the boost to let the team know that we’re onto something incredible here. I would never in a million years have thought that an empty bread bag would bring so much joy and have such a positive impact on so many people.”


TO DIARISE
 
All about this year’s Banff Film Festival

Creatives from across the globe will gather in Cape Town to celebrate some of the greatest minds in adventure filmmaking at this year’s Banff Centre Mountain Film Festival. Taking place from 28 October to 6 November this year’s festival will be the 19th year that Cape Union Mart brings one of the biggest mountain festivals in the world to South African shores.

The festival attracts adventure filmmakers, outdoor heroes, athletes and thrill-seekers of all stripes. This year’s event will spotlight some of the best mountain films and exceptional filmmaking talent from around the globe. If you want to get in on the action and see what the world’s best and brightest adventure content creators are creating, the Banff Centre Mountain Film Festival will be airing at the following Nu Metro cinemas in Cape Town, Kwa-Zulu Natal, Gauteng and the Eastern Cape:

Canal Walk, Cape Town
Boardwalk Mall, Gqeberha
Cornubia Mall, Durban, Kwa-Zulu Natal
Ballito Junction, Ballito, Kwa-Zulu Natal
Hyde Park Corner, Johannesburg
Emperors Palace, Johannesburg
Tickets are available here.


World Vegan Day: 1 November

World Vegan Day is an annual event celebrated by vegans around the world every 1 November. The benefits of veganism for humans and the natural environment are celebrated through activities such as setting up stalls, hosting potlucks, and planting memorial trees. The event was established in 1994 by Louise Wallis, then Chair of The Vegan Society in the United Kingdom, to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the founding of the organisation and the coining of the terms “vegan” and “veganism”. https://capetownvegan.com/
 


Climate Action Day: 4 November

The Climate Action project is a free student-centered project – a 6 weeks journey involving more than 2.5 million students across 135 countries. It is supported by governments in 15 countries. The project is free, student-centered and aims to lead to a change of behavior through education. It is in collaboration with WWF and NASA, and endorsed by Jane Goodall, President Higgins, Kumi Naidoo, scientists and public figures. It was covered by media across 45 countries including BBC, CNN and National Geographic.


Generation Africa 2.0

Following the success of the pan-African documentary film collection, Generation Africa (
www.generationafrica.co.za), STEPS are excited to announce a call for stories to be part of their next Generation Africa project. The call is seeking stories on climate justice from across Africa – in English, Portuguese and French – to be developed into documentary film for the AfriDocs platform. All submissions and queries should be sent to: generationafrica@steps.co.za. Deadline of 21 November


FILM FESTIVALS AND COMPETITIONS
 
Climate Space, Italy

Climate Space is an original idea of pianist and composer Ludovico Einaudi that extends his commitment to climate action that led to ‘Elegy for the Artic’, a piece he composed in support of Greenpeace’s 2016 “Save the Arctic” campaign and performed on a floating platform in front of the Wahlenbergbreen glacier in the Svalbard Islands. “Since, we have produced three Climate Spaces in Milan 2019, Melpignano and Milan 2021 together with several Climate Space moments within festivals such as WeWorld in Milan and Dromos in Oristano in the summer 2022”.

Within Climate Space, short films play a central role in framing the opportunity space we explore in poetic, beautiful, visual language. City/Nature is the theme we have chosen for this year Climate Space at Teatro Dal Verme in Milan where Ludovico Einaudi will play 11 concerts in December. A short film will be screened before and after each concert followed by short talks and conversations with the audience. Our intent this year is to explore overlaps and blends between nature and city and overcome the tension between urban and natural environments.

To compose the programme we are looking for short films (between 10 and 40 minutes long) that explore the changing relationship between cities and nature. Short films with a positive spin that tell stories of urban biodiversity and wildlife; reforestation and rewilding; urban agriculture in its multiple forms, from community gardens to hydroponics; nature-based solutions to clean water, air, soil and regenerate life; nature-inspired circular materials and processes; ecological boundary areas between urban and natural landscapes; among many other possible stories.  Extended Deadline: October 29, 2022  https://www.climatespace.it/


Champéry Film Festival, Switzerland

In November, the ChampĂ©ry Film Festival brings together lovers of mountain and adventure films and documentaries in ChampĂ©ry, Valais, Switzerland. For its 7th edition, the ChampĂ©ry Film Festival is setting up a short film competition on the theme “Vertigo”. This competition is open to all filmmakers, amateurs and professionals alike. Deadline: October 30, 2022  
https://champeryfilmfestival.ch/
 


Academia Film Olomouc, Czech Republic

AFO is currently one of the most important European festivals in the area of science film. It aims to present science as an attractive, dynamic and diverse sector through films charting natural, humanities and social science disciplines. Science film is a unique category of documentary film, an important field of cinema, that represents a substantial part of contemporary television broadcasting. Science documentary films present the results of systematic observation and exploration of the world in us and around us. Films focused on scientists as professionals or personalities are also considered as science documentary films. The main theme of the film may also become science itself as an institution and a firm part of our society, including its ethical boundaries, methods and procedures. Regular Deadline: December 1, 2022  
https://afo.cz/en/home/
 


INTERESTING READS
 
A Soil Owner’s Manual: How to Restore and Maintain Soil Health
by Jon Stika Available on Takealot

This book is about restoring the capacity of your soil to perform all the functions it was intended to perform. It is not another fanciful guide on how to continuously manipulate and amend your soil to try and keep it productive. This book will change the way you think about and manage your soil. It may even change your life. If you are interested in solving the problem of dysfunctional soil and successfully addressing the symptoms of soil erosion, water runoff, nutrient deficiencies, compaction, soil crusting, weeds, insect pests, plant diseases, and water pollution, or simply wish to grow healthy vegetables in your family garden, then this book is for you. Soil health pioneer Jon Stika, describes in simple terms how you can bring your soil back to its full productive potential by understanding and applying the principles that built your soil in the first place.

Understanding how the soil functions is critical to reducing the reliance on expensive inputs to maintain yields. Working with, instead of against, the processes that naturally govern the soil can increase profitability and restore the soil to health. Restoring soil health can proactively solve natural resource issues before regulations are imposed that will merely address the symptoms. This book will lead you through the basic biology and guiding principles that will allow you to assess and restore your soil. It is part of a movement currently underway in agriculture that is working to restore what has been lost. A Soil Owner’s Manual: Restoring and Maintaining Soil Health will give you the opportunity to be part of this movement. Restoring soil health is restoring hope in the future of agriculture, from large farm fields and pastures, down to your own vegetable or flower garden.


Environmental ruling on Karpowership to be made in early 2023

A decision on whether Karpowership SA will secure environmental approval to moor a fleet of floating gas powerships in three ports in South Africa will be made early next year, the department of forestry, fisheries and the environment said.
Mail and Guardian

 


WE ARE LOVING 



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

Braille Trail created at Karoo Desert National Botanical Garden

In a world first – supported by the BotSoc/SANBI Partnership Fund – plants, people and poems have converged in the Karoo Desert National Botanical Garden in Worcester. It’s a feast for all the senses at this wonderful new Braille Trail, created for the visually impaired. Worcester is known as the care capital of South Africa. It’s home to the Pioneer School for the visually impaired and the Innovation Centre for the Blind. 
Read more.


Nigerian company turns e-waste into solar-powered lanterns

Quadloop, a Nigerian-based company, has found a way to turn electronic waste into solar lanterns and other products that will have a lower impact on the environment. Dozie Igweilo, founder of Quadloop, told Reuters he came up with the idea after discovering a market for affordable, locally-produced electrical goods, for which components were not available in the country.

“At that point, we noticed that… if we leverage on electronic waste, we are going to cut down the cost of production as well as the cost of sales, and that is what brought us to where we are today,” Igweilo said. The company aims to source 70% of its materials from electronic waste. Quadloop recycles lithium batteries from dumped old laptops for its solar lanterns. Those lanterns are then used by small businesses helping them to stay productive if there are power outages, Igweilo said.


E-learning platform for vineyard workers launched

An e-learning platform for vineyard workers to hone their skills online has been launched. Developed by the industry body, Winetech People Development, the e-learning platform will offer training to people from across the wine industry value chain in a simple and accessible format. The platform will be expanded over the next few years to also focus on winemaking, marketing and sales, as well as logistics and distribution.

Vinpro’s annual vineyard worker training programme has had 5,000 people hone their practical skills over the past seven years. The physical training is based on a DVD training package, of which the 10 modules are now made available online. These include pruning, vineyard establishment, vine development, canopy management, soil management, identification of diseases and pests, irrigation, fertilisation, wine grape harvesting and soil science. The e-learning platform is made available to wine companies as a one-year license, and the cost varies depending on the number of employees registered per institution.

If a farm or cellar is interested in signing up their team on the e-learning platform, the team leader or farm manager can send an email to az.oc.hceteniw@sml.


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WHO ARE MYCELIUM?

The world is facing an unprecedented crisis, significant environmental degradation, deepening social inequality and economic collapse. These interlinked crises are exacerbated by man-made climate change. We will only overcome these challenges and be able to bring about a sustainable and regenerative world by working together to rebuild our connections and relationships with natural systems, and with each other. Mycelium is a collaboration of multi-media content creators focused on showing what a sustainable and regenerative world could look like, and how to get there. We do this by raising awareness and showcasing examples, and by growing the number of practitioners able to support this mission.

Our values are based on those of the International Co-operative Alliance: self-help, self-responsibility, democracy, equality, equity and solidarity. We also embrace the values of collaboration, honesty, openness, social responsibility and caring for others. Our value system acknowledges the need to combat the significant levels of inequality in South Africa, particularly those related to race and gender. We have chosen to work through the cooperative model because it offers economies of scale and scope, increased bargaining power, a space for learning, and the ability to offer value to our members and broader society.

Membership to the Mycelium Media Colab is open to multimedia storytellers, artists and regenerators that share our vision collaborative and transformative change. It offers a networking and support space for members to share skills and inspiration, and creatively cross-pollinate, as well as a platform and organisational structure for projects that require a team.  Ownership of projects is shared between the creators and the co-operative. Contact info@myceliumcolab.com for more information and visit https://myceliumcolab.com/