Diversity is worth celebrating for many reasons. One of them is that nature is built on diversity.
In any ecosystem, diversity translates to resilience, and creates the conditions for biology to evolve and improve. If a forest is threatened by a certain kind of beetle, for example, genetic diversity is how the impacted tree species survives, and become stronger over time. Those that remain repopulate the forest, and each generation after is also more resistant. This benefits not just the trees, but also everything else living in the habitat they co-create.
Besides the genetic lottery of evolution, every ecosystem grows richer, more abundant and more stable the greater the variety of participants, each contributing different roles and filling different niches. In analogous ways, as our world grows more interconnected, society benefits as space opens for the diverse identities and ways of life that define human existence. Unfortunately this also comes with a great deal of pushback and reactivity, which also goes to show the resilience of interwoven communities. Binaries, segregation, these are human ideas, and biology constantly reminds us that our ideas are often misguided.
At Ecovative, we work with — and learn from — nature every single day. Designing with mycelium means being constantly aware of the countless variety of interactions that can help or hinder our technologies, and reminded that diversity and interconnectedness is the basic condition of existence. Even the human body itself is full of biological diversity that keeps our systems running, including fungi and bacteria. For life to be isolated or sterile requires a controlled environment — it’s not the natural norm on our living planet.
Fungi themselves are a great example of life’s interconnected, binary-bending ways. They aren’t quite plant, aren’t quite animal. They exist between growth and decomposition. Some of them have tens of thousands of mating types (the mushroom equivalent of biological sex). They serve as the connection between different forms of life, moving nutrients, processing forest debris, and providing food and medicine. Fungi operate as reflections and connection points of diversity, linking the forms and ways of life into a living tapestry. If we look to nature, we see that many forms and approaches are the norm, something worth celebrating and encouraging. Diversity is the fundamental reality of a healthy ecosystem, so it should be no surprise that diversity is also the basis of a healthy society.
We come from nature — we are nature — and the many ways of being human offer lessons, examples, opportunities for inspiration, interaction and common understanding that make us better over time. As Pride Month comes to a close, we look forward to celebrating every day of the year the many ways of being human — of being alive.