Groeneveldlezing Liesje Mommer Merlin Sheldrake Groeneveld award 2022 a nature-positive future. To break down silos – and work beyond their own hobby horses. Provide the scientific evidence, fill the research gaps, integrate and deliver knowledge in society where it is needed. Work interdisciplinary. Work transdisciplinary: not only a diversity of scientists, but together with society: with farmers, businesses, NGOs, policy makers at different levels – from local to global. We organised dialogues – to meet, listen, and share ideas, desires and... hope. To know of each other, and build on each other. To make better plans from listening to critique rather than build stronger walls. We work evidence-based, but also with the heart, as human beings taking responsibility. I have been wondering since then – why me? What made me the person to do this? As I explained, I have a scientific background in biodiversity experiments in grasslands – but I have to admit I do not recognize all of the 60 plant species... Would it be my social skills, or my personality, my stubbornness? Partly. I only found a satisfying answer, a grassroot answer, since I read Entangled life. I recognised much of what was written in chapter 1: What it is to be a fungus? I am a plant ecologist – for two decades working underground. By being underground for such a long time, I have been changed by my subject: how to be a fungus? I think I can imagine being one. Working with fungi – as Merlin rightly argues - requires being able to imagine their behaviour, because they are so invisible... so different.... beyond our imagination, and therefore triggering it: imagination. I think that that is the essence of leading for change into a nature-positive future: the belief in unimaginably better. I learned that fungi can change our old habits. They bring new perceptions – unimaginable new ones. Completely different worlds exist. Dreaming about different worlds - not being bound by the current rules, laws and busyness or big business - is what is so much needed nowadays. To trigger the change – to lead the change, it is vital that we get ‘tricked’ out of our perspectives – out of our daily routines. We must dream beyond the horizon, and fully decide to go for it. Some of you may think that scientists are bad in dreaming, as they are excelling only in “cold-blooded rationality”, in the words of Merlin. But I know – because I am one myself - scientists are emotional, intuitive whole human beings too. We all are. Entangled, being able to take different roles. Fungi learn us to go beyond the imaginable roles – they do things so differently, that whatever we will dream, it already exists in the fungal world. They tell us it is possible, if we would ‘only’ use our common sense. The hope for the world is in fungi – that we learn to dream unimaginable futures, and wholeheartedly go the pathways towards them. Another insight from the book is that fungal relationships are confusing. To understand what is a relationship, the identities of the ‘things’ that form ‘the relationship’ must be known. The question: ‘What is an individual?’ has always appealed to biologists. But answering it for fungi – what is an individual? Or even framed a bit more general: what is a species - greatly stretches the minds of even our best scientists. The ‘things’ that form ‘the relationship’ may not be necessarily known in the fungal world, but the ‘things’ that make it happen are the fungal tips. They can fuse with other fungal entities – different individuals; different fungal species, and even live intimately with organisms from other kingdoms. For a long time ecologists have been blind for these confusing, entangled ways of forming relationships. Only recently, scientists have started to appreciate the wood-wide web, the ‘collaborative mode’ of fungal relationships. The interesting question is: how does the fungal way of forming entangled relationships translate to our human world? On campus we had a Biodiversity challenge earlier this year with many students, staff and their children. Here, you could see it happening: how relationships were formed, between the little boy and the cool scientist, and also between them and the fish - across species. It appeared that we share the campus with at least 821 species (we did not accurately count the fungal species – just a few mushrooms and rusts), but it is that entanglement that touches me every time I come to the Wageningen campus. It makes me wonder: who are we humans to dominate nature? Can we find a more symbiotic relationship? More collaborative? More humble? I found part of the answer to that question when reflecting on my resistance regarding the term ‘figure head’. First, let me cite from the chapter Living la

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