How can we facilitate cultural exchange and reduce marginalisation by learning from the way in which mycelium facilitates symbiotic relationships in nature? How can these lessons inspire new proceedings between policy makers and communities to examine multiculturalism?

Beneath The Surface is a project by April Edgar which aims to strengthen community ties by learning from the way mycelium (an underground network of fungi) form symbiotic relationships. Mycelium supports its own growth and the growth of a community of plants and trees, through an extension of itself. It acts as a mediator for non-discriminatory exchanges of knowledge and resources between different species. April Edgar uses mycelium as a metaphor, to address complexities and ambiguity caused by social policies around multiculturalism and monoculturalism.

Monocultures can prohibit the extension of oneself by creating parameters to operate within. Navigating outside of these ideals is often discouraged and not supported by government-run institutions. April looks at the ways in which individuals extend themselves within these parameters, also examining how communities interact with one another and creating alternative support networks beneath the surface of a monoculture.

April partnered with a local community hub, the Hub by Aurora Family CIC, in her hometown of Reading, UK. She used the space as a base to extend herself and engage with the diverse community of people who are living in subversive ways within a monoculture. The aim being to reimagine new community-led solutions to address the issue of marginalisation and prejudice by needs and the things they have in abundance to share with their wider community.

Through a series of creative workshops and interviews April prompted discussions around living in a monoculture, the friction people face as a result of prescriptive policies and what tools they use to navigate this space and grow as people. April collated a range of perspectives and has created a podcast, short video and events programme. April hopes sharing the experiences of groups who are often stereotyped, misunderstood or ‘feared’ in society will help to humanise these groups, shift perspectives and create more social cohesion.

Inspired by Emmanuel Acho’s quote “proximity breeds care and distance breeds fear”, April is now looking at ways to connect these groups and share their stories with other groups in society. Creating a network from The Hub to create cross-cultural and intergenerational exchanges, forging new connections.