by Anne Tara Szostek
The Women’s Visionary Congress acknowledges with great sadness the passing of Kai Wingo, urban mushroom farmer, activist, and ambassador of the mushroom medicine. Kai started her Buckeye Mushroom Farm and her Kultured Mushrom community project in the Buckeye neighborhood of Cleveland in the fall of 2013 and sold her mushrooms at farmers markets around the city. She hosted workshops in mushroom cultivation and was an enthusiastic advocate for the power of mushrooms to help us create a healthier, more sustainable culture. We first met Kai when she received a scholarship to attend the 2015 Women’s Visionary Congress in Petaluma. We were impressed by her clear, deep wisdom of mushroom medicine of all kinds, her devotion to working with entheogens (no small thing in Ohio) and her gift for connecting people and communities.
According to Kai’s family, she was completing day 37 of a 40-day fast when an imbalance of electrolytes and potassium caused her to lose consciousness. She was rushed to the hospital and after some time on life support, Kai passed away. Today, February 27th, Kai’s community in Cleveland will hold a memorial service for her from 3-8 PM in the main classroom auditorium of the Black Studies Department of Cleveland State University at East 22nd Street and Chester Avenue. We are in alliance with Kai’s friends and family in grieving her passing today. Members of our community are observing a day of mourning, taking time to reflect on all that Kai accomplished. She was a true ambassador between worlds – bridging the realms of mushrooms and humans, and creating bridges between communities. If you are in or near Cleveland, go pay your respects to a brilliant woman.
Kai is survived by three children, her parents, and three sisters. Her son, Gyasi, plans to continue Kai’s work with Kultured Mushroom Farm and sell her mushrooms at local markets. For those who wish to support Kai’s family in this challenging time, please click here to visit this GoFundMe campaign where you can make a donation.
This fall Kai held the first Women & Entheogens conference in Cleveland in September of 2015. She reciprocated our invitation to attend our gathering by inviting WVC board member Annie Oak to present at her conference, along with a group of remarkable women and men from around the country. The event was the first of its kind to engage the feminine dimension of plant medicine work at a gathering in the midwestern US. This event led to the creation of new connections between many communities of psychonauts. We are deeply grateful to Kai for connecting the WVC community of consciousness explorers from the West Coast with her communities in Cleveland and Detroit.
Kai was the very first person we approached to speak at our upcoming 2016 Women’s Visionary Congress in Petaluma, CA. We are deeply saddened that Kai will not be there to share her wisdom with us. While her presence cannot be replaced, we want all that she inspired to continue. WVC has created an annual scholarship in Kai’s name which will support travel costs for a women from her community to attend and speak at our annual Woman’s Congress. We will announce the name of the 2016 scholarship recipient in the coming weeks. Kai’s legacy lives on.