The Firefly Gathering is a grassroots, community-based 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization in Western North Carolina, providing educational and cultural programming to the Asheville area since 2007. By offering a cyclical sharing of traditional craft and wisdom in community, we reconnect people in the Southeast with the teachings of the past to engage with the rapidly changing present to co-create a sustainable future.
We feel the weight of the state of humanity and what our future holds. Many current cultural practices place profit and individual gain over life, health, purpose, and connection. This is an embodiment of colonialism and causes harm to ourselves, each other, and to the non-human world. Humanity faces a growing list of threats to our survival and health including climate change, racism, cultural and environmental destruction, increasing reliance on fragile economic and industrial systems, accelerating loss of biodiversity, and war.
There is a better way to live. We still have the opportunity to not only survive but thrive with this planet. When we understand the strength and extent of the connections between us and everything around us, we realize the power of our decisions and actions. We can learn our lessons, listen to the wisdom of our ancestors, and cherish our wellbeing as well as that of generations to come. Our vision is to live in a culture which values this and believes:
- Life is sacred, in all its forms.
- Each of us are deeply connected to one another and the natural world.
- Our individual and collective connection to the natural world is our tether to survival, longevity, and joy on and with this planet.
- All people have a right to healthy bodies, lifestyles, and relationships; yet these take work to achieve and maintain.
- Personal growth is a lifelong process.
- Self-reliance and community resilience work together.
- Wisdom found in history and mentorship is worth cherishing, as it helps us remember our lessons and not have to learn them again the hard way.
The Firefly Gathering was founded by and continues to be operated predominantly (but not exclusively) by strong women committed to shifting cultural paradigms. We have around nine core staff members, with many more in support roles and who join during the annual event.
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The Board of Directors is constituted of around eight members with a broad range of experiences including Earthskills, nonprofit governance, tribal government, law, and technology. In addition, we have a beautiful network of support throughout the region that we have been cultivating for more than a decade. We are so grateful for the opportunities to connect and grow together.
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Firefly’s very first event was organized by Natalie Bogwalker and Kaleb Wallace in 2007. They had a vision to start an accessible and welcoming Earthskills gathering in the Asheville area. Natalie grew the event and ran it for many years, and currently runs her own school Wild Abundance in Barnardsville, NC.
Since 2007, Firefly has hosted annual gatherings in the beautiful Appalachian Mountains providing experiential opportunities for people to connect with themselves, each other, and the natural world. Covid came in our 13th year, providing us a much needed rest period and an opportunity to reimagine the potential of Firefly as a nonprofit organization.
The organizers have long had a dream of growing Firefly into a year-round program. Realizing the fragility of being dependent on one gathering per year, plus having a break from organizing has allowed us to launch Perennial Firefly, our ongoing workshop series. In addition, we are also focusing on Community Connection, a program designed to unite various communities and organizations in Western North Carolina, to share resources, support each other, and create a web of commonality. We seek to identify the emerging needs of this rapidly changing time through the lens of nature and our elders and meet those needs by weaving a strong web of change that ALL can be a part of.