Communication, Equity, and Inclusion for Community : Firefly Gathering Instructor Makeda Meeks

“As long as white supremacy goes unchecked in our cultural communication and educational systems, the dream of community will evade us.”

Meet Makeda Ruth Meeks, an Annual Firefly Gathering instructor based in Florida who will be joining us for her 8th year this summer. As a mother, educator, business owner and consultant at MRM Diversity Consulting, author, and lover of humanity and all that connects living things, Makeda offers classes at the Gathering grounded in Critical Race Theory, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. 

In this interview, Makeda shares her background in this work, and how skills in social justice and communication are a vital component of earthskills as a whole and the Firefly Gathering. Read more from Makeda below, and join her at the Gathering this year, June 20-25, 2023.

Q. What draws you to teach classes that incorporate Critical Race Theory, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at earthskills gatherings specifically?

I have always been fascinated by the edge. The point at which change is not only compelling but necessary, and the communities that reside there. I believe that these communities have the power to change the world, and who wouldn’t want to be a part of that?

[Social justice] has been my calling all of my life and my course of study throughout my bachelor’s and master’s degrees. Difficult conversations have always been a part of my life and growth, but these are services that I began to offer at gatherings as I saw more and more People of Color leaving gatherings early and never coming back. As long as white supremacy goes unchecked in our cultural communication and educational systems, the dream of community will evade us.

Q. Was there an “Ah-ha” moment for you on this path?

My Ah-ha moment was at another Earthskills Gathering in 2016, when a young family of color had their toddler threatened with a historically racialized punishment used in slavery. The family of color left to protect their child and the gathering moved forward with lots of sympathy and “oh that was so mean.” The offending individual left and there was no structural investment, change or education put in place to keep this from happening again.

I loved my earthskills community, so I volunteered to offer educational spaces for that gathering. As this work is largely undervalued and unpaid, despite the great emotional, mental and physical burden I knew that my contribution to this community could be to carry this family’s story forward and work for equity in a community that I so greatly value.

Q.Why is it important for people to engage with communication as a skill?  

People come to earthskills gatherings to learn primitive silks. However, the ancient skill of communication often is overlooked or under-prioritized.

Using the skills of non-violent communication, we can enter into diverse spaces and learn the skills of those who came before us, without appropriating cultures, recreating stereotypes and furthering the violence of white supremacy.

Q. What does The Firefly Gathering in particular mean to you?

Firefly Gathering is my favorite gathering! It is my favorite because it is a space that works to create safety, education and community in a fun and inclusive way. This is different from other earthskills gatherings in that this is the only gathering that has demonstrated its structural investment in Diversity, Equity and Inclusion.

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We are delighted to have Makeda back at the Gathering, and for the skills she brings to our community as we grow in our approaches and offerings for equity and inclusion year-round.  Information about Makeda’s 2023 Annual Gathering classes will be available in the coming months.  In the meantime, you can read about her 2022 offerings, including Social Permaculture, Working with Internalized Racism in Communities of Color, and Healing the Visceral Wounds of Racism here, and learn more about Makeda and her current work at MRM Diversity Consulting.

Stay tuned for next month’s in-depth dive into Firefly’s expanding work around equity and inclusivity, including exploring our Equity Committee, Equity Fund (opening March 1), and “The Neighborhood” and its role at the Annual Gathering.  


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Lily Harlin


Lily is an artist, creator, and dreamer. Since a very young age, she has been immersed in the natural world and draws heavy inspiration from the wild. Though her medium changes frequently, Lily’s art and expression always incorporate an element of the organic and unpredictable. She got her associate in fine arts in 2023, and now volunteers at her school as a ceramic studio monitor. She hopes to open a studio of her own one day to have a place to teach and inspire others. In addition to doing commission work, Lily has been creating many graphics for The Firefly Gathering since 2019. Lily grew up in the Earthskills community from the time she was eight years old, so having the opportunity to grow and give back in so many ways has been incredibly fulfilling. No matter where she ends up, this group of people and ideas will always hold a special place in her heart.