Earthskills Rendezvous is a non-profit organization with a board of directors called the Leadership Council. Leadership Council members volunteer their time and energy to help guide the big picture and long-term direction of Rendezvous. LC members work as a team and have a unique opportunity to contribute to Rendezvous in a meaningful way.
Meet the Leadership Council
News from the Council
Earthskills for Every Earthling
Earthskills Rendezvous was founded 38 years ago on the core principle that every human has a fundamental right to learn and share nature-based skills that have been passed down for generations through our shared and diverse human ancestry. At first, the gatherings happened to save the skills and keep them from being forgotten. Now we practice the ancestral skills together while also weaving in community skills to help us thrive. We find that when we get down to the stone, the wood, the fiber, and the fire, we, as humans from all across the planet, have more in common than not. Today, the principle that Earthskills are for Everyone is more relevant than ever.
As Earthskills Rendezvous continues to grow and evolve from its core roots we want to rise to the challenge of being a place where everyone feels truly welcome to come learn these skills and join the community.
We celebrate our ever-expanding community diversity. Over the course of years, this has been driven by our people individually and collectively, and through organizational efforts such as our established scholarship program that was designed to help bridge the gaps of social inequities to overcome barriers for everyone to be included. Yet there is still much work to be done to welcome more diversity into our fold and to increase our support for those who come. We believe these efforts should not be hastily tokenized, shallow for show or hollow words, but instead woven with the patience, heart, and diligence that embodies our crafting of community.
This is why the Earthskills Leadership Council and our Senior Staff have decided to create a strategic organizational plan for diversity, equity, and the sense of belonging we feel at the core of our values. This plan will include short, medium, and long term organizational goals that will drive actions, programs, and equity-focused positions to better include and care for all of our people. We continue to feel that this work is essential for the founding principles of Earthskills Rendezvous to flourish into maturity. A formalized plan will help our entire community work together on these goals with a spirit of shared understanding and respect. We’ll share the progress of this work as it unfolds in our newsletter, website, and at our events.
While we take these actions, we now address five specific suggestions/concerns that members of our Earthskills Rendezvous community brought to this spring’s Rivercane Rendezvous Leadership Council meeting. We welcome feedback and agree that these are important considerations. Some of the points will take more time to fully respond to as our strategic plan is developed and implemented. As we committed to respond on a timeframe, we offer a brief initial response below.
Diversify the Board Immediately in Identity
We commit to continuing to build relationships with Cherokee and other BIPOC communities. This feels important to us as individuals and in keeping with the foundational principles of our organization. As we cultivate relationships we will keep an eye to inclusion in the Leadership Council. Leadership Council positions are volunteer positions in service to the community that require unpaid labor, which is a potentially difficult request. We have put a call out seeking new Leadership Council members. We are actively reaching out to and communicating with potential board members.
Pause to the Equity Fund
We commit to evolving our equity program in response to feedback, both positive and critical. We intend to continue to offer funds to support BIPOC people in attending our events, and are considering what measures we need to take to better support them while at our event.
Direct Line of Communication to the Leadership Council
We have posted the Leadership Council email address online so that anyone can contact the Leadership Council directly. We have committed to posting the official minutes from each Leadership Council meeting on our website. Additionally, community members have always been welcome to observe our Leadership Council meetings which happen at our events on Friday mornings as well as to approach Leadership Council members at the event to discuss their concerns. A list of current Leadership Council members is available on our website and on the back of the class signup board at the event.
Clarify Mission Regarding Equity
Earthskills Rendezvous started with a founding principle that everyone has a right to learn the skills of the earth we share in our common ancestry, no matter who they are or where they came from. Our mission is teaching and sharing earthskills. Equity and inclusion are important values that drive how we carry out our mission so that we can proactively reach across barriers to support everyone who wants to learn earthskills and build a supportive community.
Documented Process for Harm/Conflict
We are crafting and considering proposals for how to deal with conflict and harm at the event. We will have a new process in place to trial at Falling Leaves Rendezvous 2023. We’ll also be bringing in a trained mediator to support us in holding space and having discussions at the event about how our community wants to navigate conflict and harm.
It is with long-range, relationship-based care that we take our time, and insist that we make decisions from a place of wisdom instead of reactivity in the moment. Standing on the shoulders of those who laid the way, we envision an Earthskills Rendezvous community fabric that is as sturdy as it is carefully woven and tended, and a fire that burns brightly, laid from coals of the many fires our people have burned before.
Earthskills Rendezvous Leadership Council, June 22, 2023
Tiffanie Pope, Nate Olive, Michael Ismerio, Alex Kilgore, Fuz Sanderson, Judy Langston