Wild Goose Festival Venue Annoucement: Shakori Hills in North Carolina!

We’re tremendously excited to announce that the first Wild Goose Festival will take place at in the Southeastern United States, at Shakori Hills in Silk Hope, near Raleigh-Durham and Chapel Hill, North Carolina from June 23rd-26th, 2011. Shakori Hills is a beautiful site, operated by a community group who already host a popular music and arts festival in April and October each year.  Shakori Hills is a place where people of all ages and a variety of backgrounds come together to celebrate community, enjoy the natural surroundings, and learn from each other; it’s the perfect venue for what we’re attempting with Wild Goose.

The site has plenty of space for the activities we’re planning, but is compact enough to feel manageable; it has the potential to generate a genuine experience of authentic community.  There are two stages for music and other performances, and space in which we’ll create open air venues for talks and public conversations, film screenings, and just chilling out with the North Carolina summer.  Shakori Hills is committed to sustainable living, evidenced by the small organic farm on site, and the local vendors who’ll be helping provide food and drink at Wild Goose.  The physical setting is stunning – camping is available not only in open fields (with a quiet space for families and others who want to sleep better at night!), but also in among the trees themselves; the vibe at Shakori Hills is laid-back, witty, engaging and, above all, welcoming.

It’s 45 minutes from Raleigh-Durham airport (RDU), and less than a day’s drive from places as varied as Chicago, New York City, Miami, Nashville, Atlanta, Boston, Kansas City, Indianapolis, Detroit, Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, and New Orleans.  And for those further out, we’re hoping to establish a network of Wild Goose community friends within half a day’s drive from Shakori so you can break up your journey to this extraordinary long weekend of justice, arts, and spirituality with a free night’s accommodation along the way.  A note on the location choice: It’s obviously impossible to find a venue that is easily accessible to everyone in the US: the size of the country gets in the way!  We have been very aware of the need to make Wild Goose open and welcoming to as many people as possible; our venue choice expresses this in a number of ways – the ethos of the site resonates with our vision, it is very easily accessible to a large proportion of the US population by road; and the air links are very good too.  We want to encourage people to carpool, hire buses, cycle, walk, paraglide, whatever means makes it easiest to get to Wild Goose while minimizing the environmental impact.  We’ll offer opportunities on-line for people to arrange transportation with others in the Wild Goose flock. Our ticket price will reflect our desire to be good financial stewards too – Wild Goose is not a commercial endeavor, and while it does require substantial funding to exist, we are not here to make money out of our guests.  We’re working hard to make the festival as accessible as possible, wherever you may live.

But for now, we’re delighted to be working with the good folk at Shakori Hills to make the first Wild Goose Festival an event to remember: where the physical design of the site helps generate a spirit of conversation among diverse people, that leads to transformational encounters with the questions of justice, the possibilities of artistic creation and witness, and a spirituality that engages heart, mind, and body.

Tickets for the festival go on sale in September; we’ll be announcing some of the themes, activities, andcontributors then, so watch this space.  For now, if you’d like to volunteer to help the Wild Goose fly, contact us at: wildgoosefestivities [at] gmail [dot] com – we’ll email you the moment we have more details. Keep up with us on Twitter and Facebook for unfolding news.  And remember, the festival begins on the evening of Thursday 23rd June 2011, ending early afternoon on Sunday 26th – so we hope you’ll start planning to be with us…  More soon!

* For more information on Wild Goose see this; and check out our friends at Greenbelt - a chief inspiration for Wild Goose –  for more of the kind of things we’re hoping and planning for.


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Faith & Institutions: Anne Rice, Christianity, and Wild Goose Culture

The Wild Goose Festival seeks to be a place where people of faith and people who struggle with faith (which might be all of us?) can wrestle together with what it means to be people who live at the intersection of justice, creativity, and spirituality in the 21st century. This is a conversation our larger culture is having, involving artists, authors, blue collar workers, ministers, and more.

Last week it spilled onto Facebook, as best-selling novelist Anne Rice recently announced that she was quitting Christianity:

“For those who care, and I understand if you don’t: Today I quit being a Christian. I’m out. I remain committed to Christ as always but not to being “Christian” or to being part of Christianity. It’s simply impossible for me to “belong” to this quarrelsome, hostile, disputatious, and deservedly infamous group. For ten years, I’ve tried. I’ve failed. I’m an outsider. My conscience will allow nothing else.”

She elaborated:

“I remain committed to Christ as always but not to being ‘Christian’ or being a part of Christianity. It’s simply impossible for me to ‘belong’ to this quarrelsome, hostile, disputatious, and deservedly infamous group. I refuse to be anti-gay. I refuse to be anti-feminist. I refuse to be anti-artificial birth control. I refuse to be anti-democrat. I refuse to be anti-secular humanism. I refuse to be anti-science. I refuse to be anti-life. In the name of Christ, I quit Christianity and being Christian. Amen.”

What Ms. Rice has shared has hit a nerve. Wild Goose friend Brian McLaren responded inMy Take: Why I Support Anne Rice but Am Still a Christian, and Festival team member Mike Morrell interviewed Rice directly for the Homebrewed Christianity podcast, where she acknowledges “I am still obsessed with Christ…[but] some of us don’t want to be thrown down the stairs by the followers of Christ

In the wake of seismic religious change in the past century, coupled with increased awareness of the very real injustices perpetuated by institutionalized faith, there are no easy answers to the sea change indicated by voices like Rice. This is very much a conversation we’re interested in continuing as the Wild Goose Festival gathers steam for next year’s inauguration. We hope we’ll be in conversation with you, creating something beautiful together.

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Friends of the Goose

Carl McColman is a friend of Wild Goose. Just this week he posted:

Like Greenbelt, Wild Goose will be a time for exploring the nexus between faith, art, and politics. Themes such as social justice, care for the environment, and community building will be woven together with inspirational music, art, and lectures, presenting a variety of viewpoints and artistic styles. Communal worship, family activities, theatre and film round out the mix. It promises to be a fabulous experience, and an opportunities for visionary and creative people from many backgrounds to connect over a three day period. Exact details have not been established yet, but it looks as if the inaugural Wild Goose Festival will take place the last weekend of June 2011, at a venue to be announced soon. The first one will be not-to-be-missed, for if this event follows the trajectory of Greenbelt, before too long it will be huge (20,000 people or more). But the first event will likely be much smaller and more intimate, since it will be just getting started.

Thanks for sharing with your readership, Carl!

If you blog, we’d love for you to spread the word about the Wild Goose Festival. Even if you don’t blog (or don’t very often these days), we’d love to connect with you on Facebook or Twitter @WildGooseFest (we’ll follow back!). Next week, we’ll announce our location and share more ways that you can be involved in co-creating the Wild Goose community.

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New Frontiers of Community, Communication

The changing face of books - in this case, comics read on an iPad. How will 'spiritual happenings' change in the 21st century?An announcement shook the publishing world today – Barnes & Noble, America’s most venerable bookstore chain, is up for sale. As the New York Times put it,

The news surprised analysts and alarmed publishers, who have watched as the book business has increasingly shifted to online retailers and e-book sales, leaving both chains and independent sellers struggling.

How do retailers move forward? An analyst adds, “A lot of independents are figuring it out one bookstore at a time, and that’s what the Barnes & Nobles of the world have to do.”

Similarly, a seismic shift has been taking place in the world of spiritual happenings. Big-box mega-conferences have taken a hit in recent years (as presciently noted by Andrew Jones at the start of the global recession), both in terms of attendance and enthusiasm. Is this all there is? Participants have been asking. Yet efforts to simply down-size have not all been successful; organizers of smaller gatherings have often been left under-resourced and holding a large bill.

So…how to move forward? Just as the publishing industry has been morphing to more adaptive structures involving grassroots readerships, eBooks, and print-on-demand (see Somersault and Samizdat as two to watch in the next 12 months), so festivals are emerging as a viable alternative to the megaconference and the under-funded gathering. We might be biased, but we concur with Andrew when he says,

As a rule, I like festivals more than conferences, as I said in a recent post called Festivals as a Way Forward, because they are much cheaper, leave a smaller carbon footprint and are not dependent on one or two Superstar Christian Celebrities who insist on fancy hotels and a hefty honorarium at the end – thus raising the price of admission and reducing accessibility to the people who really need to be there.

At the Wild Goose Festival, we feel that each contributor (that is, everyone in attendance) is a superstar, from the most-known to the unknown. We’re collaborating to create something fearless, communal, and sustainable – a celebration that will be a blessing for all parties concerned.

Are you interested in volunteering for Wild Goose, or spreading the word to your church, nonprofit organization, online or live-in intentional community? Email us at wildgoosefestivities [at] gmail [dot] com or connect with us on the Wild Goose Facebook Page and tell us how you can participate.

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Trumpet Your Vuvuzela for the Wild Goose!

For millions of fans the world over, it’s difficult to accept: The historic 2010 World Cup, hosted by South Africa, has drawn to a close. Nearly two weeks ago, an unforgettable closing ceremony at Johannesburg’s Soccer City stadium featured Nelson Mandela and his wife Graca Machel, marking the close of the most-watched World Cup yet.

What is the appeal? Many cultures came together to celebrate the magic of being human; if you felt envious of the macro-level community-building that took place in South Africa, you have the opportunity to be part of something that we hope might embody a similar spirit (albeit smaller scale) happening right here in the US next June.

The Wild Goose Festival – location to be announced very soon – will be taking place June 23rd-26th. We will be hosting fearless voices from around the world and across North American spirituality, featuring radical Christian artists and practitioners as well as those from across the faith spectrum. Keep those vuvuzelas in hand! (But maybe let’s see if we can find a way to make them a bit quieter…) We’ll see you soon.

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Update on Plans…

Hi folks – We’re excited at the progress being made toward the first Wild Goose Festival in June 2011 – and wanted to let you know that your opportunities to be involved will be rolling out over the next few weeks.  We hope to announce the venue for the first festival by the end of July – some logistical questions are being answered as we speak, and we’re confident that our location will be both visually fantastic and practically useful for our experiment in creating a gathering place and rallying point for artists, activists, and fellow travelers on the journey toward the intersection between spirituality, justice, and art.

For now we can tell you that we’re developing a diverse and imaginative program of speakers, music, workshops, visual and performance art, entertainment and space to chill out together, meet each other, and put flesh on the bones of the vision to be rooted in communities that care for people and the earth, and shape transformative cultures.

We’re inviting speakers from the Native American community, film-makers from Ireland, artists from Colombia, prison reform activists from the Midwest, poets from San Francisco, theologians from New York, and you…

Information on tickets – which we aim to make as accessible as possible, volunteer opportunities, and ways to get involved will be posted here soon.

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What Do We Want It To Be? And How Are We Going To Get There?

In the midst of the logistical planning for the first Wild Goose Festival, 23rd-26th June 2011, it’s been challenging to find the time to blog about it.  We’ve been making good progress, and we’re now hoping to offer more frequent blog updates, starting this week.  We’ve asked a few friends of Wild Goose to write short posts responding to a couple of simple questions; please feel free to comment below with your own responses.  Thanks.

What do you want the Wild Goose Festival to be?
And how will you help make that happen?

Gareth Higgins, Wild Goose Executive Director: As a recent immigrant to the US, but someone who has a long history of admiration in US progressive Christianity, I believe the country is at a critical juncture.  The culture wars have clearly not ended with the election of President Obama, but rather have intensified.  The progressive Christian movement is assailed by both its right wing denouncers, and secular progressives who don’t want to have anything to do with religion.  The tragic but perhaps reasonable fact is, to outsiders, Christians still look boring as a library of algebra textbooks (apologies to any mathematicians reading).  We’re also sometimes guilty of scaring people, and not in a good way.  If we’re honest, it’s not only outsiders who think that way.  And so, it must be possible to do something different.  It must be possible to create space for creative space.  It must be possible to throw a wild party that reminds us just how wild – in the sense of untamed spirits, alive to the purposes of God, yearning for our full humanness, and binding the wounds of the suffering – we can be.
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