By Gareth Higgins, Executive Director
The Wild Goose Festival is taking place for the first time this June 23-26, at Shakori Hills, near Raleigh-Durham, NC: We're gathering at the intersection of justice, spirituality and art with the firm intention of becoming a unique and significant space promoting social change in the US and elsewhere. Our roots in the traditions of social justice, creativity, and Celtic spirituality are perhaps most clearly exemplified by our friends at the Greenbelt Festival in the UK. Greenbelt has had as many as 30,000 people attend, and has become a culture-shaping movement in Europe. We want Wild Goose to do the same in North America. I'm writing to you today to ask you to be part of the founding Wild Goose community by buying your ticket and encouraging your friends to do the same.
Greenbelt has, over the years, seen provocative engagements from speakers, performers and musicians like Rowan Williams, Anita Roddick, U2, Bruce Cockburn, Richard Rohr, and Michael Franti. The Jubilee 2000 campaign to end developing world debt was launched at the festival; Greenbelt has become a UK center for spiritual activism on climate change, poverty, social inclusion, and prejudice. But it wasn't always like this. Once upon a time, Greenbelt had only a few hundred people show up to a farm in England, in 1974. This original Greenbelt community gave birth to the festival that has become the axis of the year for so many people. A space where tens of thousands of people come to connect with friends and make new ones; to experience kaleidoscopic art; to be intellectually transformed and resourced for activism; and to have a fantastic time.
Wild Goose can become something similar - but not without your help. Just as Greenbelt depended on early adopters to get the festival off the ground, Wild Goose will only take flight if people like you come to the first festival.
I'm privileged to serve as Executive Director of the Wild Goose Festival, and I can say without hesitation that this first year has one of the most diverse, provocative, entertaining, and just darn exciting lineup of speakers, musicians, performers (and food vendors!) I've ever seen in the US. (Haven't seen our just-rolled-out lineup yet? Stop reading this & go here right now!) We're seeking to build a festival that will collapse hierarchies between performers and the audience - so we'll all have the chance to interact with each other as equals. This really is your festival to make of what you wish. If you want to debate Jim Wallis about the future of US politics, go to a workshop led by Richard Rohr, have a conversation with Phyllis Tickle about the future of spirituality in America, or listen to civil rights hero Dr Vincent Harding imagine how we can pursue the teachings of his friend Martin Luther King today; if you want to perform your music in the same programme as Michelle Shocked, Derek Webb and David Wilcox; if you want to interact with Native American liturgy, or interfaith conversations, or engage with our major social justice theme of prison and restorative justice; if you want to be part of conversations about urban violence and foreign policy, movies and spirituality, or sexuality and theology, then you should come to Wild Goose, because we're offering all of this and more.
...This first Wild Goose Festival will be a gathering we all remember - I hope you'll want to be a part of the original Wild Goose community. We can only do this together; and if we do it, the possibilities are endless.
In peace and anticipation,
Gareth Higgins, Executive Director