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Rick Meredith

Open Call for 2019 Co-Creators

By | 2018 Festival

It’s time again to let us know what YOU would like to do at Wild Goose!

The contributions of our “self-submits” each year are at the heart of what make the Goose a unique co-creation experience, surprising and unlike other “festivals.” This is a festival where people come together to make things,  wonder and ponder and discuss, cross boundaries, fire up imaginations, undo expectations.

Think about how you can design experiences that engage rather than lecture, raise questions rather than shut them down. How could you tailor your work to involve your audience, making space for participation? How can you go outside normal boundaries to increase the level of interactivity? Push beyond the expected in ways that will actively involve your audience. See yourself as an instigator not a “presenter” and invite others into an experience of co-creation.

Note to musicians:  A traditional performance is fine – we don’t expect you to change your performance into an interactive experience.

Because this festival is about the intersection of Spirit, Art, Music and Justice, we ask all our co-creators to consider how they can create integrated experiences – so you might, for example, want to look at justice through the lens of spirit and/or music, or at spirituality through the lens of art and/or justice.  And in whatever you do, keep in mind the power of Story – it’s part of the Goose DNA: What are our shared narratives? How have they shaped us?

Stories bring us together, stories can change us – whether we’re telling them or hearing them. We believe stories can change the world. So we hope that you will let the power of story weave its way into any type of experience you bring to the Goose.

We’d like to also suggest that you keep these words in front of you as you craft your contribution: Lament. Welcome. Identity. Evolve. Revolution. Love. Freedom. Liberate. Resist. Believe. Converge.

What do these concepts say to you and how might you integrate any of them into your performance or presentation?

Entries will close at Midnight PST, Sunday, January 13 2019.

Dream the Dream that will Co-Create the world. Something so cool it’ll register on seismic meters – or at least will be fun or challenging or perhaps even a bit unsettling.

Click here for all the details and a form to enter the submission process:

Sorry, entries are closed for 2019! 

Spirit. Love. Justice. Dirt.

By | 2018 Announcements, Guest Post | No Comments

Guest post by breathesinglove

7/14/18, Hot Springs Campground

I am literally covered in dirt. Sweat is dripping down my…well, everywhere. Noises surround me in a beautiful symphony of love and peace. Justice-seeking people of all ages singing, dancing, listening, sharing stories while drinking beer or fresh squeezed lemonade. Everyone around me is covered in dirt, too. Some have body paint or colored powder on their bodies, some have glitter feathers in their hair. Many have sayings or symbols on their clothing, promoting love, community, peace, hope.

Our hearts are so full of joy and the sense of community is so strong that we don’t notice whether or not the stranger next to us is covered in dirt or took their “showers” in the river yesterday. Near the bench where I sit is the amazing Mark Miller leading us in worship, saying, “You are a child of God. No matter what the world says or thinks about you.”

Someone just brought me a chocolate, with a smile and a sense of gratitude for sharing my story. This stranger I met just a few minutes ago, and now we share things. Yesterday I was invited to a potluck supper, to share in a meal with a “tribe with no name.” I had nothing to offer but a smile and grateful heart, and the tribe welcomed me without question. Some familiar faces around the campsite greeted me with smiles and hugs.


The Wild Goose Festival is a place where strangers quickly become friends, where the Spirit’s presence is thicker than the humidity, and the kingdom of God is a glimmer in each person’s eyes. Hope stirs in our souls and permeates the campground as each person’s voice enters the conversation and is honored and celebrated. We lament with one another as we share stories of grief, pain, and suffering. We celebrate one another’s uniqueness and the beautiful expressions of community and interconnectedness. Art, music, storytelling, nature, food, drinks, laughter, hugs, silence, dancing, conversation, meditation, blessings, prayers, chants –these are our ways of engaging with one another and with God. This is how we “goose.”

Each year I leave the Goose with a heart full of gratitude, a mind buzzing with ideas, and a greater sense of hope, that I am not alone in this work of compassion and justice. I’m inspired to keep breaking down the walls of prejudice and leading people into a greater sense of community, based on God’s unconditional love and grace.

I am “Deacon Shannon.”  This is my story.

Shannon LeMaster-Smith is a Deacon in the United Methodist Church, a clergy order ordained to Word, Service, Compassion and Justice. She currently serves in the Western North Carolina Annual Conference. She has a M.A. in Conflict Resolution and 10+ years of experience in youth ministry. Her call is to help people experience the transforming love of God and the power of the Holy Spirit and to equip and empower them to share God’s love and grace with others. She enjoys singing and playing board games and is married to her best friend, Dr. Jonathan LeMaster-Smith.

Bryan Johnson, Paula Williams, T. Anthony Spearman, Tony Campolo, Dan White Hodge

By | 2018 Festival | No Comments

Every single year, the circle grows wider and wider! We want to be a community on the leading edge of conversations surrounding ministry, faith, and intersectional justice. That’s why we are thrilled to have these amazing leaders, pastors, and activists join us at #WildGoose2018.

Don’t miss your opportunity to meet and engage with these incredible minds this summer. Get registered for the Wild Goose Festival today!

Bryan Johnson & Trinity UCC Choir 
Bryan Johnson is the Executive Director of Sacred Music and Movement at Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago, Illinois. Under Bryan’s direction, leadership, and teaching, all genres of African American sacred music – from the drums and complex harmonies of West Africa; to the Afro-Caribbean rhythms of the West Indies; to the jazz and blues influences of the southern United States; to traditional, contemporary, and neo-soul forms of American gospel – are performed by Trinity’s choirs and liturgical groups. He is the executive producer of “Stay Connected,” Trinity’s latest music project, which debuted earlier this year at #5 on Billboard’s gospel charts.

A native of Chicago, Bryan received his Master of Music Education from VanderCook College of Music. His family roots from Jamaica, Barbados, and Louisiana helped form the foundation of his musical prowess. He is heavily influenced by gospel greats such as Charles Clency and Thomas Whitfield. Additional musical influencers include Dave Grusin, David Foster, and other jazz, rhythm and blues, and soul artists.

Since 1990 he has been married to his wonderful wife, Joi Buchanan-Johnson.

Paula Williams
Rev. Dr. Paula Williams is a nationally known speaker on gender equity and transgender advocacy. She is also the Pastor of Preaching and Worship at Left Hand Church in Longmont, Colorado, and the president of RLT Pathways, Inc., a non-profit providing counseling and coaching services. Paula serves on the board of the Q Christian Fellowship, the Union of Affirming Christians, and the WITH Network of progressive churches. As a transgender pastor, Paula has been featured in the New York Times, the Denver Post, NPR and The Huffington Post. Paula’s TEDxMileHigh talk on gender equality has been viewed over a half million times on YouTube.

T. Anthony Spearman 
Rev. Dr. T. Anthony Spearman is the senior pastor of St. Phillip A.M.E. Zion Church in Greensboro, the third vice president of the North Carolina Conference of NAACP Branches, and a candidate to become the civil rights organization’s next permanent state president now that Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II is stepping away from the post he’s held for 12 years.

He is a key leader in the Moral Monday and Forward Together Movement that has brought national attention to the broad coalition of social justice organizations that are working together to change recent legislation in North Carolina that denied the expansion of Medicaid, significantly reduced access to early voting, eliminated Sunday voting, cut unemployment benefits to long-term unemployed people, and reduced the number of teachers in public schools. During his time in Greensboro in the 90’s, Dr. Spearman was a member of the Pulpit Forum, a group of primarily African-American ministers who stood in solidarity with Greensboro K-Mart workers who were asking for wage parity with K-Mart employees in other states as well as an increase in paid holidays and sick days. Dr. Spearman is a regular fixture at Moral Monday protests all across the state.

Tony Campolo 
Tony Campolo is professor emeritus of sociology at Eastern University and a former faculty member at the University of Pennsylvania. For 40 years, he led the Evangelical Association for the Promotion of Education, an organization which he founded to create and support programs serving needy communities. More recently, Dr. Campolo has provided leadership for the progressive Christian movement, Red Letter Christians, as well as for the Campolo Center for Ministry, a program which provides support to those the Church has called to full-time ministry. He has written more than 35 books and can be found blogging regularly on and Tony and his wife, Peggy, live near Philadelphia, and have two children and four grandchildren.

Dan White Hodge 
Daniel White Hodge, PhD, is the Director of the Center for Youth Ministry Studies and Assistant Professor of Youth Ministry at North Park University in Chicago. Dr. Hodge has worked in the urban youth and Hip Hop context for over 20 years. He is also the founding editor-in-chief of The Journal Of Hip Hop Studies.

Dr. Hodge, a Hip Hop scholar and urban youth specialist, focuses on Hip Hop Studies, urban/ city youth culture and development, race relations, film, pop culture trends, and spirituality. Having received his PhD from Fuller Graduate School of Intercultural Studies, his dissertation focused on the life, theology, and spiritual message of Tupac Amaru Shakur (TITLE: Baptized in Dirty Water: The Missiological Gospel of Tupac Amaru Shakur).

Dr. Hodge and his wife, Emily, and daughter, Mahalia Joy, currently reside in Chicago.

RV & Glamping Sites Open for 2018

By | Goose News | 5 Comments

Want to come to the Goose but tent camping’s not really your thing? RV sites are now available, but hurry, we have limited availability. We have some RV parking with full hookups (power, water, sewer, electrical) and we have RV parking without full hookups. But if you still want power in the No Hook Up lot, no problem! Simply add a generator to your RV ticket, pick the size you need, and we’ll have it waiting for you when you arrive at the festival.

Or maybe Glamping is more your style. This year you have a choice! The Wild Goose Festival is excited to announce we’ve added a new glamping site to the festival map for this year. You now have the choice between City Glamping and Country Glamping.

City Glamping is right in middle of all of the action. It’s in the same location as the last year – straddling the heartbeat of the Wild Goose hustle and bustle. It’s like a downtown Wild Goose neighborhood.


Country Glamping is close and convenient. It’s a little quieter, and just across the street in the Rockery of the Hot Springs Resort and Spa. You’ll enjoy a picturesque surrounding and wake to the sound of a babbling brook right out your front door – all while still being a conveniently short walk from the heart of the festival! It’s very close (it’s on the spa site), convenient, and beautiful – a tempting combination. It’s a Wild Goose first and we think it’ll be a Wild Goose favorite.

And if your church or community group plans to head to the Goose together, you could qualify for special discounted tickets. Check out the rates below and email Vanna for your group discount code.


Group of 10+
Adult – $169.00
Senior 65+ – $149.00
Student – $99.00
Youth 13-17 – $49.00
Children 0-12 – Free

Wild Goose Winter Pricing Ends Tonight, March 19

By | Goose News | No Comments

Today’s the last chance for Wild Goose winter ticket pricing! It ends tonight, March 19, at Midnight Pacific Daylight Time.

With a lineup including Amy Grant, Jacqui Lewis, Barbara Brown Taylor, John Pavlovitz, Ruby Sales, Jen Hatmaker, Otis Moss III (along with the Trinity UCC choir), Brian McLaren, The Red Dirt Boys (Emmylou Harris’ band with Phil Madeira and the Barber twins on horns) – and many more Wild Goose favorites to come – it’s a year not to be missed!

Ruby Sales, Jen Hatmaker, Otis Moss III, Brian McLaren, and The Red Dirt Boys

By | 2018 Festival | No Comments

What happens when you add Ruby Sales, Jen Hatmaker, Otis Moss III (along with the Trinity UCC choir), Brian McLaren, and the Red Dirt Boys (Emmylou Harris’ band with Phil Madeira and the Barber twins on horns) to Amy Grant, Jacqui Lewis, Barbara Brown Taylor, and John Pavlovitz? Well, you get to decide – but it’s going to be special, it’s going to be the 2018 Wild Goose! We’ll see you by the river!

Ruby Sales

Perhaps no one is more rooted in history, engaged in the present, and leaning more intentionally into the future than Ruby Sales.

Ruby is a public theologian, historian, activist, social critic, and educator. She answered the call to social justice as a teenager at Tuskegee Institute as a member of Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) and worked on voter registration in Lowndes County, AL. She looks at her work as a calling not a career.

She received a B.A. degree from Manhattanville College, attended graduate school at Princeton University, and received a Masters of Divinity degree as an Absalom Jones Scholar from the Episcopal Divinity School. While there, she developed a reputation as a preacher and preaches often at churches and cathedrals around the nation.

She founded, and still directs, the SpiritHouse Project, a national nonprofit organization.

Her work as a social justice activist is cited in books, journal articles, and films including Taylor Branch’s At Canaan’s Edge: America in the King Years 1965-68Broken Ground: A Film on Race Relations in the South; Dan Rather’s American Dream Segment; and the newly released, Blood Brother: Jonathan Daniels and His Sacrifice for Civil Rights (Rich Wallce and Sandra Neil Wallace).

She is a co-founder of SAGE Magazine: A Scholarly Journal on Black Women, has appeared on On Being with Krista Tippett, and is a frequent guest on Sirius XM Radio’s Inside the Issues. Her writing has been published in many journals, newspapers, and magazines and she has received numerous awards and honors.

An oral history of Sales is housed at the Library of Congress and she was selected as one of fifty African Americans from the Civil Rights Movement to be spotlighted.

Jen Hatmaker

It’s easy to say Jen Hatmaker is a widely read and enthusiastically followed author (New York Times bestseller), speaker, blogger, and television presenter (My Big Family Renovation).

These things are easy to say and they’re also true – and it’s also true that Jen Hatmaker is one of the most courageous faith leaders in the world today. Jen took a stand and she keeps standing and speaking, and every time she stands in the crosshairs of thousands – yet she still stands and she still speaks.

In April of 2016, with a huge Evangelical following, Jen called for the full inclusion of LGBT people into the Christian community, calling same sex relationships holy in the eyes of God. She reiterated her position in October 2016, and as a result, LifeWay Christian Resources, the Baptist Bookstore organization, among other retailers discontinued selling her books.

Since the 2016 presidential election, she regularly makes public statements critical of Donald Trump and challenging evangelical Christian attitudes towards LBGT people. She has been featured for an alternative Christian perspective in The Atlantic, TIME Magazine, Politico, Washington Post, RNS, and Relevant Magazine

Otis Moss III

Otis Moss III is a great preacher – some say he’s the greatest preacher alive today – he’s also a great “practicer.” As part of his community engagement through Trinity United Church of Christ, he led the team that came up with the “My Life Matters” curriculum, which includes the viral video, “Get Home Safely: 10 Rules of Survival” created in the aftermath of Michael Brown’s death at the hands of Ferguson, MO police.

Moss is part of a new generation of ministers committed to preaching a prophetic message of love and justice, which he believes are inseparable companions that form the foundation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Civil rights advocacy in his DNA and he’s built his ministry on community advancement and social justice activism. As Senior Pastor of Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago, IL, Otis Moss III has spent the last two decades practicing and preaching a Black theology that unapologetically calls attention to the problems of mass incarceration, environmental justice, and economic inequality.

Brian McLaren

Brian McLaren writes the books that are the bridge of faith recovery for thousands upon thousands of people. His clarity is unparalleled and his generous spirit manages somehow to both calm and confront.

As an author, speaker, activist, and public theologian, this former college English teacher and pastor, is a passionate advocate for “a new kind of Christianity” – just, generous, and working with people of all faiths for the common good.

Notable among the many books are: A New Kind of Christian, which won Christianity Today’s “Award of Merit” in 2002; Everything Must Change tracing critical ways in which Jesus’ message confronts contemporary global crises; and We Make the Road by Walking, marking a turn toward constructive and practical theology. His 2016 release, The Great Spiritual Migration, has been called his most important work to date.

The Red Dirt Boys with Phil Madeira

Red Dirt Boys, made up of Chris Donohue, Will Kimbrough, Bryan Owings, and Wild Goose favorite Phil Madeira is the name Emmylou Harris gave to her band. The street cred of this musical collection is tremendous. The Red Dirt Boys combined songwriting, band, and session credits are astounding, including Emmylou Harris, Tom Jones, Buddy Miller, Rodney Crowell, Taj mahal, The Phil Keaggy Band, Alison Krauss, Mat Kearney, Old Crow Medicine Show, Garth Brooks, Toby Keith, Keb’ Mo’, Amy Grant, The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, The Civil Wars, Julie Miller, The Band Perry, Mavis Staples, and many more.

The Red Dirt Boys will be joined by the Wild Goose return of Roland Barber on trombone and Rashaan Barber on saxophone.

So let’s see, to recap, Wild Goose 2018 has already announced:

Amy Grant

Jacqui Lewis

Barbara Brown Taylor

John Pavlovitz

And now Wild Goose 2018 adds:

Jen Hatmaker

Otis Moss III (along with the Trinity UCC choir)

Brian McLaren

The Red Dirt Boys (Emmylou Harris’ band with Phil Madeira and the Barber twins on horns)

Group Tickets

Discounted tickets are available for groups of ten or more. Email Vanna for your special discount code.

Adult – $169.00

Senior 65+ – $149.00

Student – $99.00

Youth 13-17 – $49.00

Children 0-12 – Free

Post and re-post – share and talk – grab all your friends, pile up in a van, and head to the Goose!  We have so much good Goose to come. Stay tuned for more announcements soon.

Jatrice Martel Gaiter, Shane Claiborne, Mona Haydar, Sarah Heath, Jarrod McKenna

By | 2018 Festival | No Comments

The line up just keeps getting better and better!

We’re thrilled to announce that Australian human rights activist Jarrod McKenna is coming to #WildGoose2018 and will be one of our Justice Camp presenters! With extensive experience in practicing non-violence as a means of social change, Jarrod has been all around the world as a speaker, a peacemaker in the Middle East, and as a trainer for activists and advocates alike. We are overjoyed to have him join the Wild Goose community.

But that’s not all! We’re also welcoming two amazing indviduals to the Goose for the first time: Jatrice Martel Gaiter and Mona Haydar. And we’re delighted to welcome author, speaker, podcaster, and pastor, Rev. Sarah Heath back at the Goose this year too.

Learn more about all these incredible folks below!
See you all soon!

(PS If you haven’t already purchased your tickets, hurry! Ticket prices go up on June 21st!)

Jarrod Mckenna
A Prominent Christian leader and peace award winning nonviolent activist, Jarrod McKenna is a sought after activist trainer in Australia, Eastern Europe, The United States, and the Middle East. In his role as an nonviolent activist trainer he has worked with groups such as Rising Tide, Greenpeace, World Vision International and at the forefront of the Love Makes A Way movement. As well as being a regular commentator in the media, Jarrod speaks, trains, teaches and preaches over 100 times a year in diverse settings ranging from academic institutions such as Associated Mennonite Biblical Seminary, The University of Western Australia, Australian Islamic Colleges, to churches like C3 Oxford Falls and CityLife, and organisations like The Tony Blair Faith Foundation and The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists. Jarrod also facilitates “Alternatives to Violence Project” workshops in maximum security prisons each year.

Mona Haydar
Mona Haydar is a Syrian American rapper, poet, activist, practitioner of Permaculture, meditator, composting devotee, mountain girl, solar power lover, and a tireless God-enthusiast.
Her single, “Hijabi”, was a groundbreaking debut with millions of views. Billboard critics named it one of 2017’s top protest songs and one of the 25 top feminist anthems of all time. Her work as an artist and activist has been featured on BBC, CNN, BuzzFeed, AJ+, NPR, Mic, Psychology Today, Refinery 29, The Huffington Post, Ms Magazine, Al Jazeera, The Boston Globe, New York Times, and many others. Her first EP is set to drop in 2018.
Mona practices a life of sacred activism, poetry, contemplation, and advocacy for living gently upon the Earth. She is currently working towards her Masters in Theology and lives in Harlem, New York City, with her husband and their two sons.

Jatrice Martel Gaiter
Jatrice Martel Gaiter is the executive vice president, external affairs for Volunteers of America. Ms. Gaiter builds national awareness and support for its mission to provide programs and services which enable people to reach their full potential. She provides managerial and strategic oversight of public policy, marketing, development, and communications departments. She is the immediate past board chair of the National Human Services Assembly.
Ms. Gaiter earned a BA in government from the University of Maryland and a Juris Doctorate from the Syracuse University College of Law.

Sarah Heath
Originally from Canada but spent sometime in Southern Mississippi and North Carolia, Sarah currently serves First United Methodist Church in Costa Mesa, California, where she is the lead pastor for a church re-start and revitalization. Sarah has a passion for music, traveling, acting, creating art, playing and watching sports. She is the author of Whats your story? Seeing Your Life Through God’s Eyes and host of Sonderlust: the Podcast. The biggest blessings in her life are her random assortment of talented friends and her amazing mutt of a dog, Tenor.

Shane Claiborne
Shane Claiborne graduated from Eastern University and did graduate work at Princeton Seminary. In 2010, he received an Honorary Doctorate from Eastern. His adventures have taken him from the streets of Calcutta where he worked with Mother Teresa to the wealthy suburbs of Chicago where he served at the influential mega-church Willow Creek. As a peacemaker, his journeys have taken him to some of the most troubled regions of the world – from Rwanda to the West Bank – and he’s been on peace delegations in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Shane is a founder and board member of The Simple Way, a faith community in inner city Philadelphia that has helped birth and connect radical faith communities around the world. He is married to Katie Jo, a North Carolina girl who also fell in love with the city (and with Shane).
Shane writes and travels extensively to speak about peacemaking, social justice, and Jesus. His books are translated into more than a dozen languages. Shane speaks over 100 times a year, nationally and internationally.


Amy Grant, Jacqui Lewis, Barbara Brown Taylor, and John Pavlovitz are on their way to the Wild Goose Festival!

By | 2018 Festival | No Comments

Amy and Jacqui and Barbara and John – it almost sounds like a chant, but a happy chant, on the road to Oz – and that’s just the beginning of the AMAZING 2018 Wild Goose festival lineup!

Haven’t bought your tickets yet? What are you waiting for? The Winter ticket special ($229 for festival admission + tent camping) will end soon. Do it now! Re-post, share, tell, send, spread the word – at the 2018 Wild Goose the mountains will ring with wisdom and even the trees will call us to the battle for justice – and we’ll have a lot of fun, too.

Amy Grant
Amy Grant’s long and tremendously successful career is built on music that matters. From the time she burst on the scene as a fresh-faced teenager the Nashville native gained a reputation for creating potent songs that examined life’s complexities with an open heart and keen eye. She became the first artist in “Christian” music to have a platinum record and then she went on to become a crossover sensation, her musical gifts transcending genre boundaries to make her a household name. An “Amy” tour on the web points to song after song with hundreds of thousands and MILLIONS of views.

Jacqui Lewis
Rev. Dr. Jacqui Lewis will challenge the Goose with her exuberant preaching style and her prophetic voice. The mere mention of her name creates a ripple of enthusiastic anticipation. The Senior Minister at Middle Collegiate Church, a 1000-member multiracial, welcoming, and inclusive congregation in New York City has been featured in media such as The Today Show, The Washington Post, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Post, The New Yorker, Essence and The Huffington Post and she’s is a frequent contributor to MSNBC.

This powerful activist, preacher, and fierce advocate for racial equality, economic justice, and LGBTQ equality is just right for Wild Goose-land!

Barbara Brown Taylor
Barbara Brown Taylor is a New York Times best-selling, award winning author, teacher, and Episcopal priest. What’s your favorite of her books – is it Leaving Church, or how about Learning to Walk in the Dark, perhaps When God Is Silent – maybe it’ll be Holy Envy (coming this year from HarperOne) – or any of her many others. Whatever your favorite, there’s a really good chance that Wild Goose people will play the popular “my favorite Barbara Brown Taylor book is . . . “ game a lot this year!

She was featured on the cover of TIME magazine and she’s been included on the annual TIME list of Most Influential People. Her work has been translated into five languages.

John Pavlovitz
John Pavlovitz is reaching literally millions of people with his Stuff That Needs To Be Said blog. The writer and pastor and 20-year veteran in the trenches of local church ministry is committed to helping the Church become a more compassionate, loving environment for all people. His first book, A Bigger Table, was released last October to wide acclaim. It’s often said of someone that so-and-so will “tell it like it is” – for that to really be true a person has to know how it is and then have the courage to tell it. John Pavolvitz passes both standards with high marks.

Are you as excited as we are? Help us spread the word!

Message From the Wild Goose Board

By | Uncategorized

Dear Members of the Wild Goose Flock –

We wanted to give you all an update about our location for the Wild Goose Festival. First, thanks to all who have offered suggestions and feedback on this important issue. At our last board meeting, we devoted a lot of time to discussing the strengths and weaknesses of our current location in Hot Springs, NC. We’ve decided to stay in Hot Springs for now, and here’s the background to our decision.

Just about everyone agrees that Hot Springs is a wonderful spot in many ways. The natural enclosed space in the mountains hugging the French Broad River, the little town with shops and restaurants, the balance of remoteness and accessibility, the availability of a variety of housing options within a reasonable driving distance – all these features make the location truly special.

However, we face some real challenges in rural North Carolina. For example, the presence of Confederate flags is very disturbing for many of us, making us wonder if these flags are intended as a “not welcome” sign. And spotty cell coverage adds to a sense of vulnerability for those of us who depend on our phones many times each hour. These drawbacks cause us real concern because our starting point is that the Wild Goose is committed to safe, hospitable, and welcoming spaces for all people in all of our gatherings, including and especially at our Hot Springs Festival.

A few years ago, when Rev. Barber proposed a boycott of North Carolina because of the infamous “bathroom bill,” we worked with him in considering several options, including relocating and even going on hiatus for a year. In the end, the law was changed. But the incident caused us to keep our eyes open for other possible locations. Again this year, we expanded our search area to include an arc that ranged from Pennsylvania to Atlanta to Tennessee. We didn’t find a suitable alternate location without equal or greater problems of its own.

Two other factors have been important in our considerations. First, we greatly value our amazing team of volunteers in the area, along with the good relationships we have built with housing providers, vendors, city leaders, and the larger Wild Goose community in the region.

Second, we don’t feel right about letting Confederate flag-wavers succeed in intimidating us. We believe that people of color, LGBTQ people, immigrants, and the spiritually non-traditional have as much a right to be there as anyone else. So we’ve decided to stay in Hot Springs in 2018 and perhaps beyond as a voice and presence for change.

But please know that we’re actively working to address safety concerns. Here are some of our hopes and plans:

Travel and Arrival Support
Almost everyone travels to the Wild Goose through either Asheville, NC or Newport, TN. We’re setting aside funds to create a “hospitality” resource in both of these locations. We will provide detailed maps, 24/7 Wild Goose staff phone numbers, advice on gas stops and supplies, AND loaner burner phones with local coverage for all who request them.

Phone and WIFI Access
We’re trying to get a signal boost for cell coverage and WIFI at the festival site. The mountains are both a source of great beauty and a communication obstacle. Progress on this is slow and the costs are high. As a supplement, we’ll plan to increase awareness of the “land line” that is available at the check-in gate and we’ll have temporary loaner phones with some improved service available.

Housing and Local Transportation
We’re working to increase the number of both on-site and close-in housing options. We’re also working to improve our ability to transport persons within the town of Hot Springs. We’ve petitioned the city council to allow us to drive golf carts on city streets and if we’re successful, we’ll implement “town shuttles.” Absent success with this request, we hope to use other vehicles for local transport for those with mobility challenges and for those who will feel safer in groups.

Western North Carolina and Hot Springs
Like most areas, western North Carolina, is politically, culturally, and economically diverse. However, Asheville is among the most progressive cities in the United States. Hot Springs itself has a significant progressive community, also. Pride in being the host of the Wild Goose Festival runs deep for many of the community leaders and goes well beyond the economic advantages. That gives us hope that we can continue making progress for the Wild Goose flock, and maybe even improve conditions in the area all year ‘round.

Going Forward
Unfortunately, no place is absolutely safe. And, even with the progress we’re making and will continue to make as we dialogue and co-create together, we acknowledge that Hot Springs is not ideal for everyone. That’s one reason why we’re considering enlarging the Wild Goose footprint in years to come. For example, we’re exploring the possibility of a second festival somewhere in a triangle between Detroit, Chicago, and St. Louis. In years to come, there could be several Wild Goose festivals occurring around the country, each with its own flavor and strengths – and, no doubt, each with its own unique challenges.

Continuing Improvement
When Wild Goose began in 2011, we were the first major Christian festival in the United States where LGBTQ and straight people could co-create as equals. That was a big step, but it was only a step. We promise to continue the struggle – to help people co-create across racial, regional, cultural, political, gender, and religious lines. This isn’t easy, but it’s important, and we’re not giving up or backing down.

Thanks again for being part of the Wild Goose community! Thanks for caring about making Wild Goose a hospitable place for all who wish to join the flock! We look forward to seeing you in July – and we hope you’ll bring along a gaggle of friends.

Joyfully –
The Wild Goose Board

A glimpse of 2018 – and Last Chance for Fall Ticket Price!

By | 2018 Festival | No Comments

If there’s one thing you can expect from the Wild Goose, it’s the unexpected.

Powerful and prophetic, Jacqui Lewis is our closing preacher; Jen Hatmaker, one of the world’s most courageous faith leaders, will challenge the status quo (see recent Politico article); Civil Rights icon Ruby Sales will help us see our past and project our future; and the imaginative John Pavlovitz will provoke our spirit and stir us to action – and we’re just getting started!

From the second you step onto the grounds, you feel the vibe. This is the place where we have life-changing conversations – experience amazing performances – interact with global thought leaders – participate in art, music, and storytelling – and enjoy the affirming presence of community.

There’s no place like the Goose anywhere, any time. Don’t miss it. Come and co-create with us!

Ticket prices will never be less expensive. Our fall ticket price of $199, which includes admission and a camping spot, ends at Midnight PST, Wednesday December 20.


Jacqui Lewis

Jen Hatmaker

Ruby Sales

John Pavlovitz