My Real New Year Comes in July

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A New Year! It’s a time to reflect and reset, to close the mental door (as much as possible) on struggles from the year before; to refresh, planning for better days ahead, and to celebrate – excited about what the New Year could bring. We gather with friends, we break bread together, we put on good music and we dance.

As I joined with friends around a bonfire to celebrate the hope for a better next year, someone said, “a good fire feeds our souls.” Oh man. Yes, it does. And it made me think about the next New Year – my personal real New Year which happens six months from now – Wild Goose Festival.

For many of us, Wild Goose Festival is that good fire, a refresher of things that really matter; a cup running over, powered by freshly charged spirit-filled batteries. It’s a celebration of how far we’ve come and where we believe we can go. A wonderful opportunity to gather with friends, eat, drink, discuss, laugh, listen to good music and speakers, and dance.

A Wild Goose friend echoed the thoughts of many when he said he was worn out from the struggle of being in the world and couldn’t wait to get to the Goose. For him it was breathing fresh air after 12 months of sifting through polluted input. An empty tank being filled. The beginning of a new spiritual year. Maybe that’s what William Barber meant when he called Wild Goose Festival “a watering hole for tired saints.”

Wild Goose Festival speaks to the inner needs of our souls, providing that good fire. Art, in so many expressions, is everywhere – and much of it is created real-time, right before our eyes, including paintings, pottery, songs and tattoos!

A display of tattoo prints along with their stories – stories of struggle, courage, triumph and love – is one of my Wild Goose favorites. I really like county music singer Ty Herndon’s tattoo, Journey On. I remember his rise to success and I remember the backlash when he came out in 2014 at the age of 52. His tattoo represents the determination to move forward and be true to who you were meant to be – to love and be loved authentically. That’s a core Wild Goose message.

Music is a huge part of the festival as well, and can be experienced by dancing the night away at Silent Disco, or by singing at the top of your lungs at Beer and Hymns each night, or simply by taking in the wonderful musicians and singers that the festival brings in. I was over the moon when it was announced that Amy Grant would be there in 2018. Of course Amy performed, and she also spoke and she also served in our closing communion. And she camped and hung out with us for the weekend – that’s just one of those Wild Goose things.

Co-creators, well known and unknown, (some places might call them “speakers” but not Wild Goose), are everywhere, on level-ground with everyone else, are hosting conversations, participating in panels, discussing their books, and working on their projects.

I participate in the Mama Bear Den, a group of Mamas of LGBTQ kids who fully affirm their orientation, knowing that it’s simply part of how they were created and has nothing to do with their ability to practice faith, Christian or otherwise. We’re keenly aware that not all parents have responded this way and we’re there to fill in the gap with snacks, cool water, listening ears, and hugs. So many hugs!

Wild Goose Festival is not a crafty little Christmas in July show. It’s a no holds barred, get in the trenches with likeminded (or maybe not) fellow human beings event, where together we reset, refresh, and explore how we can do it better, around a bonfire that is the festival itself, for the start of our Spiritual New Year. We come together to leave behind and let go of what hasn’t been working, what hasn’t gone well, and together we look forward to what can be better.

Christian Piatt describes it in Sojourners: “it’s a sort of annual jubilee, one in which we cast off our denominational and other distinguishing identities, flattening out the architecture of hierarchy and privilege, in order to stand, shoulder to shoulder, on holy, common ground.”

Wild Goose Festival is throwing a party in July 2020 and everyone is invited! Come and gather around the fire that lights our spirits – the fire that warms us through the art created, the topics discussed, and the wholeness experienced simply by the coming together of people who want to do better and be better. It will be a really good fire, and I can’t wait to see you there!

Robin B. Schuster

Robin is a writer and 3 year Wild Goose Festival attendee; a member of Serendipitydodah – Home of the Mama Bears and host of the 2020 Mama Bear Den at Wild Goose Festival. She lives in North Florida and is the founder of (coming soon!)

Accessibility at Wild Goose Festival

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When Carrie Craig first attended Wild Goose Festival in 2013, she didn’t know what to expect.

Would there be accessibility? Would there be help if needed? Carrie has been disabled since birth.  She spent her first few years getting around by crawling or being carried on her daddy’s back or shoulders until she was about 4 when she received and began using her first wheelchair.

Being an Episcopal Priest for over 20 years, Carrie was confident that the festival would align well with her spiritual needs, given the attitude of acceptance; the spirit of connecting people of all backgrounds and religious leanings; and the relationship she had with festival planners, but whether or not it would meet her physical needs was an unknown.

Carrie visited Hot Springs Campground, where the festival is held, several days before the start of the festival and determined that it could work.  Not knowing what to expect, she had not planned to stay on site, so she commuted each day back and forth from her home in Asheville, NC. She quickly realized that the plan she had made was not the best way to get the most from Wild Goose and determined to make a better plan for future festivals.

A few months after that festival in 2013, Carrie was approached by members of the Wild Goose Festival team asking if she would be willing to work as the Accessibility Coordinator for the festival, assisting with and consulting on issues around ADA compliance. Given her focus on independence as a priority and her lifelong commitment to accessibility for disabled individuals, this was an easy YES!  

With purposeful intention, Carrie worked on building an environment that was open to consider options for accessibility at the festival. As the contact person she began to develop relationships and saw the community with personal interest in faith and disability grow.  She works hand in hand with Joanne Ciccarello who oversees ASL needs for attendees to the festival. Over the years, other festival attendees such as Heather Morgan, who comes from Canada to attend the festival, have joined in to add their voices and perspectives to the conversation.

Each year, there is work done to improve the festival for those with various types of special needs. The team strives to learn from each festival about what could be improved to make the next year better. Improvements through the years include medical electric campsites, increased organized shuttle service, and a specific ADA site area. The most significant contribution this team makes to those attending with disabilities is the relational aspect.  Knowing individually who needs what creates confidence for festival goers that attendance is not only possible, but that a great experience can be expected.

Writer Stephanie Tait says to others with disability, “You are a kingdom asset, not a liability. The Body isn’t simply tolerating you, we NEED you. You reflect a key facet of our huge multifaceted God – without you, we would see God less clearly, less whole, less true to who God is.” This is a belief wholly embraced by Carrie and her team.

At the Goose, you will find a camping area specifically set aside for those who need to support electrical devices; a team of volunteers ready to help set up campers in this area and available throughout the festival for needs as they arise; ASL interpreters for sessions where attendees have requested this service; and motel space set aside for people who are unable to camp. New at the Goose in 2020 will be increased resources for access, hospitality, information, and a calming space for those who need to separate from the noise and busyness of the festival.  

Marginalized communities are valued at a premium in the space where Wild Goose Festival exists, and this includes those with disabilities. Whether something as simple as directional signs that indicate the easiest path to take, or the implementation of spaces and tents for specific sessions or informational purposes, every year brings something that creates a better experience for those in this community. This year, Carrie and her team are extremely excited to have several sessions led by disabled presenters – expanding and highlighting the voices of those from the margins to our diverse lineup.

If you, like Carrie in 2013, are intrigued by Wild Goose Festival and would love to attend, but have reservations about the space and its ability to meet your physical needs, please know that your needs are a priority to Wild Goose, and there are many working to make sure the festival is as prepared as possible to meet those needs. Please contact Carrie Craig at with any accessibility or general ADA related questions or to request interpreting services. 

We hope to see you at Wild Goose 2020 and are working to make sure it is an experience defined solely by the power and tenderness that lives there. #Wildgoose2020

Year-Round Conversations

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For many of us, the thing we love most about Wild Goose Festival is the conversations in which we find ourselves spontaneously and unexpectedly engaged. It seems as though they’re always derailing us from our carefully planned agendas.

Can we make this a year-round experience? Imagine you’re walking down Main Street or through the campground. You encounter a lively conversation around a couple of picnic tables. In true Goose style, someone calls out, “hey, come join us!” People scoot over on their bench to make a little space for you. You’ve never met these folks before but there’s an immediate trust and openness and acceptance. The conversation flows. When you leave, you feel a little lighter. A bit transformed. Even energized!

Details - Wild Goose Festival Community Page

Let us know what you think. Please leave your comments and suggestions below.

The Racial Reality of America

By Featured-1, Goose NewsOne Comment


On June 2, 2020, Wild Goose Festival Community hosted an online conversation between Brian McLaren and Jacqui Lewis on The Racial Reality of America.

View the event below and scroll down to the anti-racism resources below the video.
If you have more anti-racism resources to add, please add them in the comments section.


Anti-Racism Resources A list of books, podcasts, articles, videos, films, TV, and organizations

More Anti-Racism Resources  New material organized in a way to meet people where they are at in their anti-racist journey

Dianne Reeves – Endangered Species Opening music

Tituss Burgess & Friends | Middle Church – We Shall Overcome Closing Music

Video Chat Transcript Chat transcript from the live event

Wild Goose Festival Community gatherings are free to everyone. If you’d like to support this community by making a donation, you can do that here: DONATE

TIPPING POINT – Are We There Yet?

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On June 23, 2020, Wild Goose Festival Community hosted an online conversation with Valarie Kaur and Otis Moss III  on TIPPING POINT: Are We There yet?

View the event below and scroll down to additional resources below the video.
If you have more anti-racism resources to add, please add them in the comments section.


Black  Lives Matter Opening music

See No Stranger Closing Music

Video Chat Transcript Chat transcript from the live event

Anti-Racism Resources A list of books, podcasts, articles, videos, films, TV, and organizations

More Anti-Racism Resources  New material organized in a way to meet people where they are at in their anti-racist journey

Wild Goose Festival Community gatherings are free to everyone. If you’d like to support this community by making a donation, you can do that here: DONATE

ENGAGE! – Every Vote Counts

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ENGAGE! Every Vote Counts

On October 14, 2020, Wild Goose Festival Community hosted an online conversation with Jacqui LewisJulian DeShazier (JKwest), and Doug Pagitt on “Goosing Out the Vote” and ways to stay engaged until Election Day.

View the event below and click here for additional resources to help you stay engaged.

Wild Goose Festival Community gatherings are free to everyone. If you’d like to support this community by making a donation, you can do that here: DONATE

ENGAGE! – Sprint to the Finish

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ENGAGE! Sprint to the Finish

On Wednesday, October 28th we had a conversation with Sara Cunningham, Jamie Lee Curtis, and Shawna Bowman.

What kind of world do you want? Vote for it. Get your family to vote. Get your friends to vote. Even if you’re in a “Blue State” or a “Red State,” ENGAGE! It’s not too late. EVERY VOTE COUNTS.

View the event below. LIVE CHAT TRANSCRIIPT  ADDDITIONAL RESOURCES DONATE to support Wild Goose Community events

Jamie Lee Curtis was born on November 22, 1958 in Los Angeles, California, the daughter of legendary actors Janet Leigh and Tony Curtis. She got her big break at acting in 1978 when she won the role of Laurie Strode in Halloween (1978). After that, she became famous for roles in movies like Trading Places (1983), Perfect (1985) and A Fish Called Wanda (1988). She starred in one of the biggest action films ever, True Lies (1994), for which she won a Golden Globe Award for her performance. Curtis also appeared on Buck Rogers in the 25th Century (1979), and starred in Death of a Centerfold: The Dorothy Stratten Story (1981) as the title role. Her first starring role was opposite Richard Lewis on the ABC situation comedy Anything But Love (1989). In 1998, she starred in Halloween H20: 20 Years Later (1998) in which she reprised her role that made her famous back in 1978.

Her paternal grandparents were Hungarian Jewish immigrants, while two of her maternal great-grandparents were Danish.

Jamie Lee served as an honorary chairperson for the Building Resilience for Young Children Dealing with Trauma program held at the Shakespeare
Theatre – Harman Center for the Arts in Washington, D.C. She was an inspiration for the youth that were celebrated. Curtis was also given anaward from US Department of Health and Human Services KathleenSebelius and National Endowment for the Arts Chairman Rocco Landesman for her work on behalf of children through her charities and children's books.

Sara Cunningham, author/activist and founder of the non-profit, Free Mom Hugs. Her journey began in conservative Oklahoma, when her son, Parker, came out as gay. As a woman of faith, she wrestled with the news, until she began to study, research, and reconcile the two worlds. She found herself on a journey “from the church to the Pride parade”, falling in love with the LGBTQ+ Community. In the wake of beautiful, glitter-covered hugs, and heart-breaking, horror stories, the mission of Free Mom Hugs began. Now a movement across the country, and the world, Sara is going Beyond the Hug, to educate and advocate. She has recently been seen on the Today show, spoke at the 2019 GLAAD Awards, and is in partnership with Jamie Lee Curtis to make a movie about her story. Her passion is to change the narrative so that we as a society, not only learn to affirm the LGBTQ+ community but celebrate them.

Rev. Shawna Bowman (they/them) is an artist and pastor doing ministry with the creative and justice-seeking folks at Friendship Presbyterian Church in Chicago. Shawna is the Arts Integrator at Wild Goose Festival and is Co-founder of Creation Lab, an Arts Incubator and Art Co-op at the intersection of creativity, spirituality and prophetic imagination. Shawna is also Affiliate Faculty at McCormick Theological Seminary and serves on the Board of Directors at The Night Ministry and SOUL (Southsiders Organizing for Unity and Liberation). Shawna is also a national organizer and facilitator with Crossroads Antiracism.


Wild Goose Festival Community gatherings are free to everyone. If you’d like to support this community by making a donation, you can do that here: DONATE

Christianity After Trump

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Christianity After Trump – Part 1 and 2

A Wild Goose Community event January 17, 2021 and follow up event on January 24 with Brian McLaren on how white American Christianity has aided and abetted the Trump presidency, and how courageous Christians must chart a new course in its aftermath.

View the events below.

DONATE to support Wild Goose Community events

VIDEO: Christianity After Trump – January 17

VIDEO: Christianity After Trump – January 24

Brian’s presentation is the same as January 17 but the Questions & Responses are new and begin at 39:23

Wild Goose Festival Community gatherings are free to everyone. If you’d like to support this community by making a donation, you can do that here: DONATE

What did you take home from Wild Goose 2016? Tell us your story.

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The theme of the Goose this year has been Story. Because stories are important. Our lives are shaped by them. Our world is shaped by them. And too often the loudest stories we hear around us are ones of exclusion and scarcity, violence, hatred, division.

But we came together for four days in July on the banks of the French Broad River, to tell and share some new stories, to hear stories, heal stories, sing and dance and paint stories, to lament the painful stories we’ve been through, and to receive, reshape and reimagine the stories of our lives and our world. Because we believe it makes a difference.

Did it make a difference? What stories did you hear, what stories did you create and tell and discover this year at Wild Goose? What moments rearranged you?  Changed you? Opened your eyes and heart?

Share your Wild Goose 2016 stories with us. We want to hear them. And share them with our broader community here.

To do that you can simply write your story in the comments section below. If you write a blog about your experience at the festival, share that link with us as well.

Let’s not let the storytelling end just because the festival is over. Because Wild Goose can be so much more than a festival…we hope it will be an ongoing conversation in which we can listen to each other, support each other and inspire each other.