Message From the Wild Goose Board

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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

What We Can Do For Aleppo

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By: Jeff Clark, with Jasmin Morrell
Reports from Aleppo are grim: bodies line the streets, women and children shot in their homes, aid workers unable to reach those who need them most.

Photo Credit: Freedom House,

Photo Credit: Freedom House,

What can we do? What must we do? What work can we do right now in the face of a situation so overwhelming and seemingly so far-off?

In faith narratives, for some it’s common to describe our decisions to turn toward Jesus as “asking him into our hearts.” What does it look like to bring the citizens of Aleppo into our hearts?

Pray – by all means. Hope – hope that those left in the besieged city can be safely transported out of the war zone. Remind – in our holiday conversations be intentional to remind those around us and those who lead us, of this tragic rupture in our community.

This Upworthy article, 7 Real Things You Can Do Right Now About the Catastrophe in Aleppo, is a helpful start. It lists things like ways to support the White Helmets, Doctors Without Borders, and the International Rescue Committee. Or this article from Huffington Post has compiled a list of charities working to provide food and medical care. Educate yourself and use social media to spread the word, elevating the level of attention this receives.

Move our hearts. Move our lips. Move our feet. Move, not sit – that’s what we do, because like the terrified citizens of Aleppo, we’re all immigrants. Always on the move, longing for home.

Syria has been locked in civil war for more than five years, with many innocent lives lost, and many more forced to flee or hide, living day-to-day with the understanding that death is on their doorstep. The conflict escalated to an alarming degree after a ceasefire, meant to facilitate civilian evacuation of the area, was broken. UN human rights office spokesman Rupert Colville recently commented, “We’re filled with the deepest foreboding for those who remain in this last hellish corner of eastern Aleppo.”

It’s easy to erase feelings of turmoil and fear from the mangers arranged on our mantles and in our yards this time of year. The scene is familiar and the pleasant associations undeniable. Yes, Mary and Joseph had a difficult time finding a place to birth their son, but they eventually found shelter, Magi brought gifts, and we’re happy to celebrate the child whose arrival shapes our faith. But Jesus’ childhood was far from a cozy Christmas card scene.

As the story goes, when Herod ordered all male children under the age of two in Bethlehem to be massacred, Mary and Joseph fled their home, taking refuge in Egypt. Political unrest, innocents slaughtered, and fleeing refugees…the age-old Christmas story is remarkably resonant with the bloody reality of what is happening today, right now.

St. John of the Cross, a sixteenth century Carmelite friar, writes:

you want,
the Virgin will come walking down the road
pregnant with the holy,
and say,

“I need shelter for the night, please take me inside your heart,
my time is so close.”

Then under the roof of your soul, you will witness the sublime
intimacy, the divine, the Christ
taking birth
As she grasps your hand for help, for each of us
is the midwife of God, each of us.*

Each of us can help bring God into the world. And there is no better time than now.

The Many, band and long-time community members of the Goose, have offered their single “Room For Us All” in response to the crisis. Available for free download on Noisetrade, all tips will collected will go to The International Rescue Committee.

*Ladinsky, Daniel. Love Poems From God: Twelve Sacred Voices From the East and West. “If You Want,” 306. Penguin Compass: New York, 2002.


Hope Rises Like Bread

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This is what happens
because you make Wild
Goose happen:

Dreams are born
Visions are nourished
Minds are changed
Spirits rearranged

And people leave
With eyes and arms opened
To the whole wide aching world.

Ready to go to work
Ready to stand for justice
And sing new songs of hope
Ready to trouble the waters,

Create and awaken.
And ready to make a difference.

Tears and laughter collide,
Make something amazingly new together.
Sometimes even mercy falls like rain.

Conversations that might not happen anywhere else
Begin, blossom, blow
the lid off.

Questions are brought out of hiding
And somehow, someway,

Hope rises like bread.

This is what happens because
the Wild Goose Festival happens.

And the Wild Goose Festival
only happens because of you.


In Solidarity with Standing Rock

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By Jeff Clark
Water is indisputably a core element of our existence, crucial to every part of our lives on this planet. It ripples throughout our human story, a fundamental relationship that inextricably connects us to the earth and to each other.

Credit: Sacred Stone Camp Facebook

Photo credit: Sacred Stone Camp Facebook

When such an important relationship is threatened, when the racist underpinnings of a situation are thinly (if at all) veiled, when basic human rights are challenged, as people of faith and as members of the human family, we cannot look away. And I personally must stand in solidarity with the protectors of Standing Rock.

As you are probably aware, Sacred Stone Camp in Cannon Ball, North Dakota currently sits at the heart of a protest sparking national attention. In an attempt to halt the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline, thousands of people have gathered in land held sacred by the Standing Rock Sioux tribe. The pipeline would transfer as much as 570,000 barrels of crude oil daily from North Dakota to Illinois, and is proposed to travel underneath the Missouri River, a primary source of drinking water for millions. Facing a high possibility of water contamination, the desecration of burial grounds, and broken treaties, the protectors of the area include indigenous and non-Native people alike. The pipeline presents a multifaceted dilemma in the arenas of public health, environmental stewardship, and indigenous rights.

There are many ways to stand with our brothers and sisters in this crisis. #NoDAPL lists a number of solidarity actions on their website. The Atlantic magazine also reports that Standing Rock protesters have requested people “contact leaders in the Army Corps of Engineers and the Obama Administration in opposition to the pipeline.”

To these I would add two more: lament and pray. Lament the racism and injustice that indigenous people have suffered and continued to suffer in this country. And pray for change. As Mark Charles, a friend and past contributor of the Goose wrote in a recent blog post, what is happening to the Standing Rock Sioux is part of a broader systemic problem. May we all join in prayer that this broken system is repaired and may we also be a part of working to let “justice roll down like water.”

In Solidarity,

Jeff Clark
President & Producer
The Wild Goose Festival

Call for Wild Goose Video Volunteers

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Wild Goose TVAs a volunteer member of Wild Goose TV, under the leadership of Rick Meredith, you can expect to become part of a creative, memorable, and enriching experience! WGTV is the Wild Goose Festival’s online channel at YouTube devoted to informing and promoting the festival.  During the event there’s a “booth” where attendees can share personal stories or quick comments about anything they choose.  Rick and the crew are busy continuously staffing the booth or roaming the activities to capture some moments that matter for posterity.

For example: Here’s a piece created by the WGTV volunteer team.

WGTV needs experienced camera operators/videographers, video editors, interviewers, and production assistants!


1. “What’s Your Story?” video booth: people are invited to step in and make a brief statement to the camera.

2. Roving video crew, (a camera person and a reporter/interviewer), who can roam the campground and pickup interviews with attendees.

3. General video coverage of anything and everything – Gathering shots that convey the flavor of the festival.

All of this will be going on constantly throughout the festival.


Experienced camera operators/videographers with a sense of composition and the ability to operate a camera smoothly. Preferably with your own camera, but we have some equipment you may be able to use.

Interviewers, reporter-types – Outgoing, think on your feet, not afraid to approach strangers and ask them questions. You will also be approaching passersby and talking them into making a brief statement in our video booth.

Production assistants – Helping out in many capacities, no experience necessary.

Contact Rick Meredith directly at Please include a short description of yourself and your video experience.

Wild Goose Bumps Contest!

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Wild Goose Bumps
Wild Goose Bumps. Ever had them? It’s that feeling you get at the Wild Goose Festival when you experience something powerful, memorable, transformative. The speaker who opens your mind to a new idea. The prayer that touches your heart. The compassionate conversation by a campfire. The song that makes you sing along.

What gives you Wild Goose Bumps? We’re eager to know.

In fact, we’ve put together a Wild Goose Bumps contest to encourage you to share. All we need is a few sentences describing or a photo depicting a moment that you experienced at Wild Goose that changed you. Or, if you’ve never been to the festival, let us know what is inspiring you to attend. With permission, we’ll post your entry on social media with the hashtag #wildgoosebumps.

The winner of the contest will receive an epic “Wild Goose Swag Bag” full of goodies and gratitude. To enter, email The deadline to enter is Friday, May 9th.

And if you don’t have your tickets to this year’s festival yet, NOW IS THE TIME to buy them! We promise this year’s festival will be profound, and profoundly fun!