Last week Vic and I drove to North Carolina to Shakori Hills for the very first Wild Goose Festival.(http://www.wildgoosefestival.org/ ). This festival is modeled somewhat after the Greenbelt Festival in the UK that we had attended and relished for 6 of the August bank holidays during our sojourn in London. Once the first WG was announced we were absolutely certain to attend. Our trip was made even more interesting because our travel partner was Aiden Enns who works for Geez Magazine (holy mischief in an age of fast faith http://www.geez.org/ ). The conversation kept us captivated for most of the 2 1/2 days of driving.
Wild Goose exceded all the great expectations that I had of it/her. The lineup was fantastic. The amazing thing is that every speaker and artist (film, music, drama etc) there waived any recompense for their talks or music or film art. They believed so much in Wild Goose that they wanted to do their part to get it up off the ground.
We met up with several old friends and met new ones. The weather outdid itself with hot but really pleasant days and nights with very few mosquitoes (very important for people coming from Winnipeg). We heard rumors of lots of ticks but we did not encounter any of those.
The CPT booth with Tim Nafziger of CPt and two visitors.
A highlight for me was connecting with a few CPTers who came south to set up a booth and to have a presence at Wild Goose. I spent some time at the booth and the interest in CPT was great. We had a grand ending to the festival by interferring with Brian McLaren's last talk on the main stage. I will let my good friend Peter Haresnape tell you about it by quoting from his blog http://custodianiseed.livejournal.com/
Peter Haresnape leading a workshop/seminar on CPT's work with Aboriginal Justice Teams and why this is essential work for North America.
"The highlight of the festival for me was something we cooked up on the last day. Brian McLaren, whose book 'A New Kind of Christianity' is gearing up for its second reading by me, agreed to have us interrupt his Sunday morning talk with a roleplay.
He was talking about Paul and Silas being arrested and how they dealt with the process. Midway through a sentence, we stormed the stage. Me in a rather fetching beret, flanked by four others in various bits of camoflage, dark glasses, guns. I turn over narration to my alter ego:
I took the microphone as my minions moved McLaren to one side.
"I am the head of the regional security forces. I require your immediate attention and your compliance with all instructions. No-one is to leave this area.
We have recieved intelligence that there are subversive elements at work in this festival. For your security, we will begin an identity check. All men between 18-30 must report to our processing area."
McLaren came forward as my minions leapt off the stage and began to line up the hang-headed young men. He started to speak. I cut him off. "I can assure you... it will go much easier if you comply. Continue!"
I heard him resume his topic after advising that his audience carry on. Meanwhile, they had lined up the men. They were the usual suspects. We checked their ID, taking our time about it. Once they had explained their presence here they were allowed to sit in our sun-drenched stockade, so long as they didn't look up or try to talk to one another.
The men from ages 18-30 line up for id check.
Before long we had found a likely suspect. Getting him onto the ground, we confiscated his ID and sunglasses and hauled him off to our enhanced interrogation section.
One young man did not co-operate enough.
By the time I made my way back I could see another one lying on the floor. It seems that one of the guards accompanying me had felt it necessary to administer some attitude correction. We started to haul this one off as well. "Continue your cultural or religious event" I called to some of the stall-holders who were looking on with curiosity.
Then a woman came out of the crowd. "You can't take him! He's my son!" she exclaimed. She stood in our way. Several other crowd members also came out to join her. One was a solid man who stood in our way and kept talking about justice. He didn't seem to understand that we were there to enforce justice and security for all!
Within a few moments I decided to diffuse the situation by releasing the young man into the mother's custody. Yet this act of clemency did not satisfy what was quickly becoming a mob. We noticed more and more people coming to surround the marked out area with all the detainees. As we hurried down to move them away, they started to form a line, blocking our way through. Then I noticed the last of our detainees disappearing into the forest!
We went in to try and break up the mob and arrest the leaders, but they were too many for us. Then, they started praying for us.
At this point I and three others made a tactical redeployment to the north, abandoning our military attire. One soldier was left behind. When last seen, he was surrounded by people laying their hands on him. What more could we do?
We finished the roleplay by having Kathy introduce us and name that this is an everyday experience for our partners, especially in Palestine. She had just returned back from Kurdish Northern Iraq with the team there. We invited everyone back to our booth for some debriefing.
I got on stage to explain why we had done this roleplay.
It was so cool. We had planned the roleplay with Brian, and with the two folks we dragged off, both of them people with some CPT connections. But the people intervening? The nonviolent force that released the prisoners and sent the soldiers away? That was entirely spontaneous... or should I say, inspired?
It was fantastic. Our debriefing afterwards gave some insights. People talked about how Brian's words made them feel that they could ignore what was happening even as their friends were pulled away. Others said that they understood CPT's work much better from that simple demonstration."
K- I was so disappointed that I did not get any photos to document the nonviolent takeover by the audience. Many people that I talked to thought that it had been scripted into the roleplay but that was amazingly spontaneous. May this happen in real life too.