Urging our nation's leaders to end hunger
 

Black T-Shirts and the North Carolina Sun at the Wild Goose Festival

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Bread staffers (from left to right) Carter Echols, Nancy Neal, LaMarco Cable, Jen Fraser, and Michael Smith at the Bread for the World tent at the Wild Goose Festival in Shakori Hill, NC, from June 21 to 24, 2012.

"Are you trying to bake us in these black T-shirts in this 97 degree summer sun?" 

That was the first thing a festival goer said to me at the outdoor Wild Goose Festival in Shakori Hills, NC,  this past weekend. I immediately doubted our decision to give away black Bread for the World T-shirts to people who stopped by Bread’s exhibit tent.

Five Bread staffers and I drove to Shakori Hills, NC, on June 21 to join 2,200 artists, faith leaders, and activists to camp at the four-day Wild Goose Festival. Inspired by the United Kingdom’s Greenbelt, the Wild Goose Festival serves as an intersection of justice, spirituality, music, and art. Over the course of the festival, hundreds of attendees stopped by Bread’s 10 by 10 tent to meet Bread staff; play educational games about hunger; contact their members of Congress through social media; eat fresh baked bread; make anti-hunger art; and, yes, receive a free black Bread T-shirt.

 

On the second night of the festival, Bread for the World and singer/songwriter Bryan McFarland led a Jacob's Join concert where festival goers pulled up lawn chairs under the southern stars and listened to folk music about ending hunger. Bread staff spoke about the importance of anti-hunger advocacy. I was pleased to see a few people show up to the concert in the Bread T-shirts. They were faces I recognized after having good conversations with them about Bread for the World at our exhibit tent.

On the third day of the festival, Bread’s President David Beckmann served as a featured speaker. This time, almost half the audience wore the Bread T-shirts. The hot sun hadn’t stopped them from wearing their new shirts, and I knew each one of those T-shirts represented a meaningful dialogue that had occurred at some point in the weekend.

Throughout the festival I talked to folks from all walks of life: volunteers, teachers, students, food pantry directors, children’s choir conductors, food stamp recipients, and faith leaders. Some knew Bread like the back of their hand. Others had never heard of advocacy as a tool to end hunger. No matter who it was, we talked about ways to use our unique gifts and experiences to work together to end hunger and injustice.

By the last day of the festival, I noticed dozens and dozens of festival goers roaming the tree-filled festival grounds in their Bread T-shirts.  I smiled to myself as I made this observation, knowing that so many people would leave the festival engaged with Bread for the World, and that I would leave the festival having learned from them in return. The Wild Goose Festival proved an inspiring opportunity to share in a community of justice, spirituality, and creativity.

Bread staff returned to Washington, DC, with a lightened load because so many people requested and wore a Bread T-shirt at the festival. Whether this was because festival goers had run out of clean clothes after sweating and camping for four days, or because they really were excited about Bread for the World, we’ll never know.

I think it was both.

Jen Fraser is a regional organizer for the southern region with Bread for the World.

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