First New Story Festival Contributors Announced

We are delighted to announce our first slate of speakers for the New Story Festival, happening this November, in Austin, Texas.  A spiritual activist, an Irish storyteller, a bringer of anthems, and a justice doula - you can meet them all at the New Story Festival!


Mona Haydar - Billboard critics named Mona Haydar’s debut song, Hijabi (Wrap My Hijab)one of 2017’s top protest songs and later named it one of the 25 top feminist anthems of all time. Mona is a rapper, poet, activist, artist, practitioner of permaculture, meditator, composting devotee, mountain girl, solar power lover and a tireless God-enthusiast. She practices a life of sacred activism, poetry, contemplation and advocacy for living gently upon the earth. Growing up in Flint, Michigan as a Syrian American, Mona has since lived in Damascus, the mountains of Northern New Mexico, and the Redwood Forest of Northern California. During a stint in Cambridge, Massachusetts, she and her husband, Sebastian set up a stand with coffee, donuts, and a sign that read ‘Ask a Muslim,’ encouraging open and loving dialogue, garnering the attention of NPR, People Magazine, Al Jazeera, AJ+, and The Boston Globe among other media outlets. She and her work also have been featured on Marie ClaireGlamour, BBC, CNN, the New York Times, BuzzFeed, AJ+, PRI, NPR, Mic, Psychology Today, Refinery 29, Milk, The Huffington Post, Ms Magazine, Fusion/Splinter and many others. She currently lives in Harlem, NY where she is pursuing her Masters in Theology and Ethics. Her first EP is set to drop in 2018. 


Brian McLaren - author, speaker, activist, and public theologian. A former college English teacher and pastor, McLaren is a passionate advocate for “a new kind of Christianity” – just, generous, and engaged with people of all faiths for the common good. He is an Auburn Senior Fellow and a leader in the Convergence Network, through which he is developing an innovative training/mentoring program for pastors, church planters, and lay leaders called the Convergence Leadership Project. He works closely with the Center for Progressive Renewal/Convergence, the Wild Goose Festival and the Fair Food Program‘s Faith Working Group.


Gareth Higgins was born in Belfast in 1975, grew up during the northern Ireland Troubles, and now lives in North Carolina with his husband Brian. He writes and speaks about connection to the earth, cinema and the power of dreams, peace and making justice, and how to take life seriously without believing your own propaganda. Mentored by John O’Donohue and Walter Wink, Gareth is founding director of the Wild Goose Festival and the New Story Festival, host of Movies & Meaning, and editor of The Porch, he’s happy to be a work in progress. 


Micky ScottBey Jones is a perpetual learner, “justice doula”, consultant, facilitator, mama/sister/friend, nonviolence practitioner and contemplative activist living just south of Nashville, TN. After 10 plus years as a mother-baby specialist, trainer and author, she decided to shift back to earlier interests: theology and community development, earning a Masters in Intercultural Studies. Named one of the Black Christian leaders changing the world in Huffington Post, Micky is the Director of Healing Justice at Faith Matters Network. Micky believes in traveling the world while spreading revolutionary love, engaging in authentic conversations, and participating in transformative experiences – and most importantly – she never passes up a dance floor. 

Along with music, conversation, contemplation, play, creativity, silence, time in nature, laughter, activism, and whatever else we can conjure, Brian, Mona, Gareth & Micky are bringing a better story, for a better world. It’s three days of peace, imagination, and you: the New Story Festival. More purposeful than a music festival (but still with amazing artists here in the Live Music Capital), more fun than a conference (but with similar depth of content and conversation), and more holistic than a political rally (but with a similar desire to make a concrete difference in the world), the New Story Festival is a one-of-a-kind event you won't want to miss. You can help launch the festival, and - for a limited time only - get tickets at a substantial discount by supporting our crowdfunding campaign