Announcing Riders Against The Storm and Kaitlin Curtice at the New Story Festival 2019!

Want to hear award-winning musicians and an acclaimed voice in Native American spirituality? You've come to the right place - we're delighted to announce two more contributors for the New Story Festival, March 29-31, in Austin, Texas:   

(RAS) Riders Against the Storm is a musical movement in Austin, Texas, that can only be described as "historic." As recent recipients of "Band of the Year" honors at the 2014, 2015, and 2016 Austin Music Awards, Chaka and Qi Dada (husband and wife) represent a significant first in the "Live Music Capital." Over the past 32 years, hip hop has never received the top honor at the annual awards show. Winning the title three times in a row is an accomplishment shared by only a handful of bands, including Spoon, and Los Lonely Boys.

Kaitlin Curtice is a Native American Christian mystic and writer who explores the sacredness of the human condition in everyday language. She is an enrolled citizen of the Potawatomi Citizen Band Nation, and her book Glory Happening: Finding the Divine in Everyday Places is a collection of 50 essays and prayers from her life that focus on the idea of glory.

Kaitlin and RAS join our other powerful headliners, all of whom you can experience at the New Story Festival, March 29-31.

Riders Against The Storm

Riders Against The Storm

Kaitlin Curtice

Kaitlin Curtice

Mike Clawson on the New Story - Part 1 of 2

Mike Clawson

Mike Clawson

Mike Clawson, co-host of the New Story Festival and founder and executive director of the Spiritual Transformation Project, shares the story of how we get to the New Story in part one of his sermon at New Covenant Fellowship Church in Austin, Texas.

“It’s been said that the world is not made of atoms, it is made of stories. And I believe that! The world runs on stories. Our lives consist of stories.”

Join Mike and many more fascinating, creative, open-hearted and courageous storytellers, activists, and teachers, at the New Story Festival, taking place March 29-31, 2019, in Austin, Texas.

Learn more and get your tickets online now

Nadia Bolz-Weber on the New Story Festival Podcast


Pastor and New York Times bestselling author Nadia Bolz-Weber joins Gareth Higgins, co-host of the New Story Festival, for a fascinating conversation about adult topics with an entertaining tone, presented with love!

Hear Nadia in person, and many more fascinating, creative, open-hearted and courageous storytellers, activists, and teachers, at the New Story Festival, taking place March 29-31, 2019, in Austin, Texas. Early bird tickets are just $179 now thru December 31st!

Learn more and get your early bird tickets online now.

The First Lineup Announcement for New Story Festival 2019!

People live by stories, many that we're often not even aware of. Some of our stories hurt more than help. Stories of separation, selfishness, scapegoating, and the avoidance of suffering are ready to be replaced by stories of creativity, community, courage, and the common good. The New Story Festival will gather people to experience -- and help build -- a better world by shaping and sharing a better story. It will be deep but not boring, playful and fun without avoiding hard questions. Come help make a world of compassion, peace, and welcome -- we'd love to see you there!

The inaugural New Story Festival takes place March 29-31, 2019, in Austin, TX. We are delighted to announce the festival lineup below -- spiritual teachers leading us into the future and beloved Americana musicians, radically inclusive storytellers and Irish peace activists, trauma healers and provocative teachers -- bearers of a better story are coming to Austin. Come add your story too!

(click here to get your Early Bird Tickets now for only $179 through December 31st)

Here’s our current headliners!

Nadia Bolz-Weber is a two-time New York Times best-seller, Lutheran pastor, and author of the new book Shameless: A Sexual Reformation.

Called “the most intriguing African-American Buddhist” by Library JournalRev. angel Kyodo Williams is an author, maverick spiritual teacher, master trainer, and founder of the Center for Transformative Change.

According to Publisher’s WeeklyCharles Eisenstein “will be noted in antiquity as one of the seminal and pioneering storytellers of this new world.” His latest book is Climate: A New Story, and we’re glad to call him a friend of the New Story Festival.

Austin-based “Ameri-Chicana” singer-songwriter Carrie Rodriguez is known for her passionate performances, effortlessly melding fiery fiddle playing, electrifying vocals, and a fresh interpretation of new and classic songs.

Beloved Americana musicians, Linford Detweiler and Karin Bergquist are acclaimed together as Over the Rhine. They “create spaces where good things can happen,” and the New Story Festival will certainly be that.

Activist and author Brian McLaren is co-creator -- along with New Story Festival co-host Gareth Higgins -- of The Seventh Story book and its companion children’s book, Cory and the Seventh Story.

A native Texan and acclaimed performer, Amparo Garcia-Crow is a multi disciplinary artist who acts, sings, directs and writes plays, screenplays, and songs. Amparo was with us for the one-day New Story Experience, and we're thrilled she is coming back for the full three-day festival in March!

Over 60 other speakers, facilitators, performers, artists, and dreamers will join these headliners to help lead us toward a better story -- one of compassion, reconciliation, and collective liberation -- making better lives for a better world. 

How do we do this? Spend a weekend with us in Austin this March, and you'll hear provocative wisdom, discover new tools for authentic community, be surprised by art and activism, engage in playful fun and frivolity, and find your own place in the New Story. 

The New Story Festival is for all ages -- we will have exciting, transformative programming for kids and teens as well as adults -- so bring the whole family!

Early bird tickets are just $179 now through December 31st! 

We have multiple ticket price options for folks at all levels of financial means, including FREE! (Volunteer with the festival and a get a full weekend pass in return.) We also offer discounts for groups of three or more, and even bigger discounts for groups of ten or more - so gather your crew and register now!

If you can't make it for the whole weekend, we also offer day passes, just purchase the pass that works best for you.

Any questions? Contact us at

Join us March 29-31, 2019, in Austin, Texas, for the first-ever New Story Festival - we hope to see you there!

Micky ScottBey Jones on the New Story Festival Podcast

On the latest episode of the New Story Festival Podcast, justice doula and New Story Experience presenter Micky ScottBey Jones speaks with festival co-host Gareth Higgins about how the New Story reminds her of the African idea of sankofa, the importance of allowing ourselves to dream, and how a festival is an opportunity to practice a different way of being together.

Hear more from both Micky and Gareth at the New Story Experience, Saturday, November 3 at Huston-Tillotson University in Austin, Texas. Tickets are now $10 and up.

Thank you for listening! Please subscribe on iTunes or listen on Spotify and share this episode now with your friends on social media.

Special thanks to our podcast producer Samuel Polay!

Welcome the Center for Action and Contemplation to the New Story

Here at the New Story Festival, one of our favorite sayings is from Father Richard Rohr: “The best criticism of the bad is the practice of the better.” We are creating a whole new festival experience to practice the better!

That’s why we are so delighted to announce today that Fr. Rohr’s Center for Action and Contemplation (CAC) is joining as partners in the New Story.

The CAC is a wonderful partner to have, particularly for the DEEPEN part of the festival program, which will invite participants into practices that slow down our breathing, sharpen our thinking, and help us find resilience amidst the challenges of life and the world. Ancient wisdom experienced in a new context, for young and old, of all experiences.

Please help us in welcoming Fr. Rohr and the Center for Action and Contemplation as partners in the New Story!

Mona Haydar on the New Story Festival Podcast

On the latest episode of the New Story Festival Podcast, feminist Muslim rapper and New Story Experience presenter Mona Haydar speaks with festival co-host Gareth Higgins about why the New Story is the hardest work there is, one of her earliest memories of making a conscious choice to be part of the New Story, and what Islam teaches about "answering the call of the angelic." 

Hear more from both Mona and Gareth at the New Story Experience, Saturday, November 3 at Huston-Tillotson University in Austin, Texas. Tickets are now $10 and up.

Thank you for listening! Please subscribe on iTunes or listen on Spotify and share this episode now with your friends on social media.

Special thanks to our podcast producer Samuel Polay!

Got $10? Then You Can Come to the New Story Experience

We're so eager for you to be at the New Story Experience on Saturday, November 3 in Austin, Texas, that we want to make it as accessible and as easy as possible!

That's why today we're announcing a new $10 ticket option for the full, one-day event featuring keynote presentations and conversations with activist/author Brian McLaren, feminist Muslim rapper and ethicist Mona Haydar, the justice doula Micky ScottBey Jones, acclaimed performer and playwright Amparo Garcia-Crow, and festival founder/Irish peace activist Gareth Higgins.

You'll also experience breakout sessions that offer a taste of each of our festival program areas: Deepen, Act, Create, Perform, Think, Connect, and Play.

This is something we want you to share. So please forward this message to your friends and family in the Austin area and invite them to come to the New Story Experience for just $10! You can also invite them via the Facebook event. We hope to see you (and them) there.

Please note: We are committed to making the New Story Experience accessible to everyone, regardless of financial means -- that's why we're offering the $10 ticket price to anyone who needs it. There are other ticket prices, and everyone gets the same benefit in return -- when deciding the price you'll pay, we ask that you consider the resources you have available, the benefit you feel you'll receive from the event, and the significant costs it takes for us to host the event. (For instance, to cover the costs of the event, we need around 50 people to opt-in at Benefactor level 1, 50 at Benefactor Level 2, and 25 at Benefactor Level 3 -- thank you for all your support.)

Welcoming Amparo Garcia-Crow to the New Story Experience Line-up

We’re excited to announce the addition of acclaimed local Austin performer, director, and playwright Amparo Garcia-Crow to our New Story Experience line-up!

Amparo Garcia-Crow

Amparo Garcia-Crow

As a playwright, Garcia-Crow has been developed at South Coast Repertory Theatre and has had world premiers Off-Broadway, Actor's Theatre of Louisville, Latino Chicago, and various theaters and universities in the Southwest. …

Her most recent film "Death Rattle" which she wrote and produced recently premiered at the Los Angeles Latino International and Cine las Americas. Her half hour film, "Loaves and Fishes" (which she also stars in) aired on the PBS series "Territories", after premiering at the SXSW Film Festival and the Los Angeles Latino International Film Festival.

A former James Michener Fellow, Amparo won the Larry King Playwright Award for her play, "Cocks Have Claws and Wings to Fly" and most recently the national Mae West Festival's "Best Female Protagonist" award for her play "Esmeralda Blue: La Mujer Moderna". 

Get your tickets for the New Story Experience now!

Sojourners Joins as a Partner in the New Story Festival

We’re honored to have our friends at Sojourners joining us as a sponsor of the inaugural New Story Festival in 2019.

Sojourners started in the early 1970s when a handful of students began meeting to discuss the relationship between their faith and political issues, particularly the Vietnam War. In 1971, the group decided to create a publication that would express their convictions and test whether other people of faith had similar beliefs. What emerged was a publication committed to social justice and peace.

Sojourners is a perfect partner for the “Act” program at the festival. “Act” is the program area where we focus on positive, proactive social action aimed at making the world a better place.

Please join us in welcoming Sojourners to the New Story!

Brian McLaren on the First New Story Festival Podcast

Brian McLaren and Gareth Higgins discuss the stories we live by, why stories are bigger than philosophies, and the dominant stories they were both born into. Find out what they have to say on the first ever New Story podcast!

Hear more from both Brian and Gareth at the New Story Experience, Saturday, November 3 at Huston-Tillotson University in Austin, Texas.

Thank you for listening! Please subscribe on iTunes or listen on Spotify and share this episode now with your friends on social media.

Special thanks to our podcast producer Samuel Polay!

What Will the New Story Festival Be Like?

People ask us, "What will the New Story Festival be like?" The most honest answer to that is: We don't know -- it hasn't happened yet! But on the basis of previous experiences with festivals, community, and the magic of a new story, one of our friends tells us this:

"The folks behind the New Story Festival show us what the renaissance of this new century holds in store. From their previous events, experiencing story after story revealing a fierce and tender love for humankind, I found myself filled with more hope about the age we live in than I've felt in a long time. A new kind of story is possible, one that leaves the myth of redemptive violence at the door, and one that gives voice to the transcendent power of love. This kind of story is new; an evolutionary leap. If we are ready to take it together, everything changes. A new consciousness beckons as dramatic as the leap from fish to the first flopping creature to walk on earth." -Pana Columbus, Asheville, NC

We think Pana is both very kind, and onto something :)

Register now for the New Story Festival -- three days next March, of spirituality, imagination, and the common good -- or sample what we're offering at the one day New Story Experience this November.

We can't promise exactly what will happen, but we can pretty much guarantee some good surprises!

The New Story Experience Schedule

At the New Story Experience in November 2018, across seven program areas in one day, we'll embody the new story: of connection instead of separation, of commitment to the common good instead of narrow ambition, of participation with imagination at the foundation.

We’ll play, think, contemplate, act, create, connect, and listen in community and alone, in quiet and noise, with distinguished teachers and leaders in the new story.

Featuring Brian McLaren (author and pioneer of the new story), Mona Haydar (musician and activist for the common good), Micky ScottBey Jones (nonviolence practitioner and justice doula), and Gareth Higgins (Irish writer and story organizer), along with a community of artists, inventors, activists, tricksters, and dreamers. Experience from the U.S., Middle East, Northern Ireland, South Africa, and elsewhere will animate our conversations about how to learn and share a better story to help make a better world. We’ll make a space for courage and practical tools, laughter and focused action, meaning and compassion, soothing the soul and generating energy for the task of life.

There are only 190 tickets available for this one-day event, there’s a sliding scale for registration in order to make it widely accessible, and we’d be honored if you’d join us. Register here

And for further details on the day itself, read on:

New Story Experience - Saturday, November 3

10am: Opening Session: What is the New Story? with Brian McLaren

11.15am: Breakout sessions (Choose one in the morning and one in the afternoon - each will be repeated in the afternoon):

  • Play - At the New Story Festival, you can expect this: we'll try to take life seriously; but expect this too: we'll try not to take ourselves too seriously. You're invited to join us in both.
  • Deepen - Sometimes called contemplation, the DEEPEN program invites us into practices that slow down our breathing, sharpen our thinking, and help us find resilience amidst the challenges of life and the world. Ancient wisdom experienced in a new context, for young and old, of all experiences.
  • Act - Margaret Mead said that we should never doubt that a small committed group of people can change the world, for indeed it is the only thing that ever has. Our festival will host leaders and dreamers for the common good, courageous light-weavers who show that each generation has the chance to discern what needs to change, and then make the change real.
  • Think - Before something can come into being, it has to be imagined. We're hosting conversations and talks from people committed to learning and sharing a better story - activists, poets, wanderers, leaders and questioners. Watch this space.
  • Connect - A festival isn't only a performance, but a communal experience of meeting, listening, and enjoying each other. At the New Story Festival, we'll be providing space for the building of a new community - and we welcome introverts and extroverts, and everyone in between!
  • Perform - From music to theatre, spoken word to dramatic monologues, and surprises too, come taste and see - or hear - artists sharing the new story in song, drama, poetry, and who knows what else?
  • Create - Art isn't just for people who believe they are artists, but the capacity to participate in and enjoy creativity belongs to everyone. Join us for experiential, entertaining, educative and amusing opportunities to make something new.

12.30pm: Lunch - lots of options for great Austin food within a few minutes of campus.

2pm: Afternoon Session with Gareth Higgins & Micky ScottBey Jones: the new story and you - inside and out. Two guides experienced in conflict and creativity will share how we can live better through better stories.

3.30pm: Breakouts (repeated from the morning - see descriptions above) - Play/Deepen/Act/Think/Connect/Perform/Create

5pm: Dinner. Have dinner on your own or with friends, or join us for an optional People’s Supper  - a movement to repair the breach in our interpersonal relationships across political, ideological and identity differences, leading to cooperation for the common good - in the most nourishing way we know - over supper!

7pm: Evening session: Mona Haydar in conversation on transformative spirituality, activism for the common good, and living a more humane, welcoming, courageous life.

Plus: Music performance to be announced later

10pm: Late night surprises! (For anyone still awake :-))

We Need a Deeper Shelter

We have often heard that people need four things to survive: food, water, air, and shelter. We rarely define shelter beyond four walls and a roof, but we know that we need a deeper shelter than that. I think there are at least three other elements to shelter, and I want to invite you to step into it.


There’s the shelter of friendship - a community that knows us, supports us, calls us out when we’re wandering from the path, laughs and cries with us, and generates an energy that is more than the sum of its parts.

There’s the shelter of having a sense of purpose that goes beyond self-centered ambition, and seeks to serve the common good. What is your gift? What is your need? How will you bring them both together to contribute to the most good for everyone?

And there’s the shelter of being connected to someone a few steps further ahead - mentors, wisdom figures, elders who have held steady through the storms of life and can show us how to do the same.

These three elements of shelter form part of a story of what it means to be alive. It’s a story in which power and fairness and wellbeing and hope and healthy lament and action for the common good come together with celebration and community, and an invitation to move forward no matter what’s happening in the world around us.

We’re building a festival around this story, and you’re invited.

In November 2018, we’ll host a one-day New Story Experience, offering a taste of the wisdom, inspiration, fun, sights and sounds of the New Story Festival, planned for March 2019. We’re announcing the schedule for the one-day November experience today. Get the schedule and register now

Announcing New Dates for the New Story Festival... AND a One-Day Preview Experience!

You may have noticed that we've been a little quiet here the past few months. Due to unforeseen family circumstances affecting one of our key organizers, we made the decision to postpone the New Story Festival until next Spring, and turn our November event into a one-day preview experience instead. The good news is that these extra months will give us more time to make sure the first festival is as incredible and inspiring as it can possibly be!  

That's why we are pleased to announce that the first ever New Story Festival will be held March 29-31, 2019, at Huston-Tillotson University in Austin, Texas! We are still lining up headline speakers and performers, so stay tuned for more exciting announcements (click here to sign-up for email updates).

We are also thrilled to announce the New Story Experience, a one-day conference on Saturday, November 3, 2018 (also at Huston-Tillotson) that will not only be a fantastic standalone event, but will also provide a sneak-peak at what the full festival in March will be like.

We've already confirmed our headliners for November, so come join author/activist Brian McLaren, feminist Muslim rapper Mona Haydar, the justice doula Micky ScottBey Jones, Irish peace-activist and storyteller (and New Story co-founder) Gareth Higgins, and many others for this transformative experience AND make plans to join us for the full 3-day festival next March as well. Tickets for both are currently on sale. Spots are limited for the November Experience, so don't delay!


Our friend Michael Arbuckle, Storyteller in Residence at the Pilates Center of Austin wants you to come to the New Story Festival! Michael is a beloved member of the Austin community, and his work there has made a difference in people's lives. We're grateful for his support - here's what he has to say:

"To my Friends, Brothers, Sisters All, I'm writing to share with you a deeply inspiring project our good friend Gareth Higgins (founding director of the Wild Goose Festival and Movies & Meaning) is spearheading with colleagues in Austin.  It's called the New Story Festival - and it's a new annual gathering for art, music, spirituality, and social change coming to Austin this November. This festival will be bringing together artists, activists, non-profits, and faith communities to amplify the good work already being done in Austin and beyond - "telling a better story for a better world". Held on the campus of Huston-Tillotson University, this unique, three-day event will feature workshops, presentations, and performances by nationally-known speakers and musicians, as well as local leaders and artists.  

I am requesting, on Gareth's behalf, your help in helping in spreading the word about this grand event…and I do that, knowing that you surely get many requests to pitch in for this and that, but I promise that having this festival show up in Austin will be worth the few minutes it will take you to:

1. Post one of the visual images below to your Instagram, Facebook and Twitter, and whatever other social media platforms on which you participate.    You can use the following text:

Join friends at the New Story Festival in Austin this Fall - a new gathering for music, art, spirituality, and social change. And, help “tell a better story for a better world” by contributing to the crowdfunding campaign at: #newstoryfestival2018 #betterworld

2. And, of course, if your so inspired yourself, please also consider supporting the festival crowdfunding campaign here

Thank you so much for any support you can throw this way…"

And thanks to you Michael - hope to see you in November! (And friends reading this post: if you can, please head on over to the Indiegogo page to help us launch the festival!)


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


We're delighted to announce partnership with Whole Life Learning Center, a school for holistic and alternative education in south Austin, to lead the children's program at the festival this coming November. 

The mission and methods of Whole Life Learning Center resonate deeply with the New Story Festival. From their website:

"At Whole Life Learning Center, Mentors support the Whole child, and are committed to all facets of growth and development: intellectual, physical, emotional, and spiritual. We understand that all learning happens in relationship: relationship with the world, with each other, and with ourselves. From a place of deep inspiration, we help young people cultivate these relationships - this is Whole Life Learning."

Whole Life Learning Center has seven aims for its students: self-awareness, self-confidence, academic excellence & a love of learning, wonder & joy, creativity, emotional intelligence, community connection & global citizenship.

More than just a school, Whole Life Learning Center is also known for its summer camps, especially Camp Indigo, offered in collaboration with the Amala Foundation. Entering its 18th year, this heartfelt summer camp offers exciting and creative opportunities for children ages 4-12 to express themselves, explore their world, and celebrate the magic of childhood. Camp Indigo helps children build social-emotional skills through focusing on compassion and respect. The activities are designed to increase confidence, teach communication skills, and promote respect for self and others.

Kids' programming at the New Story Festival will showcase many of these same activities and emphases, allowing interested families a taste of what Whole Life Learning Center has to offer.