I talked to sitting Heartland Spiritual Alliance President Angela Krout at Heartland Pagan Festival near Kansas City, Mo. She was re-elected in April but has resigned for family reasons, pending the outcome of a special election.
What moved you to take the president’s role?
I’ve been a HSA (Heartland Spiritual Alliance) member for twelve years. I was treasurer last year when our then president stepped down for personal reasons. Myself and a couple others decided to run, and since we had an alternate candidate for treasurer I thought, “Why not me, Why not now?”
Do you have a new vision for the organization?
There is always room for improvement and growth. Some of it can be difficult to deal with, difficult to change. I would like to see HSA be not just a Midwestern voice, but an international voice in the Pagan community. Something that you will see and hear about all over the world. We are no longer just a local community, we are a global community, and HSA needs to branch out and do that.
Can you share some of the problems you have encountered leading the organization and putting on a festival?
Personal accountability, that needs to start with someone. With me the buck stops with me, my personal accountability and responsibility. I know as Pagans we are supposed to ‘go with the flow’, but there is a certain time when you have to treat it like business, because that is exactly what it is. It can’t be a loose y goose y, very free flowing thing, a festival has to be run like a business. The more accountability we have, the more we will have organizations that run better.
Transparency is huge. From every dollar we take at the gate, to every dollar we disburse, it has been our goal the last few years to become more transparent, to have more layers of protection and accountability.
We have a great PR team this year, and they have been promoting us well. At this point we are still small enough, and even though we get national and international speakers that come in, people still see us as a regional festival, and we are not. Next year we have Janet Farrar and Gavin Bone as speakers. They actually contacted us and wanted to appear. That blew my mind, so awesome. I am so excited about it.
Several ‘old timers’ here have stepped back and new folks are joining. Is that an obstacle or an asset?
It can be both. Those of us that have been in the trenches for so long can be resistant to change. Personally for me, change is growth and growth is life. A lot of people don’t realize it is the life blood of the organization. We can not have the same people year after year. We become too entrenched, to comfortable with the same set of standards when the rest of the world is growing. It could limit us to stay where we are, and get stagnant.
What does the direction of the new leadership look like?
Yet to be determined. I plan to stay with HSA and support whoever is elected. At some point when my personal life is not taking over, I may run for President again.