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How to grow an organization
Posted: 05 March 2007 10:06 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 16 ]
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I am glad this conversation was started, I feel the same way. It’s funny how sometimes you can feel like the only freethinker in town. For the past few months I have been toying with the same idea, starting a local Humanist organization.  Of course, my first thought was to have some like-minded folks meet at the pub in town (sounds better than church already) and discuss secularism and humanisms role in society.  Maybe brainstorm about ways to help the less fortunate in our community and abroad. It would be very important for it not to become a “complainers club”, that would get old fast.
Also, by performing some charitable acts, we could improve the image of non-believers.  We could show people that you can be secular and be a “good” person.  A little P.R. work would go a long way. If the club/organization gets active in community, it would very quickly be thought of as a bona fide civic organization. Including the families/spouses would be a great idea.  Maybe some education for the kids. There would also have to be maybe a few ground rules. (I am still working on that)  Only the like minded should come, otherwise it becomes a debate club. Just some thoughts on the subject.  I would like to hear if anyone actually gets a club going.  Keep the thoughts coming. :D

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Posted: 05 March 2007 11:46 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 17 ]
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While you don’t want it to be just a dabating society, it’s not a bad idea to set the format to a mix of outside speakers at some meetings and discussions at others.  There are plenty of topics on ethics, social issues, etc. that have important humanism aspects.  For example, one could discuss whether our actions are determined or whether there is free-will (as is the faith of some of the quantum-nuts :D :D :D ).

Almost all local newspapers will publish the time, place, and subject of meetings in their events column at no cost.  This way, you can begin to attract others with similar beliefs even if they don’t even know they’re humanists, yet.

Occam

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Posted: 05 March 2007 01:24 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 18 ]
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My town is pretty progressive.  The local paper would probably like to do a little human interest article. The local Universalist Unitarians are in the paper and even march in the Defeat of Jesse James parade. I know there is a good market for a group here. As a matter-of-fact I think that Carlton College (the local college)  just started a Campus inquiry group….maybe there is an angle there.

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Posted: 05 March 2007 03:14 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 19 ]
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It depends on how theistic the local Unitarian church is.  If not very, they may be willing to let you hold evening Humanist meetings at their facility at no cost, especially if you can find one of their members who’s interested in sponsoring the group.

Occam

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Posted: 06 March 2007 04:16 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 20 ]
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Georgeac seems to have just the opportunity and ambition that I was thinking about. It would be able to start with just two or three and each might be able to find others. Shouldn’t be restricted to just intellectuals, but should make anyone feel at ease, interested and have a little fun. Helping in the communities is a positive project. Churches spend a little of their time organizing community projects which help hold members involved.

The CFI acts to encourage these local group organizations at colleges and high schools. In the same way there should be some help from a national organization and a roster of people expressing similar interests to connect with anyone who wants to find a local one.

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Posted: 15 March 2007 10:58 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 21 ]
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[quote author=“mckenzievmd”]I just wanted to echo Greg’s notion that belonging to a community is a common human desire, and that successful expansion of the humanist/secularist viewpoint would probably be served by providing, in some way, a community experience.

—snip——8x——snip——8x——snip——8x——snip——8x——snip——8x——snip
[quote author=“mckenzievmd”]
In another of her commentaries, Lauren Becker talked movingly about why the “herding cats” notion of secularists/atheists/humanists as contankerous individualists uninterested in community participation may be, at least partly, a reaction to this outsider experience rather than an intrinsic part of our character.

—snip——8x——snip——8x——snip——8x——snip——8x——snip——8x——snip

I agree with mckenzievmd’s ideas and the commentary by Lauren
Becker’s that mckenzievmd refers to, which I heard on Point
of Inquiry.

For the past year I’ve hosted an event for my local CFI
Community ( http://www.centerforinquiry.net/indy/ ) called
Humusings.  I find that as people come to our various
discussions that, at least the supporters, always feel a
great relief and have both an exhausted and overjoyed look
on their face once they heard people agreeing with them. For
myself I found the psychological validation a very inspiring,
comforting, and relieving experience.  I think that as the
people are rejected over and over, while trying to explore
some skeptical ideas with others, or while trying to pursue a
religious idea with others but finding that they have so many
disagreements with the others that it is just such an up-hill
battle, and they wind up giving up on socializing (what options
are there for them?) and miss out on many social opportunities.
A community of their own would be a great comfort, pleasure,
and support to get them back into the swing of socializing,
iMHO. But socializing in a small group and psychological
validation is inadequate, in these United States, and the rest
of the world, we need change.

By placing our Humusings conversations in a public place
where I know that many people with left-winged, New-age,
tastes frequent, the passers-by can overhear our conversation
and (often times do) jump in if they get engaged by it.
Of course, they receive a brochure and an email for their bravery.
I think that this is a friendly way to spread our ideas, in an
environment where Humanist and skeptical ideas are favored. grin
Please try to repeat this model that is showing some success,
in your community.

With the wasteful and credulous ideas that are out there about
the supernatural, pseudoscience, and the religious tomes,
we have the source of some very great societal problems.
Look at the sectarian civil war in Iraq; the amount of time
and money spent on alien visitation, ghost hunts, phychics
for hire; the lack of Federally funded stem cell research;
the complaints that global warming is a myth; and the amount
of time we have to spend fighting marriage amendments meant
to exclude homosexuals and to strip domestic abuse rights away
from unmarried couples (Indiana).

We need more than just a secluded niche, we need political
recognition and engagement.  I’m so glad that the CFI is
connected to the UN and has received recognition to file amicus
curiae briefs with the Supreme Court, and I hope to see more
of that at the local levels.

- steve s.

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Posted: 15 March 2007 02:02 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 22 ]
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Excellent work, steve!

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Posted: 21 March 2007 09:45 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 23 ]
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Maybe some central group, such as steve s. one, could enlarge its reach with some groups outside of the central meeting place. I believe he mentioned a virtual connection. There is so much space between where these present organizations meet that many would have to travel many miles. In contrast, the churches are located very densely with good access to anyone.

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Posted: 22 March 2007 07:49 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 24 ]
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For many years, when I was younger, I ran a discussion group called the Humanist Forum at the local Unitarian church.  I’ve run out of energy, but if anyone is interested in using the over one hundred topics as a possible resource, PM me and I’ll send them to you.

Occam

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Posted: 23 March 2007 04:56 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 25 ]
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gregandrews, what I was trying to say is: start your own group.  Model it after mine, or make it any way that you want.  This comfortable place that you create is great for new people to explore, but is not enough.  We need political ears there, too.  To spread the idea (this is not a unique idea, of course) it take MORE people to start it up in their area.  The churches have thousands of people to start churches, and thousands of dollars for each.  But we don’t have that much, yet!  grin

Occam, sure people get burn-out when they volunteer.  But passion keeps them going, and the political actions can inspire them.  The churches can say, “I’m with God, so give me money”.  But we don’t have that credibility, yet!  grin  Of course, skeptics will never give us that much credibility, but will give something like that level as the organization achieves more and more.  The volunteers today get us closer to that credibility tomorrow.  There is long term value in volunteering.

- steve s.

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Posted: 23 March 2007 06:56 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 26 ]
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Oh, I didn’t burn out because of too much work.  Rather, it was because I got old enough.  At 76 I figure the younger people are more in touch with each other.  :D

Occam

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