April 2015 – BAH Newsletter


 

 

BAY AREA HUMANISTS
April 2015 Newsletter

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MESSAGE FROM THE BOARD

The first quarter of 2015 marks the beginning of the third year Bay Area Humanists has existed. The founders of the organization wanted to strengthen humanism in the Bay Area. As humanists, we want to promote human welfare and happiness and this is a multifaceted undertaking. Humans need human connections that can best be achieved through communities formed around common values. Communities form when people come together regularly for common purposes and bond together. These interactions can be purely social; working together to help others and improve society; to learn about the findings of science that enhance our understanding of ourselves and the universe around us; and discussions to enrich our thinking processes by exchanging political and philosophical ideas with one another. From hosting a single discussion group at the beginning, we now sponsor 2 monthly discussion groups, community volunteer activities, outings such as picnics and hikes, a reading group and occasional parties. We believe that a humanist community is emerging in San Francisco and East Bay. Those of us who regularly attend BAH events are forming the bonds necessary for community. We invite all of the readers of this Newsletter to join our emerging community.


 

Discussion Groups

First Saturday Discussion: These events are either in the Glen Park library or the Women’s Building in San Francisco. In the first quarter, we discussed parenting of a transgender child and the international activities of International Atheist Alliance, including establishing secular schools and helping non-believers who are persecuted.
Perhaps the highlight of the first quarter was our Darwin Day celebration. Professor
Katryn Wiese delivered a fascinating, interactive lecture on the evolution of the earth and life on it. She also treated us to a tour of the extensive fossils and dioramas depicting prehistoric scenes in the City College Science building that is free and open to the pubic. In the coming months we will discuss efforts to pass a bill in California that would enable the terminally ill to seek assistance to end their lives and learn about the role of humanist organizations in Norway, one of the most secular countries in Europe.

Humanism Examined: This is a new discussion series that will be on the 4th the month in the Berkeley library. Its focus will be on an examination of the philosophy of humanism and its application to our lives and society today. John Figdor, the Humanist Chaplain at Stanford, got the series off to a great start with a discussion of
what we can believer after we stop believing in god. The next event on April 25 will be a discussion of the basic principles and historical develop of humanism lead by Jim Barnett, a graduate of the Humanist Institute.


Reading Group

On the second Saturday of the month, our reading group meets to discuss what they are reading. Currently the group is reading Citizens of the World: Readings in Human Rights” published by the Great Books Foundation. Used copies can be purchased inexpensively from Amazon. This is an anthology of historical documents and writings that have influenced our understanding of human rights. We have very stimulating discussions and learn a lot from the readings and each other. If you would like to join the reading group, let us know.


Volunteer Group

It was one year ago (February 2014) that the Bay Area Humanists started the Volunteer group. And, it has been a successful year.

We started our year volunteering at the San Francisco Marin Food Bank, at the San Francisco location, one Wednesday a month. In the early months we averaged 2-4 persons at the event. It was a great way to help in our community and to build closer relationships with other volunteers. In the summer we got our BAH t-shirts. The lime green color with its “Happy Humanist” has brought immediate attention to our group, no matter the size. As we entered Fall our monthly number tended to be a steady 5-7 persons. Not bad for an afternoon, weekday timeslot. The Food Bank processes food to other agencies who collectively serve more than 100,00 meals per day!

In November we added a monthly shift at At The Crossroads, a nonprofit in the Mission that does on the street counseling for homeless youth. There we are part of the Prep Night, where we clean book bags and assemble goody bags and hygiene kits and fold new clothes for the clothes closet. Our volunteer hours free up the organization to put its efforts to direct services for their clients. This volunteer event fills up quickly and we have had to turn people away.
In February of this year BAH had enough interest to start its weekend volunteer shift at the Food Bank. We have had 5-7 volunteers for each of these shifts.

The volunteer events have been very successful on several points. It helps with meeting the needs of our community. It has helped those looking for an opportunity to serve with a secular group. And, it has given BAH members an opportunity to talk about Humanism in a neutral place. We have already started to see people who have come to the volunteer events showing up at other events. We will continue to expand our volunteer efforts as our participants voice their interests.


UPCOMING EVENTS

RECENT EVENTS

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​Walk N’ Talk about Flow – Lake Merrit, Oakland

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​Celebrating Darwin Day at City College,
​San Francisco

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​Volunteers at the
​SF Food Bank

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Party in Pacifica

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News From Our Friends

Humanist Community of Silicon Valley (HCSV). HCSV has been sponsoring a wide range of weekly and monthly activities in Palo Alto for 40 years. They have been meeting in space rented at the local high school. They have now decided to obtain a building of their own, Humanist House. This is exciting news for all of us. HCSV will be able to better meet the needs of their members and families with a building available 24/7. They will also use the facility to better serve the needy and work for justice in their area. Congratulations HCSV!

American Humanist Association (AHA): The AHA will have is 74th annual conference in Denver on May 7-10. There will be sessions on humanism, reproductive freedom, marriage equality, atheism, science, freethought history, diversity, LGBTQ and women’s rights, marijuana policy. In addition, there will be workshops for chapter leaders and humanist celebrants and a post-conference tour of Denver featuring a visit to EvolveFISH and the Secular Hub. Let us know if you plan to attend and we’ll plan to get together in Denver.

You can find out about all BAH events on our meetup site. You can also find out more about us on our website and Facebook Page. You can contact us with questions or comments at bayarea@sfhumanist.org.