HSGP is a warm and welcoming community of humanists, atheists, agnostics, free-thinkers, and non-theists of all stripes. The group aims to enrich the lives of any who join us through explorations in science, philosophy, history, and the arts.
We are primarily an educational organization, providing bi-monthly lectures by experts in various fields; opportunities for intellectual intercourse over books, arts, and specific discussion topics; and social events such as game nights, potlucks, and special celebrations through the year. Our members have diverse and passionate interests in topics such as separation of church and state, evolution, technology, and environmental issues.
We offer a community of secular minded people who want to spend time with like-minded individuals in a non-religious setting. Though we do not (yet) provide childcare at HSGP events, we do have a playroom and a family bathroom available, so parents are welcome to bring their children. Please consider joining us, for events that interest you, or as a member of our growing community.
About Humanism (from the American Humanist Association)
Humanism is a progressive philosophy of life that, without theism and other supernatural beliefs, affirms our ability and responsibility to lead ethical lives of personal fulfillment that aspire to the greater good of humanity.
by Linda Wendler
Honeybees are a global fascination as Kirstin Traynor explained to the HSGP membership at the May 19, 2013 meeting. Traynor, who won her first beehive in a raffle, spent 18 months in Europe studying how bee-keeping habits in the home of the honeybee compare to those in the US where the honeybee is a non-native species. She is currently pursuing PhD at ASU which has a renowned social insect research program.
Honey and honeybees have had a place in human culture from earliest recorded times. Traynor showed images of cave paintings representing collection of honey from wild hives. The medicinal uses of honey have been known for centuries. An ancient Egyptian papyrus detailed the use of honey for treating battle wounds. Greeks from Democritus to Aristotle and Hipparchus recommended honey for similar uses.
The Catholic Church regarded the queen bee as pure and chaste and for this reason specified that only beeswax candles could be used in services. The reality, Traynor explained, is that the queen is actually quite promiscuous, mating with twenty or more drones (male bees) in order to produce her eggs. Nevertheless, at times in history it was possible to pay one's taxes in honey and beeswax. Beekeeping was a common activity in monasteries and monks became proficient in creating alcoholic mead from honey.
During the Middle Ages, honey was recognized as useful in wound care but that knowledge was discarded when more â€œmodernâ€ medicine was developed. Now, however, the positive role of honey in health and wound care is being rediscovered in a scientific setting. Asia and South America are ahead of the US in this research. Current research is testing claims for bee-related products in the area of anti-inflammation including arthritis, healing of chronic wounds, cough relief, treatment of burns and relief for radiation side-effects. Traynor noted that the FDA has approved honey as a medicinal substance. Honey is also being used to attempt to desensitize allergy sufferers by exposure to the pollen in unfiltered honey, although she commented that most US honey is processed to remove the pollen.
Traynor's recent book is titled â€œTwo Million Blossomsâ€ because that's how many it takes to produce a pound of honey. She pointed out that there is no such thing as â€œorganicâ€ honey because the beekeeper has no control over where the bee collects nectar, although it is possible to use organic methods in hive management.
When collected and placed into the honeycomb, the nectar has a high water content. Inside the warm hive, bees fan their wings to dehydrate the nectar into a honey product which is less than 19% water.
Bees produce five different substances which are considered to have medicinal value. In addition to beeswax and honey, a resinous substance called propolis, sometimes called â€œRussian Penicillinâ€ is reputed to have a number of medical uses including as an anti-inflammatory and as an antibiotic or antifungal. Bee venom is used to moderate the effects of arthritis and claims for royal jelly emphasize its supposed anti-aging effect.
Traynor commented that in Germany where she studied beekeeping practices, bees are docile and the beekeepers don't wear protective clothing as do beekeepers in the US. Africanized bees exist only in the southern tier in the US but are actually good pollinators and produce quality honey. Where the Africanized strains can exist, they will inevitably take over the hive because the Africanized males fly earlier to mate with the queen than the non-Africanized drones and thus the Africanized genes are introduced at a higher rate. The gentler strains from Europe cannot be brought to the US because of import regulations.
Colony collapse disorder is a major problem in the US and less so in Europe, possibly due to differences in beekeeping practices. Traynor pointed out that most German beekeepers are amateurs, while in the US, beekeeping is big business and a critical part of the production of many crops. An outstanding example is the California almond crop which requires 1.5 million hives for pollination, out of a total US hive population of 2.1 million. Moving hives frequently to different pollination locations may contribute to hive stress.
Traynor's presentation was enhanced by her husband Michael, a professional photographer in addition to a bee-lover, who contributed images and his own comments.
The audience had many questions. Michael Traynor gave the recipe for a honey-based skin care lotion as two parts of your favorite skin-care lotion to one part of honey. He also recommended a digestive aid of a tall glass of water to which a tablespoon of honey and a tablespoon of Bragg's cider vinegar have been added. Kirsten pointed out that it is almost impossible to overdose on honey because you can only eat just so much. She suggested that one befriend a beekeeper, and failing that, to shop for honey at a farmers' market and ask detailed questions about the provenance and processing of the honey. Ideally honey should not be heated to more than 104 degrees and certainly to less than 120 degrees to preserve the natural enzymes that give it so much of its efficacy. She also advised trying out different kinds of honey to experience the range of flavors, also saying that the darker the honey, the more vitamins and minerals it has.
In early 2011, Eric Nguyen of the American Humanist Association interviewed Shelley Newman, HSGP's president at that time. The interview serves as a profile of the Humanist Society of Greater Phoenix, including a brief history of the organization.
Read the interview on the American Humanist Association Website.
At our regular Sunday meetings, breakfast is offered for sale to members and guests for $5.00. For coffee only, the charge is $1.00. If you would like to have coffee and/or food, please pay at the welcome desk by the entrance door. Of course, donations are always gratefully accepted as well.
For your convenience, the membership desk is immediately behind the welcome desk at each Sunday meeting. Stop by to join or renew your membership in HSGP, or to update your records such as your email address.
The Humanist Society of Greater Phoenix meets twice a month (not quite the same as every other week) on Sunday mornings. Meetings are free and open to anyone who is interested in learning more about Humanism or the speaker's topic.
Doors open at 9:00 AM. We begin by enjoying the company of our fellow Humanists over coffee and breakfast. The program begins at 10:00 AM, when we share announcements and then hear from a guest speaker. Our post-lecture discussions usually end by 11:30, when we invite members and guests to participate in light clean-up chores.
We do not yet have childcare available for every meeting, but our center has a pleasant Kid's room, and members of the community often cooperate to maximize the number of adults who are able to attend the meeting.
Humanist Community Center
627 W. Rio Salado Parkway* - Mesa, AZ 85201
* The City of Mesa recently changed the name of W. 8th Street to W. Rio Salado Parkway. The HCC has not moved, it merely has a new street name in its address.
Please note: In order for us to receive mail or other deliveries, they must be sent to:
Humanist Society of Greater Phoenix
P.O. Box 15112
Mesa, AZ 85211-3112
The Humanist Society of Greater Phoenix is open to presentations on a variety of topics, many of which are controversial. Please note that the opinions expressed by our guest speakers do not necessarily reflect the viewpoint or philosophy of HSGP.
HSGP is an Educational Organization rooted in the values of Secular Humanism.
Our speakers' program and various discussion forums are open to all who want to keep their minds stimulated or wish to explore a topic of interest with other Humanists. We demonstrate the people-centric values of Humanism by being a positive influence in the community. We do this through our meetings and lectures (free to the public); community service, such as our support of Tumbleweed Center for Youth Development and the work they do for at-risk youth; and networking with students at campuses throughout Maricopa County to encourage debates and humanistic activities. We affiliate with other groups (including the Freedom from Religion Foundation and Secular Coalition for Arizona) that work to preserve separation of church and state and thereby protecting individual rights.
Our Membership is drawn from a cross section of the Greater Phoenix area. Members range in age from early 20s to 90+, with backgrounds from many professions and walks of life. The only requirement for membership is interest in the principles of Humanism. Participation can be limited to simply attending meetings, or becoming actively involved in projects.
HSGP is an educational non-profit organization. All dues and donations are deductible for income tax purposes.