Humanist Society of Greater Phoenix   - -
Board Members:

Richard Dewey

Vice President:
Henry Geist

Tim Bedient

Rebecca Beltran

Program Director:
Al Wendler

Members at Large:
Vici Duarte
Ann Marie
Eisentraut /
Bruce Stiles
Michal Otten
Anita Romanowski

Committee Chairs & Other Leadership:

J.B. Wright

Bruce Pettycrew


Anita Romanowski

Property Management:
Ann Marie Eisentraut

Service Outreach Coordinator:
Michal Otten

Facility Use Management:
Vici Duarte

Food Management:
Kathy Pettycrew

Linda Wendler

Science Night:

Michelle Rose

Information Technology:
James Osborn

Odyssey of the Mind:
Brian Calaway

Lego League:
Brian Calaway

Girl Scout Troop:
Alisha DeCou

Book Club:
Roy Towne

Inquiring Minds:
Kevin Moriarty

Ted Talks:
Kevin Moriarty

Game Nights:
Bruce Stiles
Ann Marie

Immediate Past President:
Shelley Newman (2011)

President Emeritus:
Susan Sackett

President's Message

This should be a bit easier to write this month since November wasn't quite as crazy as the previous ones, but it was still good as always. Our social media presence continues to increase nicely with 943 followers on Meetup and 548 followers on Facebook currently. We're still getting some great discussions on Facebook too and I really hope that that trend continues. Our dues-paying membership level went down very slightly to 284 but that's still fantastic. We are still looking good and as strong as ever.

The following is an overview of what we did in November. You can find out more about our organization and get more details about other activities in the rest of the newsletter.

Events in November

Our Inquiring Minds Discussion Group had a discussion on "Creation Myths". I missed this one again this month but I gather that everyone had a chance to recite their favorite creation myths and some were apparently quite entertaining and very interesting. People do come up with some very peculiar beliefs to explain what they don't understand and some can even be humorous. I really do hope that I make the next meeting because these are always fascinating discussions.

Oh boy did we have fun at our Fourth Annual Flying Spaghetti Monster Dinner! This was definitely the best yet with people sitting on the floors because we ran out of table space! I do believe that everyone in attendance had an absolute blast. I know I did since I get to be loud and boisterous at these events (first mate) and people even brought plenty of gluten free spaghetti for people like me who can't have the regular kind. Besides the great food and great company, we also had lots of door prizes, Tombola, and several raffle prizes. The fun went on for hours. And did I mention the food? We had tons. We also donated a pile of uncooked spaghetti to one of our favorite charities, Tumbleweed Center for Youth Development. I'm already looking forward to next year (I think I said that last year too).

The Ted Talks Discussion Group met for the second time this month. Because of scheduling conflicts, I can't make these but I am hopeful that I'll get a break and be able to attend one soon. The format, as I said last month, is that the group picks which Ted Talks (or any public video) to watch and each is followed by a discussion session of varying length depending on what the group wants and reasonable time constraints. Considering the vast number of Ted Talks out there alone, there should be plenty of interesting topics for people to pick for a very long time indeed.

Our HSGP Humanities Project had another great month. They had five outings and one in-house event. For their outings, they went to an exhibition of 3D printing and prototyping, a lecture on Water Policies for conservation, a lecture about meteorite studies at ASU, a Student Art Market, and a concert by the lake in Tempe. The in-house event was the reading of the second half of the play "Speak of the Devil" which is a story about Robert G. Ingersoll. I had a part in this one and enjoyed it thoroughly. We had great attendance again and it seems that everyone very much enjoyed it. Thanks to Hal Saferstein for arranging and narrating this!

Our Game Night is consistenly a hit since early summer and I do believe that the trend will continue. As I've said before, it's a great way to spend an evening, meet some neat people, and enjoy some great games and possibly some great conversation. It is well worth trying if you haven't already.

Our first Sunday speaker this month was Will Humble, the Director of AZDHS (Department of Health Services), presenting "Vaccination and the Social Contract". This was a great talk covering some of the history of medical advancements, learning about the effects of sanitation on public health, and of course vaccines. We heard about the diseases that have been nearly or completely wiped off the planet with vaccines, "herd immunity" and what that means, childhood vaccinations and the public school system, and why some people are reluctant to get their kids vaccinated and the risk that poses for all of us. If you want a much more detailed summary of the talk, you can find it at Vaccination & the Social Contract.

We had another special event this month as well. Aaron Ra was in town with an entourage and Chris Wojno and Ann Marie Eisentraut arranged for him to come and do a "meet and greet" with plenty of hors d'oeuvres and drinks. I knew I liked the guy when he walked in. He was dressed in full motorcycle riding gear! There was a total of five motorcycles in our parking lot that night, including mine. And he had ridden all the way from Nebraska on this trip and was on his way to Texas next. If you would like to watch a good youtube video of a talk that he gave, go to Give the Devil His Due.

The HSGP Book Club reviewed "Levels of Life" by Julian Barnes. I think that I'll have to read this book to better understand what it's about but the review is quite intriguing. There is hot air ballooning involved and profound grief at the loss of a loved one. If you want to know more about this book, read the review on Amazon at Levels of Life.

Our second Sunday speaker event this month was our very own member Bruce Stiles giving a talk on "Microfinance in the Developing World" focusing on the microlending institution Kiva. Bruce has loaned well over 20 thousand dollars to help entepreneurs in poor countries to get a new start and, so far, has lost only around $100! Not only is this a great way to help the economies of third world nations, but it directly effects the people who need it most. And Bruce did an excellent job of explaining how it all works and his talk was even quite entertaining. I personally learned much about this very Humanistic concept and I do find it a very worthwhile endeavor to get into. If you want to learn more about this event, you can find a more detailed summary at Microlending.

Our Glendale HSGP Meetup met again this month at a coffee shop to socialize, have a drink or snack, and talk about a variety of topics. I gather that this is a fun group and they are always looking for new people. If you live out that way, or know people who do who might like to meet like-minded people in a non-religious, non-superstitious (that's redundant) setting, then email me at the address at the bottom of this article and I'll set you up.

What else happened in November?

Our Service Outreach Coordinator, Michal Otten, and our membership chair, Anita Romanowski, led an outing to Lost our Home Pet Foundation. Anita regularly volunteers there. If you want to find out more about community service projects and outings, check out Michal's column to the right for details on what she and her crew have been up to.

Girl Scout Troop 1080, led by Alisha DeCou, only met once this month due to a scheduling conflict which might be partially because they are already up to 17 girls in the troop!! That is awesome! This is definitely a great addition to HSGP and we are proud to host the troop. They are still looking for more girls so if you know parents with girls in right age range who would be interested in a purely secular troop, let us know.

The Odyssey of the Mind group met twice this month again. Brian Calaway is hosting this and is doing a great job with the kids. We are hopeful that an HSGP team will make it to the World Championships again in 2015 but I guess we'll just have to wait to see. They have our full support. As I understand it, Brian gets help from volunteers, including parents, and even kids that aren't interested in the competition are more than welcome to participate in the activities. Let's see this grow!

Brian was also leading a Lego League event but I do believe that that activity is already over for the year. We'll keep you posted if it happens again next year.

The column that I added a couple of months ago (lower right of the newsletter) has a series of quotes from famous people regarding their perspective on Humanism. This is very enlightening indeed. It gives some answers to the question of whether you are a Humanist. Take time to read it and see what you think. This was borrowed from the American Humanist Association. Enjoy! I would like to reiterate that all members are free to contribute to this column. If you have something that you feel would fit, email me at the address below. All Humanist poems, prayers, invocations, inspirational quotes, etc. will be considered.

As always, we are interested in any feedback that you might have so please feel free to email me at or find out who your board members and committee chairs are, on the left side of this page, and talk to them! Enjoy the rest of the newsletter!

Richard Dewey
President, HSGP

Turn Business into Fundraising for HSGP

One easy way Humanists can raise funds for HSGP is by giving our business to businesses that return a percentage of the proceeds to HSGP. For example, Bashas', Fry's and Albertson's grocery stores will return a percentage of the money our members spend at their store's. Amazon will also donate a percentage of sales that are made through the HSGP link. But first you need to enroll in the program(s) of your choice for this to happen. See article at lower right for more information.

HSGP member and Professional Realtor Vici Duarte has announced that she is offering a similar program. Vici will donate 10% of her net commission to HSGP. If you plan to buy or sell a home, speak to Vici at any HSGP event, or contact her by email at

We are looking for other business people who might be interested in increasing their sales and then giving back to the Humanists. If you have an interest in a business, consider if you would like to offer a way to increase your business and support HSGP. Please contact Ariane at about setting up a similar program.

Upcoming Meetings and Topics
Dec 20th
Humanist Celebration
Event:  Annual Winter Solstice Celebration & FUNdraiser
Come join us for fun, food and friendship at our Winter Solstice Celebration!

This is a “Bring or Pay" Potluck: either BRING something delicious to share, or PAY $$ as a donation to HSGP. BYOB!

5 pm - Dinner begins
6 pm - Official welcome
7 pm - Installation of the 2015 board
8 pm - VIP Raffle! (you don’t have to be present to win)

What’s this VIP Raffle all about, you ask? We’re taking the 50/50 raffle to the eXtreme! All you VIPs and High Rollers can purchase $20 raffle tickets for chances to split the total bundle of cool cash collected - 50/50! No limit!

We’re also bringing back the popular Tombola (instant raffle) with tickets at just $1 each for a chance to instantly win an awesome prize, a fun consolation prize, or just the great feeling of knowing your dollars went to help fund HSGP!

AND, we’ll be introducing our “Fund-a-Project*” display where you can see all the different expenses that go into running the Humanist Center (as well as some items on our Wish List). You can select one or more items to "fund-a-project" or two, or several, to be accomplished in 2015. Checks are best (so bring your checkbook) but cash and credit cards work too!
(*You might remember this concept from previous years when we called it a tag sale, because the items were written on tags.)

You can volunteer to help with our Winter Solstice Celebration by clicking on this link and signing up. Please and thank you!


Dec 27th
Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand
Event:  Book Club
Please join us for a discussion of Laura Hillenbrand's Unbroken:A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption.

from Amazon
In boyhood, Louis Zamperini was an incorrigible delinquent. As a teenager, he channeled his defiance into running, discovering a prodigious talent that had carried him to the Berlin Olympics. But when World War II began, the athlete became an airman, embarking on a journey that led to a doomed flight on a May afternoon in 1943. When his Army Air Forces bomber crashed into the Pacific Ocean, against all odds, Zamperini survived, adrift on a foundering life raft. Ahead of Zamperini lay thousands of miles of open ocean, leaping sharks, thirst and starvation, enemy aircraft, and, beyond, a trial even greater. Driven to the limits of endurance, Zamperini would answer desperation with ingenuity; suffering with hope, resolve, and humor; brutality with rebellion. His fate, whether triumph or tragedy, would be suspended on the fraying wire of his will.

HSGP will benefit if you purchase this book through the Amazon Smile program. Click on the image below.

Jan 09th
Evocations: What moves you?
Event:  Humanities Project Monthly Cultural Presentation & Meeting
Evocations. What evokes emotions in you? A certain song? A particular painting? A book? A letter? A poem? A movie or video? A place?

Which feelings are stirred? Love, anger, shame, sadness, patriotism, pride, fear, joy? These are but a few.

And why? Do you even know?

We invite you to come with one or more examples of whatever affects you emotionally and share it with us. Here is a list of possibilities, but don't feel limited by it:

• Music or other audio - cd or thumb drive - or bring your instrument!

• Any printed matter - books, letters, print-outs, etc.

• Artwork - original piece, print or photo - thumb drive

• Photos - originals and/or on thumb drive

We will have a cd player and a computer that we will hook up to the audio-visual equipment.

Feel free to bring more than one item. We will make sure everyone gets to share once, and if time permits, we can go around again.

If you just can't think of anything, or are too shy, no worries! Come anyway and enjoy what others have to share.

Hosted by Zenaido & Jennifer

BYOB, snacks and beverages to share always welcome!

The HSGP Humanities Project holds free and open meetings on the 2nd Friday of each month at 7pm at HCC. The majority of the evening is given over to one or more of our HSGP members or guests, to share with us some aspect of arts & humanities that they are passionate about!

Jan 10th
Game Night - Get to know others, have fun, benefit HSGP.
Fundraiser:  Game Night Fundraiser
Join our Game Nights to play board and card games like Dominoes/Mexican Train, Bridge, Catchphrase, Taboo, Apples to Apples, Guesstures as well as any other game you bring along.

Please feel welcome to BYOB as well as any snacks you would like to enjoy as you are playing.

Consider RSVPing on Meet Up so we can see who is coming - also consider bringing a $5 donation to help us fund our wonderful community center!

If you have questions or want to organize, for instance, a game of bridge, please make use of the comments on MeetUp.

See you soon!

Ann Marie

Jan 11th
Speaker:  Dr. Charles Arntzen
Jan 11th
Children's Program:  Children's Program
Jan 11th
Event:  Children's Program
Jan 17th
Event:  Service Outreach
Jan 24th
Jan 25th
Speaker:  Kenneth McKinley
Jan 25th
Event:  Children's Program
Jan 25th
Event:  Children's Program
Feb 08th
Event:  Annual Darwin Day Celebration
Feb 13th
Event:  Humanities Project Monthly Cultural Presentation & Meeting
Feb 14th
Fundraiser:  Game Night Fundraiser
Feb 22nd
Feb 22nd
Event:  Children's Program
Feb 22nd
Event:  Children's Program
Mar 08th
Mar 08th
Event:  Children's Program
Mar 08th
Event:  Children's Program
Mar 13th
Event:  Humanities Project Monthly Cultural Presentation & Meeting
Mar 14th
Fundraiser:  Game Night Fundraiser
Mar 22nd
Mar 22nd
Event:  Children's Program

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.

Membership Matters

by Anita Romanowski

Hopefully everyone had a wonderful and bountiful Thanksgiving and that you all have much to be thankful for. I know that I'm thankful every day for having found HSGP and cultivated so many close and supportive friendships. Now that the holiday season is in full force, HSGP's biggest fundraising event of the year will take place this month. Details below:

Annual Winter Solstice Celebration & FUNdraiser

December 20th, 2014 5:00 pm - Saturday

Location: 627 W Rio Salado Parkway, Mesa AZ

Come join us for fun, food and friendship at our Winter Solstice Celebration! 

This is a “Bring or Pay" Potluck: either BRING something delicious to share, or PAY $$ as a donation to HSGP. BYOB!

5 pm - Dinner begins
6 pm - Official welcome 

7 pm - Installation of the 2015 board

8 pm - VIP Raffle! (you don’t have to be present to win) 

What’s this VIP Raffle all about, you ask? We’re taking the 50/50 raffle to the Xtreme! All you VIPs and High Rollers can purchase $20 raffle tickets for chances to split the total bundle of cool cash collected - 50/50! No limit! 

We’re also bringing back the popular Tombola with tickets at just $1 each for a chance to instantly win an awesome prize, a fun consolation prize, or just the great feeling of knowing your dollars went to help fund HSGP! 

AND, we’ll be introducing our “Fund-a-Project” display where you can see all the different expenses that go into running the Humanist Center (as well as some items on our Wish List). You can select one or more items to "fund-a-project" or two, or several, to be accomplished in 2015. Checks are best (so bring your checkbook) but cash and credit cards work too!  (You might remember this concept from previous years when we called it a tag sale, because the items were written on tags.) 

You can volunteer to help with our Winter Solstice Celebration by clicking on this link Solstice Celebration and signing up. Please and thank you!   

Welcome New Members:

Sabrina Neal
Scott Rucker
Daniel Fairfield
Yvette Ehler

Member Announcements:
If you would like to have a personal event, i.e., anniversary, birthday, birth of child or grandchild, looking to carpool or request a social connection announced in this column, send me an email.

Also, please let me know if you have a change of address, phone number, or email. This information is for our records only and will not be published or shared. Anita Romanowski
Chair, Membership Committee

HSGP Service Outreach Project

by Michal Otten

Upcoming Volunteer Opportunities

* December 6 from 10 AM-1 PM: Human Services Campus, 230 S. 12th Ave, Phoenix.
The HSC offers comprehensive assistance to individuals experiencing homelessness in Maricopa County. The campus is home to more than a dozen social services agencies. As such, they get lots of donations that can be difficult to keep track of – decorations, electronics, books, movies, etc. Knowing how organized many in our group are, I thought we could best help by sorting, cataloguing, and organizing several of their storage sheds and library.

* December 13 and January 17th from 12-3 PM. St. Mary's Food Bank Alliance, 2831 N. 31st Ave., Phoenix.
St. Mary's Food Bank Alliance is a non-sectarian, nonprofit organization that serves two-thirds of Arizona's 15 counties. We have volunteered at St. Mary’s for over 2 years, and they have always been very welcoming to us. Typically, we help by packing emergency food boxes or sorting donated food and items.

For more details and to sign up, visit Meetup or email Michal at

Tax Credit Drive

Arizona individuals who submit income tax returns in Arizona may be able to obtain a tax credit for donations to nonprofit organizations that qualifying as organizations serving the “working poor.” (This is often called the “working poor tax credit.”) The credit can be up to $200 for individuals or head of household and up to $400 for married couples filing a joint return. This credit can reduce taxes for these tax filers more than a regular deduction for contributions to charitable nonprofits, because they may get a dollar-for-dollar reduction in taxes owed. For more information, please visit Please consider making a donation to one of the organizations HSGP supports, such as St. Mary’s Food Bank Alliance or Tumbleweed Center for Youth Development. A list of all eligible organizations can be found on the website listed above.

If there is an organization you would like us to become involved with, I’d love to hear your suggestions! Please email me at with your ideas.

Keeping Up With HSGP
Social Media Tips and Hints #17

by Jennifer White

I would like to talk about the HSGP Humanities Project. I believe that humanities are a vital part of humanism, which is why a small group of us got together to form the Humanities Project. Here is the definition of humanities that I found on Wikipedia:

The humanities are academic disciplines that study human culture. The humanities use methods that are primarily critical, or speculative, and have a significant historical element—as distinguished from the mainly empirical approaches of the natural sciences. The humanities include ancient and modern languages, literature, philosophy, religion, and visual and performing arts such as music and yheatre. Areas that are sometimes regarded as social sciences and sometimes as humanities include history, archaeology, anthropology, area studies, communication studies, cultural studies,

Scholars in the humanities are "humanities scholars" or humanists. The term "humanist" also describes the philosophical position of humanism, which some "antihumanist" scholars in the humanities refuse. The Renaissance scholars and artists were also called humanists.

Some secondary schools offer humanities classes, usually consisting of English literature, global studies, and art.

Human disciplines like history and cultural anthropology study subject matters that the experimental method does not apply to—and instead mainly use the comparative method and comparative research.

The humanities are the other half, with natural sciences, of what makes us human. Art, music, culture, literature, theater, poetry, philosophy, and all the disciplines that are encompassed by that term give us joy, and connection to the rest of humanity. They are the heart of humanism.

The HSGP Humanities Project exists to bring more of the arts to our community. We have a monthly meeting (2nd Friday of each month) at which we enjoy a presentation or participate actively in some aspect of the humanities. For instance, each February we have our poetry, chocolate, and wine event. People come to recite and hear poems, including some original work. We usually have a drum circle at least once per year. Sometimes we get together to create art, or view a film, or share our favorite music.

We work to find great speakers to give presentations at our Sunday Speaker meetings. Some examples of past speakers are Will Bruder, world-renowned architect and Paul Espinosa, well-known filmmaker of documentaries, many of which have aired on PBS. There have been several others, and more in the future.

We also look out for art exhibits, concerts, lectures, festivals and performances that are free or inexpensive, and post them on Meetup, Facebook, and for the enjoyment of our community.

The internet and social media make it easy to share all that the Humanities Project has to offer.

Check out this month's Bookworm report by clicking on the Humanist Rising Blog below.

HSGP Fundraising Activities

Help make our Solstice Celebration a success! Whether you prefer setting up, decorating, offering raffle tickets, supervising children, or cleaning up, your assistance will be greatly appreciated! Volunteering is easy with SignUp Genius. No special account or password is needed. Simply go to Solstice Celebration and sign up today.

Save the Date: Saturday, January 17, 2015 to Sunday the 18th: Joint event with Camp Quest, Urban Camping Experience. Registration Information and other details coming soon!

HSGP Humanities Project Fundraiser
Books & Music Bookshelf

HSGP's Humanities Project has a Book & Music Bookshelf for your convenient shopping pleasure. Books, CDs and DVDs on the bookshelf are for sale at a great price. The deals are even better on the 2-for-a-dollar bottom shelf. The Bookshelf is located under the bulletin board near the entrance to the restrooms.

The prices on these items are so great that some folks are using it like a rental library: They buy a book for a super-cheap price, read it, and bring it back as a donation. The book goes up for sale again, and they "buy" another one! Cool!

Take a look at the Bookshelf next time you're at the Humanist Community Center and consider buying or donating to this fun new effort.

Human Inspiration

"There may be times when we are powerless to prevent injustice, but there must never be a time when we fail to protest."
Attributed to Elie Wiesel

"People who try hard to do the right thing always seem mad."
Attributed to Stephen King, The Stand

Quotes courtesy of

Programs to Support HSGP from Grocery Stores and Amazon

If you shop at any of the Bashas' stores (Bashas', AJ's Fine Foods, Food City), your local Fry's Food Store, or your local Albertson's HSGP can receive a percentage of the money you spend. In addition, when you shop at using our HSGP link, we receive a percentage of the sale.

To activate any of these no-cost-to-you revenue streams for HSGP, go to the HSGP Supporting Businesses page Supporting Businesses and follow the instructions for the program you want to use.

If you shop at any of the local stores that participate in this program, please consider obtaining and using an HSGP community support card whenever you make purchases. When we support our local merchants, they support us!

Susan Sackett, Certified Humanist Celebrant, would like to remind you that she is available for all your life passage ceremonies, including weddings and commitment ceremonies, baby namings, coming-of-age celebrations, funerals/memorial services, and even divorce celebrations! Special 10% discount for all HSGP members and their immediate families! Humanist Celebrant. Discounts for HSGP members! Contact her at Susan Sackett .

Do you know what a humanist is?

Do you know what a humanist is? Perhaps you are one yourself. If so, you're in great company!

Humanists recognize that it is only when people feel free to think for themselves, using reason as their guide, that they are best capable of developing values that succeed in satisfying human needs and serving human interests. • ISAAC ASIMOV - scientist, author, and past president of the American Humanist Association.

It seems to me that the idea of a personal God is an anthropological concept which I cannot take seriously. I also cannot imagine some will or goal outside the human sphere.... Science has been charged with undermining morality, but the charge is unjust. A man's ethical behavior should be based effectually on sympathy, education, and social ties and needs; no religious basis is necessary. Man would indeed be in a poor way if he had to be restrained by fear of punishment and hope of reward after death. • ALBERT EINSTEIN - scientist, Nobel Prizewinner in physics, originator of the theory of relativity.

When we speak of equality, of women and men, of Blacks and Whites, of all the world's people, we are talking about humanism. • GLORIA STEINEM - founder of Ms.magazine, Humanist Pioneer Awardee.

Humanism, in all its simplicity, is the only genuine spirituality. • ALBERT SCHWEITZER - accepting the Nobel Peace Prize.

Humanism is a philosophy of joyous service for the greater good of all humanity, of application of new ideas of scientific progress for the benefit of all. • LINUS PAULING - scientist, Humanist of the Year in 1961, Nobel Prize in chemistry in 1954, Nobel Peace Prize in 1962.

Our nation's founders saw a free press and an educated citizenry as the twin pillars of democratic health. But we no longer live in their world of numerous small, independent presses. These days, the vast majority of Americans get their news from corporately-owned information monoliths and from their local newspapers, most of them corporate subsidiaries as well. That is why humanism and the Humanist magazine are so important. Won't you join us today? • KURT VONNEGUT - author, lecturer, philanthropist and former honorary president of the American Humanist Association.

Have3 you joined our parent organizations? If so, you still must pay dues to be a member of HSGP - your enrollment in either of our parent organizations (American Humanist Association or Council for Secular Humanism) does NOT automatically include membership in the local chapter, HSGP. And conversely, if you join HSGP, you are not automatically enrolled in our parent organizations! Each is separate and must be joined separately. Why not join all three today? Humanism depends on your financial as well as emotional support!
HSGP is a Chartered chapter of the American Humanist Association and also a chapter of the Council for Secular Humanism.

American Humanist Association
1777 T. Street
Washington, DC 20009-7102
Council for Secular Humanism
Box 664
Amherst, NY 14226-0664