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

Immediate Past President:
Shelley Newman (2011)

President Emeritus:
Susan Sackett

Committee Chairs & Other Leadership:

J.B. Wright

Bruce Pettycrew


Anita Romanowski

Property Management:
Ann Marie Eisentraut

Facility Use Management:
Vici Duarte

Food Management:

Linda Wendler

Science Night:
LuAnn Dahlman

Book Club:
Roy Towne

Inquiring Minds:
Kevin Moriarty

Game Nights:
Bruce Stiles
Ann Marie
Michelle Popejoy

Service Outreach Coordinator:
Michal Otten

President's Message

We did it again! March was crazy busy and very exciting. The board, committee chairs, and volunteers worked overtime to make it a very successful month. Keep reading this article and I'll fill you in on some of the highlights. I wish I could tell you all of the details but I would be writing for more than a day. Thankfully, more details are given in some of the event links below if you want more details than this. If you would rather just see what's coming up, and other useful information about HSGP, skip this article and check out the rest of the newsletter.

Events in March

We started of the month with another interesting, and somewhat contentious, Inquiring Minds Discussion Group discussing "The Ethics of Inaction". We covered the usual philosophical trolley dilemma and worked around to our government's foreign policy decisions affecting other areas of the world, particularly the genocide events that have occurred in Africa. What we should do, as a people with resources, and what we can trust our government to do, for the right reasons, ended up being a very painful point of contention. Should we police the world? That is not such an easy question to answer either with strong opinions and perspectives on both sides of that question. These are always great discussions and if you want to talk about tough topics and hear the diverse views of a group of Humanists, this is a great event to attend. As I have said before, it's well worth the effort on a Saturday morning! We also usually have snacks, sometimes coffee, and a group usually goes out to lunch afterward, so it's not all just about solving the problems of the world!

The HSGP Humanities Project really picked up the pace again this month with seven outings and one in-house event. The outings included four concerts, a microart exhibit (sounds fascinating), an ASU presentation of the possibilities of what life will be like in the future with the advancement of technology and culture (also sounds fascinating), and an ASU lecture given by Pulitzer Prize winner, Stephen Greenblatt, talking about the need for humans to tell stories. The in-house event this month was the annual "Drum Circle". I hosted this event for the second year in a row. Yes, I know it sounds new-agey but, in fact, it isn't at all. This is about people using a social bonding tool, as old as humanity itself, making rhythms both simple and somewhat complex. We didn't get into the highly complex because that takes long experience and practice to do that. But the result is that nobody there thought of anything else but what we were doing and it was a great bonding experience, as always. We had a good turnout, including several beginners, and more drums and percussion instruments than we could use. The HP group continues to bring us a wide array of cultural activities to choose from and all are wonderful. We have more culture in the Valley than most people think and this group is quite successfully proving it!

I missed Game Night again this month due to other responsibilities and, as always, I was sad to miss it. These events are always a blast and you get to meet many different kinds of interesting people. I am sure that this was no exception. This also is a great bonding experience besides having a ton of fun. You will often see usually very serious people doing incredibly silly things as part of a game. That's one of the best parts, people really get a chance to relax and enjoy themselves. If you haven't tried it yet, it's well worth the time.

The Odyssey of the Mind children's program not only met during both of our speaker meetings this month, they also went to the regional competition in Tucson and won a first prize! We are all very excited and proud of these kids for showing ingenuity and resourcefulness in solving some complex problems and having a blast doing it! I gather that they are planning to go to the state competition as well. Discussions are continuing regarding what kind of children's program we'll be having after the competitions are over this year.

Our first Sunday speaker this month, a survivor of the Rwanda genocide, was Agnes Umuligirwa. She presented a very moving talk on "Beyond race, immigration and ethnicity". She told the heart-wrenching story of how she lost her entire family in the genocide, was nearly killed herself and was found unconcious among a pile of dead bodies, and the ensuing journey from one refugee camp to another until finally meeting someone who helped her to get to the U.S.. Most people are not aware of the struggles that refugees of these kinds of atrocities go through and it is a very painful thing to hear. But we need to hear it. Agnes is one very courageous woman with an incredible story to tell that should make most people want to do something to prevent these kinds of atrocities in the future and to do whatever we can to help the people who are in these conflicts now. You can read a more detailed summary of the presentation at Beyond race, immigration and ethnicity.

We now have two satellite groups, the North Phoenix Satellite group and the Glendale Satellite group, both led by member Karen Vollis. The North Phoenix group met this month and presented a DVD video of one of our favorite speakers Robert J. McWhirter talking about "A Universe of Rights Possessed by the People". The Glendale group met for the first time this month and talked about "Humanist Comedy" from To see what's coming up next with either of these groups, keep an eye out on our Meetup page at Humanist Society Meetup.

Our Service Outreach Project, led by board member Michal Otten, did a tour of the St. Mary's Food Bank Alliance facilities (not affiliated with the Catholic church) this month. This group routinely has outings, fundraisers, coupon classes, etc. to find ways to help our community. The St. Mary's Food bank Alliance outings are to help feed the homeless. Read Michal's article for more details (second article down on the right). The group is also coordinating efforts with another organization in the Valley, the "Good Without God" group. Together, some pretty amazing things are being done in and around the Valley. Anyone interested in community service should really check this out!

The HSGP Book Club, reviewed "The Circle" by Dave Eggers. This sounds like a very exciting novel about a woman who takes a job at a powerful internet company and then finds out, gradually, that it wasn't what she thought it was. Some fair amount of suspense ensues. If you would like to read more details, check out the review at The Circle.

Our second Sunday speaker this month was Stella Pope Duarte, a critically acclaimed author, human rights advocate and college professor presenting "We Cannot Look Away". Her talk mostly covered the murders and disappearances of thousands of women in Juarez, Mexico and her efforts to bring awareness of the atrocities occurring there. She also discussed the heroic efforts of many in that community to force the government to tackle the problem and bring the perpetrators to justice. Government efforts have definitely improved but still have a long way to go due to corruption and fear of reprisals. If you missed it and you want more details, read a great summary at Stella Pope Duarte.

What else happened in March?
As if that wasn't enough.

The front half of the storage shed in the parking lot is gone! Our contractor finished the job this month and it looks much better. This is the first phase of a project that will eventually result in four more parking spaces. Unfortunately, the cost of finishing the project is more than we can handle at this point and we have a leak in the roof over the old part of the community center that needs attention first (more on that below). The remainder of this project will require more funding that we would like to find later in the year because we still would really like to finish this project in 2014. The last bid received to complete this project is over $10K so it may be a while.

The roof over the old section of the HCC is leaking when it rains and it is potentially damaging adobe walls. This is, of course, a priority for us so we are looking for bids and expert advice on preparing the roof for a solar panel (more on that below)! We are hoping to have this finished before the summer heat gets here so people are scrambling to make progress on this as soon as possible.

Contracts were signed this month to get a solar array installed on the roof of the HCC! The whole thing is being donated by a very generous couple who are long-time members (remaining anonymous). If the roof repairs are not done in time for the installation, three out of four arrays will be installed, on the roof over the meeting hall, until the final array can be installed on the old roof. We are hoping that it can all be done at the same time but it will cost little more if the last array is delayed. It is better to get the roof fixed correctly than too quickly. The system is 7.14KW in size. This is a fantastic donation indeed!

Our sound system has been completed upgraded! We have three new microphones, a mixer, and two large speakers with professional stands. All of this was, again, paid for by donations from members and installed by a member volunteer (Andy Meyer)! We are still planning on getting cables run through the walls when our projector is mounted on brackets from the ceiling but all the components are there. This is a fantastic improvement over the old system and I'm sure everyone will appreciate the change.

Also, our Member-at-large board member, Vici Duarte, donated $413.50 to HSGP because a Humanist member, Marianne Eisentraut, used Vici's real estate services to sell a house in the Valley! That is a very generous contribution indeed!

Last, but not least, a tremendous effort has been underway for the last several months to switch our extensive member database from a fairly expensive software package to something much more user friendly and very inexpensive. I have already made the switch to the new database and found it to be fairly easy to use (my use is simple compared to other board members). The decision to finally give up the old database is imminent as key people have been working hard to get it ready and populated this month. Again, this is due to the efforts of volunteers and board members, with one volunteer specifically researching and setting up the new database for us (James Osborn), while a member continues to donate the cost of the old system (our VP, Henry Geist)! Wow, what a great group of people we have at HSGP!

And now for the statement that only changes occasionally (not this time): I, along with the rest of HSGP board, am interested in any feedback that you might have to share. Please feel free to email me at Also, find out who your board members and committee chairs are on the left side of this page and talk to them! Let them know what you think about the work that they are doing and what they are providing for HSGP. They put in a lot of hard work and would really like to hear your thoughts. Now, 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, Basha's and Fry's grocery stores both return a percentage of the money our members spend at their stores (see article at lower right for more information).

Last month, HSGP member and Professional Realtor Vici Duarte announced that she is offering a similar service. For any HSGP member, or anyone referred to her by an HSGP member, Vici will donate 10% of her net commission as their realtor to buy or sell a home using her services. If you plan to buy or sell a home, speak to Vici at any HSGP event, or contact her by email at

We are also 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 Vici about setting up a similar agreement.

Upcoming Meetings and Topics
Apr 26th
Countdown by Alan Weisman
Event:  Book Club

In his bestselling book The World Without Us, Alan Weisman considered how the Earth could heal and even refill empty niches if relieved of humanity's constant pressures. Behind that groundbreaking thought experiment was his hope that we would be inspired to find a way to add humans back to this vision of a restored, healthy planet-only in harmony, not mortal combat, with the rest of nature.

But with a million more of us every 4 1/2 days on a planet that's not getting any bigger, and with our exhaust overheating the atmosphere and altering the chemistry of the oceans, prospects for a sustainable human future seem ever more in doubt. For this long awaited follow-up book, Weisman traveled to more than 20 countries to ask what experts agreed were probably the most important questions on Earth--and also the hardest: How many humans can the planet hold without capsizing? How robust must the Earth's ecosystem be to assure our continued existence? Can we know which other species are essential to our survival? And, how might we actually arrive at a stable, optimum population, and design an economy to allow genuine prosperity without endless growth?

Weisman visits an extraordinary range of the world's cultures, religions, nationalities, tribes, and political systems to learn what in their beliefs, histories, liturgies, or current circumstances might suggest that sometimes it's in their own best interest to limit their growth. The result is a landmark work of reporting: devastating, urgent, and, ultimately, deeply hopeful.

Description from

Apr 27th
Odyssey of the Mind trip to World Championships Fundraiser
Fundraiser:  Pancake Breakfast and Entertainment Fundraiser

Pancake Breakfast 7:00 am to 1:00 pm

HSGP's Odyssey of the Mind Team, First Place Champs, are going to World Finals in Iowa! ...that is, IF they can raise enough money for the trip!

The HSGP team will hold some fundraisers to raise the money needed to compete in the OOTM World Finals in Iowa (airfare and housing packages, including food, for the team members, coaches, and parents). The team, our team, qualified for World Finals last year as well, but the families just couldn't afford the trip, so they were not able to compete. Let's help them make it this year!

Do you know that our HSGP team (East Mesa Cre8tive Kids) is the only team not affiliated with a school? And it is the only specifically Humanist team in the country, probably the world! Even though our team does not get the support that the school teams get, and our team is not able to meet as often as the school teams do, our team won FIRST PLACE in Regional AND State!

On Sunday, April 27, the OOTM team will put on a pancake breakfast/brunch from 7:00 am to I:00 pm. They will present some improvisational entertainment for you as well! Watch this space for details as they become available.

There will be more fundraising activities, to be announced soon.

Go Omers!

Odyssey of the Mind® 2014 World Finals
Iowa State University
Ames, Iowa
May 28 - May 31

Over 800 teams from around the world will compete in the 35th Odyssey of the Mind World Finals. The competition emphasizes creativity and teamwork and has grown into the largest international creative problem-solving competition worldwide.

Millions of kids have been working hard all year perfecting their solutions to OotM problems and competing within their regions and states. Only a few will advance to World Finals — these teams represent the best of the best creative minds.

While the competition is fierce, there is also a feeling of camaraderie among competitors. Many students form life-long friendships that span the U.S. and the globe. At World Finals, teams have the chance to learn about other cultures through a common goal . . . to be as creative as they can!

Apr 29th
From Star Wars to the Phx Symphony--STEM to STEAM, Jim Ward
Event:  Humanities Project Outing: Presentation
Join the Phoenix Section of the Society of Women Engineers for an engaging presentation by Jim Ward on his intriguing career with film director George Lucas, advertising for Apple and Microsoft and how he integrated these into his current position as President and CEO of The Phoenix Symphony.

“There is certainly no question that STEM education and STEM skills are a vital part of this country’s edge, but many educators would argue that STEM is missing a key set of creativity-related components that are critical to fostering a competitive and innovative workforce, and those skills are summarized under the letter “A” for Arts” - John Tarnoff,

Cost: $10.00
RSVP and Pay by April 25th - Paypal, credit or debit card

RSVP & Pay at

Networking: 6-6:45pm, Speaker: 6:45-7:30pm, Q&A: 7:30 – 7:45pm

Hors d’oeuvres served
Questions: - or contact Ann Marie Eisentraut

May 04th
Radical Humanism
speaker:  Serah Blaine

Serah Blaine will discuss what she calls Radical Humanism and how it can be practiced in real life.

Doors open at 9:00 am for socializing with an optional breakfast available for a donation of $5. The meeting will begin at 10:00 am.

May 13th
Event:  Humanities Project Outing: Free Exhibit at DBG
May 16th
Event:  Humanities Project Monthly Cultural Presentation & Meeting
May 18th
Speaker:  Greg Epstein and Jesse Galef
May 20th
Event:  HP Outing: Free Concert TCA
May 24th
Jun 08th
Speaker:  David Fitzgerald
Jun 22nd
Speaker:  Professor Jim Richardson
Jul 13th
Speaker:  Ernie Ortiz
Jul 27th
Speaker:  Tory Anderson
Aug 10th
Speaker:  TBA
Aug 24th
Speaker:  TBA
Sep 07th
Speaker:  TBA
Sep 21st
Speaker:  TBA
Oct 05th
Speaker:  TBA
Oct 19th
Speaker:  TBA

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

It is with a heavy heart that I announce the deaths of two HSGP members:
Lou Towne, wife of HSGP's book club coordinator, Roy Towne. I had only met Lou a few times, but could tell that she was an exceptional person. She and Roy had lived on a boat for a few years. Lou had been a rally car driver at one time with Roy as navigator. She had a passionate love for animals and regularly donated to animal shelters. She had been battling cancer for the past few years. Lou had been a member of HSGP since 2004 and a life member since 2009.

Marie Richardson, wife of James Richardson, an HSGP member who has given meeting presentations on several occasions. While I was not able to gather any information about Marie, I do know that she had been suffering from Alzheimer's and was being cared for in an assisted living facility. She had been a member of HSGP since 2008.

Another of our members, Nicole Osborn, lost her mother, Rosanna Greene, in March.  Rosanna had been suffering from various ailments on and off for a while, eventually succumbing to sepsis rather unexpectedly.

Welcome new members:
Penny Boone
Patti Vaught
James Woods
James & Charlene Barry
Stephen & Diane Uhl

As always, contact me if you need any membership information or have a change of address, phone number, or email. Additionally, let me know if you would like to have an announcement published in this column.

Anita Romanowski
Chair, Membership Committee

HSGP Service Outreach Project

by Michal Otten

Phoenix Pride Parade
Join HSGP as we celebrate Equality and Justice for all at the Phoenix Pride Parade! This is HSGP's second year marching in support of the gay community! This year's theme is "Be heard, stay strong, be you" - a very appropriate theme to celebrate within our own community as well. The Parade starts promptly at 10:00am. Please arrive by 9:30 so we are in place and ready to go when the parade starts. Once Michal arrives and registers, she will post here what group # we are so you can find us. For more details and to RSVP, visit our Meetup page.

St. Mary's Food Bank Alliance 

HSGP members have been volunteering for almost 2 years at St. Mary's Food Bank Alliance. St. Mary's is the world's first food bank and is a non-sectarian, nonprofit organization that serves two-thirds of Arizona's 15 counties. St. Mary’s disperses donated food across the state of Arizona with 330 partner agencies at approximately 430 sites, including domestic violence shelters, dining halls, schools, churches, children’s shelters, food pantries, halfway houses, and senior centers. They even help our friends at Tumbleweed Center for Youth Development!

We will be volunteering at St. Mary's Food Bank Alliance on the second Saturday of every even month through the end of 2014. Our next outing is Saturday, April 12th from 12-3 PM. Please consider joining us! For details and to RSVP, visit our Meetup page. If you would like to officially register as a volunteer, please register at using the code HSGP1.
St. Mary's has a program to recognize and honor the organizations that make a large impact in the community. This program is called Hunger Heroes. My goal for 2014 is for HSGP to be named a Bronze level Hunger Hero, which means that we donated $1,000, 1,000 lbs of food, and volunteered 100 hours. To help us get there, I have started a virtual food drive. If you are unable to bring in food to HSGP, consider donating a few dollars on the virtual food drive. St. Mary's can get 7 meals out of every dollar, so your money will go far towards helping fight hunger in Arizona!
To donate online, visit

Donate Coupons

Many of us have coupons left over from the Sunday paper, or we cut coupons and then they expire before we can use them. Don't throw them away! Bring in your unused, unwanted, and/ or expired coupons, and we will use them in two ways: our coupon club will use the coupons to shop for items to donate to local charities, and we will send expired coupons to military service members overseas. Only manufacturer's coupons are accepted - do not send store, restaurant, or internet coupons. Please place coupons in the basket next to the food donation box at HSGP, or mail them to HSGP (Attn: Michal Otten).

Open Call for Ideas

Are you interested in seeing HSGP get involved with a certain charity or volunteering with a certain organization? Michal is always looking out for new ideas and suggestions. Send her an email at

Keeping Up With HSGP
Social Media Tips and Hints #11

by Jennifer White
How to get fewer email notifications and reminders from Meetup.
I have written about this before, but it never gets old. For one thing, the website is regularly ‘improved’, and so my earlier instructions are no longer correct. And it seems that everyone wants to reduce the number of emails in their inboxes! I will give you step-by-step instructions so that you can receive:
* no emails from Meetup at all
* all emails from all your Meetup groups
* emails from some groups, but not others
* some types of emails, but not other types
* all messages from each group in one daily email

Let’s go. First log into your Meetup account at

Look up at the white bar across the top, and click on your little picture. A drop-down menu will appear--select “Settings” on the right side. Your “General” settings page will open up, with your picture on the right. Look at the menu list in the left column. Click on “Email and notifications”.

When this page opens you will see a list of all your Meetup groups. To see and change your settings, click on “Email and notification settings”, which appears to the right of each of the groups.

To receive NO emails from each group:
* uncheck ALL the little boxes
* under “How often…”, select “Don’t send me reminders”
* under “Mailing List”, select “Don’t send me mailing list messages”
* click the red “Save Settings” button
Repeat for each group.

Below your list of groups, under “Other Meetup Email”:
* uncheck ALL the little boxes
* select who can contact you, and who can post greetings for you
* click the red “Save Settings” button.
Conversely, to receive ALL messages from each group, do the opposite: check ALL the boxes and click the red “Save Settings” button.

For something in between, select which email options suit you.
Customize each Meetup group. You may want to hear more often from some than others.

Even if you want every notification, you can make them more manageable:
* Under “How often do you want to receive Meetup reminders?”, select “No more than once per day”
* Under “Mailing List”, select “In one daily email”
Remember to save your settings when you are finished.
All of these actions can help cut down on the emails in your inbox.

If you would have any questions, email me at .

For help, bring your log-in info (email address and password) to a Sunday Speaker meeting. I will have my laptop with me and I will be glad to help you adjust your settings to your liking.

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

Bashas' and Fry's Grocery Stores Support HSGP through Community Support Programs

If you shop at any of the Bashas' stores (Bashas', AJ's Fine Foods, Food City) or your local Fry's Food Store, HSGP can get a percentage of the money you spend.

To activate this no-cost-to-you revenue stream for HSGP, you need to pick up a Community Support Card for the store where you intend to shop. See Bruce Stiles for a Bashas' card, or Vici Duarte for Fry's cards. Once you've done your shopping and you're ready to pay for your groceries, use your credit card (or cash) to put cash value on your Community Support Card, and then use it to pay for your order. You can recharge your card at any time, and HSGP will receive a percentage of the money you spend.

If you shop at any of the 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 .

Have 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