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

Ariane Apler

Anita Romanowski

Property Management:
Ann Marie Eisentraut

Facility Use Management:
Vici Duarte

Food Management:
Kathy Pettycrew

Linda Wendler

Science Night:

Book Club:
Roy Towne

Inquiring Minds:
Kevin Moriarty

Game Nights:
Bruce Stiles
Ann Marie

Service Outreach Coordinator:
Michal Otten

Immediate Past President:
Shelley Newman (2011)

President Emeritus:
Susan Sackett

President's Message

I am literally running out of ways to say how awesome we are! This community keeps growing, adding activities, and doing incredible things every month. We are now up to 889 followers on Meetup, 468 on Facebook, and our dues-paying membership has grown to 287! And we now have three distinct children's programs and added a new discussion group. We are cookin' with butane! It is an exciting time for us and I am so proud to be a part of it. I can hardly wait from month to month to see what will happen next. In case it wasn't obvious, all of this is the result of the work of numerous volunteers who never seem to tire. I believe it's because the results are so rewarding. I know that that is my reason, besides my love for this group and for Humanism in general.

With the rest of this article, I'll summarize what happened this past month as best I can. If you would rather skip to what's coming up or find out more about our organization, check out the rest of the newsletter!

Events in September

The HSGP Humanities Project had yet another very busy month with a whopping nine outings and one in-house event! They went to three art exhibits, a play, a concert, a documentary film, a festival in Wickenburg, a panel discussion on art, and an open house at Gammage celebrating its 50th anniversary! Phew! That is some month. And I know that I'm not giving these outings proper descriptions but I don't have room here. You really should check out what these folks are doing because it all looks fascinating! The in-house event was a showing of the very provocative film "Unmanned: America's Drone Wars". I'll bet that that stirred up some discussion! The HP just keeps wowing us!

Our Inquiring Minds Discussion Group tackled another interesting topic with "How are we, as a species, bypassing the evolutionary process?". This was a great discussion with some very interesting, and unexpected, perspectives brought up. There are so many different ways to look at this question and we hit just about all of them. One of those perspectives was that since we are part of nature, we aren't really bypassing the process, we are still part of it. Interesting. All of these groups are. This is well worth coming to if you like deep discussions with the occasional verbal brawl (those can be fun to watch).

Our first Sunday event this month wasn't exactly a speaker but instead, we had a Ted Talk video presenting Alain de Botton introducing "Atheism 2.0" followed by an open discussion period. Well this certainly was controversial. Alain essentially is encouraging atheists to adopt some of the things that seem to attract people to churches, only without the supernatural stuff and the mindless dogma. For instance, he believes that people are really drawn to ritual and group singing and that religion does not need to have a patent on those activities. Some folks think that he has a point. Some think that's garbage. But I think that most everybody agrees that community feels good even to us. It was an interesting discussion afterward and I think that it opened some minds to possibilities. The "Sunday Assembly" was brought up (atheist church?) and we apparently have one starting here in Phoenix. We had a good turnout for this one which was surprising to me considering the change in format, but that's good reference for the future.

I'm falling back into the habit of missing Game Night again and I'm not even sure why this time. One thing that I am sure of though - I wasn't missed. This group is always a blast and very well attended. People seem to find a way to stay completely engrossed in their game of choice for several hours every time. If that interests you, give it a try. If you're new to the group, be sure to find Ann Marie Eisentraut and she'll get you worked into a game. If I happen to make it there, you can find me as well and I'll certainly make you feel welcome.

Our second Sunday speaker this month was our very own resident Science Educator, LuAnn Dahlman, giving us a summary on the "Latest Report on Climate Change". I could not be more bummed that I missed this but I wasn't able to attend. I had really been looking forward to it for some time too. But you know, life happens. One thing that I can tell you about her summary is that she pointed to the "tipping point" that is currently expected to occur in about 20 years if we don't make drastic changes. If you want to learn more about her talk, you can find a great and detailed summary at LuAnn Dahlman.

Our HSGP Book Club reviewed "Brave Companions: Portraits in History" by David McCullough. This is a series of historical stories of some very inspirational people who still have a profound influence on our society today. This is yet another great pick from the book club!

What else happened in September?

There are so many things happening that it is really hard to keep up! First, we did start sponsoring a secular Girl Scout troop this month, led by our new member, Alisha DeCou, and we are all very excited to see where this will lead. And as I mentioned last month, Brian Calaway has started another kids program called "Lego League" and is starting up the "Odyssey Of The Mind" program for yet another season. Be sure to check our schedule and/or Meetup page for details. And to think that a couple of years ago, we were having trouble getting kids programs off the ground. This is looking great!

Our membership chair, Anita Romanowski, ran her second class on weaving (crotchet?) sleeping mats for the homeless made from plastic bags! There was a great turnout at this one and it looked like everybody was really enjoying it. I am sure that the recipients of those mats will be very pleased as well.

We have one huge improvement that I'm sure everybody will appreciate: we filled in the hole in the parking lot and added four new parking spaces! And the best part is, all of the labor was donated by volunteers and one very important member, Bob Brown, who supplied the cement mixer and the mini-cat that did most of the heavy work. But there were also several volunteers, again including Bruce Stiles and Ann Marie Eisentraut, Henry Geist, Hal Saferstein, and Cindy Ballantyne (sorry if I missed anybody) who worked hard to make this happen. The materials costs were much less than originally thought so we are very happy with the results! This may be a temporary solution but it will do for quite a while.

We thought that we had the sound system problem licked but we were wrong. Sorry folks. We'll keep poking at it until we get it fixed. It's usable as-is but we would really like it glitch-free. We'll keep you posted.

Our Volunteer Coordinator, Michelle Rose has developed a new volunteer system and we are looking forward to unveiling it. That may happen before you finish reading this so keep an eye out for an announcement. Remember, HSGP only functions with the work of volunteers and fundraising. I am very excited that we have people focusing on both (I mentioned in a previous newsletter that our fundraising chair is Ariane Apler).

The column that I added a couple of months ago (lower right of the newsletter) has an invocation from our very outspoken member, Dianne Post. This is yet another really good one and I hope that you enjoy it. 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.

And now for the statement that only changes occasionally, (again, not this time). 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 Apler at about setting up a similar program.

Upcoming Meetings and Topics
Nov 01st
Creation myths
:  Inquiring Minds Discussion Group
What are some common creation myths?

Where do creation myths come from?
Which creation myths are active and influential today?

To some people creation myths are equivalent to fairy tales, to other people these tales determine their world view and roles in life.

If everyone brings 2 creation myths, we can cover many cultures with a modicum of effort

Nov 01st
Flying Spaghetti Monster Dinner
Event:  Flying Spaghetti Monster Dinner

Join us for the Fourth Annual Flying Spaghetti Monster Dinner

Break out your best pirate or any other costume, pirate-related or not. Time to honor His Noodliness with Pastafarian tradition, sauce be upon us!

6:00 pm

Happy Hour: Bring your own adult beverage to share (Alcohol, Soda, etc.). Lemonade, Iced Tea, Milk and Water provided. Appetizers and salads for noshing.

Dinner: Spaghetti, Meatballs, Sauces, Bread (Vegan and gluten-free options available)

7:00 pm

Special Benediction by Hal, our very own poet laureate to start our special dessert.

Laughter, Conversation, and Friendship, Children's activities and games throughout the evening

8:00 pm

Drawing for Special FSM Gift Basket and other prizes (raffle tickets on $1 each, 6 for $5)

Pirate wear, costumes and FSM Swag highly encouraged!

Suggested Donation
$10 - Adults
$8 - Full Time Students and Seniors
(Students eat free if they commit to 2 hours of helping with the event.)
$4 - Children 6 to 13
Free - Children under 6

Nov 08th
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

Nov 09th
Vaccination and the Social Contract
Speaker:  Will Humble: Director of Arizona Dept of Health Services

Vaccination exemption rates are going up in AZ schools.

"Interestingly, the areas of the state that think of themselves as more progressive and socially conscious are the areas with the highest exemption rates (e.g. Sedona, Flagstaff etc). Parents with a high and educational training have the highest exemption rates. Interesting paradox."

Will Humble will talk about the medical and ethical aspects of vaccination.

You can gain advance understanding of the issue by reading these two articles:
•, AZ Losing Traction on Vaccine Front, by Will Humble
• Scientific American, The Ethics of Opting Out of Vaccination, by Janet D. Stemwedel

Will Humble, Director for the Arizona Department of Health Services (ADHS), has worked in public health for 25 years, 20 of those with Arizona DHS. The Department health services include: Arizona’s behavioral and public health systems, the Arizona State Hospital, medical and child care licensure and certification services, and the Arizona Public Health Laboratory.

During his tenure at the ADHS, he has been responsible for:
· Use of public health principles in Arizona’s system for treating persons with serious mental illness
· Effective public health response to the 2009 influenza pandemic.
· A new food package for participants in Arizona’s WIC Program to address the obesity epidemic.
· Improvements the Department’s emergency medical services programs, including
Development of a new trauma system, New public health initiatives such as cardio-cerebral resuscitation (CCR), stroke telemedicine, and cardiac care centers.
· Increases in vaccination rates and expanded vaccination requirements for school entry.
· Implementation of the Arizona Medical Marijuana Act
· Authored over 50 environmental health risk assessments and public health consultations
· Communicating health risks to the public and media.

The meeting is free and open to the public. Doors open at 9:00 am for socializing with an optional breakfast available for a donation of $5. The meeting begins at 10:00 am.

Nov 09th
Event:  Children's Program
Nov 09th
Event:  Children's Program
Nov 14th
Event:  Humanities Project Monthly Cultural Presentation & Meeting
Nov 22nd
Event:  Book Club
Nov 23rd
Speaker:  Bruce Stiles
Nov 23rd
Event:  Children's Program
Nov 23rd
Event:  Children's Program
Dec 07th
Event:  Children's Program
Dec 07th
Event:  Children's Program
Dec 12th
Event:  Humanities Project Monthly Cultural Presentation & Meeting
Dec 13th
Fundraiser:  Game Night Fundraiser
Dec 20th
Event:  Solstice Celebration
Dec 27th
Event:  Book Club
Jan 10th
Fundraiser:  Game Night Fundraiser
Jan 11th
Jan 11th
Children's Program:  Children's Program
Jan 11th
Event:  Children's Program
Jan 25th
Jan 25th
Event:  Children's Program
Jan 25th
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

Boy, just when you thought it was safe to go outside again without an umbrella, the monsoon struck again. At the time, my husband and I were in Las Vegas to celebrate the 100th birthday of a very lovely lady. So we missed the storm. I read about the storm on Facebook. Hopefully, none of you suffered too much damage.

Requests for Member Input: Al Wendler, HSGP's Program Director, has quite a challenging job searching for interesting, provocative and stimulating presentations for our twice-monthly Sunday meetings. He has an ongoing invitation to members for program and speaker suggestions. Let Al know if you have a suggestion for a specific type of program and/or know of a speaker who might have something of interest to present to our very elite group.

Additionally, the Board would like suggestions on specific educational programs that can be offered to members, the public and children.

Greeters Needed:
Are you an HSGP member; do you attend HSGP's Sunday meetings regularly; are you an early riser; do you have an outgoing personality; are you familiar with a lot of our members? If you answered yes to any of these questions, I need you.

When people come to HSGP for the first time we want them to feel welcome. Therefore, we created a "greeter" position. At each Sunday meeting, two volunteers stand by the community center entrance to welcome first-time visitors. These volunteers greet and welcome people to the center. They then take first-time visitors on a tour of the building, answer questions and explain about humanism and the history of the creation of our community center.

So far, I have six people who volunteer for this position on a somewhat rotating basis. However, due to other commitments, their participation is often scattered and unpredictable. Consequently, the same 2-3 people are always volunteering. If you think this rewarding volunteer position is something you'd like to be part of, please contact me.

Welcome New Members:
Alle Staker
Andy Bergen
Brenden Busse
Laura Nye
Tim Bradley

Anita Romanowski
Chair, Membership Committee

HSGP Service Outreach Project

by Michal Otten

Volunteer Opportunities in 2015

As a humanist, I truly believe it is important to get out there and serve our community however we can. While it has been amazing to work with St. Mary’s Food Bank Alliance the past few years, I am looking to expand our volunteer efforts to several additional organizations in the Valley. I’m hoping to be able to schedule outings at least once a month, and for us to rotate between a variety of organizations.

So far, I have scheduled with St. Mary’s and Lost Our Home Pet Foundation, an awesome organization that works to ensure that all pets have loving homes when families face major life challenges. I am also in communication with the Ronald McDonald House; the Human Services Campus, which is home to more than a dozen social services agencies; and UMOM, which is the largest homeless shelter for families in the state of Arizona. I hope you all will join us to help make a difference in our community.

These outings will all be posted soon on Meetup.

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 #16

by Jennifer White
Let’s review our internet presence.

First and foremost, we have our Humanist Society of Greater Phoenix website at Since you are probably reading this on the website right now, you are familiar with it. Take a look around the website. There is a lot of good stuff there! A warm welcome and our Mission are there on the home page, along with information of who we are and what we do.

You can see all the events that are coming up in the future, and you can peruse the past events as well. You can even search particular types of events, like Book Club, Inquiring Minds, or Humanities Project.

Have questions about HSGP and Humanism? You can find many answers on our web site. You can learn about membership, how to support HSGP, who the leadership is and how to contact them. You will find lots of links to websites of interest to HSGP members and visitors, such as groups that we support, affiliated groups, fellow non-theistic/free-thought groups and companies. You can also find links to our other internet sites, such as Facebook, Meetup, Twitter, and Humanism Rising, the official HSGP blog.

I talk a lot about Facebook and Meetup. They continue to grow and be vital to spreading the word about HSGP and giving fellow humanists a platform for discussion. If you haven’t yet, check them out by clicking on the links on the bottom of the home page of this website, or just below this article.

Be sure to check out our very own blog, Humanism Rising. That link is also on the bottom of the home page and below this article. Please consider contributing to our blog site. You can write about how you became a Humanist, or about a Humanist who you admire for the Profiles in Humanism series. You can blog about almost anything Humanism-related. You can also comment on blog posts you read there. Unlike Facebook which is almost totally unmediated, Humanism Rising posts need to be approved and possibly lightly edited before they are published. If you have something that you'd like to see published on the blog, contact our Communications Chair by clicking on the link under “Communications” in the sidebar at the left side of this newsletter.

Every month, the blog publishes "The Bookworm Report" by Russell Pizer and the October entry is ready to read.

HSGP also has a Twitter account at . I think everyone is familiar with Twitter, even if you have never seen it. Basically, people “tweet” remarks up to 140 characters. You can follow other tweeters, and others can follow you. You can keep up with whatever topics are trending in the world. Twitter’s immediacy has made its importance to publicizing grass roots events like Arab Spring very compelling. It’s not all serious—you can also follow your favorite celebrities. Sadly, our Twitter account is dormant. We really need someone to be our Twittermeister and communicate to the world! If you are interested, please contact me at It really is a lot of fun.

There are other popular sites, like Instagram and Reddit, where we can have more of a presence. I will write more about them in the future.

Have fun exploring our website and everything else the internet has to offer. What do you think: how else can we raise awareness of HSGP and humanism?

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 .

A Humanist Invocation
Sept 10, 2014, INVOCATION, Maricopa County Board of Supervisors, Phoenix, AZ

My name is Dianne Post. I’ve been a resident of Maricopa County since 1980. I’m speaking as a humanist.

I ask you not to bow your heads, but instead to open your eyes.

Look at the world as it is but imagine what it could be if we all brought our good hearts to work every day.

The word “invocation” has several meanings:

First one 1. a : the act or process of petitioning for help or support;

Today I petition for support for our democracy: a democracy that includes all people regardless of their individual characteristics or choices

A democracy that does not elevate one person, one ideology or one belief over another

A participatory democracy that stands for human rights and social justice.

Second meaning b : a calling upon for authority or justification

Today I call upon the authority of evidence, facts and reason as justification for the decisions made by this governmental body.

Decisions that will benefit all of the people of this county, not just the rich, not just the vocal, not just the powerful – but all of us

Third meaning of invocation is

: a formula for conjuring :

Today I conjure up the best of what’s in all our hearts

kindness and concern for others

acceptance and understanding

the ability to think for ourselves using reason and knowledge

the last meaning is

: an act of legal or moral implementation :

Implementation is, of course, the most important aspect of any “invocation”

What do we want to implement?

We want to lead meaningful lives

We want to be free from dogma and fear

We want to have compassion for our fellow citizens

We want to leave the world a better place than we found it.

We owe it to ourselves and all with whom we share this fragile planet now and in the future to make our lives the best we can.

Let us embrace a code of ethics driven by a sincere thirst for justice. A code that does not depend on threat or punishment, but can only be found within ourselves by understanding the connections to our mutual well-being.

A friend of mine, Olivia free-woman said, “The table of peace will be set with justice.” May we have both in our hearts this day and everyday.

Thank you.
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