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

Our community is growing! We find that our reach is increasing and we are expanding in ways that were, until recently, completely unexpected. I'll give some details on new special activities below as well as an overview of everything else that happened in August. We continue to grow our social media presence as well and our membership is increasing too! We currently have 864 followers on Meetup, 432 Facebook followers and 280 dues-paying members!! We are getting more and more awesome every month!

Check out the rest of the newsletter for some details on what's coming up, and more useful information about our organization. Also keep an eye out for a clue to a prize for anyone who reads this newsletter thoroughly. The first person who emails me at the address shown at the bottom of this article, and indicates what the prize is and where you found it, will win it. Please identify yourself in your email. I'll let you know if you won. Then, all you have to do to collect is show up at either the first or second Sunday morning meeting in September and identify yourself to me. That's it!

Events in August

There were several good HSGP Humanities Project events again this month, as usual. They had six outings and one in-house event. The outings included four art exhibits (!), one concert, and one lecture. I gather that the lecture outing was led by our North Phoenix Satellite event leader Karen Vollis. The in-house event was a collaborative painting where numerous people worked together to create a very Humanistic piece of art. We are currently considering a prominent place to hang it in the HCC. This was yet another good month for the Humanities Project!

The Inquiring Minds Discussion Group decided to unravel the mysteries of politics (chuckle) by discussing "What are the definitions for Liberal, Libertarian, and Conservative?". Yeah, right. I don't believe that we actually worked it out but it was fun trying. I don't even think we quite identified if the labels really apply to the usual political party affiliations. I'm not sure that they even know. In any case, the discussion was yet another eye opener. Do keep an eye on what this group is going to tackle. The one in early September promises to be quite interesting. We always get a good turnout at these events and they are always provocative and exciting discussions regardless of the seeming innocuousness of the topic.

Our Service Outreach Project, led by board member Michal Otten, had yet another successful outing this month, at St. Mary's Food Bank Alliance. They made a major milestone this month! For details, scoot over to her article to the right. There's more there as well so be sure to read the whole article!

I missed Game Night again this month and, again, I had a good excuse. I was camping with friends from the Prescott Freethinkers Meetup. It was great to be in the mountains again. But this is supposed to be about Game Night, so I'll get back to it. One of the things worth noting about our Game Night is that it is usually packed, as I gather it was again this month. For those that like games and socializing, this is a fun diversion. If that interests you, give it a try. If you're new to the group, be sure to find Ann Marie Eisentraut, the hostess with the mostest, and she'll get you worked into a game. If I'm there, you can find me as well and I'll certainly make you feel welcome.

Our first Sunday speaker this month was our own member, Brian Calaway, giving a great overview of the "Odyssey Of The Mind Children's Program". We not only support this activity, but we have sponsored HSGP teams two years in a row and our team made it to the World Championship this year! The program is all about teaching creativity and "thinking outside the box". This is an excellent program and builds innovative critical thinkers that may well have a major impact on our future! A great summary of Brian's presentation can be found at Odyssey of the Mind.

Our second Sunday speaker this month featured John Ware, director of the Laboratory of Anthropology and founding director of the Museum of Indian Arts and Culture in Santa Fe, NM, presenting "Chaco Mystery Solved?". This was an exceedingly fascinating discussion about all of the theories that have been proposed about the intriguing ruin site and surrounding areas as well. I personally have been to many obscure ruin sites, some not known to many, and I've never seen anything like this. John proposed a way to better understand what Chaco was about and I think he's on to something. You can find a more detailed summary about the presentation at Chaco.

What else happened in August?

And it gets more interesting! We are taking on two new children's programs and are looking forward to seeing how these will unfold. Brian Calaway (mentioned above) is starting an HSGP sponsored "First Lego League" team which is about building robotics with Lego materials. I have already seen an example built by one of the children in the program and I was quite impressed. This should be fun for all involved. If you want more details, check with Brian.

We are also sponsoring a secular Girl Scout Troop! This was a bit of a surprise but very welcome. The board thought that this was a great idea. We have a new member who, with assistance from Ann Marie Eisentraut, will get the ball rolling on this and work out the details. I look forward to seeing how this unfolds as well. I believe that our extended community has already suggested at least three new members of this troop and they haven't even started yet!

And we have the beginnings of yet another recurring discussion group in the works! Kevin Moriarty, who currently hosts our Inquiring Minds discussion group, has requested, and received, permission to start a "Ted Talks Discussion Group" in addition to what he's already doing. I gather that the idea is to show some Ted Talks (there are many very interesting ones available) and then having open discussion about the talk. I have yet to see how he plans to format it but, knowing him, I'm sure that this is going to be exciting. Keep an eye on our schedule to see when this group starts meeting.

We are still working on some bugs in our new sound system. My sincere apologies to everyone who's been annoyed by that. Be assured that I am highly motivated to get it sorted out. Unfortunately, our AV experts have both found themselves busy lately with family stuff (poor priority choice - right?). They have had the unmitigated gall to take this important time to move their families to other parts of the valley! Some people just don't have any sense of timing (seriously teasing here)! No worries, we'll get back on it and get it solved. We already have some ideas on a way forward.

We had two very important team meetings this month as well. Both the Fundraising Committee (chaired by Ariane Apler) and the Membership Committee (chaired by Anita Romanowski) had intense and productive meetings this month planning on important ways to meet their goals. I was fortunate enough to make both meetings and I admit to being quite impressed again at the dedication and creativity of our volunteers! These folks are a great example of why HSGP rocks so much. And we really do ROCK!

Speaking of rocking, we now have a Volunteer Coordinator! Michelle Rose has taken the task on for the time being. She is doing an internship with NAU and needed to donate time to a non-profit organization and chose us (she's already known us for four years). She is setting up a new volunteer system that will look much different, and better, than what we've been using and we are really looking forward to rolling it out. Keep an eye out for the changes this month.

Lastly, an update on the roof leak. We have officially declared it DONE! During the worst of the storms this month, Kathy Pettycrew was in the HCC and confirmed NO LEAKS! That is truly good news. Many thanks to Ann Marie, Henry, and especially Al Wendler with his magic caulking gun getting this resolved!

I started a new column a couple of month ago intended to be the written equivalent of the "Humanist Minute". This month, I have added one of my own. It's a very simple definition of Humanism that I wrote myself earlier this year. Check it out in the lower right of this newsletter. I hope you enjoy reading it. Feel free to comment by emailing me at the address below. Also, if you have something that you would like to be in the next newsletter, let me know that as well. 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
Sep 17th
Free Film at Phoenix Art Museum: 'Jodorowsky'­s Dune'
Event:  Humanities Project Outing: Free Film
Free Film at Phoenix Art Museum: Jodorowsky’s Dune

Filmmaker Frank Pavich explores one of cinema's great "what ifs" in this documentary detailing Alejandro Jodorowsky's aborted feature adaptation of Frank Herbert's celebrated sci-fi novel Dune.

With the release of El Topo (1970) and its psychedelic follow-up The Holy Mountain (1973), Jodorowsky became not only a pioneer of psychedelic surrealism in film, but also the father of the "Midnight Movie." Following the success of those two films, the Chilean director began focusing all of his energies on translating Dune to the big screen. The film was to star Jodorowsky's own son, Brontis, along with a stunning cast that included Orson Welles, David Carradine, Mick Jagger, and Salvador Dali, with Pink Floyd providing the score, and art direction by H.R. Giger and Jean "Moebius" Giraud.

Two years into the massive production, however, the film was suddenly and unceremoniously cancelled. Yet even today, numerous relics of that ambitious production – including thousands of enticingly vivid storyboards – still exist. In this film, Pavich offers movie lovers a tantalizing glimpse at a masterpiece that was never meant to be.

Rated PG-13. Runtime: 90 minutes

Price: Free

Presented by:Contemporary Forum

Sep 20th
Musical Composition Contest featuring Classical Revolution
Event:  Humanities Project Outing: Music Competition
Classical Revolution PHX presents the second annual Composition Competition premiering new pieces of music written by composers living in Arizona. All works will be performed live and judged by an expert panel and the audience to determine a winner and runner-up.

These world premier works are based on the 50th anniversary of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. Join us for a fun evening of "American Idol Meets Classical Music".

This free event is sponsored by the Tempe History Museum and Papa Murphy's Pizza.

Sep 21st
Latest Report on Climate Change
Speaker:  LuAnn Dahlman

HSGP member LuAnn Dahlman will discuss the latest report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

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

Sep 21st
Call for Team Members
Event:  Odyssey of the Mind
Odyssey of the Mind - Call for Members for the 2014-2015 HSGP Team!

Age range: 4 years old to 8th grade.

Coach Brian Callaway is looking for team members for the 2014-2015 HSGP Odyssey of the Mind Team!

Regional and State Champs last year, our team went on to World Finals in Iowa, where they did us proud!

Bring your kids and your questions to HSGP on Sunday, Sept 21, 10AM (during the Sunday Speaker meeting).

Odyssey of the Mind

is an international educational program that provides creative problem-solving opportunities for students from kindergarten through college. Team members apply their creativity to solve problems that range from building mechanical devices to presenting their own interpretation of literary classics. They then bring their solutions to competition on the local, state, and World level. Thousands of teams from throughout the U.S. and from about 25 other countries participate in the program.

Why Odyssey of the Mind is Good for Kids

The Odyssey of the Mind teaches students to learn creative problem-solving methods while having fun in the process. For more than twenty five years, this unique program has helped teachers generate excitement in their students. By tapping into creativity, and through encouraging imaginative paths to problem-solving, students learn skills that will provide them with the ability to solve problems -- great and small -- for a lifetime. The Odyssey of the Mind teaches students how to think divergently by providing open-ended problems that appeal to a wide range of interests. Students learn how to identify challenges and to think creatively to solve those problems. They are free to express their ideas and suggestions without fear of criticism. The creative problem-solving process rewards thinking "outside of the box." While conventional thinking has an important place in a well-rounded education, students need to learn how to think creatively and productively.

In the Odyssey of the Mind . . .

Students develop team-building skills by working in groups of as many as seven students per team.

Students learn to examine problems and to identify the real challenge without limiting the possible solutions and their potential success.

The creative-thinking process is nurtured and developed as a problem-solving tool.

Students of all types will find something that will appeal to them.

The fun of participation leads to an elevated interest in regular classroom curricula.

Teachers have a program to further provide students with a well-rounded education.

Who Participates?

Millions of students from kindergarten through college have participated in the Odyssey of the Mind.

Since the Odyssey of the Mind eliminates the fear of criticism, even shy students are afforded the opportunity to open up and express themselves.

Students learn to work in teams.

Each year, five new competitive problems are presented for the teams to solve.

These long-term problems are solved over weeks and months.

Some of the problems are more technical in nature, while others are artistic or performance based.

Each long-term problem rewards "Style" in the solution. This helps teach students that they should not simply try to solve problems but take the next step of enhancing their solutions.

The teams are invited to participate in competition and present their solution with other teams.

At the competition, the teams are given an on-the-spot "spontaneous" problem to solve.

The combination of long-term problem-solving, Style, and spontaneous problem-solving produces a confident, able student.

More info:

Sep 28th
Event:  Humanities Project: Architecture
Oct 05th
Speaker:  Richard Miller
Oct 10th
Event:  Humanities Project Monthly Cultural Presentation & Meeting
Oct 11th
Fundraiser:  Game Night Fundraiser
Oct 19th
Speaker:  TBA
Nov 01st
Event:  Flying Spaghetti Monster Dinner
Nov 08th
Fundraiser:  Game Night Fundraiser
Nov 09th
Speaker:  TBA
Nov 14th
Event:  Humanities Project Monthly Cultural Presentation & Meeting
Nov 23rd
Speaker:  TBA
Dec 12th
Event:  Humanities Project Monthly Cultural Presentation & Meeting
Dec 13th
Fundraiser:  Game Night Fundraiser
Dec 20th
Event:  Solstice Celebration
Jan 10th
Fundraiser:  Game Night Fundraiser
Jan 11th
Jan 25th
Feb 08th
Event:  Annual Darwin Day Celebration
Feb 14th
Fundraiser:  Game Night Fundraiser
Feb 22nd

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

Wow, but this monsoon season has been a doozie! Hope everyone "weathered" the storms without too much turmoil. The birds in our back yard enjoyed bathing in the puddles left by the rains. At one point we thought someone was going to build an ark back there.

Information Table: We have set up a table at the front of the meeting hall which contains literature about HSGP, the American Humanist Association and other items of interest to the secular community. I encourage you to take a look at and help yourself to what's available. Additionally, there's a bulletin board on the wall above the bookcase by the conference table at the back of the hall.

Businesses That Support HSGP: Do you shop at Bashas', Fry's, Albertson's or Amazon? If so, here's a deal you just can't pass up. When you shop at these venues, they will donate money to HSGP. For details go to and click on Support HSGP. You'll see a list of various ways you can contribute to the organization. Scroll down to Businesses That Support HSGP. A supply of flyers describing each program is also on the Information Table.

Welcome New Members:
Alisha DeCou
Ella Mangini
Adam Twork
Joyce Keene
Kenneth Howard
Allan and Janette Adasiak
Michelle Rose

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

St. Mary's Food Bank Alliance

As I have mentioned many times before, St. Mary's Food Bank Alliance is a non-sectarian, nonprofit organization that serves two-thirds of Arizona's 15 counties. St. Mary's has a program, called Hunger Heroes, to recognize and honor the organizations that make a large impact in the community. Hunger Heroes requires a donation of $1,000, 1,000 lbs of food, and 100 volunteer hours.

As of August 9th we have met all three requirements! Even though we have met the minimum requirements, I don’t believe that means we should become complacent in our donations – the need for volunteers and monetary/food donations are higher than ever in our state. Summer is typically the time when donations and volunteers are most needed, but both become even more scarce. Currently nearly 1 in 3 children, 1 in 5 Arizonans, and 1 in 7 seniors in Arizona live in poverty. Please consider joining us for our next outing, which will be Saturday, October 11th from 12-3 PM. For details and to RSVP, visit our Meetup page.

Please Help the Valley’s Veteran Furniture Center
By Dolores Ratcliff

The Veteran’s Furniture Center opened in 2009 to help veterans in our area with furniture, household goods, and food when they are transitioning from homeless to an apartment. They also provide food and toiletries for homeless veterans. The magnitude of the struggles of some of our veterans is more desperate than anyone can imagine. The Phoenix area alone has approximately 3,500 veterans that are sleeping on the streets every night! Bruce and I took food down when a friend had this picture on her Facebook page. When we brought the food, they said that this picture is the way it looks at least once a week.

Donations can be made at 2319 W. Holly Street. Pick up can be arranged for larger items. Call 602-303-6112 with questions and open hours.

Volunteer Opportunities in 2015

I am currently looking to expand our volunteer efforts to a few more organizations in the Valley. I’m hoping to be able to schedule outings once a month to a variety of organizations. There are lots of areas of need and lots of worthwhile organizations. 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 #15

by Jennifer White
Let’s talk about HSGP’s Facebook group.

If you have a Facebook account, you can visit our group at .

If you are not signed up at Facebook yet, it’s free, and you can sign up at .

The HSGP Facebook group is a place where you can go to see what events are coming up, plus view interesting Humanist-related articles, memes, photos, and announcements. I do a lot of the posting on the group, but many members of the group also post what interests them, and often lively conversation ensues!

You do not have to be a member of the group to view what is there. The group is public. However, if you wish to be able to comment on what is posted, or even post items yourself, you must be approved as a member. It is easy to make the request, and I will approve you, of course!

As of now, we have 436 members in our Facebook group, and it is growing rapidly! It used to be that I would receive very few requests per week, but now, almost every day, I receive 1-4 requests for membership! These requests come mostly from Arizona, but many come from other states, and even other countries.

With growth comes issues, naturally. I am as careful as possible when considering whether to approve someone who requests membership, but I don’t want to be overly exclusive. For instance, I have approved people who are obviously religious, but who want to know about us. Mostly, people are interested and respectful. However, I have also approved people who I later had to ban from the group. There is the occasional “troll”, who enjoys being offensive and starting fights—I have had both religious and non-religious people in that category (very few, though). More common are the ones with fake Facebook identities, who just want to blast our group with advertisements. When I check their Facebook timelines, it is usually obvious that they are not real people. The photos are all stock photos, nothing looks personal, and there is nothing to indicate any interest in Humanism. Sometimes it’s hard to tell, so I take a chance. This is a fun job!

Come to the Facebook group and check it out. Almost everybody is there—we are only missing you!

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 Definition of Humanism
A definition of Humanism – a short version: Without any dependence on the supernatural, and without any promise of a reward, or threat of punishment, in any afterlife, Humanists want to make the world the best possible place it can be for ALL of humanity! We also know that people are inherently capable of, and are obligated to, use reason and rational thought to find the best way forward to accomplish that end. $100.00

Richard Dewey
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