Humanist Society of Greater Phoenix   - - http://www.HSGP.org
Board Members
President:
Richard Dewey

Co-Vice President:
Seráh Blain

Co-Vice President:
Chris Wojno

Treasurer:
Tim Bedient

Secretary:
Rebecca Beltran

Program Director:
Al Wendler

Members at Large:
Vici Duarte/Ariane Apler
Ann Marie Eisentraut
Michal Otten
Anita Romanowski


Committee Chairs & Other Leadership:
Webmaster:
J.B. Wright

Librarian:
Bruce Pettycrew

Fundraising:
Ariane

Membership:
Anita Romanowski

Property Management:
Ann Marie Eisentraut

Service Outreach Coordinator:
Michal Otten

Facility Use Management:
Vici Duarte

Food Management:
Kathy Pettycrew

Communication:
Linda Wendler

Science Night:
TBA

Volunteering:
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 Eisentraut
Anna Carter


Immediate Past President:
Shelley Newman (2011)

President Emeritus:
Susan Sackett
(2000-2010)


President's Message


Well here we are. It's 2015 already and we are looking forward to another great year at HSGP! Keep an eye on our website and Meetup page, at HSGP Meetup, to keep informed on our upcoming activities. We expect to have as much fun in 2015 as we did in 2014, if not more.

The rest of this column is going to be a summary, albeit brief and probably incomplete, of what we did in 2014. This is going to look quite different from the usual format, but then this is not the usual summary. I hope to capture the highlights of this past year as best I can and detailing all of it would take a book. I'm sure that you don't want to read a book. But do indulge me on this. It will be worth the read!

First, let me summarize what events we had in 2014 including the new additions. We had two Sunday morning speaker meetings a month and had speakers for very nearly every one. All of our speakers were outstanding and the diversity of subjects was fantastic! Even the meetings without a speaker were well attended and proved successful. We had one Game Night per month and every one of those was quite well attended. We had one Inquiring Minds meeting, one Book Club meeting, and one in-house Humanities Project meeting per month as well. Speaking of Humanities Project, they had more outings than I care to count. I think the average was around ten per month! And the diversity of events there was incredible as well. Our Children's Programs looked fantastic this year with an Odyssey Of The Mind event during almost every Sunday speaker event, which also included a trip to World Finals! We saw the addition of a secular Girl Scout troop, troop 1080, headed up by a new member, Alisha DeCou, and a new Lego League (think Lego robotics) event led by OOTM leader Brian Calaway. We saw the addition of a monthly Ted Talks discussion group led by our Inquiring Minds leader, Kevin Moriarty. No, I'm not done yet. We also had several very successful special events; the Darwin Day Dinner, a Humanist Father's Day Picnic, the Flying Spaghetti Monster Dinner, and our annual Winter Solstice Celebration. All of these events were very well attended as well. We also had a special meet-and-greet with Aaron Ra! Talk about busy! And there is more that I'll cover below.

Our property saw some great improvements this year. We finished renovating our storage shed, added four more parking spaces, added a parking lot light for added security, replaced the front door with new access capabilities, mounted the projector to the ceiling, upgraded our sound system, replaced our refrigerator, added a nice shelving unit in the kitchen, cabinets in the children's room, and a whole lot more that I can't recall off the top of my head. Many thanks to Bruce Stiles and Ann Marie Eisentraut for leading these projects and all of the volunteers and donors that helped make it all happen!

We had a busy year in Service Outreach as well. I'm sure that I won't do this justice but I'll give it a try anyway. We did numerous volunteer outings to St. Mary's Food Bank Alliance and managed to get on their Hunger Heroes list for the year! We did some outings at St. Vincent de Paul dining room, the Lost Our Home Pet Foundation, and the Maricopa County Human Services Campus as well as others. We also marched in the Phoenix Pride parade, organized a coupon club to collect coupons to send to military families overseas, and organized an end-of-year tax deductible donation drive for Tumbleweed Center for Youth Development. We donated goods and food to Tumbleweed as well. Many thanks to Michal Otten for leading all of these efforts and everything else that she does for HSGP (she's also a board member). Much of the above was done in conjunction with another organization in the Valley, Good Without God, led by another of our members, Judy Pratt. Many thanks to Judy for her part in this as well. Lastly, we also have an ongoing effort to use plastic grocery bags to crochet sleeping mats for the homeless in Arizona. This effort is being led by our Membership Chair, Anita Romanowski. This is also a wonderful effort. We are certainly becoming a widely known community service organization as well as everything else that we do. My apologies if I have forgotten anything. There is so much!

We were able to donate $5000.00 to the Secular Coalition for Arizona again this year. They are doing a remarkable job of protecting our rights in Arizona from religious based legislation, and leading the charge is their lobbyist, and yet another of our members, Tory Anderson. What an incredible person she is and we are fortunate to have her in our court!

We reached out to the ASU Secular Student Alliance again this year with a fun evening event just for them and we're planning on repeating that, and more, in 2015. We are very excited to see this organization grow both at ASU and at Mesa Community College and will help as much as we can. We also sent volunteers to Camp Quest last year and are looking forward to doing that again this year and we're talking about helping out financially as well. These organizations, in addition to our children's programs, are helping to build a better future for us all.

Our social media presence exploded this year! We are now up to 578 Facebook followers, which is a 95% increase from the beginning of 2014, and the discussions on that page have gotten very intriguing and deep. It's well worth checking out if you haven't already done so (at HSGP Facebook). Our Meetup page, mentioned above, has seen an increase in followers of 36% to 972! That's incredible! Many thanks to Jennifer White for administering and updating these sites as well as everything else that she does for HSGP!

We also have seen an increase in our dues-paying members this year. It fluctuates from month to month but we ended the year with 282 members which is an increase of 3.7% from last year. Dues are a big part of our financial standing which allows us to keep providing such a wide variety of events. Many thanks to the efforts of our Membership Chair, Anita Romanowski, and her committee, for all of the effort to keep up with our membership this year. A job very well done indeed!

The HSGP website has seen tremendous improvements this year due to efforts from several key people but most importantly, Linda Wendler, our Communications Chair, who also contributes so much content to our website including speaker summaries, blog entries, editing the newsletter, and much more. She is amazing and doesn't get anywhere enough credit for all that she does. Thanks Linda!

Thank goodness we finally have chairpersons for two very important functions; Fundraising, chaired by Ariane Apler, and Volunteering, chaired by Michelle Rose. Both are making a huge difference in our success and we can expect to see even more in 2015. Having these two functions run by such competent people is a great relief to me.

We have had some changes in our board with the elections this year. Two people have stepped down from the board, Bruce Stiles and Henry Geist. Both of these people have served the board, and HSGP, incredibly well and we thank them both so much for their contributions. I'm sure that both will continue to be involved in some capacity even if they aren't on the board. We have then added three people to the board. Ariane Apler has stepped up to co-chair a Member at Large position with Vici Duarte. I know that both will do great things. We also now have, for the first time, two people sharing the Vice President's position, Chris Wojno and Seráh Blain. These two powerhouses will make a huge difference to our community. Please help me welcome all three to the board for 2015!

I hope that I summarized the year reasonably well and I hope you made it through the whole column! This was a tremendous year and it may be said that it was HSGP's best year ever! I would like to thank all of the above plus all of the other volunteers without whose help, we could not possibly be as successful as we are. I would also like to thank the many donors, many of whom just keep on giving, allowing us to offer so much to our community. We haven't had to ask for donations to keep going because of our donors, our dues-paying members, and all the people who attended our special events and participated in so many fundraising efforts. We have such a wonderful community and I truly do love being a part of it and doing what I can to keep us growing and being "a model for Humanist community building" (from Zenaido Quintana, President of our local ACLU, Executive Director of SCAZ, and one of our most active members).

One last note. If you made it this far, you might want to check the rest of the newsletter for a mention of a prize for whoever emails me first with a description of the prize. See the address to mail to below. You only need to be at one of the next two Sunday meetings in January if I notify you that you won.

As always, we are interested in any feedback that you might have so please feel free to email me at humanist@hsgp.org 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

Humanists Prose Writer's Circle

We are pleased to announce the transfer of a prose writing group from the Sunset Library in Chandler to the HSGP Community Center in Mesa. Whether you are an aspiring or published writer and have a story running around in you head struggling to get out or perhaps have wanted to write a family memoir, an autobiography or just like to write join our prose writer's support group. We offer an atmosphere of gentle encouragement and constructive criticism where members share what they have written to help themselves and others improve their writing skills.

You will note the group has been identified as a prose writers' group; however, let it be known we are not opposed to writing verse, but our experience has shown mixing prose and verse in the same critique group simply does not work; therefore, those HSGP'ers who are inclined to verse are encouraged to start a separate group.

Current plans are to meet twice monthly on the first and third Tuesdays of each month with our first meeting planned for February 3, 2015 from 6:30 PM to roughly 8:30PM. This will be primarily for housekeeping, getting acquainted with other members, and setting a format for the critiques. Just to let you know ahead of time, our experience tells us because prose is written to be read silently each person attending is asked to bring a sample of their writing (no more than ten pages/double spaced) with enough copies for each person at the meeting--- (We will advise the number attending as soon as we know.)

To repeat myself, whether you are a beginner with a story running around in your head struggling to get out, a published author, a skilled editor who simply enjoys sharing your expertise, or are somewhere in-between, give us a try. We'll be glad you did.

Don't forget to let us know if you are coming. Send an email to pearsonroja2413@aol.com
Jim and Rosalie Pearson

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 viciduarte@cox.net.

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 hsgpfundraising@gmail.com about setting up a similar program.

Upcoming Meetings and Topics
Jan 31st
Anita Romanowski will lead another class in crocheting sleeping mats for the homeless from plastic grocery bags. These are very useful items for people who must sleep on the ground.

To see some instructional videos on the project, and how to crochet, go to our Meetup event at http://www.meetup.com/Humanist-Society-of-Greater-Phoenix/events/219488036/

Join Anita and several of your fellow Humanists for a fun and productive time.

If you have a sleeping mat in progress, don't forget to bring it along!

Feel free to bring your beverage of choice and if you'd like to share some snacks, it's always appreciated!

Bring plastic grocery bags if you wish--not mandatory.

Thank you!

Feb 03rd
Humanists Prose Writer's Circle
Event:  Organizational Meeting

We are pleased to announce the transfer of a prose writing group from the Sunset Library in Chandler to the HSGP Community Center in Mesa. Whether you are an aspiring or published writer and have a story running around in you head struggling to get out or perhaps have wanted to write a family memoir, an autobiography or just like to write join our prose writer's support group. We offer an atmosphere of gentle encouragement and constructive criticism where members share what they have written to help themselves and others improve their writing skills.

You will note the group has been identified as a prose writers' group; however, let it be known we are not opposed to writing verse, but our experience has shown mixing prose and verse in the same critique group simply does not work; therefore, those HSGP'ers who are inclined to verse are encouraged to start a separate group.

Current plans are to meet twice monthly on the first and third Tuesdays of each month with our first meeting planned for February 3, 2015 from 6:30 PM to roughly 8:30PM. This will be primarily for housekeeping, getting acquainted with other members, and setting a format for the critiques. Just to let you know ahead of time, our experience tells us because prose is written to be read silently each person attending is asked to bring a sample of their writing (no more than ten pages/double spaced) with enough copies for each person at the meeting--- (We will advise the number attending as soon as we know.)

To repeat myself, whether you are a beginner with a story running around in your head struggling to get out, a published author, a skilled editor who simply enjoys sharing your expertise, or are somewhere in-between, give us a try. We'll be glad you did.

Please RSVP via email to Jim and Rosalie Pearson at pearsonroja2413@aol.com



Feb 04th
Creativity
Event:  TED Video and Interesting Topic Discussion Group
Topics chosen by attendees

AGENDA

Attendees who have topics present (5 minutes per presentation discussion lengths vary)

TED video (or any public domain video) is voted on for presentation order

Videos are watched and discussed in order as time permits

Led by Kevin Moriarty

Feb 07th
To Be Announced
Event:  Inquiring Minds Discussion Group
Topic:

Hosted by Kevin Moriarty the first Saturday of each month.

Please go to our website to learn all about HSGP: http;//HSGP.org.

Feb 08th
Event:  Annual Darwin Day Celebration
Feb 13th
Event:  Humanities Project Monthly Cultural Presentation & Meeting
Feb 14th
Fundraiser:  Game Night Fundraiser
Feb 17th
Event:  Regular Writer's Circle Meeting
Feb 22nd
Speaker:  Paul Premack
Feb 22nd
Event:  Children's Program
Feb 22nd
Event:  Children's Program
Feb 28th
Mar 03rd
Event:  Writer's Circle Regular Meeting
Mar 04th
Event:  TED Video and Interesting Topic Discussion Group
Mar 07th
Event:  Inquiring Minds Discussion Group
Mar 08th
Speaker:  
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
Speaker:  
Mar 22nd
Event:  Children's Program
Mar 22nd
Event:  Children's Program
Mar 28th
Event:  Book Club
Apr 01st
Event:  TED Video and Interesting Topic Discussion Group

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






I wish everyone a year of peace, good health, comfort, contentment, prosperity, friendship, love and lots & lots of doggy and kitty kisses.
I want to thank each and every one of you for your generous and enthusiastic support during 2014. Here's hoping the new year will bring HSGP continued membership renewals and new members to continue making our wonderful organization the shining star of the Arizona humanist and freethinking community that it is.

HSGP had an excellent year consisting of generous donations, successful fundraisers and also charitable contributions to the community. The board and I want to encourage more charitable community involvement to demonstrate the core values of Humanism as a philosophy.

Michal Otten, our Outreach Coordinator organized groups of volunteers to pack food boxes for hungry families at St. Mary's Food Bank (a non-religious organization). She organized HSGP's representation at the Gay Pride Parade. She coordinated a drive to collect food and hygiene products for Tumbleweed Center for Youth Development, www.tumbleweed.org ; gathered a group of humanists for a volunteer orientation for Lost Our Home Pet foundation, of which yours truly is an active volunteer; and organized the library at the Human Services Campus, www.humanservicescampus.org/ . Michal and her committee have plans for HSGP representation at various community events in the coming year. Two tickets to Origins Project - Extinctions, on Feb 7, 7:00PM.

In that vein, check out the event I'll be hosting on January 31,HSGP Meetup Group, www.meetup.com/Humanist-Society-of-Greater-Phoenix/events/219488036/. We will be learning how to crochet sleeping mats out of plastic grocery bags. The completed mats will be donated to the various homeless communities in the Phoenix area.

In 2014 membership grew to an all time high of 288 members. My goal is to reach a diverse membership of 300 by the end of 2015. We need to spread the growth of humanism in Arizona to offset the theology- driven policies that threaten to undermine the freedom and individuality of all people, including those of differing beliefs and faiths.

As I was doing last year, I will continue sending a Humanist packet to each new member or family in 2015. The packet will contain the usual annual thank you letter and wallet card, Humanist documents, and a Happy Humanist pin(s). Renewing members will have my heartfelt gratitude and maybe a little something extra.

Welcome New Members:
John Petersen
Justin Care

Please contact me if you need any membership information or have a change of address, phone number, or email.

If you would like to have an announcement or general request appear in this column I'll be happy to post it for you.
Anita Romanowski
Chair, Membership Committee
humanistsocietyphx@yahoo.com

HSGP Service Outreach Project

by Michal Otten

Upcoming Volunteer Opportunities

As a humanist, I truly believe it is important to get out there and serve our community however we can. I am excited to share that HSGP will be expanding our volunteer efforts to several new organizations in the Valley. We will also be volunteering once a month every month of 2015! Below are details for the first two outings for 2015. For more details and to sign up, visit Meetup or email Michal at Michal.Otten@gmail.com

* January 17th from 12-3 PM. St. Mary's Food Bank Alliance, 2831 N. 31st Ave., Phoenix.
St. Mary's Food Bank Alliance www.firstfoodbank.org 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.

* February 28th from 10 AM-1 PM. Human Services Campus, 230 S. 12th Ave., Phoenix.
The Human Services Campus www.humanservicescampus.org/ 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.
When we went to volunteer at the HSC in December, we helped to re-fill and re-organize their library. We noticed lots of books filled with old, outdated information or pseudoscience, and LOTS of religious texts. If you have some books you’d like to donate, please bring them by the HCC or bring them along to our outing! Please note that there is a gate code – I will send out the gate code and directions to the building a day or two in advance to those who RSVP.

For more details and to sign up, visit Meetup or email Michal at Michal.Otten@gmail.com

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

Keeping Up With HSGP
Social Media Tips and Hints #18

by Jennifer White

As of this writing, there are 989 Humanists in our Meetup group. The number 1000 is tantalizingly near! New people join our Meetup group every day, and sometimes 1 or 2 drop out, so the number seems to creep up slowly. Maybe we will have achieved 1000 by the time you read this.

The Humanist Society of Greater Phoenix Meetup group was founded on June 24, 2010, about the time we were moving into our new home, the Humanist Community Center. We finally had the space and facilities to host more, new members and add new, widely varied activities to our traditional Sunday Speaker program (which continues to draw growing crowds of enthusiastic Humanists).

With more kinds of activities, we are becoming a more diverse group as well. Children and family- friendly activities have made us more attractive to young families. We have Odyssey of the Mind, Lego League, and Girl Scouts. We have teamed up with Camp Quest AZ to organize a fun family winter camp this month. We will set up tents right in the main meeting room!

Our service outreach programs attract people of all ages who want to give time, money and effort to help fellow humans in need. We also show our support of and solidarity with disenfranchised people, such as immigrants, homeless youth, and LGBTQ people.

We also know how to party, whether it’s to celebrate Darwin’s birthday, or the Flying Spaghetti Monster, the Winter Solstice, or hang out with visiting celebs, like Aron Ra.

We can and do enjoy musical performances, screen films, discuss books and philosophy, have play and poetry readings, make art, bang drums, have work parties, raise money, march in parades, attend concerts and art exhibits and festivals, strategize, eat and drink together, play board games, crochet sleeping mats for homeless people—and so much more! We get to meet new people at every event who were attracted to something we offered on Meetup and decided to join us.

Meetup is a powerful tool for people who are looking for people like us. Humanists. Just 11 more and we will be up to 1000!

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

HSGP Fundraising Activities

Save the Date: Saturday, January 17, 2015 to Sunday the 18th: Joint event with Camp Quest, Urban Camping Experience. Registration Information and other details at www.meetup.com/Humanist-Society-of-Greater-Phoenix/events/218075552/

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 http://www.goodreads.com

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 Amazon.com 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 .

JOIN AHA and CSH
Have4 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
www.americanhumanist.org
Council for Secular Humanism
Box 664
Amherst, NY 14226-0664
www.secularhumanism.org