December 2015 Newsletter

December First Friday FreeUp:

Terrorism, Refugees, Religion, and Fear: Where do we go from here?

In This Issue...

• From the President

• Food distribution proposed for MLK Nat'l Day of Service: January 16 – Volunteers needed

• Cold Night Shelters in Escambia, Santa Rosa, and Okaloosa need support

• Friday FreeUp Dec. 4: Terrorism, Refugees, Religion, and Fear – Where do we go from here?

• Pics from the Picnic: 2nd Annual Carl Sagan Cosmic Day of Honor Potluck PICNIC

• Want to get involved? Learn more about HWF Membership, Board and Committees


From the President...

Season’s Greetings, Members and Friends,

Well, it's that time of year again and I hope you all have an enjoyable season of celebrations heading to the New Year. I also hope that you read all of our Human Element newsletter and make some New Year's resolutions to join in our activities for 2016! We have a number of Team activities to help the chapter work. If you are good with social media and internet operations consider joining a Communications Team. If you are interested in helping with events, or have ideas for FreeUp discussions, or have an idea of a project you would like to see happen, please join a Programs Team. The Teams already exist and are designed to be involved in targeted areas of the community. The Teams are listed on the front page of our website so take a look and if you have an interest or questions please contact us.

The Homeless and Hungry Team is considering doing a food distribution for Martin Luther King Jr. National Day of Service on Saturday January 16, from 8am to noon. We can’t do it though unless we get some committed volunteers to work the event; at the last distribution we only had three members to distribute nearly 10,000 pounds of food. Please contact us quickly if you can commit to working that day. We need to hear from you no later than December 13 so that we can schedule a delivery with the Food Bank.

Finally, one of the two humanist celebrations that we share with the American Humanists Association and with humanists around the earth is Human Light Day, December 23rd (the other being World Humanist Day, on June 21st). Naturally, Human Light Day follows the Winter Solstice, when we humans of the northern hemisphere figured out that the sun was, indeed, returning again for another long stay (and I presume in the southern hemisphere people were thankful the days were getting shorter and temperatures promised to become cooler). So, in your own simple way give thanks that we humans are coming out of the dark ages and into the light. Wishing you a bright, sunny, and gleeful Human Light day.

See you around,

Buz Ryland, President

Humanists of West Florida


MLK National Day of Service, January 16:

Sign up to volunteer at HWF-sponsored Food Distribution

 Check your calendars and let us know NO LATER THAN December 13 if you will be able to help with the Food Distribution on January 16. An exact location has not been set. Past distributions have been held in Milton and Pensacola. We will need volunteers to help set up beginning at 8 am. The food distribution will operate from 10 till noon. 

Want to do even more? We really need a Team Leader for our Food Distribution Team, to take point in arranging future food Distributions.

Contact Kay Rudolph at secretary@hwfl.org.


Cold Night Shelters need support

Cold night shelters have already been opened in the three counties (Escambia, Santa Rosa, and Okaloosa) and will be in high demand in coming weeks.

Father Nathan Monk at the The Beacon Shelter for Women and Families (2105 W Gregory St., Pensacola) has put out a call for supplies and volunteers. For more information on how you can help call (850) 454-9910, or visit https://www.facebook.com/TheBeaconPensacola/

Learn more about the local shelters and how you can help:

Escambia County: http://www.pnj.com/story/news/2015/11/23/cold-weather-shelter-helps-homeless-heatless/76227296/

Santa Rosa County: http://www.pnj.com/story/weather/2015/11/21/santa-rosa-county-opens-cold-weather-shelter/76169192/

Ft. Walton: http://www.nwfdailynews.com/article/20151124/NEWS/151129593


First Friday FreeUp:

Open Discussion: 

Terrorism, Refugees, Religion, and Fear – 

Where do we go from here?

Friday, December 4

6:00-8:00 pm

La Brisa Restaurant (at Quality Inn and Suites, just south of Three Mile Bridge), 51 Gulf Breeze Pkwy, Gulf Breeze, FL 32561

Anyone else feeling at a loss for what to think, given all that's happened the last couple of weeks? Paris, Beirut, Colorado... Calls to register Muslims. More calls to close our borders... ARE we at risk? 

Interesting article by Rob Boston in Americans United for Separation of Church and StateFreedom vs. Fear: Restricting Religious Liberty Isn't The Answer To Terrorism. Boston writes "When we demonize an entire class of people, when we make assumptions about what they must believe or, even worse, when we call for taking away another group’s rights as a way to somehow protect ourselves, we hand the terrorists another win because we abandon our own values." 

Paul Krugman's column in the New York Times, Fearing Fear Itself, noted that "The point is not to minimize the horror. It is, instead, to emphasize that the biggest danger terrorism poses to our society comes not from the direct harm inflicted, but from the wrong-headed responses it can inspire." Several thought-provoking comments from his readers:

• “Thoughtful and humane treatment of the Syrian refugees would go a long way toward attenuating ISIS recruitment.”

• “When we in the West cheered on the democratic impulses of the Arab Spring, only to stand idly by and watch them wither and die for failure to offer jobs and economic growth, we ensured that the forces of jihad would fill the vacuum.”

• “We must war against this death cult. So long as the death cult exists, the fear it spreads will exist. We must war against its beliefs as well as its combatants. We don't have choice. We can redirect our fear into resolve. We can turn it into anger and hate. But we will never get rid of it until the death cult is eliminated.”

• “We essentially fund and support terrorists by funding and supporting the theocratic Royal Families that use extremist religion as a tool of repression and control.”

Charles Pierce, writing for Esquire, argues There Is Only One Way to Defeat ISIS: "It is long past time for the oligarchies of the Gulf states to stop paying protection to the men in the suicide belts. Their societies are stunted and parasitic. The main job of the elites there is to find enough foreign workers to ensla…er…indenture to do all the real work." Of his assertion that “The deep desperation in the human heart that leads people to kill their fellow human beings and then blow themselves up as a final act of murderous vengeance against those they perceive to be their enemies, seen and unseen, real and imagined," a reader commented "Can't we see that this is already happening here in the US? This is the same motivation that spurs our exceptionally American mass shooters."

(Note this month's FreeUp location: La Brisa is part of the Quality Inn complex just south of the Three Mile Bridge. The menu is tasty but not econo so you may want to eat ahead. McGuireís Irish Red , Pensacola Bay Brewery’s Rip Tide Amber, Sawgrass Wheat and Napoleon IPAÆ on tap.)


Pics from the Picnic:
2nd Annual Carl Sagan

Cosmic Day of Honor Potluck PICNIC

Ah... Pictures... Well, I was having a good time talking and eating and ... um ... didn't take any. It was a lovely day, perfect weather (really, you'd almost think the gods were favoring us). Our Board Meeting which preceded the picnic proper was an energetic affair and we've got a couple of Teams organizing out of ideas spawned in our discussion: a Little Library project to make books available to the needy in their own community, and a Communications Team to explore how to build member participation in HWF projects and events. You'll be hearing more on this in the coming weeks...

Membership: Join or Renew

Membership makes it happen.

In addition to the work supporting the hungry and the homeless, HWF sponsors monthly FreeUps, Freethinker meetups, and periodic picnics and other social events to create a community where non-theists can meet others who share their life view. Through the Gulf Coast Coalition of Reason, HWF supported the “godless” billboards that were placed in Pensacola, Mobile, and Gulfport earlier this year, to let non-theists on the Coast know they aren’t alone. 

Your membership and your membership dues make HWF eligible to solicit donations and apply for grants from corporations and larger organizations like the American Humanist Association. Without your support, HWF won’t exist. Why does that matter? How is HWF different from the many other charitable organizations helping the needy on the Gulf Coast? Because of our stand that we’re doing good for our communities because it’s the rational, human thing to do. HWF’s purpose isn’t just to show compassion for the needy, but to demonstrate that compassion isn’t the sole property of religion. And because a person doesn’t need to believe in god to do good and to be good, there is no need for a state religion to dictate how we live and how we treat each other.

You can join by clicking the big red Membership button on the right, and then select whether you are a new or renewing member. You can pay online using PayPal, or you can send a check to Humanists of West Florida, P.O.Box 15328, Pensacola FL 32514. 

We're a 501c3 organization so your donations are tax deductible


HWF Board of Directors:

President/Treasurer: Buz Ryland, president@hwfl.org

Vice President: Suren Shah, vpres@hwfl.org

Secretary: Kay Rudolph, secretary@hwfl.org


Charles Stauffer, charles@hwfl.org

Sedona Strong, sedona@hwfl.org

Amanda Kondrat'yev, amanda@hwfl.org

Michael Kimball, michael@hwfl.org


Get Involved!


Want to get involved in some of our activities to help build the humanist community on the Gulf Coast? Contact the committee and team chairs and find out how you can help:

Programs, Projects, and Events (PPE) Committee – Buz Ryland (Chair), Suren Shah, Kay Rudolph, Sedona Strong

Civics and Government Team (Buz Ryland, Team Leader): responsible for making sure our voice is heard in the public community, and promoting a positive image in the area.

Events and FreeUps Team (Buz Ryland, Team Leader): responsible for making awesome, interesting and informative social gatherings, special events and picnics to further fellowship within the community.

Homeless and Hungry Team (Buz Ryland, Team Leader): responsible for the homeless outreach programs and coordinating the mass distribution of food to low income families in the Gulf Coast area.

Young and Youth Team (Suren Shah, Team Leader): responsible for identifying strategies to help school children in the area, whether it be academically or with life coaching.


Finance, Fundraising, and Membership (FFM) Committee – Suren Shah (Chair), Buz Ryland, Amanda Kondrat'yev, Sedona Strong

Bylaw Team (Buz Ryland, Team Leader):  responsible for reviewing the chapter’s bylaws.

Fundraising Team (Suren Shah, Team Leader): responsible for encouraging donations from individuals and businesses interested in supporting HWF.

Bylaw Team (Buz Ryland, Team Leader):  responsible for reviewing the chapter’s bylaws.

Fundraising Team (Suren Shah, Team Leader): responsible for encouraging donations from individuals and businesses interested in supporting HWF.

Grant Team (Buz Ryland, Team Leader): responsible for soliciting grants from organizations that support to vision of HWF.

Membership Team (Buz Ryland, Team Leader): responsible for rallying the base and building our membership in HWF.


Communications, Connections, and Promotions (CCP) Committee – Kay Rudolph (Chair), Amanda Kondrat'yev, Michael Kimball, Charles Stauffer

Newsletter Team (Kay Rudolph, Team Leader): responsible for keeping our membership informed and active through monthly newsletters.

Publicity Team (Kay Rudolph, Team Leader): responsible for developing tools to publicize HWF to build membership and member involvement.

Social Media Team (Amanda Kondrat'yev, Team Leader): responsible for cultivating the conversation with the public and keeping our group relevant and fresh.

Website Management Team (Michael Kimball, Team Leader): responsible for designing and managing the humanistsofwestflorida.org website.


Comments or Suggestions?

Please help us make this newsletter more useful and interesting by letting us know what you would like to read about. Send your comments and suggestions to secretary@hwlf.org. Thank you!

HWF Facebook Page

Follow us on Social Media:

Friend us on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/groups/humanistswfl/ and join in the conversations about how to create a just and sane society.

We also have a Meetup group where we coordinate our community service and social activities. Please join and sign up to receive emails notices to stay informed: http://www.meetup.com/Humanists-of-West-Florida-Community-Service 


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The Mission of the Humanists of West Florida

... is to facilitate the advancement of humanist thought and action in Pensacola and surrounding areas by interconnecting groups of humanists, atheists, agnostics and non-religious. We will strive for equal participation in government and societal life through building strategic partnerships with other humanist and freethought organizations and with our religious neighbors to advance the greater good of humanity.