Spring 2016 Newsletter

April Fool's Friday FreeUp: April 1 at Xiscali in Pensacola

Humanists invocation at Pensacola City Council Meeting, April 14

Freethinkers MeetUp April 16 -- stay posted for location!

Third Annual Tom Paine Potluck Picnic  on May 15

In This Issue...

• From the President 

• Friday FreeUp April 1st: What's on your mind? 

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


From the President...

Happy April Fools Day everyone!

I hope today none of us falls for the “sky is falling, the sky is falling”, or “it's the end times and the rapture is upon us”. If any of you have such information however, please let us all know ASAP.

It's been three months since our last newsletter as we have moved to doing them quarterly (for everyone's sake). Let me tell you these past three months have been busy. All the many Teams that make up the Humanists of  West Florida have been active. The Homeless and Hungry Team held our annual food distribution honoring the Martin Luther King Jr. National Day of Service on Jan 16th. We gave out 7,500 pounds of food at the Attucks Court Housing Campus in Pensacola in conjunction with the Escambia Area Housing Commission. We had over 20 volunteers come out to work and work they did. In just three hours, from 8-11am, we served 170 family units at the campus. Our idea is to target these federal housing projects rather than just hold open-to-the-public events because we know these locations are food deserts: residents have limited transportation, they are very low income, and are handicapped in a number of ways.

Next, in February, on the 13th, the Events, Programs & Projects Team, along with the Finance & Fundraising Team, put together our the first – and hopefully annual – Charlie Darwin Chili Cookoff at the First City Art Center. This was a two-fold project: One, to have fun celebrating Darwin Day, and second, to raise funds to replace January’s food distribution cost of $750.  With seven cooks and over 30 attendees, and with Thor the Brewer from A Little Madness Brewing Company serving great local craft beers (thank you, David Beddick!) we had a great time and raised over $500. After the fun of voting for the best chili – including  some fund raising by donating to our favorite Chili PAC – the winner was announced. Congratulations to Bill Brogdon, whose Chipotle Chile raised the most PAC monies and won in the general election. Thanks, Bill!

Also, this quarter we held two First Friday FreeUps, in January and March, skipping the middle month with the Cookoff event. We continue to sponsor the Freethinkers MeetUps, which are usually held the third Saturday of each month. Thank you, Chas Stauffer, for hosting these.

March was also the month for the Teams to review the current quarter’s activities, plan for next quarter, and report to their committees. The committees then review the work of the Teams and will report to the Board of Directors at the quarterly meeting this April. If any of you are willing to serve on a Team, that’s the place to be to help HWF remain a success. The Teams communicate privately online, using Facebook or our Forums, forming up to organize and manage individual projects like our food distributions, or events like the Chili Cookoff and our picnics. Other Teams handle online work like Social Media monitoring and communications, generating ideas for fundraising, etc. Please consider joining a Team, and if you have any questions about one please contact me.

The Civics & Government Team has been quite involved with local issues, like the religious entanglements the city and county have created by not following best practices of the law. First, the issue of the Bayview Park Cross is pending as our national American Humanist Association recently sent the city a thirteen-page letter explaining that locating a cross in a public park is illegal. David Suhor has been working on this issue for over a year, and this year David managed to reserve the cross site with the Parks Department to hold a Secular Easter celebration with music and speakers. While the weather ruined those larger plans, he still held a personal symbolic ceremony with a sign and an incantation. Thank you,  David. 

The continuing habit of city, county, and school boards to hold pre-meeting invocations – almost exclusively by a selected Christian pastor – has been diligently challenged over the last year or more, ( again, thank you very much, David Suhor). My own requests to deliver an invocation were repeatedly ignored by the county commissioners and outright rejected by the school board; School Boardmember Jeff Bergosh replied by email that it was not acceptable to him. Finally, after a year on the city’s request list I received a letter inviting me to do the invocation for the city of Pensacola council meeting to be held on Thursday, April 14th,  at 5:30pm. As “fate” (ha!) would have it I will be out of town that day, but the city will allow me to send a representative, so the invocation will be given by HWF member and Unitarian Universalist Minister Emeritus Bob Eddy, who is also a past president of the Humanists of Colorado. (Thank you, Bob.) Please – as many of you as can make it, do attend that city council meeting and lend your support to Bob’s providing a humanist invocation on behalf of all us Humanists of West Florida.

Next to report is the slanderous attack upon our chapter and on all humanists at last month’s city council meeting by the lawyer for the Divine Word radio station, which has illegally built a radio tower in the Longhollow neighborhood of Pensacola.

And, finally, the Escambia County Administration Office is discussing whether the raised-bed planters we built a year ago at Satoshi Forest (Sean’s Outpost’s homeless sanctuary in Pensacola) are a code violation – which could give the County an excuse to shut the operation down. According to the Health Department the garden beds are not a violation – but, wow, aren't these Bible Belters something else?

All these stories are much more involved than we can detail here, so stay tuned and watch your local news media for further details.

In the strictly good-news department, I am happy to tell you of a wedding I was privileged to officiate a few weeks ago. On Vernal Sunday, March 20th, HWF members Sandra and David Carroll, parents of Taylor Danyelle Carroll, saw their daughter marry David Ray Leiva. It was a beautiful spring day and a joyous time. It was my honor to be their Celebrant.

Looking to the future now, the application period for the next Board of Directors ended March 31st, and the nominating committee received one new applicant: we are happy to announce that Sandra Carroll will be joining the Board. Suren Shah, Kay Rudolph, and myself all re-applied for the seats we currently hold. The fourth seat was held by Michael Kimball who is graduating from UWF. Michael has been an invaluable member of the CCP Communication Committee, serving among other things as our Website Administrator. His knowledge of all things internet has been priceless. Michael is leaving the Board of Directors, but will stay on as Website Administrator for awhile until we can find a good replacement. Congratulations on your university graduation, and thank you, Michael! As we had exactly as many applications for the Board as we had open seats, we will not require a runoff election. Sandra Carroll, along with the current Board members, will be seated for the next operating year starting July 1st.

This coming quarter we look forward to our Third Annual Tom Paine Potluck Picnic celebrating the National Day of Reason on Sunday, May 15th, at Bayview Park – watch for further announcements. And, of course, join us at the First-Friday FreeUps and Freethinkers MeetUps whenever you can, and enjoy the lively and challenging conversations with all.

One last thank you to Kay Rudolph for being our Human Element newsletter editor and Communications Committee director. Thank you, Kay. I know she’s anxious to get more voices involved in the newsletter, to make it more interesting and informative for you, our readers. Don’t hesitate to drop her an email at kay@hwlf.org with any ideas or suggestions for the newsletter.

That's it for this quarterly update. I hope to see many of you out and about at our upcoming events. Thank you to the rest of our Board of Directors, Committee members and Team members, and to all of you members and friends for your caring and involvement with the Humanists of West Florida.

Yours truly,

Buz Ryland, President

Humanists of West Florida


April Fool's FreeUp:

Open Discussion: What's on your mind?

Friday, April 1

6:00-9:00 pm

Xiscali Mexican Restaurant (former location of Hall's Seafood)

920 E. Gregory St., Pensacola, FL
Phone: (850) 435-2907

No joke: FreeUp this Friday on April Fool's Day! 
We're going to do another Roundtable like last month's (maybe with a few adjustments learned from experience): After our initial meet and greet, we'll pass around index cards for people to write out a question or comment,. Then the MC will read off each card one at a time and we'll have a round-the-table discussion about its topic -- limiting each speaker to 90 seconds at a shot -- until we wear out the topic, and then we'll go on to the next card. 
We had good reviews of the food and ambience of Xiscali's in March, so we'll be meeting there again -- but do keep your eyes open for other venues that we can visit so we don't get bored with the menu. See you Friday!


What do Bill NyeAndrés RoemerJohnny DeppMaryam Namazie, and Killah Priest have in common?

Two things: They all want reason — not religion — to guide public policy and they will all be speaking at Reason Rally 2016. 

June 4: 10 am – 7 pm, Free!
Lincoln Memorial, Washington, DC
Advocacy Days, Parties, and Other Events June 2 – June 5

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 in 2015, 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.

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 


Please share this newsletter with anyone you think might be interested! If you look at the top of this newsletter in your email box, you should see a link that says, "Display problems? View this newsletter in your browser." Click that link and when it opens in your browser, copy and paste the URL into an email or to Facebook or other favorite social media.


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.