Thank You From Minnesota Atheists
To Our Friends
Thank you for your support of Minnesota Atheists in 2008!
Minnesota Atheists has a lot to be thankful for this year. First, we spent a lot of time working with different media to reach out to the atheist community and to the public.
With the start of the new year, we shook up the Freethought scene in Minnesota with a newly designed website implemented by Bjorn Watland. Minnesotans in the Twin Cities enjoyed atheists on the radio as Minnesota Atheists broadcast Atheists Talk every Sunday at 9 AM on KTNF AM 950. People even web-streamed or downloaded the podcast from places as far away as Europe and Africa. Without the help of dedicated volunteers, our radio show could not be produced. Members August Berkshire, Mike Haubrich, Lynn Fellman, Grant Steves, Steve Petersen, Cynthia Egli, Scott Lohman, George Kane and others have been very generous with their time and talents, either producing content or providing helpful feedback to make the show a success. We’d also like to thank the sponsors who purchase advertising on our show, the American Humanist Association, the Humanists of Minnesota, the Secular Coalition of America and Q. Cumbers Restaurant. If you appreciate the show, let our sponsors know.
Our cable TV program, Atheists Talk, has seen changes as well. Matthew Richardson passed the torch to Grant Steves this year as he started producing new shows. Grant has produced informative content on many subjects, including Islam, atheism, and teaching the Bible as literature in public schools. His skills at educating a wide audience have been honed over many years spent teaching debate, speech, and media at a high school. We are a proud recipient of his talents and also those of the staff it takes to produce the TV show, featuring members Steve Petersen, Shirley Moll, Brett Stembridge, David Weisner, Art Anderson, George Kane, Grant Hermanson and others.
As part of our media package, our newsletter has seen its own changes. August Berkshire stepped down as editor, to be taken up by James Zimmerman and Keith Lodemeier. Now, James serves as our sole Editor. Talented writers, including Grant Steves, August Berkshire, George Kane, Cynthia Egli, James Zimmerman, Keith Lodemeier, Vic Tanner, Crystal Dervetski, and others have made the newsletter even more interesting to read. Tom Riddering continued to provide the layout of our newsletter throughout the year, assembling articles and fantastic pictures provided by August Berkshire, Richard Trombly, Vern Young and others. Our electronic events newsletter, Atheists Weekly Email (AWE) kept everyone informed throughout the year. AWE editor George Kane has made a few changes to the standard email, which has been sent out over the last five years, to make it even easier to stay up to date with local freethought happenings. Currently, over 750 people receive AWE updates each week.
Stories and letters to the editor about and by Minnesota Atheists appeared in many newspapers, including the Star Tribune, the Pioneer Press, and the St. Cloud Times. The Mpls./St. Paul magazine also featured a nice story.
Because of your help, we have been more visible in the community and around the world. Our cable TV show and radio show are available through our website and iTunes. Our shows have been downloaded thousands of times and watched or listened to by thousands of others.
Educating the Public
We have continued to be present in the public through our participation in the May Day parade and Juneteenth Festival in Minneapolis, and Gay Pride parades in Minneapolis, La Crosse, Rochester, Mankato, and Duluth. Reception of our organization can be mixed but we get lots of opportunity to tell people where we stand on social issues. Our Public Policy Committee made it even easier to tell the public where our organization stands on various social issues by publishing a Public Policy Positions document.
Our free monthly meetings brought some pretty special speakers to the curious public and members alike. We were treated with a “Sex Across the Curriculum” play at the start of the year by Jen Tudor. We also heard from Lori Lipman Brown of the Secular Coalition of America, Hector Avalos from Iowa State University as well as our local talent, Lee Salsbury and Grant Steves.
The atheist spotlight was on Minnesota in March as Minneapolis hosted the American Atheists Convention featuring many talented presenters including Richard Dawkins. Our own Steve Petersen and August Berkshire presenting on successful lobbying. We would like to thank all of our members who volunteered during the event to make it the most well attended conference in American Atheists’ history. Member PZ Myers was also “expelled” from “Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed,” a film staring Ben Stein which claims that “Darwinists” censor debate on the topic of Intelligent Design Creationism. While PZ Myers did not see the controversial film, his friend, Richard Dawkins, did see the movie and was able to provide his own perspective during the Q & A with the producer of the film.
Our Charitable Works Committee was created this year as a way for atheists to get together to volunteer as a group in the community. Two Adopt-A-Highway cleanups, two blood drives and a Santa Run to benefit Mid Minnesota Legal Assistance have already passed and were well attended, thanks to the efforts of Jack Caravela, Jeannette Watland, Bonnie Marsick, Vanita Mishra, Ron Julien, Patricia Murtha, Bjorn Watland, and Denise Autopia. Thanks to everyone who volunteered this year. To ask about upcoming charitable events, or give your suggestions, email the group at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Our membership has grown over the past year. It’s exciting to see so many new faces at events. More events were hosted over the last year to cover our wide range of members. Not only did we host two pub crawls in Minneapolis, but members Crystal Dervetski and Vic Tanner have been hosting “Think and Drink” nights in Mankato to bring our southern Minnesota members together. Thank you for participating in all of our events this last year, from formal membership meetings to informal gatherings at restaurants.
The Minnesota Atheists Board has been influential in guiding the efforts of the organization. In 2008, August Berkshire took over as president, replacing George Kane who served as secretary this year. Cynthia Egli served as associate president. Grant Steves filled the roll of associate chair while Steve Petersen continued his previous job as chair. Treasurer Andy Flamm, who took over the job from Jack Caravela, skillfully managed our finances for the year. Kristine Harley, Jeannette Watland and Bjorn Watland served as directors-at-large. If you are ever seeking a leadership role at a fast-paced non-profit, keep an eye out for our board nomination meeting in January, followed by elections in February.
So, what does this mean for next year? With the help of all of you, 2009 will be even more exciting! If you’d like to help out with any of our projects, from the radio show, to membership meetings, to serving on the Board, to pub crawls, let us know at email@example.com. To make an easy on-line donation, visit our website. You can even choose a gift of a free t-shirt for donations over $12!
Thank you for all you have done in the last year,
“Positive Atheism In Action”
P.S. It isn’t too late to reserve a seat at the Winter Solstice Freethought Banquet featuring the Freethought Follies and Freethought Band hosted by Minnesota Atheists. It’s at 5 PM on Sunday, December 21st at the DoubleTree Hotel in St. Louis Park. Contact Steve Petersen (651-484-9277) by the end of the 19th if you are interested.
P.P.S. Earlier on the 21st, Bjorn Watland will be leading a small group discussion called, “Design-A-Deity,” at the Ridgedale Library at Noon. We’ll be talking about the Problem of Evil, and the Problem of Loving Too Much. For more information, contact Bjorn Watland.