Town Hall Updates 3/12/17

The Town Hall generated a lot of feedback and we’re still digesting it. There were six major themes from the discussion: our ethos, transparency, communicating with the community, safe spaces, potential new committees, member involvement & volunteering.  Here’s what we’ve done so far.

  • Regarding transparency,
    • Sarah has added a section for the board members on the website, and will continue to add members as they send her information.
    • We’re developing committee-based decision making process. For example, going forward, new small groups will be approved by the Hub Ambassador’s committee. There is an online google form which people can fill out to propose a new small group.
  • Speaking of new groups,
    • Jennifer Lin has started a new mental health small group which is meeting after this discussion (3/12) at 3:30.
    • Rocky has started the a new small group called Life and Loss Cafe (two occurred in Spring, next one to be held in Summer).
    • Rob has proposed a new moderated, public but closed facebook group for the hub community. He will create it in the next couple of weeks. Anyone who has attended an event at the hub is welcome to join. The norms for the group will be posted in the description of the group.
    • Paul Dio will be starting a new career development group. Look out for announcements in future weeks.
  • Regarding member involvement & volunteering,
    • We’ve created 4 roles for Sunday mornings: greeter, monitor, food server, and clean-up crew. We are in the process of locating a coordinator for each role. Jesse Wallace has agreed to be the coordinator for the monitors. Thanks Jesse!
      • But we need your help with this. Please sign up for a role! You don’t need to be here every Sunday,
    • Joel Thoman & Jason Arnold will be the 2017 AIDS Walk captains & Tom Norris will be one of the Pride Co-Marshals.

As I said we are still working our way through all of the notes & related action items. We thank you for your patience and we will continue to update you all on our progress.

  • Transparency:

Website: put individual bios of board members on the web; describe their responsibilities; include annual report and other financial statements; include job descriptions of the staff; archive the newsletters; describe the different committees. Sarah will work on these things. Other volunteers to help with website content: Steve, Andrea, Traci, Veronica.

Strategic Planning Committee: on pause at the moment; it includes Ben Datema, Nina Lytton, and some board members; working on a five-year plan, kids’ program, a possible move to a new location. This committee deals with more details than the Board.

Decision-making process: Previously, Greg made all the decisions and Sarah implemented them. Now we are moving to a committee-based decision-making process. We are still figuring out the process.

Write a constitution: describe how the board interacts with committees; include bylaws; create a process to choose people for committees.

  • Safe Spaces:

Welcoming environment: Regular topic for Hub Ambassadors: How can we make the community more welcoming? How can we create safe spaces? Make sure we welcome allies; make sure we say, “We don’t all have to agree.”

Training: How to train community in Hub norms? The Monday Night Discussion Group leaders (Veronica, Dan Richards, Sandy Heierbacher, Emon Sharier, Michelle Carter, Alice, and Valerie) have already been trained by Rob and Greg. Train more leaders of small groups? Train in Hub norms when getting together outside of the Hub.

Racial diversity: Recognize that we are not very racially diverse; we operate “like a white church” not a black or Latino church. How can we move the needle racially?

Small group opportunities: how to engage members who are beyond just attenders?

Political diversity: Recognize that we have political diversity. How to hold discussions on politics in a healthy way? Give workshop on how to talk about politics. Perhaps Sandy could lead it. Veronica and Rob will talk to her. In the past, a nonviolent communication workshop led by Xander.

  • Communicating within the community:

Website, facebook, newsletter. Put more information on the website. Archive the newsletter on the website (Sarah has done this). Possibly create a public facebook group for members—Rob will look into. Blog? Encourage people to sign up for the newsletter.

  • Encourage members to take the next step to get involved:

We’ve created 4 roles for Sunday mornings: greeter, monitor, food server, clean-up crew. Elka has created 4 sign-up sheets (Google docs), and we are in the process of locating a leader (who recruits and trains people) and coordinator (who schedules and reminds people) for each role. The priority is to get a monitor in place each week to take care of setting up extra chairs. Stephen will coordinate the monitors. Elka will coordinate the greeters; greeters will also say goodbye to people. Sarah and Andrea will coordinate the food servers. We need a coordinator for clean-up crew. Gene Gorter was suggested. Stephen will contact him to describe this role and ask him if he’d like to take it on. The goal is to get people scheduled and involved in running Sunday meetings.

  • What is humanism and what do we stand for?

How best to communicate/teach the Hub’s values and mission? Possibly a Sunday morning History of Humanism class, an adult education class taught by Greg.

  • Other potential committees that can be created:

Outreach committee—engaging with broader community and other organizations

Community service committee—meal-packing, etc., might roll into ARC

Children and family committee

RELEASE: First Atheist NFL Star Speaks at Harvard

February 28, 2017
For Release: Immediately Upon Receipt
Contact: Greg M. Epstein, Humanist Chaplain at Harvard

RELEASE: First Atheist NFL Star Speaks at Harvard
Boston’s “Godless Congregation” Hosts 4 Time All Pro

CAMBRIDGE, MA: The first ever major American sports star to be an “Openly Secular” atheist and humanist will be honored at Harvard University, in April.

The Humanist Hub, in partnership with the Harvard Community of Humanists, Atheists, and Agnostics (HCHAA), will present recently retired 4-time NFL All-Pro player Arian Foster with their 11th Annual Outstanding Lifetime Achievement Award in Cultural Humanism, as part of a ceremony held on Harvard’s campus on Sunday April 23 at 1:30pm.

This award, created in 2007, honors an individual whose life and contributions to popular culture and society exemplify the values of Humanism, a nonreligious philosophy of life based on reason, compassion, integrity, and justice.

Foster, a former running back who holds Houston Texans franchise records for rushing yards and touchdowns, and who led the National Football League in rushing yards and touchdowns in 2010, publicly announced his atheism in a 2015 feature in ESPN Magazine.

In a 2011 cover story, The Sporting News called Foster “The Most Interesting Man in the NFL.”

First through ESPN and in subsequent activism for the “Openly Secular” campaign, an awareness-building effort of the organized humanist movement in the US, Foster acknowledged bias against atheism, but is embracing the award and its message.

“It’s an honor to be invited to talk about my values at a place with some of the brightest minds in the world,” Foster said.

“I want to help make a wider audience aware of the need for human progress.”

With countless millions of fans and sky high ratings, NFL Football provides a wide audience for athletes who use its platform to speak out about social issues.

“Talking about the ethics of football is more important than ever,“ said Greg Epstein, Humanist Chaplain at Harvard and the Humanist Hub’s Executive Director.

“The humanist community cares deeply that sports, as a part of our popular culture, are responsive to social justice and public health. Our students have held several high profile conversations on this topic in the past, and with the football community’s first-ever open humanist set to visit, the dialogue is sure to grow.”

“Faith isn’t enough for me,” Foster told ESPN in 2015. “For people who are struggling with that, they’re nervous about telling their families or afraid of the backlash … man, don’t be afraid to be you. I was, for years.”

The Humanist Hub, the US’s first “Center for Humanist Life” serving atheists and agnostics on and around a campus, has hosted similar award ceremonies with actress Carrie Fisher (2016) comedian Eddie Izzard (2013) author Mary Roach (2012) Seth MacFarlane (Fall 2011) Stephen Fry (Spring 2011) Discovery Chanel’s MythBusters Adam Savage and Jamie Hyneman (2010) director Joss Whedon (2009) Bad Religion’s Greg Graffin (2008) and Sir Salman Rushdie (2007).

To learn more, visit Tickets available on Eventbrite.