A Brights Meetup is a local gathering of persons who are interested in casual contact with others having a naturalistic worldview and curious about and/or generally supportive of the aims and principles of the Brights movement.
Note from Mynga and Paul
Although the Brights’ concept is still new and fresh, several Meetup groups have already come and gone. No organized study of the reasons for this has been made. People generally wish simply to get together socially, form acquaintances with like-minded others, and “discuss things” as Brights. The typical Meetup meeting is lacking in direction.
Below are just a few thoughts on the topic, set out here as raw material to stimulate thinking and (hopefully) entice e-mailing of some suggestions back to us at firstname.lastname@example.org. If there is adequate response, we can further develop this page, perhaps into a genuine resource for persons who would like their Meetup to thrive and make some contribution to the overall movement.
When sending your recommendations, you can direct them either to us or phrase them as “recommendations to other Meetup leaders.” Either way, please mark your e-mail subject line in caps: IMPROVING MEETUPS
Stay to the (B)right Track!
A Brights Meetup Leader Resource
Planning for Fun and More?
Socializing is fine, but probably not sufficient to hold a group together for long. Without purpose, meetings tend to go nowhere. Not only that, such gatherings may disintegrate into the general discussions about philosophy and griping about religion that for years (and years, and years!) have accompanied various gatherings of atheists/humanists/freethinkers.
For the gatherings to be sustainable and to allow friendships to form and to result in something positive in the long term, a Brights’ Meetup group needs a “Bright reason” for continuing to meet. A leader can be helpful to sustaining interest, and so can participants devoting just a bit of each meeting to the “Bright track.” The casual atmosphere, if not too noisy, is a good place to gain better understanding from one another about the reasons for - and the aims and principles of - the Brights’ endeavor, which is a civic action movement.
Some Suggestions for Meetings
Besides the general getting together (introductions, finding out a bit about each other), Meetups can serve as a forum for mutual discussion of some basic understandings of what the Brights’ Net is all about. They can be occasions to reconcile any philosophical or political or (?) differences in understandings about particular matters related to the movement. Finding mutually shared interests can lead to setting goals that will be of interest to everyone.
A goal-directed discussion is different from discussing philosophy and beliefs (not the central focus of the Brights). Planning and conducting some Brights actions (see action ideas below), can be “what it takes” to provide a bit of “glue” for more successful Meetups over a long haul.
- Select a Topic [X] for each meeting. (Try not to discuss more than one topic per meeting.)
- If the location is too noisy or seating awkward to the point it is not possible to involve the whole group at one time, let convenient segments of the group discuss the topic with one another. (Distributing a paragraph in print, or a printed question, may be helpful to set the stage.)
- Challenge your group to reach a consensus on at least some aspectof the topic that is positive and constructive and, perhaps, productive.
(We pose this as a goal, and we would like to receive input from a Meetup if the group deems it relevant).
- Ask that discussants be succinct, and that no individual dominate any discussion.
Here is a pattern we would propose to Meetup leaders over time.
First meeting (getting down to business):
- Introduce Topic X
- Discuss the Topic
- Summarize any consensus from the discussion (no more than one paragraph) and send it to “Brights Central (BC) via e-mail.
- Decide whether to continue the topic at the next meeting (perhaps a different slant on it), or move to a new topic.
Pattern for subsequent meetings:
- Review the summaries of the previous N topics (for benefit of any newcomers)
- Introduce the New Topic
- Discuss the Topic
- Summarize any consensus (and send it along to BC)
- Work your group through brief discussions over time as interest is sustained, topic by topic.
- Reserve plenty of free time for socializing.
Some Bright Topics
Q: Brights are a constituency, and not a membership organization. (See Principle #1 of the movement.) Do you perceive any difference? What difference might it make?
Q: What do you think of the usefulness of the Brights’ definition, based as it is on the idea of a supernaturalism-free worldview rather than on some set of belief statements (such as humanists use), or some comparison with religion (such as atheism is)?
Q: What offers the best local opportunity for a Bright to be elected?
Q: How strong/weak is the “wall of separation” locally? In government(s)? Public schools?
Some Bright Actions
If a Meetup group stabilizes into a “going strong” situation, it might actually make some contributions to the community consistent with the aims of the movement. Here are a few examples:
- Make and implement a plan to work with local public and/or school librarians to fortify the youth collection(s) and teaching resources with more materials on critical thinking and skepticism for youngsters, and on character-building from a naturalistic perspective.
- Ask science teachers what support they might need to strengthen their programs (keeping dogma at bay and sustaining sound science programs) and then, follow up
- Plan letters-to-editors campaign(s) to present the naturalistic worldview in a good light, or a media watch to “call” disparagements and negative stereotyping in a civil manner that draws on the strengths of naturalism (and avoids belittling persons who hold other worldviews)
- Decide on a local charitable or educational cause that fits the aims of the movement, and pass the hat to donate as Brights. Arrange to deliver the donation in person and explain its relevance.
- Coordinate some visits to local politicians as Brights. (Explain what a Bright is and the necessity for a level playing field of civic recognition)
Have Feedback for The Brights’ Net?
- Have Comments on the above?
- Have Recommendations to MeetUp Leaders (Management, etc.)?
- Have Suggestions for Meetup Topics?
- Have Suggestions for Meetup Actions?
Please send a message to email@example.com with the subject: IMPROVING MEETUPS