What Has Happened
A Brief History, Starting at the Beginning
Lots of folks have no sprites or ghosts or deities in their thinking about reality; no life after death hopes for themselves or loved ones, and no supernaturalism at all in their worldviews. Why are they marginalized at the sidelines when they should be as central as anyone to political decision making? This movement began with a desire to address the sorts of societal factors that keep so many out action (or feigning beliefs they do not have, or evading associations that they do).
The motivation was to do something to facilitate more people who have a naturalistic outlook saying as much and stepping into the civic mainstream. We thought to try to unify large numbers of diverse people with a civic umbrella term so that more people might begin to express themselves within their spheres of activity in an affirmative way.
- Co-founder Paul Geisert settled on bright (n.) as that term (October 2002), and later Co-founder Mynga generated its definition: "A bright is an individual who has a naturalistic worldview, free of supernatural and mystical elements." (November 2002)
- We bounced the overall idea off of others (January through April, 2003), and after getting feedback, soon set up an online website and then established a formal legal organization (June 2003; August 2003).
- Other people joined in, and a Brights Forum developed (December 2003), to be run by dedicated Brights from different nations. The Forum operates round-the-clock with discussants from across the globe.
- Brights Central (BC) started cranking out Brights' Bulletins monthly, polling Brights and responding to constituents and queries, adding information to the "home-brew" website, and sending out occasional "BrightenOps" (opportunities to take an action). Later came occasional regional announcements (e.g., emailing to Brights within 50 km of Geneva).
Paul actually meets two Forum Facilitators in person while in Edinburgh, Scotland (Summer, 2006)
- Brights Meetup gatherings came onto the scene (and sometimes departed).
- Other "Brights sites" - created wholly by volunteers - sprang up in several languages.
- Clusters of Brights began communicating (the current listing includes over 30 groups), and Will began helping as Coordinator of Brights Community Clusters (BCCs.
- With polling and creative input, an icon was selected and a logo developed. With the help of a volunteer Web architect Theo, the main site became more attractive, accessible, and functional (2005). This symbolism page illustrates aspects of the more professional look and feel.
- Brights activists put up focused websites and started stirring interest among others.
- Some individual offshoot Web efforts took place. A Brights "group" formed at Atheist Nexus.
- Finally, after numerous and ongoing requests, arrangements were made to have Brights merchandise. Now the logo appears on items from totebags to buttons to Tshirts to posters available in The Brights Shop. Lapel pins were added next, then clings and patches. These can all be accessed from the Merchandise section of the main website.
- For a while, starting in 2007, there were annual calendars produced by a collaboration of Brights' Forum participants and obtained from a print-on-demand vendor until it was decided to drop the effort.
- All along, the movement has received sporadic mention in varied publications and web resources. While some articles about the Brights movement get it right, many have called for a response, such as this article Shedding Light on Brights by the Cofounders.
Although perhaps viewed as a somewhat "nonconforming" part of the landscape, The Brights' Net is now acknowledged by most organizations in the American freethought community as "belonging" (somehow). BeliefNet acknowledged the movement, naming the Co-founders in its "Who's Who" of freethought but, focused on "beliefs" as it is, falling into the fallacious conceptual trap of equating a broad naturalistic outlook with “being an atheist.”
Interviews with Cofounders, mentions by the Enthusiastic Brights, and voluntary actions of activist Brights have helped "the Brights" along the way in just a few years. Although we are far from reaching the original thought of a unifying umbrella, but the endeavor appeals to many and has helped a goodly number to be more forthright about their naturalistic outlook. We continue to educate toward civic involvement and communicate with Brights who are sprinkled all over the world. That makes it all worthwhile.