The Brights' Bulletin
(Note that links in archived Bulletin issues may no longer be valid.)
JANUARY 2008 BULLETIN
HAPPY NEW YEAR! BEST WISHES FOR A GREAT 2008!
A NEW YEAR'S RESOLUTION
Try this one on for size?
Resolved, as I look forward to the coming year, I will consider what might be the best actions that I can personally take to lift awareness and understanding of the Brights movement within my own spheres of activity and influence (family, community, government); then, I will take those actions.
THANKS TO ALL 2007 DONORS
We want to thank all who have donated to support The Brights' Net during the past year. (BC apologizes for not having responded to each of you individually, due to being virtually overwhelmed with quotidian tasks.) In January, tax deduction statements will be sent to all U.S. Brights.
A handful of you, when ending up your tax year, surprised BC by remembering the Brights' endeavor. A very special "Thanks!" goes to you for sending along that extra "solstice gift," even as BC continues to abide by the equinox periods. Such special gifts are appreciated year-round!
LATE? (BUT NOT TOO LATE)
Did you turn the page to the New Year with a 2008 Brights' calendar?
You can still get yours. Even though it does remind you 12 months of the year of some nifty aspects of the natural world, it isn't your standard "nature" calendar. What the Forum Calendar group did was set out some refreshingly delightful aspects of having a naturalistic outlook. The cost is $15.04; The Brights' Net receives $2 on each one. Preview/purchase at: http://www.lulu.com/content/1098547
RECENT BRIGHTS' ACTION OPPORTUNITIES (USA)
Regional BrightenOps in December centered on science education for youngsters.
1. Emails were sent to Florida Brights (12/6/07) --> In brief: "The State of Florida is in the process of rewriting its science standards for school curricula. You may wish to have a say regarding the provision of sound science for youngsters in Florida." (Background information and key contacts were provided.)
2. Emails were sent to Texas Brights (12/7/07), following the resignation of the Director of Science at the Texas Education Agency, whose leaving was just months before the State Board of Education begins reviewing the science portion of the statewide curriculum that will be used to determine what is to be taught in Texas classrooms, what textbooks are bought, etc. --> In brief: "Now is definitely an opportune time to bring forward the voices of persons who hold naturalistic worldviews." (Background and contact information was provided.)
STARTING THE NEW YEAR - BRIGHT
As the New Year presents itself, Brights have an opportune time to take stock of the Brights' consciousness-raising and civic justice endeavor. Check out the gist of it here.
-------- AN ENDEAVOR / AN ORGANIZATION ---------
THE MOVEMENT -- Participants favor (and hopefully will seek, urge, and work for) the social acceptance and civic participation of the many millions of persons across the world who have a naturalistic worldview (brights). The movement centers on three aims and nine principles. http://www.the-brights.net
THE BRIGHTS" NET -- A nonprofit educational organization, it helps to grow a core constituency of "registered Brights" and facilitates communications and actions among constituents. (Over 36,000 individuals in 147 nations have registered into this core constituency.)
-------- THE IDEAS / THE ACTIONS ---------
Each day, more and more Brights "catch on" and begin awakening others to the movement's main ideas! Are you among them?
FIRST CONCEPT -- The simple, broad, and affirmative "naturalistic worldview" definition is at the heart of the endeavor. It lets you depart from the customary framework for civic visibility and action. You need no longer be confined to engaging fellow citizens merely on the "playing field" of religion. The field is wider. There is no necessity that others view you based solely on intellectual conclusions about deities or other such specifics. Nor, is that the way in which you need to view yourself. A full-spectrum worldview outlook is at hand! Take advantage of it!
SECOND CONCEPT: The noun (brights) continues to anger some, please others, but mostly tease... and draw the curious to the website. The word is a device that serves to spread and uplift the "naturalistic worldview" idea. You can use or not, as you wish. Use it in appropriate contexts without making a deal of it. The fact that it is titillating and somewhat controversial can be a plus! (Don't forget – used in the generic [lower-case] sense, it takes in millions of people.)
THIRD CONCEPT: Organizationally, The Brights' Net's most distinguishing feature is that of being a true constituency in which Brights must act for themselves. There is no organizational list of assertions or statements of belief such as are commonly found in manifestos and board decisions of established freethought organizations. Neither Co-directors nor legal board of directors make pronouncements on or take positions on issues as if speaking on behalf of all Brights, or for any Brights (except for themselves, of course). We simply explain the movement itself and urge all Brights - when speaking out "as Brights" - to align themselves as best they can with the stated aims and principles and keep the movement constructive.
FOURTH CONCEPT: The action focus is not on theological/philosophic debate, but rather on action within identified arenas that is aligned with the overall aims and principles. The Brights' Net is willing to work with any and all organizations, religious included, in these arenas, such as in support of teaching of sound science and evolution in public schools.
ENDING THE YEAR – BRIGHT!
In large part due to last year's equinox donors, we are able to announce what is definitely a "Happy New Year!" gift at Brights Central. The Brights' Net has been able to engage a Certified Public Accountant to handle helpful services for 2008 and to prepare appropriate documents for 2007 U.S.A. federal taxes.
Hooray! This liberates the Co-Directors from performing what has been one of the more burdensome aspects of running the organization. The Brights' Net is an internet constituency, but it is also a California-based nonprofit organization. The legal organization underlies and sustains the Brights movement. We are grateful to those Brights who uphold the infrastructure of this endeavor by sending in equinox donations to the organization.
Charles (UK): "Finding The-Brights.net was like find my way out of a darkened cinema screening of some badly written religious fantasy film."
Diana (California, USA): "If there ever was an organization devoted to the principles of Thomas Jefferson and the founders of the United States based on individual rights and a natural world view...it is the Brights."
Yossi (Illinois, USA): "Buddhist, Jewish and Bright! (Hey, that works)!! Peace" Benjamin (Japan): "The Brights is the first umbrella organization I've seen which sufficiently summarizes the views I share and seeks to disseminate them in a positive manner to the rest of the world. I look forward to participating in this very important movement." Anonymous: "We are the idea we have been waiting for."
Mims (Mississippi, USA): I like Dan Dennett's dichotomy of 'brights' and 'supers', mirroring the 'gay'/'straight' duality. Neither term is derisive. I had a little trouble coming to terms with the term until I heard him put it this way. Now I embrace it."
Gary (Oregon, USA): "I find this very fascinating. I fit the personal philosophy described in the Brights ideals and have long looked for a better word to describe myself other than ‘atheist' or ‘agnostic'. Thank you."
Jesper (Netherlands): "Just wanted to say, what a great initiative, the whole website, name and movement! Thanks for this!" Axex (Liechtenstein): "Enough said!"
BRIGHTS OLD AND YOUNG
A later response to the "Who is the oldest Bright?" question came in from another Jack M. in San Francisco! (A different "Jack M" in the same city!) He states: "I registered as a Bright about two years ago. I am now 93--born January 2, 1914 -- so in one month I will be 94." Happy 94th Birthday, Jack! Our records now show two "Jacks" as the oldest Brights in the world...so far.
A follow-up to "Who is youngest?" came in from Oliver, who had scrutinized the "rules" for children registering to be counted as Brights and felt they could be strengthened, or better yet, some category like a "Junior Brights" identity be offered instead. If you would like to give similar scrutiny and send minor improvement ideas for consideration here at Brights Central, please do so. Simply email email@example.com and put JUNIORS in upper case in your subject line. You can find the current policy at: http://the-brights.net/action/register/children.html If you would like to head a volunteer task team to draft a better policy within a set timeframe, add LEADER to the JUNIORS subject heading in your email.
HELPFUL BRIGHTS - AMAZON USERS
Brights' purchases through the Brights' Amazon.com link during December resulted in slightly over $200 arriving at Brights Central! This 7% commission rate is the highest yet received, and it covers one month cost to The Brights' Net of Democracy In Action database services. The DIA service fee is the largest non-personnel expense item Brights Central has each month.
Please bookmark this URL, which is the pathway to Amazon via The Brights' Net: http://www.the-brights.net/action/support/#amazon
DOWNLOADS -- LET OTHERS KNOW
* Icons for Email Signatures
* Web Banners * Wallet Cards (PDF)
* Flyers (PDF) http://the-brights.net/movement/downloads/print_banners/
* Printed Banners
* Visual Identity Materials for Professionals (1.2MB ZIP)
There are so many people who contribute to this movement behind the scenes, it is impossible to thank them all. There are the able administrators and facilitators who run the Brights' Forum, the energetic leaders of the local and online groups who give their valuable time and creativity to panning and conducting activities, and the individual Brights across the globe who take actions on their own in their daily lives. Thanks also to Dan, Hemant, Margaret, and the other Enthusiastic Brights for their advocacy of this movement. Brights Central has benefited immensely from the sustained interest and contributions of many people, including (but NOT limited to) Kevin, Diane, Theo, Will, Quentin, and this past year from the special project assistance offered by Marvin, Elaine, Joel, Bruce, Liz, David, and Ruban.
MANY REGRETS, BUT --- Brights' Central is getting a number of responses to be a "friend" of a number of different types of web groups. Due to the large volume of work we have to process we can't reply to these requests. Sorry.
Brights' Co-director Paul Geisert will be attending a conference of leaders of over a dozen national "nontheistic" organizations in Tampa Florida on January 19. This annual meeting centers on sharing of information, avoidance of superfluous efforts, and the desire of those attending to have a more unified voice and strengthened influence. The setting offers an opportunity for consideration of possible collaborations among organizations on mutual projects.
Mynga will also be present on January 19 (she is attending for Objectivity, Accuracy and Balance in Teaching about Religion) and meeting afterwards with representatives from organizations wishing to explore a potential collaboration to make quality youth education materials more widely accessible. Paul will attend that separate meeting on behalf of The Brights' Net and will report results in next month's Bulletin.
While in Tampa (January 18 – 21), we would be pleased to meet with individual Brights at our hotel (time permitting). Feel free to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org to make plans.
ADVERTISING? -- NO, UNLESS... & MAYBE OKAY, IF...
In a previous Bulletin, BC had raised the issue of putting advertising on The Brights' Net site and invited constituent reactions. The responses we printed in last month's Bulletin were illustrative of a "Yes, definitely DO IT!" and "No, please DON'T!" dichotomy (complete with accompanying rationales).
Some respondents were amenable to the idea, but only IF certain approaches were employed to "stay true to the movement." They wanted some rigorous method, perhaps even handpicking of ads, lest the website lose its clarity or that potential sponsors have conflicts of interest with OR be directly related to the Brights's movement. Some offered specific strategy suggestions that could be further evaluated for practicality IF Brights Central is driven to advertising. These are far too many to print, of course, but here's an example:
"I believe the site should take advantage of advertising but maintain its aesthetic purity by segregating all the ads in a separate section which is only referenced on current pages. The short introductory paragraph could laud the advertisers' support and dedication to the Brights' goals and ideals, thus presenting them positively to encourage browsers' viewing." For now, we will keep all the "instructive" information in a deep back pocket. The preference at this point is to follow the current pattern, as promoted by this respondent who felt that advertising would appear "cheesy and self-serving":
"I am new to the Bright community, but I have to say that advertising on the site would devalue the Brights' brand image. I think it sends the wrong message. I personally believe the focus needs to be twofold – education (enlightenment/illumination) and activism. One of the reasons that organized religion is so powerful is that it is member supported..."
BRIGHTS FUNDRAISING MANAGER The Brights' Net would welcome the services of a Fundraising Manager in a volunteer capacity or through a commission arrangement. If you have expertise and/or experience in this area and are interested in committing to a project under either of these measures (volunteer or commission), please submit credentials and a general proposal of how you would handle a fund drive.
Besides offering evidence of your ability to conduct a well-planned and effective fund appeal, include an estimate of the time at which you first registered as a Bright and statements regarding your interest in and prior involvement in the movement. Expertise with using Democracy in Action as a fund-raising tool (or willingness to learn how to use DIA capabilities) would be very valuable. (http://www2.SalsaLabs.org/)
REFERENCE GUIDE TO BRIGHTS INFORMATION CONTACTING PERSONNEL http://www.the-brights.net/reference_guide.html
All the Bulletins, including this one, may be found via the link in the right column of the home page at www.the-brights.net You can unsubscribe from Bulletin mailings via this URL: http://org.salsalabs.com/o/496/unsubscribe.jsp
You may choose among several unsubscribe options, so as to continue to receive any BrightenOps (action info.) and e-mail notices of regional Brights' happenings.
To advance the civic aims and principles of the movement. http://the-brights.net/action/support/
Bright Regards from Paul Geisert and Mynga Futrell Co-Directors of The Brights' Net