BRIGHTS BULLETIN -- JANUARY 2011
Happy New Year, Brights!
…And Thanks, Too!
As we turn the calendar page to 2011, we at Brights Central would like to express appreciation to all in the constituency who have donated time or resources to the Brights’ endeavor in 2010.
At the bottom of this bulletin, we thank some of the activist folks doing things that we are aware of. But for now, right here, we’ll just thank…YOU!
Yes, we are grateful for your support and applaud your continuous involvement. First, by registering as a Bright (upper case), you grew the Internet constituency by one notch. Then, and more importantly, by staying in touch over time, you learn what's happening in the network and are able to participate as you may wish in ongoing or future activities.
Pretty much everything that gets done for The Brights' Network (outside of us at BC) is accomplished by volunteer actions. So, if you happen to know who is doing something for the Brights that you appreciate, now is a good time to say so and offer some encouraging words to spur them onward in the New Year.
Going Out with the Old? - Then Bring in the New!
The website is the locus of information for all interested persons. It is also the hub of communication and/or action for involved constituents. However, it is through the Bulletins and BrightenOps sent out from Brights Central that registrants can best contribute (to the extent they may wish). Consequently, here’s a reminder to all Brights who desire to take part at any future point in furthering the civic aims that are listed on the home page of the website: You need to keep your email address current and have your subscription setting active (as "subscriber").
As we look back at the occasional “bounces,” we see some folks failed during 2010 update their email address in the database of the Brights. Be sure you don’t end up like them. If you get a new email address in 2011, please remember to visit the Brights’ home page (right column) and update your profile!”
Two Faces of Janus
The turn to a new January generally finds people looking both forward and back. Perhaps it’s that “January” name (the month named for the Roman god of gates and doorways)? Whatever the stimulus, the New Year is a perfect period for many Brights to open the gate and try on a fresh perspective! One need not abandon the old to make use of the new. As we can learn to speak more than a single language, avenues are open for alternative means of self-identity as occasions may require.
"Having a naturalistic worldview" ("being a bright") offers a new pathway for many persons to characterize themselves and their outlook without any reference whatsoever to religion. The characterization is positive, assertive, and inclusive of widely variant philosophies. (It is not restrictive to specific concepts like deities. It certainly catches a crucial distinction, though, as far as conceptualizing the world and one's place in it.)
Moving to 2011 is a good time to get comfortable with characterizing one’s standing and outlook in an additional way:
--> Civic Status-- a citizen of equal worth
--> Outlook – a naturalistic worldview; free of supernatural/mystical
It’s important that cultural stigma not keep individuals “civically silent” about who they are. The many challenging matters of social and political consequence require abundant representation by citizens who have (and are able to make clear in beneficial ways) that they have a supernatural-free understanding of the world.
End of a Year - Looking Back!
There is a great need for more people who have a supernatural-free way of viewing the world to be involved in civil society. So, what did you do along those lines in 2010?
* Maybe you spoke out
in casual conversations within your sphere of influence, or formally (in letters to the editor, on the Web, etc.) - for yourself, not for others - as a person who holds a naturalistic outlook
* Possibly you engaged fellow citizens (supers as well as brights) in some constructive ways likely to positively influence their understanding of the naturalistic stance and shape as well as the civic status of other citizens who hold supernatural-free outlooks?
* Maybe you in some way(s) - whether alone or with other Brights – took some step to aid progress of the movement in its priority action arenas?
Whatever you did along those lines – fantastic! We need more brights of many stripes out in civil society and making decisions in places where decisions are being made, getting elected and leading the way.
Some New Voices for Social Change!
Thiago (Brazil): “This is a wonderful initiative to secularism and rationalism spread out around the world.”
John (Nova Scotia, Canada): “Thanks for setting up this site! I think there's great potential for a worldwide Brights movement. Cheers!”
Sherri (Georgia, USA): “Thank you for freeing my mind from 61 years (for me)…”
Todd (Australia): “I'm a sixteen year old science enthusiast who dreams of becoming a physicist. I would love to become a supporting member of this community.”
Eduardo (Argentina): “Considero esta propuesta absolutamente inteligente y estoy decidido a participar.”
Nicholas (Germany): “Thanks for starting a movement that we, being the secular and naturalistic minds in society, can turn to.”
Frederick (New York, USA): “Regarding confidentiality: I would be happy to have my name associated with this organization in any forum.”
Looking Forward to 2011
This movement depends on the activities of the constituents within it. It is not top-down, but bottom up! Progress is up to you! As far as New Year's resolutions go, here are a few possibilities to consider that help to spread both word of the Brights movement and an accurate understanding of its civic focus.
1) You can invite more people to the website (as appropriate occasions may arise, of course):
"Have you heard about the Brights movement?"
2) You can use the Brights' link to buy books and other merchandise (if you shop at Amazon, of course)
3) You can refresh your understanding of the movement
, refocus, and plan an action program in your community for the coming year that you feel is consistent with the Brights’ Net aims and principles by reading the Movement Principles
and watching the Brights Videos
Kick off the New Year [B]right!
Brights' merchandise – Lots of possibilities! We have plenty of bookmarks (free, or almost so). And, The Brights’ Shop at CafePress carries T-shirts, caps, bumper stickers, and other items. Choose your phrases: “100% natural ingredients” or “Supers and Brights; One Humanity, One World or “Living on the Bright Side” etc. Many items are available bearing the Brights’ logo that can invite notice, spark curiosity, and help you to spread word of the movement. There will be apparel to wear or a bumper sticker that “says what you want to say".
Explore these links for options:
Just one let-down: “Where is our 2011 Brights’ Calendar?” Since October, BC has received email on this topic, as numerous Brights have inquired about the calendar that we have for several years developed as a service to the constituency. Although provided almost at cost, the calendar proved rather expensive. Also; we ran into cultural differences between expectations (e.g., for providing European and North American formats). So, since the sales of last year’s international version just were not sufficient to make if feasible for Diane, our shopkeeper, to carry through the project again, we have dropped that item for now. Sorry! (If you have a proposal for a 2012, we’re all ears!)
Radio Show (Portugal)
This month’s radio interview has brought in quite a few new registrants from the area. In fact, the number of new Brights exceeds the number of Brights in Portugal before the show. Thank you, Nuno!
Forum Action (USA-focused)
Inspired by the initiative taken by some individuals who acted to shield the family of Elizabeth Edwards from a demonstration by the Westboro Baptist Church at her funeral, several members of the Forum collaboratively authored and attached their names to a letter of support and appreciation to the organizers of the peaceable counter-demonstrations, called by some a "Line of Love".
It should be noted that during the authorship process, there was almost no discussion of the politics or other agenda of the counter-demonstration organizers--in fact this was considered beside the point. The counter-demonstrators have diverse backgrounds, and the letter's signatories are diverse brights supporting an action they believe to be positive without searching out extraneous ideological disagreements. Indeed, signatory Marvin noted that "if Brights can stay focused on core principles then we should expect our constituency to cross the political spectrum as well".
Glimpsing CalPoly Brights in Action
It’s a good bet that the most dynamic college-level Brights group is in California. The following is the start of a very lengthy and highly optimistic report sent in to BC by the group’s current president.
We've been quite busy here in San Luis, and I just wanted to let you know how things are going this year for the Cal Poly Brights.
First of all, our branding/awareness campaign is going great! Membership is growing consistently. We're over 200 members and every event we hold yields at least 5 more members on the mailing list. On top of this, our poster campaign (I'll explain in a second) is garnering wonderful attention.
The poster campaign is my own pet project for the year. I've printed off 500 posters that are being distributed around campus over 5 weeks. There are five different poster designs, each with a different slogan. During the first week of the campaign I posted one hundred posters with the first design, the second week I put up 100 of the second design, and so on throughout the five weeks. Currently we're halfway through the third week and the third poster, which looks like this http://i.imgur.com/fUbAM.jpg
We've also witnessed a fundamental change in the way that club members are treating the club. The new, young members are all very social and very enthusiastic. The Brights is, for the first time, a primary social circle for some Cal Poly students…Watching the distinct change in the community has been deeply refreshing and fills me with hope…
In light of this realization, I have shifted my focus as the club president toward the long term. I feel that we have reached our most pressing short-term goals, allowing for us to look to the future…
I look forward to hearing back from you, and we thank you for all the support. It makes what we do possible.
Austin, President, CP Brights
Lots of Ways to Discover the Brights!
Here is how some of our new registrants said they had learned about the Brights. These are examples drawn from the array of December signups:
Registrant Locations (for the pathways listed below): Oklahoma (USA); Brazil; Australia; Malaysia; Ireland; Michigan (USA); Florida (USA); Croatia; Canada; Norway; Sweden; Netherlands; Mexico; Portugal; Germany; France; Massachusetts (USA); Israel; India; Greece; the UK
Pathways: Wikipedia entry for Penn & Teller / a YouTube video on Richard Dawkins's Channel / an FFRF podcast / researching a high school paper / an online article on Christmas Day by Alom Shaha in The Guardian / a professor at Oakland university / an interview on BigThink / searching the term "bright" on the Web; read in Richard Dawkins' "The God Delusion" / from Dan Dennett's talk under the AAI 2007 on YouTube / Wikipedia / on the radio / via a member’s website / from James Randi; heard on forum "fxp" / via links online; wikipedia and google search on naturalism; Googling “brights” / on Facebook / from my mother-in-law
Evolution Wall Poster Report
Based on early feedback from reviewers (and also some Brights who viewed it), authors have executed some revisions to further improve the draft chart
, the uniqueness of which has been lauded by almost all who have seen it. Fifty teachers are now scrutinizing the poster, using it during this school year in their teaching so as to report back later on.
A plea for support of a pilot (USA-focused) project to enable an initial poster printing has gone out to Brights enrolled in SIG2 (the Categorically Sound Science initiative). Contributions up to $3500 will be matched by a donor to double the effect of SIG members.
Interested Brights may contribute if they wish to help boost the initial printing by lowering the per-chart costs. (One poster is $45; 400 is $15 each; postage on top).
You can earmark a donation
(any amount) to The Brights’ Net via PayPal or send a check to The Brights Net, P O Box 163418, Sacramento California 95916). Say “Evolution Poster Project” to distinguish this donation from a general donation.
News at BC -- We Moved!
This move was by necessity because the business where we sublet had moved to a new location. We were fortunate to find a spot close by. We like our new digs (sort of), although we miss the view of the trees outside the window. And, we are now paying market rates rather than our “friendly” rates of the past. However, of one thing we are quite certain: We don’t want to move again anytime soon!
Having changed the office location right at November’s end turned early December into rather a headache at BC. (There have been “situations” regarding locks, carpeting, payments gone astray; papers lacking a signature… put altogether, rather unbelievable!) There were also a couple of foul-ups in switching from one Internet carrier to another, with the telephone aspect not yet resolved (we’re still trying to regain the prior office number). However, things are starting to look up now, fortunately.
If we have missed out on your communications due to the changes, we apologize. Please do re-send anything you deem of importance. Everything is finally coming back together for us.
Thank you, Volunteers!!
(For your hours of volunteer service during the past year)
We at BC want to say thanks to all the individuals who are administering and facilitating the international Brights’ Forum. We recognize your dedication to the movement and acknowledge your flair for handling the Forum's many challenges! Because you continue to check in day in and day out from your several different countries across the globe, we are able to offer a forum venue where Brights of many stripes can meet and greet and collaborate, and where others can learn about this movement.
Thanks also go out from Brights Central to the public “Enthusiastic Brights,” to all those involved in leading Brights Community Clusters (BCCs) or Brights Meetups or collaborative projects, and to a few special folks named here (Paul, Quentin, Diane, Davis, Joel, Bob, Paula, Brant, and Ruban).