Sean Faircloth Inspires in New Zealand

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Discussion by: Paul Bennett

Not sure if this will qualify as an actual topic for discussion, but I just wanted to say a big thankyou to the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason & Science, who helped fundd Sean Faircloth recent trip to New Zealand. I was fortunate enough to see and hear him speak at Auckland University on Saturday the 6th of April at an event organised by the New Zealand Association of Humanists & Rationalists. Sean was an excellent speaker, with an inspiring message about how each and every one of us in this "Atheist, skeptic, freethinker,secularist, rationalist, humanist" Movement can and should get involved to make a difference.  Perhaps, those of you with more knowledge and experience of how that can be achieved, could offer some suggestions that we  here in NZ could use to help our movement. I look forward to your responses.   

4 COMMENTS

  1. Hi Paul,

    I have some limited experience of being in at the beginning of political movements – movements that focus on single-issue politics.

    The kind of movement you appear to be considering seems likely to have a broader remit?

    I assume this would make it more like a club, with probable political aspirations?

    The obvious thing to do would be to ask the New Zealand Association of Humanists & Rationalists if they know of anything in you’re area or if they have any plans. They might be considering a push to open more branches, for example.

    If the NZ-AH&R are not covering what you think should be covered, then consider branching out on your own. Be warned: This will be time-consuming at the very least, and may also require a modicum of other resources. However, time aside, most resources will fall readily to hand in most cases (e.g. Net access).

    The only reason I can think that the NZ-AH&R might not fit the bill is they may be too Wellington focused, or they may miss some things that are important to you. They may not have a broad enough political ambition, and they may not address things like replacements for religious rituals (coming of age, weddings, funerals, weekly meetings, etc.) or perhaps they simply don’t hold enough face-to-face meetings?

    You need to think carefully about two things (preferably with two or three like-minded individuals):

    • What subjects inspired you, from Sean’s talk?

    • What are the priorities in New Zealand, what is it that atheist, agnostic, sceptic, free-thinking, secularist, rationalist, humanist people need?

    With the results of the above in mind – advertise a meeting. It’s important to remember that many religious-light people may also be agnostics, secularists and humanists. Try not to exclude them. Secularism, in particular, should be seen as a religion-inclusive world-view.

    Many commercial enterprises will gladly set aside a space for you – a café, a pub – but do ask for permission first, the Owner may have concerns about regular customers. Or, you could book a village hall or community centre. If numbers seem likely to be small, ask around for a contact with a large home.

    Visit advertisers Net sites like APN for advice on where to advertise, if your ambitious. Or, just ring your local paper. You may find that placing an advert in a paper will also generate some interest – but don’t count on it. Or, put a large poster in a prominent place or two (bus stops, train station, library). Give about two weeks notice – longer will be forgotten, shorter will be missed.

    Take your outline agenda / priorities to the meeting and get feedback. It’s very important that new organisations meet the needs of proto-members. It’s all about listening and noting.

    Assuming that everyone wants the same kind of organisation you want … there are typically three ways you can go from here:

    • It takes on a life of its own. This is (in my experience) surprisingly rare – even though lots of people turned up and had a good time with agreement easily reached, people are time poor.

    • There is a profound and befuddling silence.

    • People write to each other occasionally, but nothing ever seems to happen and even though the group may be large a lack of focus means people slowly lose interest and drift away.

    In nearly every case you will need to report back to all the attendees with meeting notes, actions and a date for another meeting.

    One of the things that you will probably need is a reason for people to meet face-to-face from time to time. Take a look at the London Sunday Assembly and Sceptics in the Pub for ideas.

    Your Group may feel the need for a formal organisation … but it may not. This will depend, largely, on whether you can get them interested in a political campaign.

    Any questions, please ask.

    Peace.

  2. Hello Paul,

    I can attest to the inspirational power of Sean Faircloth, I have watched a few of his videos and have almost finished his book, ‘Attack of the Theocrats.’ I too have been looking for ways to help my own city’s, state’s, and country’s secular movement. I am from the US, so I know that my experiences will differ from your own, but I have benefited immensely through research of current events, agendas of the organizations involved and contacting persons of interest. If the New Zealand Association of Humanists & Rationalists seem like your kind of group, I say dive in and help out as much as possible. If they are organized, they should be able to tell you what you can do for them. If you haven’t tried that out, its a good start.

    Stephen of Wimbledon has very good advice on all of this, and I second all of it. He brings up a good point, does the NZAHR have an Auckland division? If so, great! If not, that would be a great thing to help start. That pretty much sums up all of my words of wisdom regarding, although it wouldn’t hurt to check http://www.secular.org, I’m not sure if you can access that from NZ but that’s the Secular Coalition for America’s site. (btw Sean started that) There are links to all kinds of american atheist, secularist, humanist etc organizations you can read up on. Come to think of it, you can probably find links to the same stuff here on this site.

    I am familiar with New Zealand, I visited about six years ago. Auckland is beautiful, I will try to make it back there before I kick the bucket. Good luck in your endeavors!

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