Tag Archives: freethought

Thank you, FreeFlo!

thank you banner

FreeFlo 2015 Conference Service Project

The Florida Humanist Association conference, FreeFlo, hosts a service project that benefits our community each year. This past weekend, BE. Orlando sponsored the project for the third year.

Conference-goers made 50 code bracelet puzzles to include in gift bags at the 2016 Math, Science, and Pi(e) Festival for at-risk children in Orlando.  Crafty attendees chose a positive word and then tackled using Morse code to create a puzzle bracelet. Even braver attendees helped by solving the puzzles to ensure there were no mistakes before packaging the gifts in Pi Day sacks with the decoder key and a personal positive message.

Attendees also made $124.00 in donations to help provide additional math and science books and games for the children’s gift bags.  Thank you!!

“This is fun and I feel like I am connecting with a child in need right here” said one bracelet-maker.  Some of those who volunteered to solve the puzzles were amazed at how easy it looked – but wasn’t. “Kids can solve these?”

IMG_20151109_074144178Several people wanted to take a bracelet home to their own child in exchange for a donation – we didn’t have the supplies for that this year, but if we come back next year that will definitely be an option!

Thank you to the conference chairs, David and Jocelyn Williamson, for their commitment to impacting our community.  The FreeFlo conference makes an effort to create this wonderful option each year by including a service project in the vendor area. Having an on-site service project provides attendees a way to have a direct impact as well as inspires them to seek creative ways they can impact their local communities.  There were many discussions about finding and creating ways to engage other Humanist organizations and communities in making a difference.

We are grateful to have been invited once again to serve at this conference – thank you, FreeFlo, and everyone who made bracelets, solved puzzles, made donations, and engaged in empowering, energizing conversations about service.  You ROCK!



Thanksgiving for all.

Gratitude is a ubiquitous human emotion shared by those of all faith and non-faith perspectives;  routine thoughtfulness and mindful living include creating meaningful, personal traditions to honor others and ourselves. There are millions of people in America (20% of Americans, and 32% of young adults in America*) who might celebrate gratitude on Thanksgiving without reference to religion.

Facing faith.

Secular individuals experience many challenges, one of which is Thanksgiving dinner.  People of faith perspectives feel and express gratitude for the good in their life, but often project nonacceptance toward anyone who feels that same gratitude without sharing the same faith perspective. Imagine sitting at a table surrounded by people you love as they talk about – or subtly imply – how they hate people like you.

“Be careful who you hate.  It could be someone you love”

While those who are openly nonreligious may experience this differently than those who are not able to risk that openness, all feel a bit awkward when those around them speak of love and gratitude in a way that perhaps unintentionally vilifies and degrades other human beings. Including everyone at our table means being cognizant and respectful of the many perspectives around us and recognizing gratitude as a positive human experience.

What if i’m asked to say Grace?

If you are among those who share your faith or non-faith perspective, this is not an issue.  When we are among the majority, the comfort of openly expressing our perspective without fear of judgement is part of our privilege. As a minority, however, whether or not to be openly true to yourself may involve risk assessment, safety planning, and acceptance of consequences. Thanksgiving dinner may not be the best time to “come out” to your family as not sharing their faith perspective – unless you assess that it is.  But think it through.

You have choices, and you should feel empowered to do what is right for you in that moment.  You can respectfully decline or give the expected grace. Or you may feel comfortable enough to say grace in a way that expresses gratitude without reference to religion.  There are many examples of secular grace, or you can write your own. Choose words that reflect your appreciation of the good in life; words that everyone present can connect with and find meaning in.

Secular grace for the religious.
…Wait, what?

Secular grace for the non-faith community means, simply, pausing to express gratitude.  The focus is on genuine appreciation for bounty, goodness, joy, and the things in our life we have that others may not.  For this community, doing so without deferring to supernatural entities, powers, or other religious concepts is natural, comfortable, and meaningful.

For the faith community, a secular grace can be a way of including everyone in a diverse group.  The focus is the same, and allows everyone to be empowered to consider that gratitude from their own faith or non-faith perspective. Families, workplaces, teams, social entities, faith/non-faith groups, and other ways that humans come together provide opportunities to benefit from diverse ideas and perspectives. Pausing for gratitude by saying a grace that includes everyone is an act that demonstrates gratitude for everyone in our lives.


*2012 PEW Research Center, “Nones on the Rise“, 2012


Science League for Kids transforms local refuge


November 16, 2014

Click here for event photos

Thank you so much to the 32 members of the Science League for Kids who dedicated a day of service to IHWN – providing 96 impact hours in one afternoon!   This group DID change the world today –  these concerned citizens changed the world for the residents in sanctuary at the In Harmony With Nature Animal Haven, a local exotic animal rescue and sanctuary specializing in wolves and wolfdogs. The volunteers’ impact on the facility was amazing!

The families toured the facility to learn about the need for agencies like this one, where these animals come from, and what specialized care they need and are given. They learned about different ways of identifying wolfdog content, such as phenotyping, and behavioral differences between wolfdogs and domestic dogs – and the consequences of irresponsible breeding and adoption.  For example, when integrated into a home that is not appropriate or prepared to handle wolfdog behavior, they are too often abused, neglected, abandoned; in the end, they are either euthanized or in permanent sanctuary at a facility like In Harmony With Nature.  There are wolfdogs on a waiting list to find a place that can help them; with too few options, many will not be saved.

The awesome volunteers, each of whom is now officially an honorable member of Team Harmony,  then invested an afternoon to beautify the property and help with items our regular volunteers need assistance to complete. They planted flowers for a butterfly garden, installed a fence by to partition for a storage area, planted trees, cleared and planted a memorial garden, planted a garden at the entrance to the refuge, cleaned ceiling fans, walls, and windows in the cat room, shingled a roof on a shade structure for one of the wolfdog habitats, and various other projects around the property.

Thank you volunteers: Theresa, Jason, Rachel, Martha, Nicole, Justin, Sascha, Mark, Joseph, David, Neil, Jocelyn, Deb, Jared, Sascha, Julie, Sierra, Sarah, Lucas, Ethan, John-Paul, Gareth, Paige, Sharon, Keith, Calvin, Elliott, Lee, Cynthia, Tracy, Lee, and Daisy.  You ROCK!!

Special thanks to Jocelyn Williamson, who coordinates the Science League for Kids. This group offers monthly enriching, science-related learning and civic engagement activities for secular families.  They inspire youth to be interested in science and inquiry as well as provide hands-on experiences to engender a commitment to making a positive impact on the world. If you are interested in learning more about Science League, contact Jocelyn directly at freethought@cfl.rr.com. Additional secular community resources can be found at http://cflfreethought.org/meetup/

Special thanks also to Andrew Davis and Gavin Frank for their help with coordinating the Science League projects today and assisting the refuge with keeping volunteers positively engaged throughout the day while minimizing the impact on the animals and regular volunteer duties.

You’re Invited to be part of Team Harmony!

TEAMS: Groups, work teams, and others interested in a volunteer service project like this one are needed! You can arrange a custom volunteer day at In Harmony With Nature that will include a facility tour and team building activities if requested.

INDIVIDUALS: Those interested in committing to regular service at the sanctuary are also welcome (and needed); to learn more about our training program or group service opportunities, contact inwn.visit@gmail.com.

FOSTER HOMES:  Some animals in our network are in need of foster homes.  If you have room in your heart and home to save a life through the foster care program, please contact ihwn.visit@gmail.com.

FUNDRAISING (Current Critical Need): In Harmony With Nature is also in need of your help to spread the word about their fundraising campaign to save this resource. The leased property on which they are located is being foreclosed. Please help the staff and volunteers prevent this devastating loss by sharing http://GoFundMe.com/InHarmony or joining and inviting your Facebook connections to join BE’s event in support of the fundraising effort at http://TinyURL.com/SaveIHWN.



Sunday Assembly Orlando

Live better.  Help often. Wonder more.

Many individuals in the faith community are quiet non-believers, unwilling to risk the loss of the celebration of life and sense of community they find in the church.  The Sunday Assembly movement brings that experience to the secular community, providing a venue for springboarding community activities and service, expression and experience of gratitude, and regular gathering in a joyful community of like-minded individuals.  Organizers Chris Bunch and Carlo Adair, along with a team of volunteers, are bringing the Sunday Assembly to Central Florida.

Sunday Assembly Orlando is part of the London-based international organization focused on promoting positive community involvement through the celebration of life and each other. Come out and meet other free-thinkers in a positive, open, and wondrous environment.

Sunday Assembly is “A Global Movement for Wonder and Good”  – a secular gathering to have fun and do good for our community.



• Facebook Event  – October 26, 2014 event

• Sunday Assembly (international site)

Sunday Assembly (Public charter and more)

East End Market

Sunday Assembly Orlando (Facebook page for the organizing group members – join the volunteer team!)

FreeFlo Conference this weekend

We are looking forward to to the Florida Humanist Association FreeFlo conference this weekend! Come find us in the vendor room – we’ll be hosting a service project, making code bracelets for children that will be used in the gift packs at the Math, Science, and Pi(e) Festival in March.

We will also have information about the SRMA Project and other service initiatives.  Donations will be accepted for The Warmies Project and the Math, Science, and Pi(e) Festival.

Dr. Lawrence M. Krauss, theoretical physicist, cosmologist, professor and best-selling author as this year’s keynote speaker at the conference.