After getting close several times, Tucson Atheists has reached a new milestone—we now have 1000 members. This is a high water mark. Robert Swango who created the group way back in February 2003 stepped down as organizer in August 2007. At that time we had less than 40 members and had a single meeting every month in a back room at Bookman’s used book store. The meetings had no agenda. Ten to twenty members would come together on the third Monday to share stories and talk about what it meant to be an Atheist in Tucson. Many of those original members are still with the group. Since that time, Bookman’s has closed its community room. We met at library for a time but the library closed at 8 PM which was limiting. We pushed the meetings to 6:30 but it seems that we were just getting started when we had to pack up to leave. One night we decided to continue the discussion at a nearby Denny’s. The waitress suggested that we move the meeting over to their back room. For years we met there from 7 to 9. There were times that the discussions continued past the end of the meeting. Over the years the meeting settled into a format that we still use today.
- Meeting Summary
- Wrap Up
Welcome remarks are “boiler plate” and consist of our mission statement, an Atheist cartoon, an Atheist quote, and usually three news items of interest to Atheists. Announcements include many of the events in Tucson that may be of interest to members of the group. The “community” includes other groups such as: FreeThought Arizona, Recovering from Religion and the Secular Student Alliance at the U of A. Tucson Atheists is also affiliated with the Secular Coalition for Arizona and American Atheists. The Introductions section was placed after the announcements because it is important that everyone gets a chance to meet all the other attending members and guests. They are also important so that I can enter everyone’s first name into the meeting log. Next, there is a short Presentation which introduces the discussion topic. Sometimes it involves a video captured from the internet, on rare occasion we have a guest lecturer, and other times it is an extemporaneous briefing specifically written for the meeting. The Discussion that follows runs about an hour followed by a Meeting Summary and the Wrap Up which usually includes a short video specifically chosen to put every attendee in a good mood before the meeting is closed at 9 PM.
While the monthly meetings are important, the growth of Tucson Atheists is also due to the number of events sponsored by the other members of the group. While we had our monthly Atheist movie night and sporadic social events that included bowling, Jitterbug dancing, and visits to the zoo, we didn’t have a regular alternate meeting until one of the members volunteered to host a Drinking Godlessly event. The first one happened on May 20th, 2010 and has continued every other Thursday until now. It’s a very popular event with no hard start or end and no agenda. It’s just a bunch of Atheists hanging out. The informal gathering is appreciated by many of the members. For years we met at a centrally located bar close to the University of Arizona until we were displaced by a Thursday night basketball game so now the biweekly event is held at The Depot. Other members volunteered to host events and we soon had Caffeinated Godlessness on the alternate Thursdays. So every Thursday was covered. Who knew that Thursday would become the Atheist’s Sunday? The June calendar for the Tucson Atheists Meetup.com group has 13 events. A few are hosted by other community groups but most are sponsored by Tucson Atheists. Many thanks to the members and assistant organizers that help make Tucson Atheists what it is today.
Tucson Atheists does not charge dues and assistant organizers have free reign over their activities. For more information on the Tucson Atheists Meetup.com group click HERE…Oops, we’re now at 1001!
Congratulations to you Don for all your continued dedication, time and effort, in so many ways over so many years, and to all. I’m certain we are the tip of the secular iceburg here in Tucson and Sothern Arizona.