Saturday, June 11, 2011

S.A.N.E. at Cloister's Co-op Benefit Concert

The Cloister's Co-op Benefit Concert was held at the Next Door right next to the Acoustic Coffeehouse to help raise money to help open the co-op art gallery in downtown Johnson City. S.A.N.E. was privileged to be asked to have a table with our info available. Of course this was an opportunity not to be missed.

We had lots of information available as well as open discussion encouraged. I personally had several lovely discussions regarding atheism/agnosticism. We had several people show interest by signing up on our email list so we are steadily growing.

Overall it was respectful and fantastic to have the chance to build more community relationships. Be on the lookout for further events where we try to foster further respectful discussions on these important issues. Free speech is pinnacle to a rational society and we should be at the forefront at facilitating that speech.

Are you S.A.N.E.?

Joseph Rasch
(423) 218-2245

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

CFI Recognizes S.A.N.E. as an Affiliate!

We recently become recognized as an affiliate with the Center For Inquiry! A CFI intern contacted me personally to see if anyone was going to the 2011 Student Leadership Conference in Amherst, NY on June 23rd-26th. This awesome person also wanted to inform me that we had been a previous affiliate but just needed to update the information to make the affiliation fully active once more.

We now should have access to the various support channels and resources afforded to affiliates of the CFI. This should allow us to have many more events planned to really take this group forward. With both CFI and SSA along with our passionate members there is very little we cannot accomplish. As it stands we are really keeping a good vibe going within town and on campus so the best thing is to really keep this going.

As we grow internally and externally, I would encourage everyone to be as involved as they would like and the more the better. Even a few minutes a week will help take the entire group forward thus advancing the ideas of rationality, logic, and reasoning in the framework of respectful free speech.

Thanks for everything our members are doing and if anyone has ideas or wants help growing within the group just let me or anyone on the executive committee know. We will do our best to meet your needs as well as do our best to help you grow however you best see fit. The more we can help each other while growing our membership the better we stand at having a meaningful discussion with our community and our campus. Thanks!

Joseph Rasch

Recent Blue Plum Festival Excitement on June 3rd&4th!

This past weekend, (Friday&Saturday June 3rd&4th) S.A.N.E. had a tabling event at the annual Blue Plum Festival hosted in downtown Johnson City, TN. Majestic Park hosted the various non-profit groups/entities to give ample space for engaging the masses. Several members helped to give a face to the Skeptics and Atheists Network at ETSU both by being at the table and by actively meshing with local people. We had at least a couple members stay the entire day on Saturday which is to be highly commended. Having several members at these tabling events is crucial to making it a success and this seems a good example of just that.

There were a few highlights of the day's events, on Saturday, such as having a meaningful and respectful conversation with a local pastor from the New Harvest Missionary Baptist Church in Johnson City. After about an hour's worth of deep questions Jon Webstar cordially asked if he would be interested in continuing the discussion via the web as well as hopefully leading towards having a future debate with the pastor. The responses seemed to be warm from both ends of the discussion even when being confronted by myself, Jon, and Perry Winters. The pastor was a genuinely nice guy and wasn't abrasive whatsoever. Overall it seems to be where we should be headed with regards to having an open dialogue with people of all belief structures.

We had people of different viewpoints pop by and gander at our distinctively different material while some cautiously snuck a few pamphlets and fliers from the table when we weren't looking. It seemed as though most people either took one of two approaches when dealing with our table: either they blatantly ignored us completely, or they chose to make some effort at getting material or having a conversation of some sort. While there were the few errant folks that snuck some materials from the table in hopes of not being seen, the sense I and other members got was that we had a place in our community and that the issues are worth openly discussing without fear.

It was exciting to be situated across from several christian based table setups that ended up being an almost competition of ideals. Nothing hostile in the intentions of either side and to some extent it was healthy and exciting. I actually found myself being given pointers from one of the coordinators from the church group directly across from us to elicit more people to our table. It was really electrifying to caterwaul phrases such as, "free atheist material" and "you might be an atheist but not yet realize it" towards the crowds and the reactions we received immediately afterward. To be fairly honest it was nowhere near the wicked looks I half expected. If anything it seemed to embolden me and a few other members to be more outright in our being a member of the S.A.N.E.

The responses we received overall seemed wonderful considering it was our first venture into the community in the thick of it all. We literally went into the belly of the beast as it were of Johnson City and fared exceptionally well. I am quite optimistic that we will have future tabling events around town. I look forward to having more discourse with people in the community and make aware competing views of all kinds to get the mental juices flowing. The more we can openly discuss these matters the more we can have a healthy community that truly cares about one another.

If you have any thoughts regarding our event and how we did well or could do better then please leave feedback either in the comments below or shoot an email to any of our executive board. All ideas will be carefully looked at and perhaps your ideas will be the basis for our next event.

Joseph Rasch