Category: Humanist Community Gatherings

March 2020: Restorative Justice

The speaker at our March community gathering, Michele Braley, discussed “restorative justice,”  which brings together offenders, victims, and the community to find ways to repair the injuries of crimes. She contrasted this approach to the “retributive process” used in the Western legal system, whereby the state assigns punishment “to fit the crime.” Braley is program …

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February 2020: Generational Change in American Politics

We are currently witnessing the passing of political power from one generation to another.  The prolific and entertaining political science pundit Prof. David Shultz from Hamline University provided a lively and insightful analysis of this political shift at our February community gathering.

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January 2020: And Justice for All

At our January community gathering, Ramsey County Assistant Chief Judge Jennifer Frisch provided an informative and enlightening overview of Minnesota’s judicial branch.

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HumanistsMN Celebrates Winter Solstice 2019 in Secular Style

HumanistsMN members and friends celebrated the Winter Solstice in secular style on Dec. 14, 2019. We honored the “reason for the season” with dinner, entertainment, and singing at the festively decorated First Unitarian Society. Big Oil (Marcy Woodruff Hillerson), Big Food (Suzy Bancroft), and Big Auto (Meline Juarez) abducted Father Winter (David Guell) in a “mummers play” written by Audrey Kingstrom. Other cast members included Sonia Aaroe, Suellen Carroll, Heather Hegi, Mary McLeod, Christine Retkwa, Summer Sasarita, Jeff Spencer, and Mitchell Thompson. Erica Klein and David Guell performed solo acts.

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November 2019: Brain Health Across the Lifespan

Cognitive decline is not inevitable, asserted  Dr. Lisa James at the beginning of her presentation at our November community gathering.  James, Kunin Professor in Women’s Healthy Brain Aging, is part of a research team that is assessing brain status across the lifespan to uncover the conditions and attributes that contribute to brain health and resiliency.

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October 2019: Facing Economic and Environmental Limits

Advanced economies are headed toward “The Great Simplification,” asserted Nate Hagens at our October Humanist Community Gathering. With our insatiable consumption of energy, we are living beyond the carrying capacity of the planet and a significant reduction in GDP is now likely.

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September 2019: Humanists and Racial Bias

Bias is everywhere in our society – so began biological anthropologist Greg Laden, providing numerous examples from recent news at our September Community Gathering. And humanists aren’t immune from exhibiting bias because we all are products of our environment. Our biology, our genetic makeup, Laden argued, is not the culprit as much as is our culture.

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May 2019: Annual Meeting and Board Election

The HumanistsMN membership elected a new board at the May annual meeting, including a new president, Harlan Garbell, and vice president, Suzanne Perry. Nick Haylund and David Guell were re-elected treasurer and secretary. Two new at-large members, Jerry Smith and Mitch Thompson, joined the board, and Ellie Haylund was re-elected.

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April 2019: Electric Cars And Climate Change

Two climate change activists at our April 2019 chapter meeting promoted electric cars as a key weapon in the fight against climate change. They said that transportation produces by far the biggest percentage of greenhouse gas emissions in Minnesota.

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March 2019: Disrupting Mass Incarceration

Elizer Darris, who experienced the dehumanization of prison as a juvenile offender, spoke to our March chapter meeting about strategies to “Disrupt, Dismantle, and Destroy” mass incarceration. Darris, now a field organizer for ACLU of Minnesota, was sentenced to life in prison at age 15 but worked to educate himself and successfully fought to get his sentence reversed on appeal. But his experience as an inmate, where “every day you have to fight to preserve your humanity,” continues to inform his work.

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February 2019: The Promise and Peril of DNA Testing

The explosive growth in genetic research and testing is creating a host of ethical and practical concerns, Bonnie LeRoy, professor and director of the Graduate Program of Study in Genetic Counseling at the University of Minnesota, told our February chapter meeting. Things are moving so fast, much of it driven by commercial testing companies, that the medical community is having a hard time keeping up, she said.

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January 2019: Legalization of Medical and Recreational Marijuana

Speakers at our January chapter meeting discussed the evolution of medical cannabis, which is legal in Minnesota, and efforts to legalize recreational marijuana in the state. Stephen Dahmer, chief medical officer of Minnesota Medical Solutions, one of four medical cannabis dispensaries in the state, noted that the medicinal properties of cannabis have been recognized for thousands of years, especially to treat pain.

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December 2018: How to Support People With Mental Illness

A panel at our December 2018 chapter meeting discussed the challenges that people with mental illness face and offered tips for supporting them. Larry Ellis and Humanists of Minnesota member Mick Anderson discussed their experiences with Guild Incorporated, a nonprofit that offers community services to people with mental illness—Larry as a client and Mick as an employee. HofMN member Mary McLeod, whose son has schizophrenia and who volunteers for the National Alliance on Mental Illness Minnesota, gave suggestions on how to interact with people with mental illness.

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November 2018: Planning Livable and Resilient Communities

A panel at our November chapter meeting discussed the challenges of long-term urban and regional planning in our area as the population grows and issues like racial disparities and climate change loom. Moderated by HofMN president Audrey Kingstrom, the panel included LisaBeth Barajas, community development director, Metropolitan Council; Heather Worthington, director of long-range planning, Minneapolis Office of Community Planning and Economic Development; and Lucy Thompson, principal planner, St. Paul Department of Planning and Economic Development.

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October 2018: Atheism, Humanism, and Naturalism

Atheism, humanism, and naturalism are related but different ways of expressing nonbelief in gods and the supernatural, Bill Hart, professor of religious studies at Macalester College, told our October chapter meeting. But Hart has a clear preference for one of them: naturalism. Hart, who described his own evolution from devout Christian to nontheist, is impatient with atheists, saying he wants to know what people are for, not just what they oppose.

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