Participants at HumanistsMN’s annual meeting, which took place over Zoom on May 11, broke into groups to discuss three topics: programs, social action, and geographical outreach. Suggestions from those sessions included engaging top-notch national speakers for our monthly community gatherings, giving priority to the environment in our advocacy work, and working with secular groups and …
Category: Humanist Community Gatherings
Timothy DenHerder-Thomas, co-founder and general manager of Cooperative Energy Futures, spoke about “Energy Democracy,” making the case for a powerful solar model. Elizabeth Dickinson, a board member with Community Power MN, discussed ways St. Paul 350 is working to promote energy democracy and renewable energy.
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 …
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.