Little Rock, AR
I'm Robert Schafer and I have been nominated as a board candidate. I've been a member of the Arkansas Society of Freethinkers (and its predecessor, Central Arkansas Freethinkers) for a number of years, not sure really how long. Prior to joining ASF, I had started Little Rock Atheists and began the monthly Tuesday night Vino's meeting via MeetUp. Once finding that Central Arkansas Freethinkers existed, we decided to merge Little Rock Atheist into CAF.
A little bit about me:
I was born into a Southern Baptist family, but fortunately the mild indoctrination didn't take hold. I guess I've always been a skeptic, but as a thirteen year old the "problem of evil" really cemented my non-belief. I didn't self-identify as an "atheist", however, until I met a co-worker about 25 years ago whom identified himself as an atheist.
After working as a biomedical technician and field service engineer previously, I decided to go back to school. I completed my graduate degree in social work, with a concentration in Management and Community Practice, in May 2011. As part of my degree, I completed a year-long internship with the Arkansas Chapter of the National Assoc. of Social Workers. Part of my duties were to organize and produce Lobby Day 2011 at the state capitol, which involved educating social workers on how to lobby the state legislature, recruiting political speakers, and researching and advocating for specific legislation. I was also chairperson of NASW-AR's Legislative Committee for two years and am currently a member of this committee and will be monitoring legislation in the upcoming legislative session.
I believe atheism and the word "atheist" will only lose its stigma when everyone knows someone who is an atheist, much like the successful gay rights movement. We are each responsible for the image we personally choose to convey, but our organization should strive to project a welcoming and reasonable image to the public.
Arkansas Society of Freethinkers has grown phenomenally in the years since I've been a member. We gained non-profit status, won two lawsuits (the nativity display and the bus ads), achieved a much higher profile by partnering with others, and have seen membership and meetings/activities increase. Along with these successes we face a problem that most organizations like ours face - division among membership. As a board member I will try to mediate these divisions and retain the momentum our organization has gained while being open to new ideas and ensuring a voice for all members.
|A former member||
Congratulations to all of the 2012 election winners! Thank you to all the candidates, each of whom was ambitious enough to step up and volunteer their future time and energy to the position requirements. Thank you to Anne and the rest of the Bylaw committee for their successful efforts to submit revised Bylaws by the deadline. Thank you to our polling day volunteers. And of course, thank you to all the members who took the time to vote and take part in the election.
With a new leadership team, our group is starting a new chapter. We have passed new bylaws, and that includes a new officer position. We also have new events to look forward to this year. Reason in the Rock is going to be awesome. Our social committee is trying to plan a big freethinker multi-group event. We are starting the new member potlucks again. Now that the election is over, we need to remember that our job as a member is not finished. The leadership is only as strong as the membership that supports them. We need members to be active in order to keep the group a success. Please join a committee if you have the time. Volunteer at an event. If everyone did a little effort, it would make a big difference.
It has been a busy year for ASoF so far. For example, in the first four months of 2012, I have been to 20 ASoF Meetups including volunteering events and committee meetings. However, there are so many group meetings/events that I still feel like I have missed a lot! The fact that this group has so many activities is part of the group appeal. If we are going to keep having so many events, we need more members involved in planning them. If there is something that you were going to do alone, you could do it with freethinkers (Jogging, Bowling, Biking, ect). Make suggestions for the type of events you would like to see and it may become a future meetup event.
So lets all roll up our sleeves and work together with the new leadership to keep the ASoF lifeboat available to all the freethinking souls lost in the Bible Belt Sea. AMEN.