Quite often, I've run into the sentiment that atheists shouldn't need groups. I've also run into people who are atheist (or at least non-theist), but miss some aspects of religious organizations, such as socialization, singing, working together on various projects/issues/causes (such as volunteering at a soup kitchen, youth camps, education, civil liberties, etc...), mutual support, a social group for community ritual (births, deaths, marriage, passage into adulthood, etc...)
As human beings, most of us are social animals. I personally would like to be part of a thriving atheist/freethinker/non-theists/skeptical/humanist community in Vermont. Why? I'm somewhat socially isolated where I am, and even though Vermont is possibly the best place in the US to be an atheist, I mostly keep my atheism to myself unless religion or atheism comes up in conversation.
Socialization: I would love to spend time with people who are making an attempt to be critical thinkers, who aren't going to discuss their horrorscope, or suggest prayer or little sugar pills (homeopathy). These are just some examples of things I'd rather people didn't "share" with me. There are lots more, as I'm sure can be imagined. At the very least, I'd like to be part of a social group: conversation, movie nights, potlucks, carpooling to hear speakers, maybe also some activities that get one off one's posterior.
Outreach: Personally, I'd like to see a group that does outreach, to let other non-theists know that at least two, and possibly more Vermont groups exist. A few people have checked into this group from time-to-time to express relief that there are other atheists in Vermont. At the very least, I'd like to see a group do some minimal outreach once we have a clearer idea what everyone wants to do/wants from it. For instance, we could have a table at Vermont Pride in Burlington, or the Rutland Ethnic Festival.
According to this article in the Rutland Herald, Texas school politics might reach Vermont
This could be a future issue the group might want to address. We could adopt a highway, or have a group doing clean-up on Clean-up Day, or volunteer at a soup kitchen, or... We also might want to consider working with groups like the Vermont ACLU. I don't know of any pressing activist issues in Vermont, but maybe someone else does.
I do remember friends telling me about a fundamentalist group moving into Marshfield and trying to stack the select, library, and school board.
Education: I'd love to see us educate ourselves to be even better critical thinkers (as was also suggested by hikingthru in our first meeting). For example, maybe we could teach people about cold reading, and do some skeptical presentations. We could do periodic presentations on critical thinking, debunking junk science, etc...
Also, various cults (such as the Twelve Tribes, AKA Island Pondies) proselytize in Vermont. They look all lovey dovey on the surface, but when you dig into their core beliefs, many are quite backward. For instance, women should be subservient to men, and the curse of Ham
. They have a hostel in Rutland, and always show up with a happy happy group for the Rutland Ethnic Fest. I'd love to educate people about the beliefs of various Vermont cults. Maybe we could get info. from some cult awareness group?
Personal/Community Celebration/Rites of Passage: Solstices, birthdays, births, deaths, passage into adulthood, marriage, Humanlight, Darwin Day, etc...
So... what would you like to do?