Thursday, July 5, 2012

The story so far

The following is what was written for the 'about us' section for We decided to share it as a blog post, as well.

The Atheist Community of Buffalo, and Western New York was started in July of 2011, after a particularly fortuitous trip to New York City for the Fourth of July. The trip itself was quite an experience, to say the least, but what was most impactful were the eight hours spent sitting on a train slowly working its way West to our region of the Empire State.

The product of those eight hours were thoughts and conversations about science, history, philosophy, sociology, caring, mattering, making a difference in the world, fighting uphill against the gigantic crosses that scattered the landscape of the farms of believers between Albany and Buffalo. Looking at those crosses,  and wondering, exactly, why it was that we had talked about finding fellow Atheists in the Buffalo area, but haven't lifted a finger to do so. Wondering why it was that we had talked about doing a Podcast for years, but just never quite got around to it. Wondering why having the Center For Inquiry in our backyard never got our asses up, and out on a Friday night to hear lectures given by people that we admire, and have been reading, and reading about, for years. We wondered if we would sit in our air-conditioned offices for years, wondering why we never decided to act.

And so, returning home without any answers...we decided to dive head first into the Atheist Community of our hometown. We decided to find out who was doing what, throw ourselves in the thick of it.  And, after doing our research, here is what we found:

Whoever said organizing Atheists is like herding cats was not wrong.

A quick Google search brought us to our first collection of Atheists, "The Atheist Experience of Western New York." This group met for coffee twice a month, and discussed what most Atheist groups discuss - World Domination...of course. There may have been some tangents into religious iconography being somewhat pornographic, at times, and I believe someone professed to being convinced that the Pope keeps a gumball machine in his hat.

There was also a group called "Drinking Skeptically," which had fallen into disrepair.

Then there is "The Buffalo Freethought Society" - Another Coffee Meetup that we've not been able to attend because of the conflict of doing a live radio show on Sundays at 8pm, right around when they meet.

"Atheist Potluck" at the Center for Inquiry - A hit and miss chance to share some good food with some good company, but not the most reliable of trains.

"Buffalo State Freethinkers" - a student run group at Buffalo State College.

"UB Freethinkers" - a student run group at the University at Buffalo.

"The Center For Inquiry" - an organization whose mission statement is: to foster a secular society based on science, reason, freedom of inquiry, and humanist values.

" WNY Atheists, Freethinkers and Secularists." - a Facebook group which is the closest thing that these groups have to a home base.

What all of these organizations have in common are the advancement and support of Atheists, Humanists, Skeptics, and those who believe in science and logic and evidence and facts. Also in common were several members, who went from group to group. What was missing was some sort of a cohesive whole. And, that is where we come in: Trying to build a community out of all of these houses of lack of worship.

And so, The Atheist Community of Buffalo and Western New York was formed. Formed, with the intention of having all of the relevant information for anyone interested, all in one, easy to find place.

In the past year of our existence, we have managed to do just that. We've been able to introduce groups together, exchange members, and direct new faces on where to go to meet up with the like minded folk.
But our work doesn't end there. As we get these groups together, it surprises us as much as anyone just how many of us there really are. And with these large numbers, we can move forward with forcing society to no longer ignore us, forcing politics to acknowledge we exist, and being the force for change in the Buffalo area, in the Western New York area, and beyond. If we have the numbers, then we have the power. The Power to stood up and be recognized, the power to invoke change, the power to have our voice in what happens in our schools, our communities, and in our Country and the World as a whole.

Members of every single one of the above mentioned groups attended the Reason Rally, March 24th, 2012, on the Mall in Washington, D.C.  Members of every single one of these groups saw the power in numbers, and the difference that we can make.

There is a long road to travel, and it will be years, for example, before we could use this website as a portfolio when applying for any random web development job without any fear of biasing a potential employer. The road is long, but we've come so far. The road is long, but with each step we relish in the small victories of watching our attendance grow, as it has at coffee, at Drinking Skeptically, and on the Internet.

We started The Atheist Community of Buffalo and Western New York because we wanted to have a community of our own. What we didn't realize was that we had one all along. And, if we have made it easier for people to feel more welcome, less excluded...if we have done even a small part to open people's eyes to the fact that you are not alone, that there are others who think like you, who will welcome you, and who will probably even buy you a cup of coffee or a beer, then, we will sleep better at night for it.

Thank you to everyone who has helped along the way. And we thank those who continue to help us as we continue to grow.

-The Atheist Community of Buffalo and Western New York

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