Yesterday we had the first Secular Saturday event in Chattanooga. The event went quite well. We brought a lot of people together from across several independent progressive organizations. We had a lot of good presentations on topics ranging from Secular Buddhism to progressive political movements. We also had the Interfaith Panel of Chattanooga come with new panelists to talk about the effect of being atheist/Buddhist/Muslim/Christian in Chattanooga.
To me, however, the biggest thing I saw was members of all these groups meeting, talking, and networking. Many people met new friends, made plans for new events, and will meet again down the road. This was the most important part of the convention, bringing the people together to talk and build a common community.
I have spoken time and again about the importance of building up a progressive community. We need to build a safe space for people to be able to unite and express their ideas. We cannot continue to work separately on our own goals and ignore those who share many of the same objectives. Conventions like ReasonCon, NaNoCon, and Secular Saturday are gateways to building such communities. We need to build more conventions like these in areas where progressives feel outnumbered and alone.
Again I would like to thank the Brainerd United Methodist Church for hosting this event. Without them there would not have been a convention. They were receptive to our message and provided both the space and the logistical support for the convention.
Also, I would like to thank the founders of the convention. Without the hard work of Brian Sipsy, Lexi Whittenburg, and Misty Kat Gutierrez-Waller we wouldn’t have had the guests or the amenities that we did. They worked tirelessly behind the scenes to make this happen in such a short period of time.
This event was also made possible by Mandisa Thomas of Black Nonbelievers. She graciously consented to be our keynote speaker. Many other people came from around the region to present topics near and dear to their hearts. Without their sacrifice of time and resources this would not have been possible. I wish I could have had the chance to see every presentation but it was not to be.
I would also like to thank the groups that came out to support our cause. Black Nonbelievers, the Chattanooga Humanist Assembly, Atheist Alliance Helping the Homeless, the Chattanooga Freethought Association, and A Duty to Warn all came out to support the convention.
Lastly, I would like to thank everyone who took a chance on this and attended our convention. I would like to hope you made new friends and learned something new. Hopefully we will see you again next year.
Soon we will start the task of preparing for next year’s convention with all the feedback we received this year. I also look forward to working with people on more projects to help build communities where they’re needed most.