Ask Richard: New Teacher Considers Starting Atheist Group in Small Town

Richard,

I am a father of two pre-school age children. I have just gotten a teaching job in a very small town (under 4,000 people) in a very isolated area (2 hour drive to find a bigger town). The town is exceedingly Christian. The local Yellow Pages lists dozens of Christian churches in the surrounding 60 mile radius or so and zero temples, synagogues, etc. Otherwise, the town is in a ruggedly beautiful part of the county, with much of the surrounding areas designated as natural parks.

However, I strongly suspect that I am not even remotely the only Atheist in town. There is a University-run research facility nearby, a small, but significant naturalist population exploring the trails, rocks, and rivers and a variety of botanists, geologists, and other scientists who work in and around the national parks. I’ve Googled every directory of atheist / free thinker / humanist / secularist groups I can find, but no avail in finding a local group.

I’m somewhat interested in starting such a group but worry about backlash from students, parents, and administration. My instinct is to wait out my probationary period, maybe checking out naturalist groups in the interim, though that’s not really my thing. Then, perhaps after I’m a little more settled, starting to make some moves towards forming such a group. I know a few people from the area, and few had positive things to say about its level of openness. One technically closeted gay teen regularly had rocks thrown at him by teens and verbal harassment by adults. Not a place that deals well with the other.

I’ve read some excellent advice about forming groups, but am curious about your thoughts on doing so in what seems to be such a hostile environment.

Regards,
B.

Dear B,

When I first heard the proverb, “A single stone can change the course of a river,” my first thought was “Gee, that’s so inspiring.” My immediate next thought was “Yeah, and that stone takes a hell of a beating.”

There are two reasons why I agree with your instinct to wait and be cautious and circumspect with this. The first is that you’re a teacher. If you were a bank clerk or an auto mechanic, public knowledge of your atheism might not have the same consequences. Parents are very protective of their children, and they know that teachers can have a powerful influence. Your personal reassurance that you would not bring your atheism into your class might not assuage the fears of your students’ parents.

Even if your school Principal is a person of principle and would not fire you just for that, he or she could face pressure from parents who think they’re protecting their kids from your evil influence. In very small, isolated, insular towns, each individual bigot has much more power than in big cities. It might only take a couple of dozen, just the congregation of one of those many churches in your area, to force your dismissal. Even after your probation, you might find that you should still be discreet. Each environment has its unique set of hazards.

The second reason is your two pre-school age children. It’s one thing to be willing to be that single stone in the river, but quite another to put little kids into that position. The rejection and abuse that the gay teen has experienced might be an example what your little ones could face. It will be challenging enough for them and you to just be “unchurched” in that town.

Your plan to get to know socially the naturalists and scientists in the area is a very good idea, although there is no guarantee that they are privately atheists. As you say there could be several, and some might even already have a group that meets quietly. But they may have learned that camouflage is the best adaptation for that environment. If so, this will make it more difficult for you to sort each other out, since they’ll be scrutinizing you just as guardedly as you are scrutinizing them. Unfortunately, atheists don’t have a secret sign that only we can use to recognize each other. Look for those of your new acquaintances who are also unchurched; they’re at home or at the town store on Sunday mornings.

Social isolation and intellectual starvation is a common problem for atheists and for intellectuals in small towns. If you’re both, it can be doubly lonely. It’s sad that small towns and small mentalities so often go together. Although I’m sure some towns are exceptions, I’m also sure that they’re rare. Individuals whose minds are hungrier than their fellow townsfolk tend to move away. Small towns can offer an intimacy and a sense of belonging, a personal validation that we lose in big cities. Too bad that conforming to narrow norms is so often the price for living in a place with narrow streets.

It’s an outrage that atheists so frequently have to hide and be secretive just to get along with their neighbors, keep their jobs, and feed their families. There are atheists who never knuckle under and never hide their views from anyone. I thank them for helping to normalize our image and showing that we’re just as worthy of decent treatment as anyone else.

However, I don’t thank those very few who deride or belittle closeted atheists. They can afford to talk tough. They usually don’t have vulnerabilities like a brand new job on probation, or two little kids to consider. Let the open and bold ones be the single stones in their river if they choose, but not hold a conceit against others. Atheists should help each other to cope, and encourage each other to be more open when the risks become more acceptable, but we should never condemn each other for being cautious and prudent. We get enough condemnation already.

Perhaps readers here can suggest ways to inconspicuously find other atheists in your area.

I wish you and your family success and happiness. Write again to tell us how things develop.

Richard

You may send your questions for Richard to AskRichard. Please keep your letters concise. They may be edited. There is a very large number of letters. I am sorry if I am unable to respond in a timely manner.

About Richard Wade

Richard Wade is a retired Marriage and Family Therapist living in California.

  • http://twitter.com/Kahomono Kahomono

    Admittedly, I have no idea why the questioner chose to live in such a place.  Maybe being surrounded by the natural beauty is the top priority for him. 

    But speaking for myself: to plop myself down into such a brain-sucking environment would require extreme economic desperation.  And my first priority would be to the GTFO.

    • K Sagui

      Especially with children at such an impressionable age.

    • JulietEcho

      Teaching jobs in many parts of the US are incredibly scarce (unless you’re a math or science teacher).  My husband graduated back in 2005, and he’s tried his damnedest to get any kind of teaching job in our general geographic area, and there’s just too much competition.  Schools are cutting jobs, not usually hiring, and when they are hiring, there can be hundreds and hundreds of applicants.

      B might have settled for a rare-but-good job in his field because he didn’t have other opportunities.  You can’t always just uproot and move across the country for a better job market (plus the best job markets for teachers in the US right now are in the southern “red” states).  Sometimes you have to take what you can get.

  • http://twitter.com/Kahomono Kahomono

    Admittedly, I have no idea why the questioner chose to live in such a place.  Maybe being surrounded by the natural beauty is the top priority for him. 

    But speaking for myself: to plop myself down into such a brain-sucking environment would require extreme economic desperation.  And my first priority would be to the GTFO.

  • Ian Reide

    Easy for me to say this, sitting far away from your situation, but I believe that you should go ahead with your plan to setup an Atheist group. Who knows, it could spread to the school ! For many reasons wait until you are a full fledged member of the school. Maybe put yourself in charge of a few activities and community groups. Maybe even make contact with a friendly lawyer jic. Also make contact with like minded people. Then announce the group, and be ready for a backlash. To continue the metaphor, the rock gets knocked around, but in the end it is bright and shiny.
    Good luck.

  • http://religiouscomics.net/ Jeff P

    Small towns have their merits as do big towns – just like the perspective songs by John Cougar Mellencamp and Peter Gabriel.   
     
    There are certain realities, though, that one must accept.  I would advise leveraging some of the advantages of small towns (especially those in beautiful surroundings) and get involved in some naturalist or outing groups that are active on weekends (especially Sundays).  If none are active on Sundays, perhaps your contribution could be to help organize activities including doing things on Sunday.  Once you have a small group of friends that periodically do some shared common-interest activity on Sundays (or perhaps even once a month including Sundays) then you could consider “evolving the group” or making up a clever name for the sub-group with an atheistic tie in.  But I would concentrate on being in a group with some naturalistic common interest first.

  • Irene

    My advice is not to do anything at this point in time.  After reading the first two paragraphs of B’s situation, I could have written something very similar.  While neither my husband nor I have hidden the fact that we’re atheists, we don’t push it.  This morning starts our 5th year in tiny town America.  Our town is also very religious, so one must tread carefully.  We don’t bring up religion and most others don’t bring it up either.  Several folks have asked how we came to our decision and we’ll talk about it then.

    This past summer, a student stumbled upon our personal website and she emailed me at my public school email to tell me how thankful she was that we were atheists.  Her dad is a devout catholic and her mom is an atheist as well.  I’ve spoken with her mom, who is cool with us talking to her and happy that there are non-religious folks in the district that he daughter could go to.  Trust me, atheists will find each other without advertising.  While it’s commendable to want to start a group at school, I would really wait before ever thinking of doing that.  If gay students in B’s town are being harassed (they are in my district as well), you can expect something similar for atheists as well.

    My advice is to sit back and take everything in for a while before making a move.  You really don’t want to risk your career or your kids if the town ends up not welcoming to those who think differently.

    This is to Kahomono: Getting a job as a teacher is not always as easy as one thinks.  Depending on what you are certified in, positions are touch to come by.  My husband applied to nearly every school district in the state.  He teaches social studies, which have too many people for too few slots nationwide.  His job in particular had 257 applications.  The principal interviewed 5 people and he got the job.  I would suspect that “B” might be in a similar situation, but this is just an assumption.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000483682875 Mike Vogt

    In a town that small, you wouldn’t need as many as a dozen to cause problems. One or two of the ‘right’ families could very easily run him out of town.

  • Kay

    I have to agree, it’s one thing to put yourself in the river, but the small ones are still a bit defenseless.
    I also understand great economic need, so I unfortunately have to mire through the muck to make it to the end of the day.
    Good luck!
    I heard very good advice once on this site, go infuse yourself in what you love to do and like minds will join you.
    Best of luck to all!

  • Anonymous

    “Those with shallow roots get weeded out quickly.” 

    In short, this will not work being “the new teacher in town”.  I believe caution is absolutely wise, but I’d go even further and say you must work on being a well-rooted person.

    1) Be seen as part of the community.  Own property,don’t rent. Show up at every festival or event that you can possibly attend.  (Yes, this include Christmas parades) 

    2) Be “good without God”.  Volunteer as many hours as possible in different venues.  tip a little more than required, etc.

    3) You don’t mention a spouse in your letter. Realize being single /divorced for very long may result in rumors about you as well. You need a spouse that is willing to make a diligent effort to establish roots here as well.

    4) Get to know the religious liberals ( Unitarian Universalists,United Church of Christ etc.) and see what they can tell you about the level of tolerance that really exists and how they are treated.

    I literally would plan on it taking at lest 3-5 years to establish the credibility within the community to avoid being torn apart by starting something that can be so extremely controversial. Make no mistake – someone will come after you for this, and you need to be very well-rooted if you don’t want to be run out of town.

    As Mike noted above, yes – I can tell you where I grew up there were two families that “ran the town” financially. If you angered the matriarch/patriarch of both families – they could easily financially ruin anyone who supports you.

  • Karen

    As you and your family meet people, make friends, and establish yourselves in the community, people will get to know you without attaching their interpretations of atheism (although they likely will assume you are christian).  Once your goodness/kindness/ethical behavior has been established, it may be easier for others to accept your family’s atheism.  Also, the month of December may offer opportunities for your candid response to, “What are you doing for Christmas?”   I have unearthed several like minded people with my careful response to this question!  The slow “unearthing” of like minded people  may be the safest way to go.  

    • http://religiouscomics.net/ Jeff P

      Keep in mind that in many small towns, the first question asked is what church you attend (or plan on attending).  Be prepared to have an answer for that question. 

      • http://annainca.blogspot.com/ Anna

        Wouldn’t simply saying “We don’t attend church” suffice, or is that not considered an acceptable reply? He doesn’t have to get into the question of deities, but even people who believe in a god do not necessarily identify as Christian or attend church.

        • http://religiouscomics.net/ Jeff P

          He could always “cheat” and say he is Quaker or UU (assuming there isn’t one of those congregations in town).  That gets him off the hook of having to go to one of the churches that town does have.  :)   And his kids might not get egged on the way to school.

        • Parse

          Not really, in these circumstances.  B is trying to get people to know him as himself, ‘B’, instead of them hearing ‘atheist’ and immediately filing B as ‘evil heathen’.  Saying you don’t attend church is as good as admitting you’re an atheist, once your words have been run through the rumor mill.

          That being said, how I answer this question is, “I was raised Lutheran.”   It’s the full truth, but it doesn’t answer the question they’re asking.  95% of people hear ‘Lutheran’, and think nothing further of it; the question for them is more along the lines of ‘Where did you go to school?’ – a general getting-to-know-you question, nothing more. 
          For the 5% who catch the sidestep and press the issue, my next response (as well as my response to any further pressuring) is along the lines of, “My faith is a very personal matter, and I prefer not to talk about it.”  I like this response because it’s a polite way to drop the subject – they look rude if they push the subject, and not you for refusing to answer.

      • http://annainca.blogspot.com/ Anna

        Wouldn’t simply saying “We don’t attend church” suffice, or is that not considered an acceptable reply? He doesn’t have to get into the question of deities, but even people who believe in a god do not necessarily identify as Christian or attend church.

  • Sven

    I there is any christian reading this, I would be very interested in your advise for B.

  • http://disienai.tumblr.com/ Semipermeable

    I agree with the advise here, it nothing else he should lay low for a while and play it by ear, taking stock of what the local situation and politics are. Show up to town meetings, be out and about, make small talk with cashiers, go to the naturalist meetings and and drop a few hooks, then decide on what is best for you and your family.

    If nothing else you still have the internet and online atheist communities for support.

  • http://www.spellwight.com spellwight

    In a small town like that, you could venture out on Sunday mornings and find people who are not at church and make conversation. Local restaurants, grocery stores, coffee houses – you could find people there and make friends. When you have a few more like-minded people, you could set up a Sunday morning social club. Slowly gather your forces before going all-out as an Atheist. 

  • Beijingrrl

    I’d really be concerned about raising small children in this town.  How are you going to keep them safe from the prejudice so amply on display?  Imagine them seeing this closeted gay kid being stoned.  What will you do?  Will you step in and stop it, putting your job at risk?  Will you do nothing but try to explain your actions later to them?  Most children, especially small ones, have a strong sense of justice and either will lose respect for you or decide that the treatment of the kid must actually be okay despite your words. 

    In an environment like this, there will be a lot of subtle and not so subtle conditioning to fit into the “norms”.  If they go to preschool, they will most likely be discouraged from playing with toys that don’t “match” their genders and you’ll never even hear about it.  The kids won’t know to bring it up and the adults won’t see anything wrong with their actions.

    Not going to church will be a huge issue.  Your kids may not be allowed to play with a lot of other kids if they don’t.  It will definitely come up, so both you and your children must be prepared.

    Personally, I couldn’t live under these conditions.  I’d have to start up a secular group for my kids and call out bigotry when I saw it.  I probably wouldn’t last long.  But I’d have to try.

    I’m not disparaging anyone who chooses to live undercover in this situation.  I just know that I’m not capable of biting my tongue for very long and I can’t abide witnessing kids being bullied at all.

    • Anonymous

      Regardless of where the bigotry comes from, you can still call out cruelty as being cruel. 

      I grew up in a very small town in Indiana (my HS graduating class was 70) and encountered many of the things that the writer mentioned. While I was still a Christian at the time, I worked really hard to counter the limiting, “Christian” initiatives that the school put forth.

      It may not have been much, but I hope that my close relationship with the only closeted lesbian in the school provided comfort to her. I hope that my involvement in the drama program was a place that kids who weren’t in FFA or Fellowship of Christian Athletes to go. 

      It’s not about calling out the Christians for being assholes…it’s about calling out assholes for being assholes. I realize that sometimes the two are intertwined so much as to be indistinguishable, but I think that the majority of folks wouldn’t be content to let bullying or violence go without argument. Sometimes the problem isn’t the religion as much as it is the insular nature of the community; as soon as someone is confident enough to rock the boat and demand justice, the religious people that have been protected have nowhere to hide.

  • LV

    This makes me think of a similar thread on atheist nexus and one person’s response encouraging caution, and referring to the situation in some city with the advertisements on the public busses – religious adds were never damaged, but atheist ones to the effect of ‘you’re not alone in non-believing’ sustained a lot of damage to adds and busses [Here is one link: http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/06/10/us-atheist-ads-idUSTRE7594E720110610, but many sites wrote about this]  It paints a clear picture as to the morality of many ‘believers’ and provides a good illustration for the need to be cautious.  I am also a teacher and while recently feeling quite fed up and needing to come out quite strongly, I am keeping it strictly to on-line (under an altered name so I cannot be googled and easily tied to if ever some narrow-minded myth-promoting administrator tries to check me out) and in person only to people I know/trust enough. 
    Admire your position and hope the time for that will come sooner rather than later, but like most if not all previous posters here, I also advise caution. 

  • http://www.uspassport123.com/blog/ Gina_trump

    Show up to town meetings, be out and about, make small talk with cashiers, go to the naturalist meetings and and drop a few hooks, then decide on what is best for them and their family.

  • caffeine_stream

    From reading the comments of people that have experience living in small town America, I have to say that sounds like my own personal idea of hell.
    Dwayne_Windham’s comment is decidedly scary.

    My only advice would be to maybe start some groups that would attract atheist without having the same connotations, maybe a Skeptics group or Freethought group?

  • Anonymous

    I would agree about waiting to get past the probationary period before making any move. Even when past that period however, I wouldn’t start a group on your own. That doesn’t mean not starting a group, but that if you are going to it should be a group initiative in which you are already a part of a supportive group, which is a lot less lonely and probably less risky. Of course, that means meeting like-minded individuals.

    Your town is small, but it sounds like it has a scientific community. That means two things. It means you have atheists and it means you have big-city people who have a much more live-and-let-live attitude to religion. Even the religious scientists are unlikely to be zealots (a religious zealot in a scientific community is as bad a fit as…uhm…well an atheist scientist in a fundamentalist small town) as they will be constantly surrounded by nonreligious colleagues. Get to know some of them and you will get to know other atheists or at least atheist-friendly folks.

    Having said all that, I would not settle in as @Dwayne_Windham suggests because I think you should, long-term, make plans to get the hell out of Dodge, for the sake of your young children. Even if you keep your atheism secret, people can smell a phony. You are a teacher. In a deeply religious town, parents will be absolutely certain to ask you what church you belong to. How long do you suppose you can dodge them before they smell a rat? You will be found out, and in a small town news travels fast and your kids could end up finding out that the gay kids aren’t the only target of bigots and their rocks. That’s assuming neither of your children will turn out to be gay, in which case this town will be simple, unadultered torture. I understand that finding a job is tough and the economy is awful, but please do try to get out soon.

  • Heart102271

    What irks me most, is that you can tell by the behavior of the teens and (gasp) adults towards the still in the closet gay, that they are NOT Christian.  That is NOT Christian behavior is it?!?  I mean, honestly…. in WHAT religion, is it acceptable to bully, torchure, and throw rocks at someone…. who has done NOTHING to you?  (that’s a retorical question)    I think that if you continue to live in this community…. you’re going to find that this is just the tip of the iceberg.  You’ll see that there is other prejudice and intolerance and cruelty present as well which you just haven’t seen yet.  I wouldn’t start a group there if you PAID me to… I wouldn’t expose my children to what would happen if you did…..and I would leave.  I understand that jobs are hard to come by.  I’m unemployed too right now.  But taking ANY job is not the answer.  Taking the wrong job, never turns out well. 

    • Anonymous

      I mean, honestly…. in WHAT religion, is it acceptable to bully,
      torchure, and throw rocks at someone…. who has done NOTHING to you? 

      Uhm…

      Six days may work be done; but in the seventh is the sabbath of rest, holy
      to the LORD: whosoever
      doeth any work in the sabbath day, he shall surely be put to death. Leviticus 31;15

      For every one that
      curseth his father or his mother shall be surely put to death: he hath
      cursed his father or his mother; his blood shall be upon him.

      Leviticus 20;9

      and of course

      If a man also lie with
      mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an
      abomination: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be
      upon them.e>  Leviticus 20;13

      Sooo, there’s that. The New Testament admittedly doesn’t have a lot about the faithful directly killing or mistreating folks, but it does spend a fair amount of time gloating about how terribly they will suffer in the “everlasting fire” so you can probably guess that the faithful aren’t going to think hurting them is much of a problem. Certainly decent Christians studiously ignore vast swaths of their Bibles but they can’t really say that the evil ones have no justification in scripture.

    • Anonymous

      I mean, honestly…. in WHAT religion, is it acceptable to bully,
      torchure, and throw rocks at someone…. who has done NOTHING to you? 

      Uhm…

      Six days may work be done; but in the seventh is the sabbath of rest, holy
      to the LORD: whosoever
      doeth any work in the sabbath day, he shall surely be put to death. Leviticus 31;15

      For every one that
      curseth his father or his mother shall be surely put to death: he hath
      cursed his father or his mother; his blood shall be upon him.

      Leviticus 20;9

      and of course

      If a man also lie with
      mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an
      abomination: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be
      upon them.e>  Leviticus 20;13

      Sooo, there’s that. The New Testament admittedly doesn’t have a lot about the faithful directly killing or mistreating folks, but it does spend a fair amount of time gloating about how terribly they will suffer in the “everlasting fire” so you can probably guess that the faithful aren’t going to think hurting them is much of a problem. Certainly decent Christians studiously ignore vast swaths of their Bibles but they can’t really say that the evil ones have no justification in scripture.

  • Elliott776

    Find the “alternative” social places in town. Look for places that aren’t obviously Christian, ie try the “Corner Coffee Shop” and not “The Lords Gospel and Coffee”  If you don’t know where they are spend some time in a few places and listen in on conversations. See if most people are talking about god or religion and be cautious there. This day in age it can be easier to spot the places NOT to go. In my town, people flaunt their religion. Many stores have radio or sign ads that always say “God Bless America/smithtown/etc”

  • Dolo724

    We lived in such a small community for three years, and never once considered outing ourselves voluntarily. We always used the excuse “we aren’t church-goers” to good effect. One of my wife’s friends, after some commenting that we were the “best Christians” she knew, eventually asked her directly if she was an atheist. Not thinking, my wife answered positively.

    Not much later our landlord gave us six month’s notice to move. He had noticed that we were 1) Democrats, 2) atheists or 3) was doubling his rent. Legal in that locale. Were we upset? sure. We didn’t lose much business, but it did hurt.

    I think my point is that we insinuated ourselves as members of the community with a few quirks, didn’t make anyone upset or mad, and kept our cotton-pickin’ mouths shut when required. But nobody threw us a good-bye party, either.

  • Canadian Atheist, eh!
    • Drakk

      Not quite sure what that means…I always liked a modification on the christian fish signal. You draw one arc in the sand with your foot. If the other guy completes the fish, he’s Christian. If he completes the fish and adds feet to it, he’s atheist.

  • GentleGiant

    I think it’s horrible that one has to kowtow to such (dare I say inbred) bigotry and bullying!
    The thing that really irks me is that the gay teen apparently is assaulted by both his peers and adults.
    I’d say that anyone with any shred of decency should stand up for this kid and others that might be in the same boat.
    So I’ll go against most of the suggestions here and say that you SHOULD do something! Does it have to be an exclusive atheist-only club? No, I’d say something closer to a “free-thinker” society thing. Something where fresh ideas can be exchanged and that “preaches” tolerance and acceptance of different viewpoints.
    Give a place of comfort and a haven for someone like the gay kid and others who have no problem with him.
    With the scientific and naturalist community already there I’m sure you’d find fellow likeminded people in the area.
    Heck, there might even be those among the religious community who find e.g. the bullying of the gay kid horrible, but are also afraid to speak out against it.
    Be the light that shines the way (to borrow a very religious sounding phrase) for a better community!

  • Hammurabi

    To echo and add to caffeine_stream’s point above: If you are settled in and looking for a group of similar minded people, start a similar but not explicitly atheist group. A “skeptic’s” group or “critical thinking book-club” or even a “cafe scientifique.” Any of these type groups would give you an opportunity to find like-minded people (even ones who aren’t atheist) without overly exposing yourself to peoples prejudice. Good luck, and remember that you’ll always have the internet!

  • Guest

    One must also be careful in large cities where people like ourselves have been systematically weeded out over a number of years.  Very hard to find like-minded thinkers…  High stakes.
     

  • http://www.frommormontoatheist.blogspot.com Leia

    I know I am a little late to the game, but I felt the same way when I moved to a college town in Indiana.

    If Meetup.com or Yahoo groups doesn’t have a group, see if the CFI in the closest major city is active. I drive an hour to my local CFI, maybe someone from your town is making a drive  to be with fellow skeptics. Even if it’s too far of a drive to make often, follow them on facebook; my local CFI posts tons of activities and sometimes they are closer to my home.

    Go to your local UU church. I met a few Atheists at mine, and a few Humanists, and a few Buddhists… it was nice to see so many people be accepting of others.

    I have an entry level job which I didn’t have to go to years of school for and I would NEVER tell them I am an Atheist, mostly because I support the household and I like eating. I know it sucks to feel like you have to hide a part of who you are, but know that you aren’t alone.

    As for your two little ones, if you can’t move out of the small town, at least make sure you send them to Camp Quest when they are older, or fill your free days with museum and zoo trips.

  • Sarah Moglia

    I suggest going to reddit.com and mentioning something in /r/atheism and asking if there is anyone near your area. Or perhaps other such blogs..use the power of the internet to find other people!


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