I used to organize events – the free kind, so that all the people who couldn’t afford to get into American Atheists or TAM would still be able to be a part of that community. My dream was not just a second-hand conference for those who were financially barred from the big conferences, it was of a conference that delivered the same star power as the big guys. The goal was not to unmake the big conferences, but to make sure that everybody had access to that community for one weekend out of the year.
It worked out pretty well. Now other groups have adopted that dream, and one of the best things to come out of it has been Reasonfest. The crowd has very similar energy to Skepticon and, frankly, the organizers are better than I ever was. But dreams only become reality with a lot of hard work, and when you don’t have any income from ticket sales you can be sure to add a lot more hard work with constant fundraising (and fretting that you’ll be unable to pay for everything you’ve arranged). When you’re also a student, this is…difficult, to say the least.
Anyway, Reasonfest is almost there. They’ve put together an event with plenty of star power and are making the speakers and the event free to all, atheist and believer alike. Matt Dillahunty, Greta Christina, Amanda Knief, Seth Andrews, Keith Lowell Jensen, David Fitzgerald…they will all be there and many more (including me). If I’ve learned one thing in touring around the country speaking, it’s that when someone is a big fan a lot of times just getting to hang around you can do more for inspiring them to go make a change in the world than anything you say during your talk. That’s what events like Reasonfest bring.