Reason in the Rock

Little Rock’s annual conference on science and secularism needs your help.

A couple of years ago, after a great experience at Skepticon 4, several of us were talking. Wouldn’t it be wonderful, we asked ourselves, if we could do what Skepticon did? Wouldn’t it be great to pull hundreds of people in for a conference on the issues that matter to us?

Secularist issues. Promotion of science education. Humanism. Skepticism. Critical thinking skills. Protection of the separation between church and state. Reason. Tolerance.

Within a few weeks, we had a name for our pipe dream and a few speakers had agreed to attend. Seth Andrews. Lauren Lane. Jerry DeWitt. AronRa. Teresa MacBain. And some guy – from right here in Arkansas! – who has a great blog. We got our state’s coordinator for the National Atheist Party to come, and Camp Quest, too. We were absolutely giddy, on edge, and hyped up beyond what we ever imagined.

Then the big day came. We opened the doors. And people showed up!

Throughout the entire day of the conference, I pleaded with the crowd of over 150 people to loosen their purse strings, take out their wallets, and donate. We wanted to keep the conference free for anyone who might want to come. We hadn’t raised nearly enough money to cover our most basic costs, and I was worried. Really worried.

Finally, that blogger guy from Arkansas – JT Eberhard was his name – took the microphone from my hand and looked at the room.

“Seriously,” he said. “Do you think this is free? Do you want this to happen again? These volunteers are working their butts off to make this happen. For YOU. Don’t stick them with the bill, too. Donate.”

And the money came in. Just in the nick of time.

Last year was such a great experience (despite the stress, despite having to beg for money) that we are doing it again. We have expanded Reason in the Rock 2013 to two days, and although our speaker lineup isn’t set in stone yet, we have some great names.

Like David Silverman. Matt Dillahunty. Jerry DeWitt – because we adore him and won’t think of doing something like this without him. (Besides, he’s got a book he needs to sell the heck out of, and we’re in it!) Dan Barker from FFRF. Darrel Ray (because someone’s got to talk about sex, and he likes doing that). The National Center for Science Education is sending an awesome biologist – with Arkansas roots! – to talk about evolution and climate change. Another native Arkansan is going to tell us how his biotech firm is in the process of kicking cancer’s ass with evolution. We’ll learn about how to handle religious discrimination in the workplace from the head of the EEOC. We’re going to put on  Skeptics in the Pub. And lots more.

We won’t copy Skepticon, which is just a few weeks after Reason in the Rock. Reason in the Rock is October 26-27, and Skepticon is November 15-17. Both conferences will be fresh and original every year. We’ll try not to duplicate speakers. Lots of us go to Skepticon every year, and we fully support it, too. (Yes, I’ve already donated to it.)

Donated. Yes, there’s that money thing again. Doubling the duration of a conference and doubling the number of speakers more than doubles the expenses associated with it, we’ve learned. Last year we got a meeting room for peanuts at the local library, so our big expenses were directly related to our speakers. This year we have to rent real conference space. We have more flights to book, more hotel nights for each speaker to arrange.

We took Lauren’s advice to heart. We listened to what she and the other Skepticon organizers told us. We’ve tried to put it in action. This year, we hope we’ll raise enough money so that I won’t be standing in front of the room, microphone in my hand, sweating, and begging for money.

I’m going to do more of my begging in advance, this year.

The Arkansas Society of Freethinkers has an Indiegogo campaign in progress to raise money for Reason in the Rock 2013. Not only do we want you to donate, we want you to come.

This video was filmed in the basement of my home, in front of a secret room. Really. You can tell by the vast collection of Star Wars Expanded Universe books and the dinosaurs.

Please plan to come to Reason in the Rock. Please please please please please come! October 26-27.

Our total budget is around $15,000. We’ve raised about 2/3 of that, through this campaign and other fundraising efforts, and we need more. So even though it looks like our Indiegogo campaign is fully funded, our conference is not. We need your help to make it a success, and we want you to come.

Participating in something like this – whether by donating, attending, or both – is a way to be the change you want to see in the world.  Reason in the Rock is a conference for US. It’s about how we can come together in a community of like minds, about how we can ensure that science – and only science – is taught in our children’s public school science classes, how we can encourage acceptance and respect for human differences. It’s also about how good it feels to know we aren’t alone.

Please check out our Indiegogo campaign. Donate enough to get yourself a snazzy t-shirt. Or maybe enough to get your name on the program. Or, heck, maybe even to have a meal with one of our great speakers!

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Got a legal question? Email me at anne@aramink.com. I’m a lawyer, but there’s only a 2% chance I’m licensed in your state. Whether I answer your question or not, sending me an email or reading this blog post does not create an attorney-client relationship between us. I’m on Twitter as @aramink, and you can see my regular blog at www.aramink.com.

About Anne

Writer. Voracious reader. Lawyer. Jack’s mom. Irreverent. Coffee drinker. Cat owner. Grudging dog owner. Chief cook and bottle washer. Over-educated. Irish-Italian. Irreligious. History buff. Paleontology freak. Science fiction fan. Political junkie. Part-time avenging angel. Tea lover. Music nut. Tale spinner. Movie addict. Opinionated. Wordy.

Got a legal question related to religion? Contact me at anne@aramink.com

  • David Bentley

    I really don’t think you can saturate the market with too many atheist/skeptic conventions. After each one I leave pumped up and looking forward to the next one. Hell, churches do it every friggin’ Sunday, and with the same speaker!

    By the way, who’s that handsome fellow in the Indiegogo video?

  • Rita Sklar

    Glad to know about this! Hope you don’t mind a suggestion: display the Date prominently at the top.

    Looking forward to it. Would like to know about your other meetings as well


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