Picnic Perfection: Mid Ohio brought their “A” game in 2014.

2014MOAgroup

On Sunday, July 20, 2014, we once again gathered for our annual Regional Atheist Picnic. We met at the beautiful Mohican State Forest North Park Shelter, where festivities kicked off at noon. The weather was perfect for us once again this year, with no rain and sun all day for everyone to enjoy all the day’s planned events.

We had 55 attendees this year, plus a German Shepard and an African Grey parrot! Our friends traveled from as near as the Mansfield and Ashland area to as far as the Cleveland and Columbus areas. We are always thankful for such support that everyone comes back year after year.

Once again, our charity drive was another success! This year we had two great charities that people could donate to, Harmony House, a local homeless shelter, and The Humane Society of Richland County. Overall, we collected over $400 in donations between the two charities! Each location was very appreciative of the donations received, so “Thank You” to everyone who donated to such worthy causes. Grand prize this year for the donation drive contest was a $30 gift certificate to the Great Lakes Science Center in Cleveland, OH and a $20 gas card.

Since it was so successful last year, we again invited a few guest speakers to join us and talk about life in atheism. Mark and Marni Tiborsky and Sam Salerno, from the Cleveland area based Northern Ohio Freethought Society, a Freedom From Religion Foundation chapter, spoke first. They filled us in about the recent billboard campaign in the Cleveland/Akron area their organization was able to do with the help of their FFRF affiliation, their member’s donations, and a lot of hard work. They also went on to tell us about the media coverage and public reaction both in person and on social media outlets. Was it worth it? Yes, according to them. They were able to convey to the public at large positive messages and most importantly show people in everyday neighborhoods in their community that freethinkers are there, they are positive, wonderful people, and are just normal everyday folks, just like everyone else. They put up 11 billboards in all during this month long campaign.

Our second speaker this year was JT Eberhard.  JT is a writer, gay rights activist, and co-founder of Skepticon.  JT wanted to share with us his take on how to debate common religious arguments against atheism,  using plain English. He had some very insightful views about how we as atheists can get our views across without having to have a doctorate of some type or to constantly be trying to remember stats and numbers. Using logical and reasonable arguments, a few jokes, and a tad bit of slight of hand magic, JT really got his point across. He really had the crowd engaged with his talk and laughing with his Ken Ham jokes and his ongoing fight with technology during his speech. We all really enjoyed our speakers and thank them for taking the time to spend the day with us and share their experiences with everyone this year.

As an added bonus, our friend Frank Zindler  had a special treat in store for us. He brought a comical video to share of an interview he had worked on that will be showing on the upcoming launch of the Atheist TV channel, set to start on July 29, 2014 on Roku. The crowd really seemed to enjoy the sneak peek offering and hearing from Frank.

This year, as a way to thank all of our friends, who attended, we had a ton of raffle prizes to give out throughout the day. Numerous atheist related books, gift cards to restaurants, t-shirts, and a 19” LCD flat screen TV were handed out this year to the lucky winners. We appreciate everyone who donated items to us to be able to do this, and hope that we can do it again next year.

This event takes a lot of hard work from a lot of dedicated people to be so successful year after year. Why do we do it? We do it for our community. We want to show people that we are here. If people are either questioning their beliefs or are non-believers already and feel stuck thinking nobody around is like them, they are not alone. Those are the people we are trying to reach out to, and get the word out to, to know that there is a haven (not heaven) and they are accepted for what they think, feel, and see as reasonable knowledge in front of them to be true. Atheism really is about promoting a personal relationship with reality and not being afraid to think. Whatever you call it, atheism, humanism, freethought, skepticism, or all of the above, its all around us and people will slowly start coming out of their closets, standing up from the church pews, and finally start looking for a places were they can talk about science and reason instead of fairy tales. When they are ready, Mid Ohio Atheists Inc, will be there. Until then , you will see us on I-71 picking up trash for Adopt A Highway, collecting food and supplies for Harmony House and The Humane Society of Richland County, having a beer at a local pub and discussing separation of church and state issues, and meeting once a year in a forest with awesome people from all over Ohio for some great food and even better conversations.

~ Marisa Hills, MOA Vice President

 

2014 Mid Ohio Atheists Regional Picnic Announced

Our group is proud to announce the Mid Ohio Atheists Regional Picnic 2014, sponsored by Mid Ohio Atheists Inc. We are inviting groups from all over Ohio and surrounding areas to our annual get together at the Mohican State Forest. The general public is also invited to come out and meet us, as long as they are respectful and do not try to proselytize to us.

This year the picnic will be held on Sunday, July 20th, starting at 12:00 pm.  We have met at the Mohican State Forest before and had a great experience each time. This year we will meet at the North Park Shelter once again. Once you are in the forest, follow the signs to the shelter. There will also be a map available soon as well. You will want to use the St. Rt. 97 entrance to access the park for the event. Detailed directions will be available, as GPS is not always accurate in forest locations. The accurate coordinates for the location are (40.614548N 82.312439W), if you put that in GPS you will find it without much issue. The physical address always gives GPS issues due to county numbering of roads.

The picnic will be held rain or shine since we have a nice covered shelter, so please don’t let that stop you from attending.

Contest
This year we are happy to announce 2 charities we are involved with for our donation drive contest. Harmony House(a local homeless shelter) and the Humane Society of Richland County. The items that qualify for the contest for each charity are as follows: Harmony House: Toilet Paper, Trash Bags, Paper Towels, and Laundry Detergent and the Humane Society: Dry/Wet Dog or Cat Food, Clay (non clumping) Cat Litter, Canned Pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling), and Paper Towels. These items are what is most needed by these charities or what they run low on the most. Other items outside of these can be donated, but these item only count towards the contest. A full list will be available of items they accept. Whoever donates the most of these items will win the Grand Prize. We will also have a second prize for the runner up. We encourage everyone to bring items to one or both of these great organizations! Please make sure you check in your donations when you arrive (there will be signs). GRAND PRIZE: 2 Tickets to Great Lakes Science Center in Cleveland, Ohio and $20 Gas Card.

Prizes
To say “Thanks!” this year we will have some fun raffle prizes. Please make sure you check in when you get to the event and get your raffle ticket for the random prize drawings. We will also have a kids “prize pack” as well so they will have their own chance at some kid type goodies to take home with them. This is just small way for us to show our appreciation to our friends who support us by coming to visit us each year, volunteer at our events, or support our many different educational and social endeavors we undertake.

Games & Activities
This year we have made an effort to make this event more kid friendly. We hope everyone brings their children so we have plenty of kids for the activities Meri and Tiffany have planned for the event. There are plans for a Scavenger Hunt, Marshmallow Toss (who’s not up for that?) and a Watermelon Eating Contest…(who wouldn’t want to take some photos of that!? We will have goodies and prizes for the kids so its a fun day for them to meet new people and have a fun day as well. :)

Speakers
This year we are happy to invite a few speakers to join us for some entertaining and educational insight on life as an atheist:

Mark & Marni Tiborsky– from Northern Ohio Freethought Society, a chapter of Freedom From Religion Foundation, will speak about their groups recent experience with the billboard campaign in Northern Ohio, pros and cons of media coverage, and being “out” as an atheist in the community.

JT EberhardWriter and public speaker on atheism, gay rights, and other topics, over 2 yrs with Student Secular Alliance as the first high school organizer, and co-founder of Skepticon. JT will give us his insight on “How to beat the most popular arguments for god’s existence in plain English.”

Fantastic Food
What would a picnic be without good food? We estimate we will have about 80 people in attendance this year. We will have a suggested food list posted on the website, but any items are welcome that you would like to share. The list of items will be updated as we receive emails and commitments from people volunteering items. Please send a quick email to picnic2014@midohioatheists.org to let us know what you intend to bring. You don’t have to bring enough to feed the total number we anticipate, just let us know the amount you can bring so we can update our numbers. Visit our website for a list of ideas of what to bring.

Good Conversation
The main reason to go to the picnic is for the company. We hope to see all of our members there and people from all around the state and beyond. It’s great to talk with like minded people and so refreshing to have conversations that aren’t stuck at the ‘does god exist’ level.

Public Invited
We also invite the members of the general public who wish to meet atheists. This is not an invitation to have people come out and proselytize to us but rather a chance to meet with atheists and learn more about our beliefs and see that we are normal people too.

We hope to see everyone make it out this year again. We had a great time last year and really look forward to seeing our friends each year and meeting new people every year as well. Please share the event with others and work out car pools if possible to get those to the event that would like to attend. Any questions, please feel free to email Marisa Hills at marisa@midohioatheists.org

We will see everyone soon!

Guest speaker at the Board Meeting this weekend

Join us at our monthly meeting to hear our good friend Barbara Williams, founder of Great Lakes Atheists in Toledo, Ohio, speak about her book, “Welcome to Camp Quest” , which was recently written about in the Toledo Blade. She will also speak about Edwin Kagin, founder of Camp Quest.  Barb always has the best insights and stories and we always enjoy her trips down to visit with us!

We will take care of some other business for the group, have some lunch, and have a few other discussion topics, as time permits.

We will also have a couple of Barbara’s books to give away as door prizes.

We look forward to seeing everyone there!

** Please bring canned or non-perishable food item to the meeting. These will be donated to the local homeless shelter.

Picnic Sign-Up list 2013

Our annual picnic is coming up soon. The picnic will be at the Mohican State Forest, at the North Park Picnic Shelter on Sunday July 21st at Noon.

In order to track what people are bringing to the picnic, please send an email to picnic2013@midohioatheists.org with what you plan to bring.

I think we will have about 75 people show up.  Keep checking back here as I will update the number of people as more people respond.  I will keep the list of items updated as I receive emails also.  Feel free to bring anything you like even if it isn’t on the list or someone else already volunteered that item.

Thanks, Ron.

Things people have already volunteered to bring:

  • Hamburgers & buns
  • Hotdogs & buns
  • Condiments (Ketchup, Mustard, Relish, Barbecue Sauce, Mayo, Pickles, etc…..)
  • Potato Salad
  • Fruit Platter
  • Veggie Platter
  • Sweet tea
  • Bowl of Mixed Fruit
  • Chips and dip
  • Pop
  • Pasta Salad
  • Pie
  • Cookies
  • Bottled Water
  • organic Blue Corn tortilla chips and bean dip
  • Watermelon

Things still needed:

  • Charcoal & Lighter Fluid
  • Deviled Eggs
  • Macaroni salad
  • Brats
  • More Desserts (you can never have too many!)
  • Anything else you want to share.

Mid-Ohio Regional Atheist Picnic 2013

Our group is proud to announce the Mid-Ohio Regional Atheist Picnic 2013, sponsored by Mid Ohio Atheists Inc.  Again this year we are inviting groups from all over Ohio to our annual get together at the Mohican State Forest. The general public is also invited to come out and meet some atheists, as long as they are respectful and not trying to proselytize to us.  The picnic will be held on Sunday, July 21st, at noon at the Mohican State Forest.  (MAP)

We have met at the Mohican State Forest four times before and had a great experience each time.  This year though we will meet at the North Park Shelter.  Once you are in the forest, follow the signs to the shelter.  Come rain or shine, we will still have the picnic as the shelter will protect us from the rain.

Contest

Again this year we will have a contest that will benefit Harmony House, a homeless shelter in Mansfield. A representative of Harmony House said what they need the most, and what most people don’t think to donate, is toilet paper, trash bags, and paper towels. So, the contest winner will be the one that brings the most of those three items.  You can donate other things as well, but the contest will be decided on only the amount of toilet paper, trash bags, and paper towels that you bring.  Prizes will be admission to the Great Lakes Atheists Convention in August, tee shirts, buttons, and pens.

This is for a good cause and I hope we can collect lots of these items for Harmony House like we did last year.

Games & Activities

We will have several activities for children and adults, including a corn hole tournament, Frisbee toss, and ladder ball.

Good Conversation

The main reason to go to the picnic is for the company.  We hope to see all of our members there and people from all around the state and beyond.  It’s great to talk with like minded people and so refreshing to have conversations that aren’t stuck at the ‘does god exist’ level.

Public Invited

We also invite the members of the general public who wish to meet atheists.  This is not an invitation to have people come out and proselytize to us but rather a chance to meet with atheists and learn more about our beliefs and see that we are normal people too.

Speakers

This year we will have five speakers.  It is unusual to have speakers at a picnic but we tried this for the first time last year and it worked out well.  MOA greatly appreciates the following people for volunteering to come to our picnic and sharing some of their wisdom and experiences with us:

  • Frank  Zindler, Director of American Atheists Press will speak on  “Why only atheists can save the world”
  • Rachel  Johnson, student and podcaster will talk on  “Atheist Activism”
  • Dan DeMurra,  Atheist activist and organizer will share his views on “Life Beyond Faith”
  • Douglas  Whaley, OSU professor emeritus, lawyer, LGBT activist, and author will speak about  “What atheism can learn from the LGBT movement”
  • Shauna Strand  Sowga, humanist, will share her experiences in  “How secularism has affected my life”

Good Food

What would a picnic be without good food?  We have already started the list of what foods people have volunteered to bring. Go to our picnic sign-up post and see what others are bringing and send an e-mail to picnic2013@midohioatheists.org with the food(s) you will bring.  Feel free to bring anything you like even if it isn’t on the list or someone else already volunteered that item.

We estimate we will have about 75 people show up.  Keep checking back here as the number of people will be updated as more people respond.  The list of items will be updated as we receive emails also.