The 2010 Northwest Freethought Alliance Regional Conference scheduled for March 26th-28th at Renton Technical College has been cancelled due to low registration.  Was it a lack of interest?  Herding cats?  I think it's likely a matter of not getting the word out.  How many people knew that this conference happened in Portland last year?  Check out the list of speakers.  I had the opportunity to chat with Harriet Hall, (the Skepdoc), who lives in Puyallup, and was especially riveted by Michel Ulriksen's talk about her horrific experience at fundamentalist bootcamp.

How many would have attended if they'd only known?  At least one guy I met attended on a scholarship and there's always couchsurfing.com to save on (already discounted) hotel rooms.

The coordinator has solicited feedback about the low registration and I sent some suggestions, including plugging the conference on podcasts like Chariots of Iron, or better yet, Atheist News.

--Levi

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Yeah man, let us know when this sort of stuff is going on. This is the first I heard of it... ever. I think that must make me kind of a douche... but uh... it's probably actually Lamar's fault. Somehow.

I'd personally be jazzed (did I just use that word...?) to help get more big NW events going on. You could also contact Kurt from the Portland CFI group if you have anything going on in town. They are pretty helpful even if things aren't directly affiliated with CFI.

http://www.atheistnexus.org/group/portland
http://www.atheistnexus.org/profile/Kurt

The only feedback I can give you is this: make it a party.

Speakers are nice, and we need them (especially the useful ones,) but man, we Northwesterners are so UNoppressed by religion, it's hard to get us to give a crap. Get some bands together and make it a giant camping trip or something. Fun first, then informative. I know it sucks, but it either needs to be GIGANTIC with Richard Dawkins and 50 other atheists that the masses will flock to like the Greatfull Dead, or you have to have something else to bring them in.

BBQ baby. BBQ.
Yeah, we were pretty bummed it was canceled as well. Two of our members were going to be speakers there. They were going to be speaking about the Prep4Kids Release Time (classroom evangelism) that a couple of CFI Portland found out about and successfully weakened the program in the school that their kids attended. It was an awesome example of what can happen if your local group of atheists work together with a national organization that has a legal team who can give you advice on next steps for situations like this. Also it was a good example of teaming up with other groups since we teamed up with a local Jewish group and the local Separation of Church and State group to formulate a letter to give to the school board so they would know their rights and avoid getting bullied by the christian evangelical group.

I think the two problems this year were: 1) They needed more advertising. It wasn't on my radar until a couple weeks before when they sent out the warning email that it might be canceled if they didn't get more participants. 2) The recession has people cutting back spending. $150 was a lot to drop this year for a lot of people (and that's before the hotel and trip up to Seattle). I hope next year will go smoother.
Thanks for the reply, Joe.
You're right that we live in a more enlightened part of the country, but I think that can lull us into complacency. This cancellation should serve as a wakeup call. I see now how I could have promoted the event with something as simple as posts on forums and in social networking sites like this one. Thanks for the suggestion.

And I think you meant to say, "Baby BBQ." Atheists and cannibalism go together like Catholics and transubstantiation. The wine/cheese reception and the banquet were great, but not what I would call a festive atmosphere, which could help attract a younger audience. I noticed a high proportion of retirees with time and disposable income to devote. Maybe there's a better way to pool resources in order to have something for everyone, even those of us who may not be motivated to travel a few hours for anything less than a three-day party. Smaller, regional conferences need to start somewhere and then build momentum. But something along the lines of Anti-Lent could go a long way, which is perfect for this time of year.
http://atheism.about.com/od/easterholidayseason/tp/AntiLentLifePlea...

--Levi
First I'd heard of it, too.

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