The Secular Women Work Kickstarter by the Numbers

We funded this afternoon at 4 p.m. CST. Now we just have to put on this conference we convinced people to invest in. Here’s how we did it:

  • Number of backers: 172
  • Total raised: $13,743
  • Lowest pledge: $1
  • Highest pledge: $1,000
  • Average pledge: $79.90
  • Biggest day: $3,339
  • Number of tickets sold: 66
  • Number of advertisers: 7
  • Number of t-shirts sold: ~45
  • Number of Surly-Ramics sold: ~40
  • Numbers of hours of sleep lost by the organizers: We lost track somewhere around week three.

But we did it. We’re going to have a conference.

Have You Signed Up for Secular Women Work?

The Secular Women Work logo with three inter-meshed gears.You’re nearly out of chances. The Kickstarter ends this Thursday. Right now, it’s only 51% funded, and if we don’t fund the Kickstarter, we won’t have a conference. If we do fund, but you haven’t bought your ticket through the Kickstarter, the price will go up.

Haven’t quite made up your mind to attend the conference? Then it’s time to catch up on the reasons you should.

  • Don’t just listen to us organizers. There are plenty of people out there who want to tell you why you should come to Secular Women Work.
  • Our speakers have done amazing things, and they demonstrate that you can come to activist work through many paths and interests. Check out our interviews with them. Mandisa Thomas wants to provide community and other support for the people much secular activism leaves behind. Lauren Lane has spent the last several years demonstrating that she’s not only capable of riding the tiger, but she can steer the beast as well. Desiree Schell figured out at an early age that she wasn’t okay with the world being fundamentally unfair, and she can tell you what she’s done to fix that.
  • We’re not rushing to fill our slate of workshops, because we want your input on what we should offer, but we’ve set up a few we think are important. The Ada Initiative will help you stop impostor syndrome from getting in your way when you want to get things done. Jessica Kirsner of the Secular Student Alliance will help you develop a fundraising plan for your project. A local professional photographer will provide you with a headshot for free as part of our media training.


We have a lot happening already, and we’re excited to bring you more. We just have to know that you’re excited to come. So get your ticket before the Kickstarter ends this Thurdsay, February 19.

Humanism Is People

FtBCon is over for another year. We’re resting and planning for the next one–and planning ways to keep the next one from requiring quite so much rest afterward.

Miri pulled the whole thing together into a playlist that you can find here. I also want to draw your attention to a few individual videos as well. The first of these is short. It’s our opening remarks from Debbie Goddard.

I asked Debbie to provide opening remarks because, when I talk to her, I always come away with a stronger sense of what the atheist and skeptic movements are as a whole. I don’t just see my corner of them. I don’t just think of the loud voices. I see all of us, our history, and our interests. This was no exception.

I love this talk. It’s brimming with perspective. It’s funny. It’s compassionate as hell. You should watch it. [Read more…]

Introducing the Secular Women Work Conference

Or, How I Spent My Winter Vacation

Actually, I didn’t get much of a winter vacation. Or holidays for that matter. In fact, I’ve mostly been running flat out since November. That was when I realized that no Women in Secularism conference in 2015* meant that I knew what I wanted to do for the Minnesota Atheists summer conference this year.

I wanted to put together a conference that celebrates the accomplishment of female and genderqueer activists in the secular movement and makes us all better activists. So I did that. [Read more…]

FtBCon Schedule (Updated)

Update: Now, with links to the sessions. Also, we added a session at the last minute on the psychology of trolls that I’ll be part of.

I’d say FtBCon had snuck up on me if I hadn’t put so much time into getting people prepared for it. But it’s this weekend, and I have panels I’m taking part in this time around, not just moderating. Here’s my schedule of those sessions I’ll be speaking at. I’ll come back before the conference starts and add links to each session. All times are CST. [Read more…]

Ally Skills Training at Skepticon

This weekend is Skepticon! (Have you donated yet?) Skepticon means lots of great speakers, Skeptiprom, and of course, Friday workshops.

Friday workshops means the Ada Initiative Ally Skills Training workshop at 10 a.m. on Friday. The Ada Initiative put this workshop up as an incentive in their annual fundraiser this year, and skeptics raised the target the day it was announced. In return, we get some knowledge transfer from the open tech and culture spheres. Valerie Aurora from the Ada Initiative is coming to run the workshop–and attend the rest of Skepticon as a bonus.

Because this workshop is structured to be a safe space, both for brainstorming ideas and for marginalized groups, there are a few things you should know if you want to attend the workshop. [Read more…]

Tell Me What You Want

A while back, I offered people one of those pain-for-funds incentives to donate to Skepticon. Apparently, however, Slyme Pit poetry is too painful for most or all of you.

That’s fair, but it still leaves Skepticon in need. As of right now, with less than two weeks to go before the conference, Skepticon still needs to raise $7,000 to cover their costs for this year. That’s a lot.



People reading this blog probably aren’t going to be able to donate all that money. (If you can, great! Go for it!) Still, whatever you can do would mean a lot to me, as you might be able to tell from my willingness to trawl slime for “poetry”. I’ve made my own donation and added Skepticon to my list of regular monthly donations, but we need a lot more than me.

Why should you donate to Skepticon? Several reasons. [Read more…]

It’s Skepticon’s Turn

Wow. You good folks floor me. The Skeptics for Ada fundraiser hit its goal in the first day. That means Valerie Aurora of the Ada Initiative will be coming to Skepticon to run their Ally Skills Workshop. So now that we’ve paid for the Ada Initiative to do their thing, it’s time to help pay for Skepticon itself. With the conference just over a month away, it’s only two-thirds funded. There is still over $13,000 to be raised.

Because Skepticon is a free conference in the south-central U.S., it’s the only conference that many of the attendees can afford. But someone still has to pay for the whole thing. If the attendees can’t, funding Skepticon falls to those of us who think access to these events shouldn’t be limited to those who can pay hundreds of dollars. Are you one of those people?



If you need another reason to donate, keep reading. [Read more…]

He Said/She Said at #TAM2014

I was at the Minnesota Atheists and Humanists of Minnesota All-Star Conference all day yesterday, but I still had people asking me whether I was going to address the talk by Carol Tavris on rape allegations and rape culture that she gave at TAM on Friday night. The short answer is “Maybe”.

The problem is that I don’t have the talk. All I have is the tweets. They’re terrible, by and large, but most of them come from people who are already terrible on this topic. This was a talk given at a conference where the management has historically taken out extra liability insurance to deal with the risk posed by one of its keynote speakers. There’s a certain motivation for the attendees to pull out every dismissive, permissive, victim-blaming message possible from a talk on rape. The tribalism in the tweets is not subtle. I could give a talk on rape myths in front of that audience, and the Twitter feed would still be terrible.

So I’ll wait to see whether the talk is released to a general audience. If the point was to rally the troops, it may not be. And if it stays private, it can’t be used to bolster bad policy recommendations based on its credentials of having been delivered by a skeptic at a skeptic conference. If it does come out, then I’ll see what it actually says. I may write about some of the tweeted messages in the meantime, because they’re common enough to be worth addressing, but I won’t assume those were actually in Tavris’s talk itself.

So…maybe. We’ll see. In the meantime, here’s the tweeted account of the talk. [Read more…]

About This CONvergence Thing

I’m recovering from con crud (slept until four Tuesday afternoon and still got to bed reasonably early Wednesday night, as a measure of strain on my body). Since CONvergence has been with me a few days longer than expected, I might as well write a little bit about the experience. Goodness knows I’m not getting a lot else done.

CONvergence is a strange experience for me. As I said more than once over the course of the weekend, the con crosses all my streams. I would estimate that I know 3-5% of the attendees. When more than 6,300 people attend, this means I know an awful lot of the people there, and they come from all over my life.

In addition to the huge crew of volunteers that make SkepchickCon and the FtB party room work, there’s a large local contingent of atheist and skeptic geeks who find CONvergence friendlier to their interests since more skepticism and science programming has been added. I went to college with one of the founders of CONvergence and met more through the generation of Renaissance Festival workers that they and my husband are all part of. I’ve been attending cons in the region for well over a decade, meeting regular attendees. Many of CONvergence’s year-round volunteers also come from both of these groups.

Then there are the writers. At least four people I’ve been in writers groups with were at CONvergence. Two other writers groups where I know most of the members were well-represented, along with locals who aren’t in writers groups or whose groups are online. And because F&SF is a small field, these writers know all the other fiction writers there, from the guests of honor to all the writers who were guests once and keep coming back because CONvergence took good care of them and the spirit of thoughtful squee is appealing. They know the fan writers (a category that includes critics) too, because this isn’t so much a clique as an intellectual ecosystem, in which everyone creates and consumes and creates in a dialog with what they consume.

I don’t know quite all these writers, because I haven’t actively written fiction in a few years and because my own fan writing is not consistent or frequent enough to make me recognizable and because even in a four-day weekend there is only so much time to meet even very cool friends of friends, but I know a lot of them. I know so many of them that I can’t keep track of which of them are at CONvergence in any given year. We see each other serendipitously and often in passing, if at all.

This means CONvergence sees me pulled in lots of different directions, sometimes trying to manage an interruption to an interruption to an interruption, and sometimes finding myself with no dinner plans because everyone assumed I was busy elsewhere. It means spending a lot of time on the edges of social groups because I don’t have the time or attention to become central to them. It means sometimes being frustrated that I can’t spend the time I’d like with all the people at com whom I admire the hell out of.

It also means that spending a good chunk of time interacting with someone I’ve never met is a rarity. Sometimes it’s even a bit of an oddity. [Read more…]