After working for the last couple months on this, it is official. The Foundation Beyond Belief will be holding its first annual conference in Chicago, July 18-20. The conference is called Humanism at Work and now has a website, a Facebook page and a Twitter feed. Please like or follow all three and we’d love to see you there. We’ve tried very hard to keep it as affordable as we can.
The conference will focus on putting compassionate humanism to work locally and globally and will feature TED-style presentations on philanthropy, volunteering, and community building, as well as practical workshops, panels, and hands-on volunteer opportunities. We’ll also be having a dinner to honor the winners of our annual Heart of Humanism awards.
We’ve got a great lineup of speakers, including FTB’s Greta Christina. I’m really looking forward to meeting and listening to two people in particular: Leo Igwe and Hemley Gonzalez. Leo is the brave humanist activist who has helped thousands of people, mostly women and children, accused of witchcraft in Nigeria, Uganda and Ghana. He’s actually going to be doing a series of talks around the Great Lakes area over the course of two weeks bracketing the conference, including Columbus, Ohio (at the SSA annual conference and a couple others), Indianapolis, Chicago, Grand Rapids and Detroit, Michigan. I would strongly urge anyone in those areas to come out and hear him speak.
Hemley Gonzalez has a remarkable story as well. He left his home in Florida to work at one of Mother Teresa’s facilities in Calcutta and was so appalled by what he saw there that he decided to start a secular humanist organization that would help the poor of that city in a truly compassionate and effective way.
Also speaking will be Serah Blain, who spent a month living on the streets in Phoenix to draw attention to homelessness; Alix Jules; Rebecca Vitsmun; all four of the Pathfinders, as they return home from a year working around the world on humanist projects; Caroline Fiennes, a British expert on effective philanthropy; and several others.