Question from the audience: I asked myself driving here today, why am I going to this meeting? I've been a Humanist probably for 10 years, and my concern is, no one knows about this organization. If this article hadn't appeared in the Columbus Dispatch on Friday--and I had another appointment this afternoon, but I gave that up to come here, because I'm really concerned about this organization from the standpoint, nobody knows about it! Now, we've got a fallout from churches that is enormous. We don't realize how many people don't go every Sunday, because it's not measured. I've measured it in my community, and I know about where that is (but I've been in marketing all my life, and I can do some of those things.)
Now, how do we get the word out. Well, why in the world, if this organization has been in business now for years, in the Faith and Values section of the Columbus Dispatch, where your article was--why don't we have every week have a column in there? Why isn't somebody contributing on the local level? Because, unless you do that, this national level is all beautiful and everything--fight the big fight--but that's not where your effectiveness of this organization is going to be. It's local politics that's important, and it always has been. This is an organization that has tremendous merit, and there's a lot of opportunity out there for recruitment.
Amy Birtcher, President of the Humanist Community of Central Ohio: I appreciate your comment about not knowing about our group. That's one of the reasons we were so excited to have Mr. Lipman come this summer, so that we could sort of "use him" if you will (laughter) as a way of promoting our group as well. We have been in the community, we've been a chapter of AHA since 1979, and we do advertise monthly. All of our meetings, which are public, are advertised in all of the local newspapers, in the datebook columns, on the lists of calendar events and so forth. We also have members who actively write to the newspaper, and list the Humanist Community of Central Ohio as their affiliation.
One of the things that I would urge some of you to do, since you mentioned the lack of publicity or lack of knowledge about us, is to contact Mark Fisher. Mark Fisher (mfisher at dispatch.com) is the editor of the Faith and Values section of the Columbus Dispatch. And I have made myself known to him on a couple of different occasions, I've given him my contact information, I've expressed to him a desire to have a voice in the Faith and Values section of the newspaper, and he's not been very responsive to that so far. If members of the community would contact him, or contact other editors or writers of in religious section, and ask for information about Humanism, and ask for there to be more focus on this aspect of our community, maybe they would be more responsive.
Melvin Lipman: Just to add to what Amy said about getting in the papers, it's difficult. A lot of papers just don't want to give us room. And that's the reason I'm traveling 30 to 40 weekends a year to different locations, because, for some resaon, when a national figure comes in, they feel, maybe we'll get the publicity. And once you get in, it's easier to continue to get in to the papers.
Amy Birthcher: Can I make one more statement real quick? We had a press conference yesterday for Mr. Lipman, and I sent out about 29 press packets. I contacted 21 newspapers in the greater metropolitan area, I contacted the four major T.V. stations, four radio stations, and invited them to come to this press conference. No one came. (Wow.)
Melvin Lipman: I was telling Amy that the record that we've had on press conferences around the country is two. The average is about 1/4.