How to Feed the World Without Destroying It November 2013

Volume 27 Issue 11
November 2013
Humanists of Minnesota Chapter Meeting
2 President’s Column
How to Feed the World Without Destroying It
3 Announcements
Discussion Groups
by Emily Cassidy
University of Minnesota
Come out and see the
Fostering Sexual Wellbeing
Oct Chapter Meeting
‘Adrift on a Star’
10:00 a.m.– Noon
Nov 16, 2013
Chapter Meeting
Saturday, November 16th
Global demand for crops and land are increasing rapidly with
changing diets and rising incomes around the world. How can
we improve our ability to balance human needs with environmental stewardship and promote secure landscapes across the
globe? At this month’s chapter meeting Emily Cassidy, research
assistant in the Global Landscapes Initiative Lab at the University
of Minnesota, will illustrate several strategies to feeding a growing global population without destroying the environment. Focusing on her own research, Emily will talk about these various strategies that
investigate the inefficiencies in the way we currently use croplands. She will
also discuss the environmental impact of various diet preferences and review
some of the latest research on food sourcing for more informed consumer decision-making. Although global environmental issues may be daunting, Emily
will show how small changes in our diets can have significant impacts on reducing our environmental footprint.
Emily Cassidy is an environmental scientist, defending her master’s in natural resources science on November 18th –just a few days after our meeting.
(ChapterMeeting, Continued on page 7)
Field Community School
4645 4th Ave S.
A better life for all through
education, democracy, free
speech, reason, and science,
without reliance on arbitrary
dogmas, revelations, and
Chapter meeting location: Here is
a map to the Field Community
School, 4645 4th Ave S,
Minneapolis. Easiest access is off
of 35W at the 46th Street exit,
then east to 4th.
Note: Doors do not open until
10:00 a.m.!
Humanist News & Views
affording coverage. The host naturally asked what
Humanism is, to which I was able to explain that it is
a philosophy of how humans figure out how to get
along with each other once we stop believing in a
supernatural being. She also asked questions about
how Humanists approach other aspects of society to
which I answered by explaining how Humanism uses
a rational process and that Humanists have a broad
approach to politics as well as other subjects.
It was refreshing to talk to a host who had
checked some basics, was able to articulate our basic principles, and was also not treating those of us
who are non-religious as something odd or weird. I
was able to get out more information about some of
our programs, our cable TV program and the resources on our website. All in all it was a good interview. It can be found under the podcasts for Steele's
program for October 20, 2013.
The board is working on increasing our exposure
to the community. Our change in our monthly meeting location is an important part of this effort. We've
also made the important step of adding the option for
childcare at these meetings. This will increase the
number of people that we can reach and get an audience we've not been able serve before.
It is an exciting time for our group as we grow
and attract new people to Humanism. ◙
Humanists are getting noticed. I'm not sure if it is the
rise of the "nones", or news radio looking to expand
their audience; however I was invited to be a guest
"expert" on the "Jearlyn Steele" show for WCCO radio on Sunday eve, October 20th. The appearance
was part of a series on perspectives on health care.
Jearlyn asked about the Humanist point of view on
the changes occurring in health care coverage due to
the Affordable Care Act. I also happen to work in the
health insurance industry so I am fairly well informed
about what is going on. I was asked about the Humanist perspective on health care to which I answered that Humanists can be diverse in our approach, but support affordable health care for all, as
well as special support for those who have trouble
Humanists of Minnesota
President Scott Lohman: (612) 521-4766, [email protected]
Vice President Kevin Eich: (651) 484-1531, [email protected]
Treasurer Brad Bolin: (612) 600-7352, [email protected]
Secretary Juliet Branca: (651) 319-2753, [email protected]
Members of the board of directors Suellen Carroll: (651)485-4671, [email protected]
Joseph Fieber: (651) 414-9462, [email protected]
Dale Handeen: (612) 221-8594, [email protected]
Audrey Kingstrom: (952) 924-1039, [email protected]
Nancy Ruhland: (651) 646-5512, [email protected]
Mark Thoson: (612) 226-9132, [email protected]
Community Co-ordinator Audrey Kingstrom
Member Support Team Lead Linda Zinter
Group Photographer Richard Trombley
Historian Paul Heffron
Cable Program Staff Scott Lohman, Nathan Curland, Brad Bolin,
Grant Lohman
Humanists of Minnesota is a nonprofit educational corporation and has been granted a 501(c)(3) tax exemption as an educational,
scientific and charitable organization. Donations to Humanists of Minnesota are tax deductible. HofM is a chapter of the American
Humanist Association (AHA) and an affiliate of the Alliance of Secular Humanist Societies of the Council for Secular Humanism
(CSH). Address inquiries to the Humanists of Minnesota, P.O. Box 582997, Minneapolis, MN 55458-2997.
E-mail us at [email protected] or visit our web site:
Humanist News & Views
Fall Highway
Sundays 10:30 a.m-Noon, Blasphemers’ Brunch, Qcumbers, 7465 France Avenue South, Edina, MN 55435
Sundays 6:00-7:00 p.m & Wednesdays 7:00-8:00 p.m.,
Atheist/Agnostic Alcoholics Anonymous. Men’s Center,
3249 Hennepin Ave So, Suite #55, Minneapolis. Basement of Men’s Center. Open to all genders. For more info
contact: [email protected]
1st Sunday, 9:00 a.m.-noon, Lake Superior Freethinkers
monthly meeting. Radisson Hotel Duluth, Viking Room.
For information contact Bill van Druten, (218) 724-4176.
1st Sunday, 10:00 a.m., Central Minnesota Freethinkers,
St. Cloud Coffee Social. Check their website for details:
co n t a ct
t h em
[email protected]
Mondays, 5:00-6:30 p.m., Atheists for Human Rights
Happy Hour, Ol’ Mexico Restaurant, 1754 Lexington Ave.,
Roseville (just north of Larpenteur). Tables on terrace
level. Call Paul Craven, (763) 788-8918.
1st and 3rd Mondays, 6:00 p.m., Freethought
Toastmasters Club, Larpenteur Estates Party Room, 1276
Larpenteur Ave. W., St. Paul. Contact George Kane,
[email protected] or (651) 488-8225.
2nd & 4th Mondays, 5:00-7:00 p.m., Freethought Dinner
Social, Davanni’s, 8605 Lyndale Ave So, Bloomington.
Call Bob/Marilyn Nienkerk, (612) 866-6200.
1st Tuesday, 11:30 a.m.—1:00p.m., Freethought Lunch,
Old Country Buffet, County Road B2 between Fairview
and Snelling. Call Bob/Marilyn Nienkerk, (612) 866-6200.
3rd Wednesday, 11:30 a.m., Freethought Lunch, Dragon
House, 3950 Central Avenue NE, Columbia Heights. Call
Bill Volna, (612) 781-1420.
2nd Thursday, evening, Rochester Area Freethinkers
(RAFT), Downtown Rochester Public Library, Meeting
Room A. Contact Bill Kass, [email protected] or (507)
Despite the threat of rain, 9 humanists showed up on
the morning of October 5th to remove trash from our
section of HWY 35W in Lino Lakes. The rain held off
until the task was completed (thank Zeus!) and
someone even found $2.25!
Great job, guys!
(l to r.) Richard Trombley, Scott Lohman, Nancy Somers, Brad Bolin, Juliet Branca, Michelle Losey,
Jerry Smith and Jordan Parshall (Not shown and taking the picture: Mark Thoson)
Maple Grove Discussion Group
2nd Wednesday, 7:00 p.m., Humanists of Minnesota
Board of Directors meeting. Open to all members. Contact
Scott Lohman at [email protected]
Thursdays, 7:00 p.m. (during school year), Campus
Atheists, Skeptics and Humanists (CASH) general meeting. 3rd floor Coffman Memorial Union, 300 Washington
Ave. SE, Minneapolis. Contact [email protected]
Saturday, October 5th, 10:00 a.m. to 11:45 a.m.: “MNSure:
The New Health Insurance Exchange,” with Mario Vargas,
Outreach Analyst, Minnesota Department of Human Services. Maple Grove Community Center, 12951 Weaver Lake
Rd, Maple Grove 55311, $5 donation. Register at [email protected] or call Laurie at (763) 420-6350.
Check out our Meetup events at
“Humanist Views,” our weekly Cable
program, airs at 6:30 p.m. Mondays
on MTN Channel 75.
Humanist News & Views
Save the Date!
Come out and see the stars!
Sunday evening, December 22nd at the Ramada Plaza Minneapolis,
Humanists of Minnesota
Winter Solstice Banquet 2013
Celebrate the natural universe and the art of human song
Delicious food, good friends and exciting entertainment
Our program for the evening will include music by the renowned vocalist Prudence Johnson,
who will perform from her remarkable 10 album repertoire. She will share her amazing talent,
fine tuned by 25 years experience from honky-tonks to Carnegie Hall. Her music encompasses
lullabies to Gershwin, Hoagy Carmichael to the poetry of Edna St. Vincent Millay. We’re proud
to bring her to you.
Also, Sally Brummel, the Planetarium Education and Outreach Coordinator at the Bell Museum of Natural History, will present a visual exploration entitled, “Winter and the Cosmos”
including images that will “explore astronomically what the Solstice means in terms of the
Earth-Sun relationship, and take a look at Earth's place in the cosmos by traveling virtually to
the edge of the known universe.” This presentation promises to thrill all who love the night sky.
The evening is also a fundraiser for the Bridge for Youth.
Join us as we celebrate the longest night of the year.
We’d love to see you there!
Pre-registration is required, See attached flyer for more information and to register!
Humanist News & Views
New HofMn Young Adults Series:
Humanists of Minnesota
Sponsors Emergency
Foodshelf Network Fundraiser
“Fostering Sexual Well-Being”
Has its Inaugural Meeting
by Jill Carlson
Fall is the time for the annual Humanists of Minnesota Food Shelf Drive. This year we have again chosen the Emergency Foodshelf Network (EFN) of New
Hope as our recipient. It has no religious affiliation
and has been serving those in need for over three
decades throughout Minnesota. It was formed in
1976 when 12 food shelves banded together to create the Hennepin County Emergency Food Shelves.
Last year EFN provided nearly $9.5 million worth of
food and services to people and families in need
through its network of over 200 food shelves, hot
meal programs and community partners. In addition,
through its Lost Harvest program, hundreds of thousands of pounds of fresh food is rescued that would
normally go into landfills. (Visit for more information.)
Soon you will receive your donation reminder envelope. Please be generous and let’s beat last year’s
$1600 total!
(If you don’t receive an envelope you can still donate. Send your check to Humanists of MN, PO Box
582997, Minneapolis, MN 55458-2997. Make a note
on your check that this is for EFN network.)
Thanks for your support! ◙
On the last Saturday of September, Minnesota Valley Unitarian Universalist Fellowship (MVUUF)
hosted its first night for young adults (ages 21-40) to
discuss contemporary sexuality issues. A collaboration with Humanists of Minnesota (HofMn), the event
attracted about 40 people with a fairly even split of
guests from the two participating organizations. The
initial session of this monthly year-long series was
focused on the topic of polyamory and humanist values. Guest panelists from the non-profit advocacy
group, MNPoly, started the talk with an introduction
about their family and living arrangements. They defined polyamorous relationships as romantic partnerships that involve more than two people. The guests
were clear that polyamorous relationships are different from couples who participate in infidelity because
everyone involved agrees to everyone else's involvement in each relationship. Interestingly, much of the
discussion did not focus on sexual behavior; rather
the conversation was about how to navigate solid
relationships and foster good communication. The
audience learned that polyamory is not “free love”.
The core message was that polyamory is about
building relationships, not just about sex.
Why is this monthly series only open to only 21-40
year olds? The primary reason these sessions are
limited to younger adults is because a grant was obtained from the Unitarian Universalist Association to
increase participation of young adults in the Minnesota UU community. The grant pays for childcare
and dinner. MVUUF is a church that has about a
dozen committed young adults wanting programming. The collaboration with HofMN developed to
provide programming for younger adults that would
be of interest to both groups and to leverage resources designed to keep attendance viable.
What’s on the agenda for future meetings? Topics
include “Sexuality throughout the Lifespan (a conversation with older adults)”, Gender Reassignment
Surgery” and “Sex Toys with Smitten Kitten”.
Thank you for your support. ◙
Upcoming Critical Thinking Club Meetings
St. Paul Chapter. Sunday, November 3rd, 10:00 a.m. to
noon: “Confessions of a Liberal,” by Kevin Hawkins. Kelly
Inn, Hwy. I-94, St. Paul. Breakfast $11, lecture and coffee
only $3. RSVP [email protected]
West Metro Chapter. Saturday, November 23rd, 10:00 a.m.
to noon: “Invisible Children,” by Mike Tikkanen. Ridge
Point Apts. Meeting Room, 12800 Marion Lane W., Minnetonka.
Stillwater Chapter. Monday, November 11th, 7:00 p.m.:
“Ethics for Spies: What Americans Need to Know,” Michael
Andregg. Family Means Bldg., 1875 Northwestern Ave,
For additional information, visit:
Humanist News & Views
October Chapter Meeting
“Broken Justice: Moving
Beyond Punishment”
Summarized by Nathan Curland
On Saturday October 19th, 45
humanists, freethinkers and
friends turned out to hear Sarah
Walker, founder of the Minnesota Second Chance Coalition
(MSCC), talk to us about the
issues with our criminal justice
system (both nationally and
here in Minnesota) and what
her organization, and others,
are trying to do about it.
Ms. Walker started by telling
us something about herself, specifically, that she is
an atheist and was very pleased to be addressing us.
She originally comes from Zambia and is of mixed
race (her father was black). These factors plus having direct observation in her childhood of the disproportionate effect our incarceration system was having on minority populations, instilled a belief in her to
work toward mitigating suffering.
Walker noted that we would all agree that slavery
is something to be despised, but if one reviews the
historical definition of slavery we find a system which
‘alienates the individual from society; subjects the
individual to violence; and, in general, dishonors the
individual.’ But the same definition can be used to
describe treatment given to our prison population in
this country. She saw that this was essentially an invisible problem in our society and, in 2008, decided
to do something about it by forming the Second
Chance Coalition.
During her talk, Walker saturated us with numerous
statistics that she had at her fingertips (such as the
fact that the US has 8 times the incarceration rate of
the average of the rest of the world) which greatly
enhanced our appreciation of the problems inherent
in the system. She noted that our criminal justice
system has become more punitive in the last 30
years despite the decrease in the number of crimes
committed (a factor 278x increase in incarcerations
since 1982.) Furthermore, the high incarceration rate
has a huge impact not just on the individuals incarcerated but on families (more than 2 million children
in Minnesota have a parent in prison) and the community (especially African-American communities.)
Pictures by Richard Trombley
Walker stated that the criminal justice system has
become the ‘default’ system for dealing with social
issues and that this has led to a large disparity of minorities being in the system. Despite public perception, the vast majority of the prison population is nonviolent. Furthermore, victims of murder are much
more likely to be either black-on-black males or females than any other demographic. On a positive
tone, she noted that fixing these problems is a bipartisan issue and she has found support from both
Democratic and Republican legislators. Besides
‘fairness’, cost is a driving issue: In Minnesota it
costs $36K/year to incarcerate an adult; $75K/year
for a juvenile.
The MSCC has a number of goals:
Maximizing the ability for ‘reformed citizens’ to
return to society. This is made difficult by the
fact that in our current digital age, criminal
records follow people for the rest of their
lives. Even juvenile records can be used to
bar hiring many decades after the youthful
mistake was made. Walker noted that an
‘Expungement’ taskforce will be meeting this
year to address this issue.
Assure that juvenile offenders can become successful adults. For example, currently 16-17
year olds who engage in consensual sex can
be charged with a felony and labeled ‘sex offenders’ for the rest of their lives.
Limit the adverse impact of the criminal justice
system on children and families.
Walker ended by listing a number of accomplishments of the MSCC in Minnesota. “Ban the Box” initiatives have removed the question of criminal record
(Recap, Continued on page 7)
Humanist News & Views
CD Review:
(ChapterMeeting, Continued from page 1)
She is a graduate research assistant at the University of Minnesota’s Institute on the Environment. Her
research focuses on the environmental impact of
global food production. Her master’s thesis got media attention from NBC News, Scientific American,
Science Daily, MPR, and others. It was also chosen
as one of Environmental Research Letters’
‘Research Highlights’.
Note: Childcare for our chapter meeting is available
from 10am-noon. Please RSVP on our Meetup site.
Also, everyone is invited to our community luncheon
which will follow the meeting. Watch for details, also
on our Meetup site. ◙
‘Adrift on a Star’
by Dan Barker, FFRF 2012
Reviewed by Paul Heffron
This album, Adrift on a Star: Irreverent Songs by Dan
Barker and Friends Shelley Segal, Joe Taylor, Susan
Hofer, is a major achievement in popular music. Unfortunately, this CD will probably not receive the acclaim it deserves in contemporary music because of
its classification: Freethought Music. Dan’s previous
CDs (Friendly Neighborhood Atheist and Beware of
Dogma (available at were in a similar vein
with many creative and provocative songs by him but
with much collaboration with other musicians, vocalists, and composers. The current album is a culmination of that trend, reaching a new height of excellence and an even broader range of freethought musical expression.
In this CD of 17 selections, Dan Barker is joined by
two bands and jazz singer Susan Hofer. There are
recordings by the Australian singer-composerguitarist Shelley Segal, who has been performing at
national humanist/atheist conventions, and by Joe
Taylor, a former Christian musician. There is a new
Broadway quality song by Dan with Charles Strouse,
the Broadway composer of Annie and Bye, Bye
Birdie. “Adrift on a Star” and “One Sweet Morning”
offer lyrics and poetry by Yip Harburg (of “Over the
Rainbow” fame) as well as a profound poem, “In a
Dark Time”, by Philip Appleman, all set to music and
sung by Dan.
If I had to single out my top choice, it would be the
last number on the CD, “It’s Only Natural,” which
comes before the three bonus tracks. Dan took up
Richard Dawkins’ challenge to combine science and
art, to do a love song using the language of biology
and evolution. The result was what I think should be
regarded as another great standard of American
popular music. I have played and sung this for musician friends and asked if they could identify it. They
naturally assumed it was by one of the well known
American composers of the standards and wondered
how they missed this one. This ballad, with its sophisticated chord structure, melody, and lyric, is the
type that jazz pianists and vocalists love to render
and improvise on. Susan Hofer and the combo further demonstrate this in their version of the song on
a bonus track. Watch for the punch line from Darwin
toward the end of the song. It will bring a smile to
your face. ◙
(Recap, Continued from page 6)
from initial job screening applications. The “Safe Hiring” law protects employers from lawsuits if they hire
ex-cons. “Juvenile Records Reform” seals juvenile
records for lower level crimes. Here is a list of websites and resources for more information:;;;
criminal records info: 612 353-3024 (or go to the
Second Chance website.)
Following the presentation (and extended Q & A
session) about 25 folks stayed for an excellent gourmet lunch, from the Blackbird Restaurant, organized
by Mark Thoson. ◙
Editor, Nathan Curland
Editorial Committee - Brad Bolin, Dale Handeen, Mark
Articles, letters, event notices and other writings are welcome. Send to: [email protected] with the word
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Humanist News & Views (ISSN 1054-9633) is published
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Opinions expressed in this newsletter are not necessarily
those of this organization or the AHA or CSH.
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publication of the Humanists of Minnesota.” Reproduction
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Please Don’t Delay
November 2013
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