June 2019

International Rescue Committee

Our May meeting featured Chef Noor and owner of Noor Al Sham restaurant and members of the International Rescue Committee (IRC) in Salt Lake City (more photos are available on our website.) The presentation focused on the IRC’s work with refugees in the area and highlighted the Spice Kitchen Incubator program, which helps international refugees with food backgrounds to come to Salt Lake City and to make a living off those skills, whether it be opening a restaurant, a food truck or catering. Successful programs all over the valley are up and running and support these entrepreneurial families in making their transition to America. Chef Noor afterwards treated us to on-site prepared Syrian baba ganouche and HoU provided a flavored fruit water bar. We had a great experience eating and empathizing with the refugee community by learning about the process and struggles they have had in trying to better their lives against tremendous odds and violence. You can order delicious international cuisine from a variety of countries and support the Spice Kitchen Incubator refugees at https://spicekitchenincubator.org

—Melanie Curtis
Vice President, HoU

Pride Celebration

June is LGBTQ+ Pride month and HOU participated in the Utah Pride parade (more photos are available on our website) as part of a secular alliance with our friends at Atheists of Utah and Sunday Assembly. There is indeed strength in numbers and the opportunity to band together to let over 100,000 people know that there exists in Utah a place for freethinkers, rationalists and do-gooders without God is invaluable. We had several people show up from our Facebook group and from the local HoU group to march in the parade, where we debuted our new Humanists of Utah t-shirts (purchase yours for only $20 at HoU meetings or at our Facebook group site). This cooperation reinforces the value of allies and community in promoting a philosophy and lifestyle that many people don’t understand yet by the word “humanism” and is a tradition that we plan to continue in the future.

—Melanie Curtis
Vice President, HoU

Chapter Direction

Humanists of Utah has had a very busy—yet exciting—last couple of months! This has been part of our 2019 goal for extending our reach in the community as well as offering a large variety of humanist subjects and interactions at our monthly meetups. We have worked to boost public awareness and appearances as well as grow our relationships with allies and other groups in the state and it is paying off. This mix has enabled us to interact with more people than ever before and meet potential HoU members as well as members of our Facebook group online. If you haven’t been to our monthly meetings in a while (or have never been to one), you will be surprised—come on out and socialize and learn with other humanists in northern Utah!

—Melanie Curtis
Vice President, HoU

Podcasts

Are you a fan of podcasts? I’m almost 100% podcasts on the daily commute these days. It’s so much more fun to listen to something specifically tailored to your interests (they’re also a great insomnia companion). Here are a few rock-solid favorites to check out.

Ologies by Alie Ward. Alie interviews experts in the ‘ologies’ fields – subjects like Teuthology, Phonology, Selenology, Malacology. It’s thoroughly fascinating and very well done! The main problem I have is wanting to start a hobby of almost everything I hear about—hiving my own bees, brewing beer, sponsoring a dinosaur dig.

This Podcast Will Kill You. Hosted by an ecologist and epidemiologist, they take on diseases and explain them from a historical side and biology side – how diseases ‘work’, how our bodies ‘work’, how cures are found/discovered/imagined. I must admit that the range from “oh, that’s so gross”, to “oh, that’s so cool” makes this a lot of fun to listen to.

Levar Burton Reads. Levar Burton reads short stories—mostly in the SciFi/Fantasy realm. From Ursula Le Guin to Haruki Murakami. It’s like snuggling down with a cozy blanket and warm mug of something. Many of the stories hold powers to stay banging around in your head for months to come.

—Lisa Miller

Solstice

This piece was originally published in the January 1996 edition of this newsletter. I consider it to be one of my better pieces and it is the month of the Summer Solstice.

Imagine our ancestors sometime between 30,000 and 200,000 years ago gazing at the sky considering the solstice. Then, as now, there must have been two basic approaches to nature: fear and wonder. Unfortunately, fear is the stronger emotion. Its legacies include myth, superstition, religion, and authoritarian governments and rulers.

Those who stood in wonder were able, through empirical observations, to explain the natural phenomenon of the solstice. The progeny of wonder are the arts, the sciences, and the humanities.

It is unlikely that most people approach the unknown exclusively with either fear or wonder. We all have a different mixture of these two basic emotions. Our challenge is to try to suppress the fears, and then experience and explain the wonders.

—Wayne Wilson

Stonehenge at Summer Solstice