June 2009

Urban Pioneers

At its May 14 meeting the Humanists of Utah were treated to a show by the “Urban Pioneers”–an informal name loosely applied to a group of about 30 Utah singers and musicians who participated in the Urban Folk Music Revival of the 1960s in Utah, reunited over the past five years as part of an extended oral history project conducted by Humanists of Utah member Polly Stewart.

An article about two early Urban Pioneers, Bruce “Utah” Phillips (1935-2008) and Rosalie Sorrels, appeared in the Summer 2006 issue of the Utah Historical Quarterly. A full-scale Urban Pioneers concert was held in Salt Lake City’s Highland High School auditorium in January 2007. Urban Pioneers Polly Stewart and Heather Dorrell (a former president of Humanists of Utah) also gave a concert of folk songs for the March 2008 Humanists of Utah meeting.

The May 2009 Humanists of Utah concert of Urban Pioneers, attended by about 50 humanists and other Utahns, was presented in partial fulfillment of an oral-history grant jointly provided by the Utah Humanities Council and Utah State History. Under the grant, a professional was hired in August 2008 to devote approximately 120 hours toward transcribing taped oral history interviews conducted between November 2004 and August 2007 by Polly and her associate, Jennifer Bott Bateman. The transcription work of this grant accounted for approximately half of the interviews and other audio documentation connected with the project. At the May 14 show, eight of the original Urban Pioneers were present; Jennifer played selections from their interviews to help give a sense of the oral history of the 1960s Urban Folk Revival in Utah, and the playing of the clips was followed by actual performances by the musicians and singers. Performing were Urban Pioneers Hal Cannon, Chris Montague, and Tom Carter (who played in the 1960s in an old-time string-band called Uncle Lumpy); Heather Dorrell and Peter Netka performing in a duo for the evening; Steve Barnes and Tom Drury, who in the early 1960s played in several commercial folk music groups; and Polly Stewart, who performed with the instrumental and vocal backing of the full ensemble.

Polly, who emceed the concert, expressed gratitude to the Utah Humanities Council and Utah State History for its valued contribution to the completion of the project, and also thanked Cultural Conservation Corps (or CCC), a Utah nonprofit formed to promote the arts in all fields and to help present “research come to life,” for supporting the grant application and also for administering the grant. The grant period ends August 1, 2009, by which time the full grant will have been expended. About a quarter of the grant is devoted to photocopying and other expenses related to preparation of the Urban Pioneers Oral History Project in three identical research troves (containing interview CDs, transcriptions, concert CDs, a DVD of the January 2007 concert, CDs of historic photographs and ephemera) to be donated to three Utah public facilities: Utah State History, the Folk Arts Program of the Utah Arts Council (both in Salt Lake City), and the Special Collections Division of the library at Weber State University, Ogden. Polly said she hopes the Urban Pioneers Oral History Project will be completed by the end of 2009.

–Polly Stewart

Carl Sagan

Historic Humanist Series

November 9, 1934 ~ December 20, 1996

Carl Sagan was a man of many talents. Many thought that his greatest contribution to humankind was his work with the Voyager series space craft. As one of the pioneers of the US space exploration effort his influence, insights, and inspirational leadership are indeed to leave a legacy where subsequent generations will revere him as great.

Carl Sagan

However, to most of us I think that his unique ability to describe complex scientific concepts to anyone will be what we remember most. His PBS series Cosmos had, and continues to have, a profound influence on everyone who watches. How many scientists of his fame choose to publish in Parade Magazine?

His easy going manner, lilting voice and pleasant smile captured the hearts and minds of millions. He is truly missed.

Here are some “Sagan” links on this site for your perusal.

There are numerous other mentions of Sagan and quotations on our site. Just search for Carl Sagan on this web page!

–Wayne Wilson

Secular Seasons

Member Recommended Websites

Want to know what is going on this month for secular groups? Next month? What you missed last month?

Check out Secular Seasons, a well designed website with info of interest to freethinkers everywhere.

Thanks to Bob Mayhew for suggesting this site.

Secular Seasons