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This winter, celebrate how humans conquered winter. A festival of science and song.
This winter, celebrate how humans conquered winter. A festival of science and song.
169 backers pledged $8,330 to help bring this project to life.

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Brighter Than Today: A Secular Solstice project video thumbnail
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$8,330

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Final Update -  The Months Ahead!

The project has been funded. We'll have further updates, in the months ahead, at Humanistculture.com. Sometime in the next week, additional ticket sales will be available from the website.

Meanwhile, if you're planning on coming, be sure to RSVP on the facebook event!

Update - Stretch Goal!

We've hit our primary goal! And with a lot of new traffic coming in, now's the time to aim for our stretch goal! If we can reach $10,000, then we can give the Solstice an awesome reception.

This isn't just to have a great party - it's giving people from various secular communities an opportunity to mingle and share ideas. And most importantly, it's a chance for many people who *don't* have a community to connect with others.

Celebrating can't just be about good music and stories - you need people to meet, care about one another and grow.

A Secular Solstice 

This winter, I'm holding a new kind of Solstice celebration. On December 14th, in New York City, hundreds of people will join their hands and their voices, singing songs and listening to stories about how humanity vanquished winter, and how much farther our species has to travel together.

And across the world, people in smaller groups will gather to celebrate in a more intimate fashion, creating a new, secular holiday tradition. 

I need your help to make it happen.

A Night of Lights. A Moment of Darkness

Three years ago, right around the winter solstice, twenty friends and I gathered in a living room. We ate some food, sang some songs, and lit some candles. We told stories about why the universe was the way it was and about what kind of people we wanted to be. 

We took the idea of winter, a time that had historically been one of fear and cold and darkness, and celebrated the human ingenuity that has transformed it into a period of warmth and light. 

Our celebration followed the arc of the Solstice itself - light, to dark, to light again. It began loud, bright, and boisterous - with fun, familiar songs and tongue-and-cheeks stories about a strange species of upright-walking apes, who believed some silly things and clumsily learned how to light their world.

The room was illuminated by light-sources that ranged from candles to modern lamps to lasers - our ability to light our world has grown more powerful (and more refined) over time. But as the evening went on, they were gradually extinguished. The songs became more poignant, sometimes sorrowful. 

We eventually extinguished all but a single candle and read a story, about a pale blue dot, and strange upright-walking apes who gradually sharpened their tools and their minds, and came to terms to the vast void surrounding them, and the vast potential within them.

Then we extinguished that last candle and sat for a moment in the darkness. 

The Creation of New Traditions 

That moment of darkness was just one of the traditions we created that night. Designing a holiday turns out be a challenging but rewarding art form, with several different pieces woven together. New songs and traditions need to be easy for others to participate in. They need to have a timeless quality about them, so even though they were written in the past couple years, they feels like something you've heard before. 

They also need to tie together, to produce a coherent narrative and emotional experience. A ritual is essentially interactive performance art and every piece of it needs to fit together. 

Though I'm an atheist, I believe in some important things. For years, I've been longing for a powerful, inspirational experience that makes me feel connected to my community and to humanity. That night I found something that gave me those connections. This year, I want to share that experience with as many people as possible.

Since my initial "Secular Solstice" the gatherings have grown and spread. The first gathering had twenty people, the next had fifty, with many people coming from out of state. Last year there was a separate group celebrating their own version of the event in Ohio. This year, we have people in Ohio, Boston, San Francisco, and Germany, preparing to celebrating their own smaller-scale versions. 

I created this kickstarter to elevate this celebration into a large scale performance. I’m taking the songs and stories I created for the first celebrations and adding all new original songs and stories. I want to share this with as many people as possible, so I need a space large enough to accommodate our growing holiday event. 

Building Something Grand (Updated)

We have a few different spaces reserved, and haven't made a final decision for the venue. But the venue we're most excited about is the Auditorium on Broadway, with the New York Institute of Technology:

The venue comes with a state of the art surround sound and projection system. It seats 260 people, and has a reception hall where people can mingle afterwards.

To guarantee we can run the event smoothly, we'd need to raise $7500. Having a professional venue will help make this into a mainstay of humanist culture for years to come. 

Stretch Goal: Reception

After the event, many of us will meet for drinks and dinner at a nearby restaurant, but if we are able to reach $8,500, we can create a proper reception after the event. It would be great to have everyone involved be able to connect with one another afterwards. An important step in creating a vibrant community is giving people the opportunity to process, network, and party. 

In past years, people have wanted time not just to party afterwards, but also to find some space to think quietly about the experience and talk in small groups. I want to give people a safe emotional space to continue celebrating, in whatever form they want, and bond with the people they just shared an experience with. 

My goal is not just to throw an awesome event, but to shape secular culture, and jump-start an artistic community. 

Winter is coming, but tomorrow can be brighter than today.

Risks and challenges

Creating a cultural holiday from scratch is hard work. There are both creative and logistical difficulties that may arise and we have included contingencies for those difficulties into our budget. We did have one venue fall through and needed to switch to another one. That process has gone smoothly. On the offchance it happens again, we'll be ready to tackle that as well.

I've gotten in touch with a couple other musicians to help song lead. If they were to get ill, or have other obligations come up at the last minute, we will be able to modify the program accordingly. No matter if there is a change in venue or performers, all that is truly necessary to run this event is me, a sound system and a projector to display song lyrics, and all of my fellow revelers.

Of course, if I got deathly sick the day before the event, that would be pretty bad, but rest assured, I'll be taking extra care to be safe and healthy in the weeks leading up to it!

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  1. Select this reward

    Pledge $5 or more About $5

    Five thousand years from now, a small child will possibly whisper your name and say "thank you." Or possibly not. But in the meantime you will know that you helped shape secular culture and that you're an awesome person.

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    Pledge $25 or more About $25

    Anyone who pledges at least $25 will get a ticket to the Winter Solstice celebration main event. If you can't attend yourself, you may specify another person to receive the ticket.

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    Pledge $25 or more About $25

    Music Album. Is New York a little too far to travel this year? Still want to help launch a new holiday and musical tradition? Choose this reward if you don't want a ticket but do want a copy of the music album.

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    Pledge $25 or more About $25

    Music album download. Can't make it to NY? Want to support us and hear the music but don't feel the need to have a physical CD? Choose this reward to get a downloadable album for the Solstice.

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  5. Select this reward

    Pledge $25 or more About $25

    Want to run your own Solstice? Want help doing so? If you've got a bunch of people in your area your area and would like to organize an event, we can arrange a skype call in November wherein I'll send you a lot of the resources I turned to, discuss the the needs of your own community, and offer suggestions on how to best tailor those resources to your group's needs.

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  6. Select this reward

    Pledge $50 or more About $50

    You're an amazing person! In addition to a ticket to the main event, you'll receive a cd afterwards with music from the event. Or, if you'd prefer, access to a downloadable version.

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    Pledge $50 or more About $50

    Bring a friend! You will receive two tickets to the event.

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  8. Select this reward

    Pledge $75 or more About $75

    Eat, drink and be merry! If we raise enough money for the reception stretch-goal, then anyone who pledged at least $75 is guaranteed a spot.

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  9. Select this reward

    Pledge $100 or more About $100

    You'll receive a paperback copy of the the Winter Solstice 2013 Hymnal - a collection of songs, stories and illustrations about human history, the challenges we face and the potential future yet to come.

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    Pledge $100 or more About $100

    Bring your family! You will receive a total of five tickets to the event.

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    Pledge $200 or more About $200

    You will receive a signed, hardcover copy of the Winter Solstice Hymnal.

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  12. Select this reward

    Pledge $1,000 or more About $1,000

    You've helped shape culture in a pretty big way, and I'm incredibly grateful.

    Shortly after Solstice, I'll meet with you (either via skype or in person), talk about things that are important to you. Then I'll write a song for you, and send you a recorded version.

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Funding period

- (28 days)