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Gather to sing and celebrate humanity, science and civilization: how we turned the longest night into a festival of light.
Gather to sing and celebrate humanity, science and civilization: how we turned the longest night into a festival of light.
164 backers pledged $8,157 to help bring this project to life.

About this project

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$8,157

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Update - We did it! With two days to spare we reached past our goal. We still have time for a final stretch goal:

If we reach $10,000, I'll be able to complete the most important of the online resources (a series of essays and video blogs about how to run your own Solstice), and skype extensively with organizers for the currently-in-production local Solstices (Seattle, Bay Area, Ottawa, Leipzig, and the potential ones in Boston and Los Angeles).

In particular, I'd also be able to travel to the SF Bay Area to personally help with their December 13th event. Last year the Bay put together their first Solstice on short notice with barely any collaboration with me. They got 80 attendees and a lot of great feedback. But it also became clear that there's a particular aesthetic and energy that I've honed over the years, that's hard to explain or teach over the internet, that could have pushed it even farther.

So each year, I'd like to run two Solstices if I can, one of them working with local organizers to showcase how the event can work at it's best. Then, in following years those organizers can take that aesthetic and energy and either run with it or use it as inspiration for something uniquely theirs.

This is also an opportunity to experiment. You can only learn so much running one event a year. By running two events firsthand, I'll be able to try different things at each one and give them somewhat different focuses.

Since the Bay has the second largest community of existing Secular Solstice Celebrators, it makes sense to give them that focus this year. Here's hoping I can work directly with you guys!

The Story So Far:

Last year, we kickstarted a new winter holiday. We had a huge festival in NYC that was featured in the New York Times and Huffington Post. Across the world, people gathered for intimate Solstice celebrations. They sang and told stories of how humanity has overcome darkness, through science and civilization.

This year, we're doing more. I want to coordinate at least 3 major events, and create more resources for people who want to run their own celebrations.

I want us to come together and create something beautiful. I want us to establish traditions that endure through the ages.

I need your help.

Base Goal: $7500 for the NYC event

The minimum financial goal this year is the same as last year: $7500 to run a Solstice event in New York City. I'll be personally overseeing this, working with other local secular organizations to make it happen. The event will be on December 20th, Solstice Eve. We'll be trying some new things - tables to sit around and food to nibble throughout the event. Cushions to sit on. I want people to feel like they've been welcomed into an intimate living room.

People will be invited to bring a memento of a hardship they faced - a loved one they lost or a trial they overcame, as well as a memento of hope for tomorrow. Together, we'll create a memorial and tribute to our past and future.

Plus, the songs that have grown to be traditional - both the music unique to the humanist perspective (Brighter Than Today, Uplift), and popular hits that ties in with our themes of darkness, knowledge and rebirth (Do You Realize, Here Comes the Sun). Plus some new surprises.

We'll have a moment outside, looking up at the winter sky - a guided meditation through a cosmic perspective, from our small blue marble to the outermost reaches of the universe.

Stretch Goal: $15000 to build a movement

In years past, I've focused on running one large, polished Solstice event. Many of the people who've come have then been inspired to run their own local events - bringing fresh perspectives while sticking to the core themes of science, civilization and the journey through the darkness.

But running a Solstice is a complicated feat - not only are there are lot of logistical tasks, but finding a vision for the event that feels right can be a difficult skill. I've learned a lot in the past four years about how to do this.

Organizations in Boston, San Francisco and LA have also expressed interest in putting together a big event. Each large Solstice will require local people working to pull it off. But there's no way around it - coordinating all of this will be a full time job. I want to work personally with each group running an event, both to help things go smoothly, and to ensure that each one gives people a sense of transcendent connection. 

If we raise $15,000, I'll be able to:

  • Personally oversee two Solstice events - one in the Bay Area on December 6th, and one in NYC on December 20th.
  • Skype with people running their own event who'd like advice
  • Put together singalong videos, for groups that don't have a lot of musical talent but want to enjoy singing.

Regardless, we'll have the existing resources: Music and lyrics and humanistculture.bandcamp.com, additional resources at humanistculture.com, and the Solstice Eve Book of Traditions (The PDF and hardcopy available as kickstarter rewards).

Rewards UPDATE:

We've decided to upgrade the Book of Traditions package. If you get the $100 book reward, you'll also receive the music download. And, of course, a ticket to the NYC event (or any other large events that charge an entry fee to cover their venue costs)

Purchasing the book also will guarantee at least one skype call with me, if you'd like help setting up your own Solstice event (even if we don't hit the $15,000 stretch goal. If we do hit the goal I'll have enough time to work with more people in more detail, whether they've purchased the book)

Brighter Than Today has already taken root as a genuine holiday, becoming a cornerstone to the communities it's been introduced to. But it has the potential to become a global phenomenon, changing culture, making rationalists, humanists and atheists feel connected to each other, to the world, and to the future of humanity.

To do all this, it needs your help. It needs the funding to run inspiring events that act as a lightning rod for the public imagination. And it needs individuals take on the challenge of introducing a new tradition to their community, and putting in the logistical effort to make that happen. 

This is only just the beginning. Atheists need more than one holiday. We need a thriving musical, artistic movement that makes us feel proud of our culture, that can keep exploring new music and ritual for the modern era. Brighter Than Today is the proof of concept that this is possible. If it succeeds, I hope the people who bring it to their communities can later work together on other, more ambitious projects.

Risks and challenges

The two most obvious challenges are the same as last year - venues can fall through and then it's a scramble to find a new one. This happened last year, and I resolved it. I'm confident in my ability to do so again if need be. I'm also taking more precautions to make sure every t is crossed and i dotted with the venues I settle on.

If I get sick the week of the event, I wouldn't be able to run it. Like last year, I'll be making sure to be safe and constantly wash my hands in the days leading up to it.

Last year, I didn't account for how long it'd take to put together some of my rewards. This year, I have those rewards already created and can ship them as soon as the kickstarter is over.

The most risky thing this year is the plan to coordinate several large events that I don't have direct control over. I can help each local Solstice to run smoothly and work one-on-one with people, offering advice on how to make them beautiful. But when all is said and done I can't guarantee that any given event will go as planned.

Among the most important advice I'll be giving people is how to make sure that, at the very least, there's a minimal viable product. Even if professional musicians or large venues fall through, it's possible to come together in a Charlie Brown Christmas fashion, and create something simple and elegant.

I can promise to do my best, to ensure that anyone who wants it has access to Solstice cheer.

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  1. Select this reward

    Pledge $5 or more About $5

    A thousand stars might possibly twinkle with appreciation of the people who may one day live there because of the culture you help create.

    (Probably not, because stars are not sentient and don't care about you. But, just maybe)

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    Pledge $15 or more About $15

    Solstice Eve: A Book of Secular Traditions PDF. A beautiful (if intangible) tome, 125 pages of stories, songs and instructions for conducting your own intimate Solstice gathering.

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    Pledge $25 or more About $25

    Music album download. Get a copy of the best music from the 2014 Solstice celebrations, as well as a free download of the 2013 album.

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    Pledge $25 or more About $25

    Attend the New York Solstice on December 20th. Be at the center of the action, where it all started!

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    Pledge $50 or more About $50

    Bring a friend! Come with a loved one to a large Solstice event, in NYC or elsewhere.

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    Pledge $100 or more About $100

    Physical copy of Solstice Eve: A Book of Secular Traditions. One hundred and twenty five hefty, colorful pages of Solstice ritual joy. You are also welcome to attend any large Solstice event.

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    Pledge $100 or more About $100

    Bring your family! Five tickets to any large Solstice event. (If you don't need all five tickets, you may donate the spare ones to people who could not otherwise afford one)

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    Pledge $500 or more About $500

    An epic banner! The NYC Solstice will have a tall, vertical banner promoting the event (roughly 6 feet high). Take it home with you!

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    Pledge $500 or more About $500

    I look forward to meeting you in person (or at least skyping), and then writing you a poem, lyrics for a song, an essay or short story on a topic you choose.

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    Pledge $2,500 or more About $2,500

    Wow! The night after the next supernova occurs during my lifetime, I will gather my closest friends under the night sky and whisper your name, growing louder and louder until our voices grow hoarse. Meanwhile, I look forward to meeting you, having a lengthy conversation and working with you to do any of the following - create a personal ceremony for you, write you a song (I'll record a demo with instrumentation for you), or... well, anything else you can think of that would make good use of my artistic skills.

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Funding period

- (25 days)