CNYHA Billboard: Don't Believe in God? You're Not Alone!

Did you see the article about the CNYHA on on Friday? Or hear our president, Corrina Allen, interviewed on WSYR over the weekend? All this attention is coming our way after we announced our billboard, which went up on Monday!

The goal of the billboard is not to convince anyone to be an atheist. The goal is simply to let those who are interested in humanism or atheism know that there are others out there who don't believe, and that there is a community out here for them if they want one.

The billboard is visible from 690, and will be up until September 4. We hope that it will be seen by a large number of people from all over the region, particularly during the State Fair.

The impetus for this project came when the Freethinkers of Upstate New York (FUNY), a group of non-believers who had been active in the area for many years, disbanded. They had been collecting money at their monthly meetings for a billboard for a long time. They passed their Billboard Fund on to our group when they closed down. We then received a grant for promotion from the American Humanist Association, of which we are a chapter. It was enough, when added to the FUNY money, to pay for a billboard for a month! We are really excited to finally see a non-believer's billboard in Central New York, and we hope it will help people who are looking, to find a community of like-minded folks.

And we wanted to give a big shout-out to Lamar Advertising! They were great to work with, and we think the sign looks awesome. Thanks! 

We would love to see you at an upcoming event, and if you'd like to become a supporting member or donate to continue the work of the CNY Humanists, just click here:

Thank you!

We would love to see you at an upcoming event, and if you'd like to become a supporting member or donate to continue the work of the CNY Humanists, just click here:



Earth Day Park Cleanup 2016

We had a great turnout for our second annual Earth Day Park Cleanup with the Secular & Social Families group. Twenty-nine of us raked, pruned, hauled, tidied, played, climbed, swung, ate donuts and breakfast pizza, and drank coffee and juice. It was a satisfying 2 hours of work, and the park looked great when we were done. The little league team that practices there thanked us, and so did the man from City of Syracuse who brought us all our tools. We're looking forward to doing it again next year!

Let's take CNY to the Reason Rally 2016!

Are you familiar with the Reason Rally? The first one was in 2012, and it looks like it was a great time! Great speakers, and lots of friendly, happy folks having a big party down in DC. (YouTube is a great place to find videos of the speakers from 2012.)

A second Reason Rally is coming up in a couple of months, on June 4, 2016! From the Reason Rally Website:

Speak Up for Reason!


If you know that you can be a good person without believing in a god …

If you think public policy should be based on scientific evidence, not religious beliefs …

If you support the separation of church and state …

… then join us for the biggest gathering of nonreligious people in history!

The event is free, and we want to encourage lots of people from Central New York to go. It should be really fun and empowering, while also letting lawmakers and politicians know that non-believers are out here, and they can't afford to ignore us!

If you are coming from the Syracuse area, and feel overwhelmed by the idea of driving all that way, stopping for potty breaks, looking for parking, or finding a hotel, check out the Rally Bus!  Go to and use the drop-down menus to find Syracuse, NY. A bunch of people are getting a group together to get a bus from Syracuse to DC and back the day of the event. It leaves at about 1 am on Saturday, drops everyone off at the Lincoln Memorial at 9 am, then picks everyone back up at 7 pm, getting us back to Syracuse at 2:45 am Sunday. The price of tickets goes up as the date approaches, so get a ticket soon! If we don't get a total of 40 people, your money will be refunded, or we may combine with a bus from a nearby city to reach the number needed.

The Evolution of Kindness: An Evening with Dacher Keltner

Dodging other vehicles in the pursuit of a parking spot on the Syracuse University hill had me questioning my decision to forego an evening of television, wine and sweatpants. However, once I’d snagged a parking spot and found my way to the restaurant my nerves calmed down and I began to think about the delicious falafels at King David’s restaurant.

 Photo by ajfletch/iStock / Getty Images

Photo by ajfletch/iStock / Getty Images

By six o’clock there were four of us ready to eat and we headed inside the restaurant. I had met the other women before, but was glad for the chance to get to know them better. We enjoyed great food and conversation and a number of laughs. We paid our bill and then headed to the Syracuse University campus for a lecture on kindness.

Even though I’ve lived in the area for nine years, this was my first physical foray onto the campus. I’d driven through a couple of times to drop people off or pick them up, but until last night I hadn’t realized just how many slopes must be climbed to reach your destination. Let’s just say my inhaler came in handy.

We arrived twenty minutes early for the lecture and were able to secure seats near the front. We had a lively conversation around our favorite books and the difference between European movies and American movies. I confess I like the happy endings in American movies.

We could see the speaker Dacher Keltner getting ready and he was even easier on the eyes than in his picture, which I confess was part of the reason I’d been willing to don appropriate clothing for public places. Just a fancy way of saying I hate wearing a bra.

Dacher Keltner is a professor of psychology at UC Berkeley and founding director of the Greater Good Science Center. His talk covered the evolution of kindness and compassion and stressed that when we practice kindness and compassion not only does it benefit the collective, but it makes us happier and less stressed.

He started the lecture by describing behaviors of primates that indicate they feel compassion and then demonstrated that all humans have the same basic sounds to express emotions such as interest or compassion. He showed scans of the human brain in an FMRI showing that the region of our brain that lights up with compassion is near the brain stem indicating this has been part of our ancestry for a very long time.

His lecture shifted to talk about ways we can improve our own happiness through relaxation and compassion. Many of the items he mentioned interested me, deep breathing, mindfulness, gratitude, but the one that really struck me was gazing on nature. He spoke about an experiment they did at Berkeley where the subject stared at gorgeous trees or a magnificent building for a full minute. At the end of the minute they had a person drop a handful of pens on the ground near them. The study showed that not only did the subjects who stared at trees feel happier; they picked up more pens than those who stared at the building.

I’m really glad I attended the lecture and have signed up for the emails as I want to live a happier life. But for now, I think I’ll walk away from the computer and go stare at a tree.

Gwen Bradshaw is a business analyst, wife, mother and grandmother. In her spare time she enjoys acting with her improv comedy team and writing about her deconversion from Christianity.

Fall Food Drive Results

The numbers are in, and our Fall Food Drive raised 352 pounds of food and $167.72, which comes out to 832 meals for hungry folks in CNY! Thank you to everyone who brought non-perishable food to our events, collected food from their neighbors, or donated to our Virtual Food Drive.


The Food Bank of Central New York  is a not-for-profit organization working to eliminate hunger through nutritious food distribution, education, and advocacy in cooperation with the community. They partner with 250 emergency food programs in the counties of Cayuga, Chenango, Cortland, Herkimer, Jefferson, Lewis, Madison, Oneida, Onondaga, Oswego, and St. Lawrence.

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Central New York Coalition of Reason Launch Events

The CNY Humanists are joining other secular groups in the area to form the Central New York Coalition of Reason! The CNY CoR is made up of atheist, free thought, and humanist groups in Syracuse and throughout the greater Central New York region. The goal of the group is to foster secular community and raise awareness of all that these diverse groups have to offer.

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Our First Bleed & Feed

On Sunday, July 12, seven of us met to give blood at the Red Cross in Liverpool. The staff were very helpful and friendly. We all took our turns giving blood and then met in the "cantina" to talk and laugh and drink juice and eat crackers.

When everyone was finished (and it was clear that no one was going to pass out), we all headed over the The Retreat, a nearby restaurant, for further hydration, talking, air conditioning, and giant portions of food.

It felt good to do a good deed, and the whole thing was a lot of fun, so we hope to make this a regular activity!

If you're interested in joining us in the future for this or other activities, sign up below:

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Our First Year: Looking Back

Our May meeting yesterday included a celebration of the group's first year. We had a nice turnout to celebrate with birthday cake and a really fun (and informative!) trivia game. Corrina created this presentation as a way to look back at all we've accomplished over the past year. I have to admit, a few of the board members got a little verklempt watching it. We're pretty proud of what we've done so far, and we're really looking forward to doing more this year!

To watch the Prezi below:

  1. Click the "Start Prezi" icon
  2. Click on the Play icon near the lower right corner to start the music 
  3. Let the Prezi scroll through or use the arrows in the bottom middle to advance to the next frame

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Earth Day/Week of Action Park Cleanup

On Saturday, April 25th, eighteen people, including seven kids, met at Lewis Park in Syracuse to clean up trash and leaves. It was a beautiful day, and we enjoyed two sunny hours raking and cleaning up while the kids picked up litter and played on the playground. In the end, we had 23 bags of litter and leaves, and the park was noticeably tidier, ready for Little League season, which starts next week.

The event was part of both the City of Syracuse's Clean up 'Cuse Day and a county-wide Earth Day Litter Cleanup. For us, it was also an early celebration of the Week of Action, happening April 30-May 6 this year. The Week of Action takes place during the week leading up to the National Day of Prayer/National Day of Reason.  On the Foundation Beyond Belief's webite, it's described as "a way to come together regardless of beliefs to benefit our communities. Whether you observe National Day of Prayer or National Day of Reason, spend the last week of April acting."

We want to thank everyone who came as well as the friendly and helpful people in the Parks Department who found us a great, family-friendly spot and provided all the tools we needed for the job. It felt good to help our community and the earth, and to do some good for goodness' sake!

Want to get involved in our next volunteer event? Subscribe to our mailing list here:

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Golisano's Toy Drive Success!

Thank you all for helping make our toy drive a success!  Over the past few months, the Central New York Humanist Association collected 28 new toys and raised enough money to make 45 gift bags to support the children and their families at Golisano Children's Hospital.

Thank you for joining us in helping our community and doing good for goodness' sake! 

Want to get involved in our next volunteer event?  Sign up to our mailing list here:

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Donation Drive to Support the Food Bank of CNY

Thank you for helping make our donation drive a huge success!  Throughout the past few months, the Central New York Humanist Association collected 194 pounds of food and raised $120 through our virtual food drive to support the hunger-relief mission of the Food Bank of CNY. The Food Bank of Central New York is a not-for-profit organization that works to eliminate hunger through nutritious food distribution, education, and advocacy in cooperation with the community. 

Thank you for joining us in helping our community provide 582 meals and doing good for goodness' sake!