No matter how you found us, you are welcome!  Here you will find programs, events, and activities hosted or supported by Freethinkers of Florida based in Ocala.  
Reach out by writing to this email address:

 

freethinkersflorida@gmail.com

 
In Facebook we have a members page
that you can join 

HERE

Please keep scrolling down to see our thinking and events

 

Freethinkers Club

 

Sundays, 1 -3 PM

Hobby Building Event Room

9125 SW 98th Street, 34481

FreethinkersFlorida@gmail.com

www.FreethinkersFlorida.com

 

Freethinker - a person who forms their own ideas and opinions rather than accepting those of other people, one who forms opinions on the basis of reason, especially: one who rejects or is skeptical of religious dogma.

 

Purpose

The Freethinkers Club in "On Top of the World" (OTOW) exists to create a safe, welcoming environment for freethinkers to gather.  

 

Expectations

We welcome all on the freethinker spectrum from questioners to avowed atheists.  We exchange ideas/opinions through civil discourse and conversations.  We work to be open-minded. We listen to and respect the individual no matter the viewpoint.  We seek to understand and clarify when necessary.  We acknowledge personal biases and assumptions, recognizing how they cloud interpretations and we work to overcome them.

 

Membership

Individuals who identify as freethinkers are welcome to join the Freethinkers Club (FTC).  All participants in club meetings events, and activities must provide contact information (email, phone, address) that will be included on the FTC distribution list and in the directory.  Participants can opt out of the directory. Participants who live outside of the OTOW gates must have the Gateway of Services Pass or be considered guests.  Guest participants are expected to be current on the $5 per person fee collected at each meeting. All first-time visitors are guests of the Freethinkers Club. Contact information will not be used for other than OTOW requirements and Freethinkers Club communications. 

Members can withdraw from the club list and/or directory by notifying FreethinkersFlorida@gmail.com.

 

Organization

The Freethinkers Club is described, by OTOW, as an informal club.  There is no governing board, no dues, or bylaws. 

Club meetings, activities, and events are organized and led/facilitated by members. 

Members and guest speakers are sources for programs. 

All available types of media may be used.

Food-related activities require a security deposit in advance of the event. 

The event room is returned to the original setup at the end of the meetings.

OTOW asks that participants from outside of the gate give 2 weeks advance notice of their intention to attend a meeting: FreethinkersFlorida@gmail.com.

 

Monthly Activities

Details emailed monthly. RSVPs required.

SECULAR TABLES- lunch gathering held monthly on the first Wednesday at 11:30 am.    

DOT (dining out together) – dinner gathering held monthly on the 3rd Wednesday at 5 pm. 

Restaurant selections are emailed monthly.  

RSVP interest or reservation to Bob Z. spinozalens@gmail.com. 

 

FREEETHINKING LADIES LUNCH – participants are assigned to a small group of 4 – 6. Each group selects a restaurant where their group gathers for food and conversation. 

If interested, contact Laurie B. lauriebarsotti@gmail.com

 

BOCCE BALL - weekly on Thursdays, 11 am – 1 pm. Just show up at the OTOW bocce ball courts and join the fun.  Weather influences play.

Questions, text to Ashi O.: 707-280-3823 

 

 

In 2024 the Freethinkers will continue to meet in the Event Room of the OTOW Hobby Building.


Please see the upcoming scheduled programs and events.
 

April 21st, Sunday, 1 PM, Event Room in Hobby Building – Meeting

The Art and Craft of Home Improvement and Repairs

J. Ashi Olshan

This presentation will be interactive with demonstrations and time for questions.  Ashi will cover everything from picture hanging to furniture finish repair to faux painting and graphic design.  Are you afraid of electricity?  Ashi will show how lamps and outlets can be safely rewired.  Understanding color can help create the look you want in a room.  Maybe most importantly, Ashi will offer suggestions for how to write an intelligent contract or what to look for in a contract when dealing with tradespersons and contractors. Ashi’s artistic work can be seen on AshiArts.us or his latest humanitarian effort at ArtFeeds.us.   

Ashi, featured in the February OTOW News, is also an artist and writer.  He authors the Freethinkers column in the News every other month.  Ashi and his wife Sheri moved to OTOW 2+ years ago and are involved in a variety of activities.  After a 40-year career as a California licensed contractor, he also taught Do It Yourself Home Repair in Marin County. If there is interest, Ashi is considering teaching a course through Master the Possibilities, The Art and Craft of Home Improvement and Repair.

 

April 29th, Monday, 6:30 PM, Event Room – Conversations about things that matter.  

For the next several months our time together follows the principles of Death Café as described by the founder Jon Underwood. This is an open group, however, the number of participants is limited to 20.  Please RSVP freethinkersflorida@gmail.com.  Confirmation will be sent.

 

May 5th, Sunday, 1 PM, Event Room – Meeting

Dementia 101: The "Cliffs Notes" version.

Mark Croft

Learn what Dementia is, how to avoid it and what to do and not do when you encounter someone with it.  Mark Croft has been working in this field for over a decade and provides easy to understand information that benefits the seasoned and novice caregiver or associates of a person with dementia.

 

May 8th, Wednesday, Secular Tables 11:30 AM – Pasta Faire in Belleview (note this is the second Wednesday instead of the first Wednesday of the month). RSVP to Bob Z. spinozalens@aol.com.

 

May 13th, Monday, 6:30 PM, Event Room 

Come enjoy the band "Alternate Wednesdays", 3 musicians and 2 (new) backup singers will entertain us with the hits of singers you are sure to be familiar with, Beatles, Buddy Holly, Elvis, Monkees, Jimmy Buffet, Ricky Nelson, etc.  Please invite anyone who you think would enjoy this event.  The band has been invited to bring their spouses and friends.  Let’s give them a warm welcome.  

 

May 15th, WednesdayDining Out Together- Amrit Palace, Ocala.  RSVP to Bob Z. spinozalens@aol.com

 

May 19th, Sunday,1 PM, Event Room - Meeting

Open Forum Discussion

Bob Kraus

Attendees break into small groups of 6-8.  A topic is selected from the list provided by the facilitator or the group may choose another topic of interest.  Participants are encouraged to consider how they would view the topic/subject if they were from a different country, culture, or a minority or marginalized group. After approximately 20 minutes a volunteer from each group shares the key points or questions raised by the topic discussed. The full group then offers comments.

 

May 27th, Monday, 6:30 PM – Event Room – Conversations about things that matter.  

For the next several months our time together follows the principles of Death Café as described by the founder Jon Underwood. This is an open group, however, the number of participants is limited to 20.  Please RSVP freethinkersflorida@gmail.com.  Confirmation will be sent.

 

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Below are previous meetings and events from 2024:

 

January 7th, 1 pm

Effective Altruism - Doing Good Better

Bob Layne

Effective Altruism seeks to maximize the effectiveness of our charitable giving.  We can get the most satisfaction and we can maximize the impact of our charitable donations by using evidence-based critical thinking to make these decisions.  This talk explores why and how to become an effective altruist.  Q&A following the presentation.

 

January 21st, 1 pm

Giving Circles

Bob Layne

The impact of charitable giving can be multiplied by forming groups of like-minded individuals and by using the principles of effective altruism. The organization called Philanthropy Together provides guidelines and resources to help giving circles succeed.  This presentation will begin with a TED Talk by the founder of Philanthropy Together. 

 

Bio: Bob is a resident of OTOW and is a frequent presenter through Master the Possibilities.  He has a broad background with degrees in pharmacy, business, and education.

 

February 4th, 1 pm

My Journey into the Light

Bert Gagnon

Born a Baptist in Caribou, Maine Bert spent his formative years hiding personal truths while trying to fit into the expectations of church and family.  He left the church at an early age and wandered through various spiritual encampments over the following decades, not fully fitting in anywhere.  In this program, Bert entertains as he shares his personal and unique spiritual journey along a very winding path coming out of his upbringing in the Baptist Church and coming into his understanding of personal truth.

 

Bio: 

Bert Gagnon grew up in northern Maine, served in the US Army during the Vietnam Era, and thereafter achieved a triple major from the University of Maine in English, Speech, and Theater with a Minor in Art. He attended the Actors’ Workshop in Boston and performed in college, community, and professional productions in Maine, Massachusetts, North Carolina, and New York.  While in New York, Gagnon worked a bread-and-butter job as a jack-of-all-trades at a small midtown Manhattan law firm while trying to “make it” in the New York theater scene.  In the mid-80s Gagnon accepted a position as an administrative legal assistant, with a then mid-sized St. Louis law firm, to work on the longest-running civil jury trial in the history of the world.  The case was in front of a jury for 3 years and 10 months.  That bread-and-butter job defined his career. Through mergers and acquisitions, the firm grew from less than 70 attorneys to more than 350, with offices in southern Illinois, St. Louis, Chicago, and Washington DC.  It currently ranks in the top 125 largest US law firms.  After 30 years of working in various capacities within the firm, Gagnon retired as Director of Practice Support Services.  He, and his husband Nick, currently reside in St. Petersburg, Florida

 

February 18th, 1 pm

“Your Life, Your Death, Your Choice” 

Kevin Bradley

 

Bio: “Kevin Bradley has been active with the Right to Die movement since 2016. Most recently, he has been working with Final Exit Network to provide education and support to mentally competent adults who face an unacceptable quality of life due to physical illness and want to explore their end-of-life options. An ordained minister, Kevin testified on behalf of medical aid in dying at the Minnesota Senate and co-founded Interfaith Clergy for End-of-Life Options as a chapter of Compassion & Choices. He developed an online Right to Die course for the American Humanist Association and has spoken at the American Atheists national convention and other freethinker events.”

 

March 3rd, 1 pm

Waiting for a Change in Climate.

Dr. Cliff Cockerham 

How much climate change impact is now a mathematical certainty?  What are the economic perils and opportunities that follow from these data?  Volunteers from the audience will be engaged in a highly interactive component.  If you are willing to come on stage, come in clothing that permits motion! 

 

Dr. Cliff Cockerham is a Climate Ambassador with Physicians for Social Responsibility and a member of Al Gore’s Climate Leadership Corps.  Dr. Cockerham has had the opportunity to speak across the U.S. and in Asia, South America, and Europe.  He is a member of the Florida Leadership Teams Elders Climate Action and the Citizens Climate Lobby, where he serves on several national committees.  Since 2015, he has also testified at state-level regional EPA hearings as well as congressional hearings for the National Park Service.

 

March 17th, 1 pm

Open Forum Discussion

Bob Kraus

Attendees break into small groups of 6-8.  A topic is selected from the list provided by the facilitator or the group may choose another topic of interest.  Participants are encouraged to consider how they would view the topic if they were from a different country, culture, or a minority or marginalized group. After approximately 20 minutes a volunteer from each group shares the key points or questions raised by the topic discussed. The full group then offers comments.

 

April 7th, 1 pm

Political Politicization and What We Can Do About It.

Ellen Velie

There is evidence that we are experiencing a politically polarized society that extends, for some of us, into our families, and is far greater than what we have experienced in the past.  From a historical perspective to what extent is this a new phenomenon or is it, e.g., just the intensity that we are noticing now?  This presentation will explore an answer to the previous question as well as definitions of the concept and some of the causes that contribute to it.  Data driven considerations suggest more political polarization now than the US has experienced in the last 150 years.  Current data shows that the US is one of the 6 most polarized countries in the world.  What are forces that lead to polarization for the US citizens and potentially for future generations?

An important link between various forms of polarization and reduction in free speech will be made. Finally, what are the specific actions recommended by experts who study the problem of polarization?  We can make a difference in reducing the intensity of political polarization within our country, but the first step is observing the nature and extent of the problem.  Second, identify and experiment with various solutions to address the problem at multiple levels. 

 

Ellen Velie, MA, Ph.D., Curriculum and Instruction with an emphasis in Research, Evaluation, and Measurement, Post Masters Reading Specialist degree, and master’s degree in counseling as well as state license as a Professional Counselor. 

 

 

We are the evolution of Humanists of North Central Florida and we welcome all Humanists