Report by Mayank Prakash
The latest DFT meet was held at Eatopia, India Habitat center on 2nd Dec (Sunday). There were 5 of us – Lalit, Anil, Mayank, Kumar Ujwal and a guest from Chennai Freethinkers, Soorya. The place was relatively quiet so it was easy to talk. Sooryawas telling us how frequently the CFT group met and that the participation has also been going up. He talked about the gender ratio also improving there. We got to ordering food after some sulking. We discussed evolution, gender / caste stereotyping, miracle busting, using technology to improve online reach and visibility. Sooryashared some of his experiences on miracle busting which was interesting. We also shared the most bizarre argument in favor of religion that one has heard. But the discussion quickly stabilized on how to reach out more effectively to people. The group believes that there’s a large number of people who are rationalists and atheists but do not know any forum or group where they can find like-minded freethinkers. Lalit also shared the initiatives already taken in past. So there was a lot of discussion around meetup, bigtent, new APIs, facebook, email egroups, etc. The answer, we believe lies in technology & creativity. The other concern that we all had was to engage better with members. The turnout in our meets have been dwindling.
Towards this there were some points put down as follows:
- Make the meetings unique each time. It can be done drafting the agenda to include a specific subject for discussion, having a theme, etc.
- Including fun activity (a combination of informative and entertaining stuff). Even the venue can be chosen such that it motivates members to come. It should be more than having a discussion over a coffee in a CCD!!
- Organizing one really BIG meet every few months which can have some compelling things.
- Occasionally also hold meets in Gurgaon and Noida to cover NCR better.
- Few ideas brainstormed in relation to point 2: Paintball, zoo visit, food walk in old delhi, visiting JNU campus, science museum visit, planetarium show, visit to some archeological site / monument, movie meet, art galleries, theater, etc.
- Make it sacrosanct to share a post meet writeup on DFT wall. We’re starting with this immediately
We felt that doing something like this will add the fun element and can also supply fodder for subsequent discussion. Things like science, evolution, history, pop culture, politics will find their way in more seamlessly.
There was a general consensus that we need to make the meetings ‘spicier’. It was obvious that we also needed to plan them better. So it was decided that a post will be pinned on DFT wall giving 3-4 options as venue/theme/activity and take members vote till 15th of the month. And finalize the event post 15th basis votes and recommendation.
While the food at Eatopia was just passable, an impromptu Chocolate Cake ordered by Lalit was terrific. I’m sure this would be a regular if we meet again at Eatopia again.