Get Involved - How you can help O4R

By Jeanine DeNoma

It's important to keep in mind that O4R is run entirely by volunteers. Without an active membership there is little O4R can do. Members have proposed many great ideas, but unless there is a volunteer able to put the idea into action, there is simply no way to follow through on these suggestions.

Our most successful activities have been initiated by members who have proposed an idea and found a way to get it done. For example, our da Vinci Days booth originated from a proposal by Raan Young. Several members were interested in creating activities for it, most notably Jerry Andrus, Phil and Keturah Pennington, and Mark Cowan. They volunteered their time, labor and creativity to fill the booth with attractive, interactive activities. It has continued only because many members have willingly volunteered at least four hours on a mid-July weekend each year to staff the booth.

Other members have volunteered to video tape speakers, produce public service announcements for local media outlets, or use their professional skills to write press releases. This is not an exhaustive list, but it demonstrates a few of the ways members have supported O4R. Below are some suggestions for how you can help:

Renew your membership. Even if you live afar or cannot make meetings, your membership is valuable. Annual members' fees are O4R's lifeblood.

Serve on the Board of Directors. Leader-ship positions require an understanding of and a commitment to O4R's mission, attendance at board meetings, and taking an active role in O4R's daily operation and decision making process.

Newsletter. Contribute an article to this newsletter. Many articles are reprinted from the newsletters of other local skeptics groups; only a few are submitted by members. The editorial staff would like volunteers to write news reports on O4R programs or to research and write articles on topics of interest. Before starting, check with the editors for author's guidelines, to confirm your topic is appropriate, and whether space will be available.

Remember, we do not use articles on religion or politics. If you are interested in a topic but do not consider yourself a good writer, we can assist with editing if you do the research and submit a draft. In fact, almost all submissions are edited for clarity and length.

Speakers. Suggest a speaker or offer to give a talk. O4R is always looking for interesting and relevant speakers.

Help organize programs. We need a Program Committee member to assist with organizing programs: contacting speakers, finding suitable locations, arranging publicity, etc. It would not be necessary to do all the work, as we have expertise, resources and experience to guide a new volunteer. More help, however, would lighten the work load for board members and be gratefully received.

Suggest a location for programs and socials. If your workplace allows its meetings rooms to be used for public talks by educational not-for-profit groups, please let us know. Suitable meeting locations must have parking, easy access, and audio-visual equipment.

Perhaps you can suggest a great place for socials and no-host dinners. If so, please let us know. We usually meet at restaurants that provide individual meal checks and have a separate, free-of-charge meeting room.

Volunteer for specific activities. Events for which we need volunteers include the Corvallis da Vinci Days festival in July and the high school science fairs at Western Oregon University in March.

Investigations. The Investigations Committee remains without a leader. Official O4R investigative activities are carefully considered by the Board before approval. The main concerns are legal issues and appropriateness. Members, of course, are free to investigate a topic on their own and, if appropriate, present their findings to O4R in a report, newsletter article, or talk.

Special Interest Groups. SIGs may form spontaneously and fluidly around topics of particular interest. Groups may research, investigate or monitor activities related to topics of interest, and perhaps present a report to members.

Special Activity Groups. Similar to SIG, these groups may form around particular activities such as speaking or writing letters. Letter writers might help one another with editing letters to the their local newspaper or fact-checking particular topics. Members of a speakers bureau may support one another in preparing presentations on skeptical topics, perhaps like a "Toastmasters for Skeptics."

Donate skeptical books. The Library Project can use skeptical books in excellent condition to donate to local libraries.

Donate supplies. There are a number of items that would be useful to O4R: electronic clip art suitable for print format, an overhead projector for speakers, an easel-style flip-chart for meetings and presentations, and a 50 or 90 cup coffeemaker.

Donate money. Member's donations support educational activities such as student memberships, the student scholarship to the Skeptics Toolbox, website hosting, Skeptical Inquirer subscriptions and library donations.

Perhaps these suggestions don't appeal to you, but you have a great idea that you believe O4R should implement. Make a suggestion. Offer to help. Recently on the discussion elist, for example, it was proposed that O4R write a position statement supporting the teaching evolution. An advisory group is now working on such a statement. Remember, O4R is not them-it's you!

Copyright (c) 2006 Oregonians For Rationality