Howdy everyone. This is Ross Llewallyn, an organizer for Sunday Assembly Atlanta (SAA) since 2015 and, as of a couple of weeks ago, the new president of the organization. I follow two other people to have this role: Kristy, who is a crucial founder of SAA and has been here from the beginning; and Speck, who in this position took on many new challenges and ventures to expand our scope. From finding our small group space at the Rush Center to being instrumental in creating Life Lab to forging ahead with major purchases that elevated the band and our assemblies, Speck’s work leaves a large wake that I find myself and all of us ready to keep rowing in.
Our organizer team remains fantastic. We’ve created resources and processes for keeping assembly planning and small group facilitating as smooth as possible, even to the point where we have shared these tools for other assemblies! Our band (supported by and containing members of our team) has existed for a year and a half and brought back a lively energy to our monthly gatherings. We’ve gone to events and conferences big and small, including the March For Science Atlanta and DragonCon, finding like-minded folks who always say, “Wow! This should totally exist!”
I’m looking forward to our team continuing down this positive path of reaching outside of our community and finding all those people who would love our assemblies, our small groups, and our people, but just don’t know about this wacky experiment we’re all a part of. At the same time, in recent months we’ve been revitalizing our Help Often efforts to make sure we’re giving back just as much as we’re having fun and exploring new ideas.
…And I’d be remiss not to mention that we are always in need of help to maintain the level of activity we all enjoy through SAA. Now is an excellent time to volunteer, and we’ll make sure to find some way for you to contribute in the form and amount you can. The simplest way to express your interest is to talk to or contact any organizer! Try emailing me or pinging me on Facebook, for example. Feel free to say: “Ross, you told me to contact you about helping SAA, which I want to do, but I don’t know what to say. So I’m copying this weird message and sending it to you. Now what?”
Another important project that’s been in the works for some time now is the Appreciative Inquiry campaign. You may already be aware of this effort: the organizers are interviewing members of our community to understand what each of us finds valuable within it and to understand how we can do more of that. We plan to use this information to refine what Sunday Assembly Atlanta’s values really are and to guide us independent of each organizer’s opinions. We’re looking forward to a firm footing and some clear new directions!
I want to wrap up this message clarifying who is a member of SAA (in my opinion). In the process of doing one of my Appreciative Inquiry interviews, I heard one sentiment that I wanted to talk about and share with our entire community. It was the feeling that, since this person didn’t go to assemblies very often, they didn’t feel like a part of the community. I mean, after all, we’re literally called “Sunday Assembly”. If you don’t go to the namesake event, do you belong?
I say absolutely. I consider the “assembly” part to be much more about this assemblage of people who value secular community than I do about our third-Sunday-of-the-month event. The event is an important moment for a big part of our community to come together and ponder, sing, eat, and feel. But it’s not the only way to engage with the community. Many members just go to meditation meetups. Some just like Wonder Clubs or book clubs. Some are just in our online community. Some have moved away.
As we continue to grow, the varied ways in which each of us engage with one another and SAA’s events, big and small, will change. The monthly assembly is a big way to meet a great number of us, but I believe that the smaller settings can provide just as much connection, be it through volunteering, tackling philosophy, or just taking a walk together.
You are welcome here, and I’m glad you came. Here’s to looking forward.