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North Texas Objectivist Society: 3-year milestones

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I am pleased to announce a couple more milestones in the growth of the North Texas Objectivist Society ("NTOS"):

First, we have topped 220 members. Since just January 1, 2008, in just the last six months or so, 50 people have signed up to express interest in NTOS! Keep in mind that some of our members have spouses, some have children, and some have friends to visit with us.

Second, we have organized more than 100 events! Actually, we have organized 108 events of various kinds, including social gatherings, field trips, and invited speakers.

We have done this in 3 years. Without a doubt, the North Texas Objectivist Society is one of the largest and most active Objectivist clubs anywhere in the world. It offers us a place to visit for making friends based on at least a constructive interest in Ayn Rand’s philosophy of Objectivism.

The most important thing that NTOS offers us and our families, right now, is our enjoyment.

NTOS also offers us a vehicle to start changing the world around us: We are a beacon to others who might be interested Ayn Rand's philosophy of Objectivism, the only philosophy that is based on reality and reason, not faith and force. By spending time together and with our visitors, we have the opportunity to discuss and persuade each other and each of our visitors toward better reasoning. We have the opportunity to reinforce our values and show that it is possible to live by the philosophy of reality and reason. We can inspire each other to do more.

Especially if you are local to us, will you help us to promote reason in the marketplace of ideas – while the marketplace is still open?

Remember, for example, it is not too late to sign up for our next speaker event on Friday, August 8, 2008! It is particularly helpful for our members to support our educational speaker events. You can always see our upcoming events and RSVP at http://aynrand.meetup.com/71/calendar/

We look forward to seeing you soon!

-- “Old Toad,” Organizer

North Texas Objectivist Society


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I've been to three events now and I found them all to be of value. (Either fun and/or educational.) If you live anywhere nearby or like to travel, I highly recommend visiting the group.

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Thanks for the positive comments!

I should add a few more details regarding our group and our milestones that may be of interest.

NTOS is primarily a social group. To informally promote Objectivism, we welcome members who admire Ayn Rand's works and have at least a constructive interest in Objectivism. We welcome friends, families, and children. We also try to offer some educational opportunities, and we have started to bring in Objectivist speakers.

I think being in a big U.S. city area is necessary for much chance of success with an Objectivist community club. For example, I believe there are around 5 million people in the Dallas/Ft. Worth area.

In three years, approaching 500 people have signed up to express interest in NTOS. When new members first sign up, I automatically send a welcome e-mail and ask that they read our “About” page at http://aynrand.meetup.com/71/about/ (A few quit 15 minutes later. It saves both them and us time.)

220 of these – nearly half the people who have ever signed up – are still members.

100 of these – about half who are still signed up – participate from time to time, virtually or in person.

We continue to have about 5 to 10 people a month sign up for NTOS. I believe we have not begun to tap even a fraction of the interest that is out there.

Make no mistake about it, though, people who sign up are not all Objectivists, and we also welcome each member’s friends, spouses, and children. For all this, we have made our minimum standards and terms for participation as clear as possible. I am always working to clarify them further. Personally, I welcome the opportunity to visit with people who have at least a constructive interest in the philosophy.

My wife and I have hosted more than 60 events (about half of all the NTOS events) in our family’s home. We host on a Saturday night, usually every 2 - 3 weeks. We have a large, informal, somewhat rustic house on some acreage with horse pastures (aka “the Ranch”). We typically have about 25 – 40 people for each event, including some children. Our largest event so far was our 2007 Thanksgiving potluck for which we had 50 people including lots of children. Altogether for these events I estimate we have had about 2,000 visits to our house.

We usually start around 6 pm, I usually grill (burn?) hamburgers and chicken sandwiches, and we offer lots of refreshments. We ask for $15/person ($5/child) to help cover expenses. We have no formal agenda and allow people to mingle as they please and discuss what they may find of mutual interest. Sometimes the discussions are philosophical, often they are not particularly so. Usually about a dozen of us stay up talking until about 2 am the next morning, so each of these socials is up to 8 hours long for us. My family and I spend the next day recovering. It is a lot of work, but very enjoyable and I think the interactions encourage at least some of our members to go read and study more.

The downside to our home is we are rather far from any city center – about one hour drive from almost everyone, each way. At least my family does not have to drive home after.

For other types of events, we also go to the movies, meet at local restaurants, go to the zoo, etc. Usually only about 5 to 10 people participate in these types of events, though.

We have also had an OPAR discussion group, but I don’t have the time and energy to run it right now.

After our first year, we started hosting speakers twice a year. So far we have hosted Craig Biddle on “Living Purposely,” Andrew Bernstein on capitalism, John Ridpath on Friedrich Nietzsche, and Andrew Bernstein again on government vs. private education. As noted in my first post on this thread, we will be hosting an art historian next week. For our speaker events, we have evolved to have a two-night format: the speaker’s lecture is on a Friday night from about 7 pm – 11 pm (including Q&A period and some socializing afterwards), and we host a reception for the speaker, audience, and their friends and families at "the Ranch" the following Saturday night from about 7 pm - midnight. Because of the large social component even for our speaker events, we prefer to not open our lectures to the general public. My family and my parents subsidize the cost of our speaker events, but we hope they will eventually become self-supporting.

As I have posted here before, one of the really exciting things we did was take out three billboards for a few days last summer. All the billboards said was: “Who is John Galt? ObjectivistSociety.Com.” In total, the signs were visible to daily traffic of 1/2 to 3/4 of a million vehicles. We only reached about 10 new members with this, however, so for the $2,000 cost it was not very successful -- but it was very exciting to try! Maybe the billboards generated some curiosity in Atlas Shrugged for a few days, too, though I have no way of knowing that. A picture of one of the billboards is here: http://files.meetup.com/14542/Billboard%209-19-07.jpg

In looking at our e-mails relating to NTOS, I have sent or received upwards of 10,000 (which includes e-mails I receive that regard matters that may be of interest to NTOS but only counts each general announcement NTOS sends out to our members as just one). I should also add that I do not see the e-mails between our members, of course, so I am sure we have more e-mail traffic among us than even I see.

For all of this hard work and the rewards of some success, I continue to look for ways to build participation in NTOS and interest in Objectivism. Time will tell whether or not this model for an Objectivist club can become self-sustaining.

Meanwhile, managing the group has inspired me to learn more about Objectivism, and I think the group is good for me and my family. We have made some wonderful friends through NTOS, including GreedyCapitalist, Sarah, Scott Connery and his wife, Sanjavalen, K-Mac, Sophia, and others we know on ObjectivismOnline. I am looking forward to meeting more of you.

Edited by Old Toad
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  • 5 weeks later...

Well worth the trip if people can make it. My fam and I have been going for almost 3 years now and it really has enriched our family's life quite a bit!

I have had the opportunity to hear Andrew Berstein speak twice - as well as attended Craig Biddle's talk and John Ridpath. Well worth the time!

As it grows, Todd, the Host with the most, has been adding different kind of activities, so even if someone cannot make it often to his home, you still can visit with other locals that are Objectivists, or at least O-friendly.

I will neither confirm nor deny the grilling vs. burning of burgers. I opted for the hot dog last Saturday. :)

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