Sunday, February 14, 2010

Atlanta Objectivist Society

I am thrilled to announce the official formation of the Atlanta Objectivist Society! I know! We have a website and everything! (Go on, give it a click.)

I've been dying to get this up and going, and I'll tell you why. I read Atlas Shrugged during the summer before I started college, and of course, was enthralled and excited. I went to Purdue University, which just happened to have a very active (however small) Objectivist Club. Every Wednesday night at 6pm, I hoofed it down to Stewart Hall and hung out with some amazing people (a few of which I'm still in contact with these days) and discussed ideas and laughed and learned. The four years I spent in Objectivist Club was just as valuable to my life--if not more so--than my undergraduate degree (which, let's face it, was English, so . . .).

Then I graduated and finally (FINALLY!) got to live my Real Life. But where were all of the Objectivists? Sadly, they were hard to find. This was in the early days of internet chat groups (pre-browser era, sigh . . . I am that old), and the only Objectivists I could find were far away, and somewhat hard to talk to. Boo.

I met several Ayn Rand fans, but nobody who would consider himself an Objectivist. It got kind of lonely, honestly. Then, through the wonders of Yahoo Groups, I met Kelly, who was not only a girl, but a mom-to-be, and lived just a few miles away from my house! I'm convinced she knows every Objectivist within a 200 mile radius of Atlanta, and through her, I got to meet and become friends with many other Objectivists. Yay! Life wasn't quite so lonely for Brendan and me! Through my efforts here on the blog, I've gotten to e-know and know-in-person lots and lots more Objectivists. Double Yay!

It seemed strange to me, though, that there are so many Objectivists in and around Atlanta and yet we weren't very organized. This last year, with the explosion of the sales of Atlas Shrugged and unprecedented positive change in attitude toward Objectivists, I kept feeling as if we were letting a real opportunity pass us by. I met so many people (usually remarking on my car stickers in parking lots) with positive things to say about Ayn Rand, and questions too, that we (Brendan and Kelly and some of our friends, too--it wasn't just all me) started to get serious about organizing an Atlanta Objectivist group. We had a social event last spring, but I didn't really know where to take it from there. (And there are other Objectivist groups in and around Atlanta, but most are associated with universities (which is great), and none has really taken off in the way I'd like to see AOS take off.)

Then last fall, the Objectivist Club Network, a group formed to support Objectivist clubs at universities, announced its plans to expand their support to community clubs via a mentorship program. I applied for the mentorship, and our group was accepted!

My experience with OCN (and Jason in particular) has been extremely positive. Jason (who is part of the Chicago Objectivist Society) and I have been in touch frequently over the last six weeks, and his advice has been so helpful. I've explained to my friends that it's as if he's provided us with a roadmap to follow. All I've had to do is follow the next steps he's suggested, and now the ball is really rolling!

I am so thrilled! We are taking small steps toward world domination in the right direction, and making PROGRESS.

Our first organized event will be on March 16, and on the third Tuesday of each month going forward. We are going to be hosting monthly informal Socials, a chance for Objectivists (newbies and oldbies, close friends and new acquaintances) to get together and just meet each other. From there, we have bigger plans, but again, the goal is to start small, and grow in a manageable organized way. (If you'd like to come to our Social, go to our website and fill out the Social Invitation Request Form, and I'll send you details!)

So this is my Big Announcement of one of the Big Projects (non-floor variety) I've been working on! WOOHOO!!!!


Hanah said...

So, how "Objectivist" do you have to be to attend these? I am a big admirer of Ayn Rand, but I'm often disappointed by the dogmatism among some of her followers. I would enjoy meeting like-minded people, but I'm worried about being shunned as a non-true-believer.

Kelly Elmore said...

Yay Jenn! I can't wait for the first social. Thanks for all your hard work.

Rational Education said...

I liked the simplicity of the website and the graphic and use of red color is pretty neat.
Great work.


Andrew Miner said...

Congratulations! Rachel and I have run the Northwest Objectivists for 5 years now, and have found it very fulfilling. Feel free email us if you'd like to chat!

Brian Fritts said...

It is so funny you posted this today. We took the kids up to Purdue today from Indy to eat at Arni's and run around the Union and some other buildings, including Stewart Center.

Wednesday evenings were always interesting. I think I discussed more about epistemology and methodology at Wednesday night Objectivist group meetings than in any of my economics or philosophy classes. (I specifically remember a long running argument Steve Hillis and I had with Bill Gooding on epistemology that lasted for about a year.)

Law school was disappointing in many ways. I find the practice of law (I'm a real estate and corporate lawyer) much more intellectually stimulating than law school.

At Purdue, I think only three classes really came close to our Wednesday night meetings. History of Economic Thought (Professor Heckel) and Ancient Philosophy and the Aristotle Seminar taught by Patricia Curd. In fact, I think you might have been the one to recommend her class.

What always amazing me most about Objectivists is that most are so excited about philosophy. I don't know many thinkers that get people revved up to discuss complex philosophical issues.

Rational Jenn said...

Thanks, everyone!

Hanah, anyone who is genuinely interested in the ideas of Ayn Rand is welcome to join us. If that applies to you, then please come. I'd love to meet you in person. If you have any specific questions or concerns that you'd like to discuss, feel free to email me at rationaljenn AT gmail DOT com.

Brian, first of all--Arni's! Do they still have the train that goes all around the restaurant?

Objectivist Club was Good Times. I'd love to talk to Steve again--is he still up there? And Bill! Whatever happened to him?

Patricia Curd was the only Philosophy professor at Purdue who influenced me for the good (I had a couple of spectacularly bad Philosophy and English profs). I had her for three classes--she was fun, interesting, rigorous, and challenging. I'm glad you took her classes and liked her. I wonder if she's still there, too. I doubt she'd remember me, but I feel like I ought to drop her a note and thank her. I still have some essays I wrote in her classes.

Next time I'm up in Indy, we should all get together!

Brian Fritts said...

Jenn, Arni’s still has the train. My son loves that train. They built a new Arni’s in Indy, but it just isn’t the same.

Bill Gooding moved to Raleigh, but I haven’t heard from him in 7-8 years. I think Steve Hillis is still a lecturer at Purdue.

Most of the good philosophy instructors I had were grad students. However, while I really disagreed with Kermit Scott on a number of issues, his graduate seminar on Augustine and Aquinas that I took my senior year was very interesting and I learned a lot. I always liked Patricia Curd because she understood her students’ frustrations with Plato. The Aristotle seminar she taught was great.

Elisheva Hannah Levin said...

Jenn, I have been meaning to say something for a while now, and this post's subject gives me the chance to do it.

I believe I am an Objectivist-- currently sort of a closet Objectivist. I have done quite a bit of reading and thinking and journaling--not on my blog for the most part--in order to figure out where I am with respect to Objectivism. So now I am ready to come out of the closet--but I am a long way from Atlanta--as you will see when we send Flat Ryan Back.
(He went to Alamogordo this weekend, by the way).
So what now? I am thinking about going to OCON this summer--are they as open in their policies as the Atlanta Objectivist Society is?

Kelly Valenzuela said...

Congratulations! Being a member of Front Range Objectivism (in the Denver area), has significantly changed my life so much for the better. I hope the members of your group enjoy it as much as I have FRO. :-)

Rational Jenn said...

Hey Elisheva and Kelly! Thanks for your comments! Kelly, we are aspiring to Front Range Status, but we know that's a ways off still. Elisheva--YAY! And I'll send you a private email. Sorry about the delay, it's been busy here.

nilecrocodile said...

Hi Jenn! Congrats on starting AOS! I've been an objectivist for about 30 years. I recently moved to LaGrange, GA where I live on beautiful Lake West Point which isn't too far from Atlanta. I've been reading your posts on the Oactivist List and am excited about meeting you and others who recognize the brilliance of Ayn Rand and the beauty of her philosophy. Darn, I just missed the May 18 social but I'll see ya in June!

John Keel