President’s Address – NAPCON 2012 Cancellation

“…the best laid plans of mice and men.”

When I was 12 years old, I wanted to be an astronaut more than anything in the world. The U.S. Space Program was relatively healthy in 1978, having completed the Apollo program and announced the Shuttle fleet construction. I envisioned orbital research platforms, which came to pass, and permanently manned research stations on the moon, asteroids and Mars, which did not. I was certain that I would be living and working in space as an adult.

Fate had other plans. It turned out that I had next to no talent or interest in mathematics, which is a fairly predictable show-stopper for NASA dreams. They want engineers, scientists, and doctors, not skinny teenagers with big dreams and a fine singing voice. I excelled at writing, drawing, painting, singing and acting. Not a great resume for astronaut. But I remained interested, and am still a huge fan of NASA and the idea that the destiny of human achievement lies in space. I can look back wistfully at those dreams and that time, and I’m comfortable with the man I turned out to be. Sometimes we don’t get what we think we want, but what we get turns out to harmonize with who we are.

The same is true for an organization. Big dreams at the founding of an organization must be abandoned or modified to suit reality. After this year’s amazing Reason Rally, and flush with our successful recruiting and a spike in donations, we decided to hold our OWN secular event. NAPCON 2012 was supposed to be our biggest and best public event; our chance to show the U.S. that we could fund and organize a large, noteworthy and impressive “Secular Summit” that would attract media buzz and even more interested members and donations. The reality is that we can’t. The donations simply aren’t there and if we went ahead with the event as planned, it would bankrupt us. As a member-driven organization, we want to be responsible with your money and spending every last penny on a single event cannot be considered responsible. As my Grandmother would have said, “Our eyes got bigger than our belly!”

I won’t bore you with the long litany of reasons that this convention hasn’t come together. Suffice it to say that too many critical players have backed out of the event, and too few donations and sponsors have committed to supporting it. Whether that is our failure to market the event properly or we simply didn’t have enough seed money to insure its success is moot. The plain fact of the matter is that we have to cancel the event and spend more time and careful planning to make our 2013 convention a solid and better organized success. I am disappointed and disheartened, certainly, as I’m sure you all are, but I’m also committed to learning the lessons of this “failure to launch.” We will use those lessons to make our next event appropriately sized and manageable. Rest assured that any members who have directly supported the event through targeted donations or tickets will be re-imbursed immediately.

Troy Boyle

National Atheist Party


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