Name: Patricia Jones.
Where I live: I live on a plateau in rural middle Tennessee.
Where I was born: I come from Michigan and never thought I’d be living in the South. But in one year’s time, I’ve actually met more atheists in “bible belt” Tennessee than I ever did in the North.
Family: A small one — daughter, son-in-law, granddaughter (one of each), and of course, my husband Mike — atheists all.
Education: I’m a graduate of the garden variety public school, but I like to think of myself as an autodidact.
Occupation: I was a home health care aide for 10 years. I also worked in a florist shop and for the Post Office. Currently, I’m a builder of rock walls.
How I got where I am today: I suppose the best way to describe my atheism is to say that religion just didn’t stick with me. The silly bible stories sounded a lot like fairy tales, and I knew those weren’t real. I read Ayn Rand’s Anthem when I was 14, and it was then that I knew religion was a conjured lie.
Where I’m headed: I’m currently the administrator of Cookeville Atheists & Agnostics. It’s a social meetup group with eight to 10 active members and 42 total in our ranks.
Persons I admire: I most admire women in science. Caroline Herschel was an astronomer like her brother William. Another is the venerable Rosalind Franklin. It was her photographs that made it possible for Crick and Watson to see the structure of DNA. Two amazing women to acclaim.
Quotations I like: “What do we live for, if it is not to make life less difficult for each other?” (George Eliot), and, “Self education is, I firmly believe, the only kind of education there is.” (Isaac Asimov)
Things I deplore: Oh, don’t get me started!
The way I promote freethought: I have a huge collection of books, all thoroughly read and reread in my home library, and telescopes that are kid magnets. When children are around me, not only do I introduce science and secularism, I tell them about the Constitution. I make it fun and speak in conversational tones so children don’t feel as though they are in school.
They just know they are around a grown-up, one who listens to them and tells them cool and exciting things. We do the stuff of science. I tell them how smart they are, and I tell them to question everything, even me. I tell them thinking is not always easy, but it’s better than someone else doing it for them.
Some favorite things: My loving family, my cherished library, astronomy, the Cookeville meetup group, gardening and rocks, especially laying “miles” of dry stone walls, keeping state and church separate, and lastly, being “discovered” by Darrell Barker. It was through my Facebook friendship with Darrell that I learned about FFRF. I post in the FFRF Forum (ffrf.org/get-involved/forum/) with the username “rockon.”
Statistics about my Wall of Separation: Darrell calls it “The Great Wall of Patricia.” I started building it as a solo project in 2009. As of April, it was about 900 feet long. The average height and width are 26 by 22 inches.
Although the rock shapes and quantity vary significantly, a pickup truck load weighs about a ton. To date, I’ve hauled 106 truckloads. I know, I know, it’s hard for me to imagine that, too. The nearest approximation to the amount of rocks placed in the wall is about 84,700.