Conventions

Conventions

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PittsburghAttractions

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Check out all that Pittsburgh has to offer

By Kim and Stephen Hirtle

FFRF is bringing this year's convention to Pittsburgh, Pa., on the weekend of Oct. 7–9, a city that has been garnering national and international attention for its quality of life and unique features.

Recent accolades for Pittsburgh:

  • Listed as one of the best places in the world to visit (Travel + Leisure).
  • Rated as the No. 1 food city in 2015 (Zagat).
  • Offers America's most stunning views (USA Today).
  • Listed as the "coolest American city you haven't been to" (Huffington Post).

Pittsburgh, with a population slightly more than 300,000, is also known for having more bridges than any city in the world, including Venice. The three main rivers — Allegheny, Monongahela and Ohio — join downtown at Point State Park. Two inclines (funicular railways) dating back to the late 1800s take tourists and commuters up the side of Mount Washington, just as they did when steel was the main industry.

Downtown Pittsburgh, where the FFRF convention will be held, is known for its striking and varied architecture, notable restaurants and cultural amenities. The Andy Warhol Museum (named for a Pittsburgh native) and the Carnegie Science Center are just across the river on the North Shore. The Carnegie Natural History and Carnegie Art Museums are housed together, a short taxi or bus ride away, in the Oakland neighborhood, which is also home to Phipps Conservatory and two world class institutions: the University of Pittsburgh and Carnegie-Mellon University.

Across the street from the Cathedral of Learning is the Carnegie Natural History Museum, known for one the largest collections of dinosaur fossils in the world, including the Diplodocus Carnegii, named in honor of Pittsburgh native and freethinker Andrew Carnegie.
For those seeking outdoor activities, there are bike rental locations downtown, with bike trails throughout the city and along the rivers. Kayak Pittsburgh operates on weekends in October, just a short walk from the hotel, and for a modest fee, you can get out on the Allegheny River for an hour or two of exercise with excellent views of the skyline and stadiums.

FFRF visitors are encouraged to check out Market Square, a large European-style plaza surrounded by 14 restaurants near the hotel.

Those coming to the conference a day early will have the opportunity to visit Fallingwater. Considered to be the most iconic of all of Frank Lloyd Wright's designs, the house was built on top of natural waterfall.

Stephen Hirtle is chair of the FFRF Executive Board and professor of Information Science at the University of Pittsburgh.

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Fallingwater Tour

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FallingwaterTour

After the tour of Fallingwater, there will be a reception from 3-5 p.m. with workshops and complimentary appetizers. Friday dinner is on your own. The formal program begins at 7 p.m. Friday, ending with complimentary dessert and hot beverages. The convention resumes Saturday morning with an optional Non-Prayer Breakfast at 8 a.m. The morning program starts at 9:30 a.m. After a two-hour lunch on your own, the program resumes at 2 p.m. An optional dinner banquet will be followed by evening speaker/entertainment. Annual meetings of the membership and the state representatives are Sunday morning, ending by noon.

fwsunny

Photo: Courtesy of the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy.

Fallingwater

Friday, prior to the start of the convention, FFRF is hosting a tour of the impressive Frank Lloyd Wright-designed Fallingwater site. The $40 ticket includes admission to Fallingwater and round-trip coach bus transportation. There is also an optional, although highly recommended, box lunch available for $12. (The cafeteria is expected to be too busy to accommodate FFRF on this tight schedule.) The 43-mile route to the captivating Fallingwater is through scenic Pennsylvania countryside during the most beautiful time of the year. Buses depart from Wyndham Grand every 30 minutes beginning 7:50 a.m., with returns beginning 2:10 p.m. 

Extra rooms have been set aside at the Wyndham Grand for FFRF members for Thursday night for those interested in going on the tour. FFRF will provide tour times, tickets and other information with mailed convention registration confirmation. 

Important Visitor Guidelines

Site Challenges

The tour involves considerable walking and there are challenges on site, including 100 steps (not all at once) and uneven gravel paths on a 1/4 mile walk from the Visitor Center to the house. If you have concerns about mobility, vision or hearing challenges, please read the following details.

For more details about getting the most out of your visit, please see the Fallingwater website .

Check back soon for updates! Register today!

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Menu

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Menu

Saturday’s Non-Prayer Breakfast ($30): Scrambled eggs, applewood smoked bacon, chef’s home fried cottage potatoes, muffins and danishes, freshly squeezed orange juice, freshly brewed Starbucks coffee, decaffeinated coffee and a selection of specialty teas. Vegan/vegetarian entree option: Scrambled vegetable and tofu with roasted tomato and cottage potatoes.

Saturday’s banquet dinner ($45): Field greens with grape tomato, Kalamata olives, English cucumber and balsamic dressing, dinner rolls and butter, herb grilled chicken with basil cream sauce, chef’s selection of starch and chef’s selection of seasonal vegetable. Vegan/vegetarian entree option: Tuscan grilled vegetable stack with white and black bean ragout with tomato coulis.

Dessert is New York cheesecake with fresh strawberries.

There is a place on the registration form to indicate whether you need gluten-free meals.

Pittsburgh sights and restaurants

Check back soon for updates! Register today!

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Schedule

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Schedule

fwsunny

Photo: Courtesy of the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy.

After the tour of Fallingwater, there will be a Friday reception from 3-5 p.m. with complimentary appetizers and afternoon workshops. Friday dinner is on your own.

The formal program begins at 7 p.m. Friday, ending with complimentary dessert and hot beverages. The convention resumes Saturday morning with an optional Non-Prayer Breakfast at 8 a.m. The morning program starts at 9:30 a.m. After a two-hour lunch on your own, the program resumes at 2 p.m. An optional dinner banquet will be followed by evening speaker/entertainment. Highlights include FFRF’s annual drawing for “clean” (pre-“In God We Trust”) currency, and irreverent music by FFRF Co-President Dan Barker.
Annual meetings of the membership and the state representatives are Sunday morning, ending before noon.

Fallingwater 

Plan on the combined bus trip, formal tour and return trip taking 6 hours. Buses depart the Wyndham Grand and every 30 minutes beginning at 7:50 a.m., with returns beginning at 2:10 p.m. You will be assigned a departure time. Children under 6, including infants, are not permitted n house tours. The tour involves considerable walking including q00 steps, an uneven gravel paths on a ¼ mile walk from the Visitor Center to the wonderful home built over a waterfall. 

For more details about getting the most out of your visit, please see the Fallingwater website.

Check back soon for updates! Register today!

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Speakers

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Speakers

(The following speakers will be signing copies of their books during the convention.) More speakers coming soon!  

1BarkerColorDAN BARKER

FFRF co-president, who will speak on his newest book, released this year by Sterling Press, GOD: The Most Unpleasant Character in All Fiction, inspired by a line in Richard Dawkins’ God Delusion, with a foreword by Dawkins. Dan will be on hand to sign copies (donating royalties) and entertain with some irreverent ditties on the piano.


 

1CoyneColorJERRY A. COYNE

Jerry A. Coyne, professor emeritus in the Department of Ecology and Evolution at the University of Chicago, who has written 119 scientific papers and 150 popular articles, book reviews, and columns, and a trade book about the evidence for evolution—Why Evolution is True, a New York Times bestseller. Coyne plans to speak on the topic of “Evolution and Atheism: Best Friends Forever.” He previously was honored with FFRF’s Emperor Has No Clothes Award, is an honorary director and will sign copies of Why Evolution is True, and his newest book, Faith Versus Fact: Why Science and Religion are Incompatible.  


 

1DennettColorDANIEL DENNETT

Daniel Dennett, one of the so-called “Four Horsemen of New Atheism,” and co-director of the Center for Cognitive Studies at Tufts University, will speak on “Has the dam broken? Omens and worries.” Dennett, an honorary director, received FFRF’s Emperor Has No Clothes Award in 2005. Dennett will sign copies of his book, including Breaking the Spell: Religion as a Natural Phenomenon.


 

1JacobyColorSUSAN JACOBY

Susan Jacoby, author of 11 books, most recently, Strange Gods: A Secular History of Conversion, which came out this March, and will sign books at the conference. Her articles have appeared frequently in the op-ed pages of The New York Times, including one in February, “Sick and Tired of ‘God Bless America.’ Jacoby, an honorary director, is a previous recipient of FFRF’s Freethought Heroine Award. 


 

1KraussColorLAWRENCE KRAUSS

Lawrence Krauss, theoretical physicist and author and director of the Origins Project at Arizona State University. An atheist, he has won numerous international awards for both his research and his efforts to improve the public understanding of science. He is also the author of nine books, including bestsellers The Physics of Star Trek and A Universe from Nothing. Krauss will be honored with this year’s Emperor Has No Clothes Award and will do a booksigning.


 

1LauriColorLAURI LEBO

Lauri Lebo is an author, radio station owner and former reporter from Harrisburg, Pa., where she was the principal local reporter covering the Kitzmiller v. Dover trial in 2004-05 while working for the York Daily Record. She was featured prominently in the Nova documentary Judgment Day: Intelligent Design on Trial, both because of her coverage and because her father, who owned Christian radio station WWII-AM in Harrisburg, sided with the Dover School Board in the controversy. Lebo will be presented with FFRF’s Freethought Heroine Award, and will sign copies of her book, The Devil in Dover.


 

1MarieColorMARIE SCHAUB

Marie Schaub is a plaintiff in FFRF’s suit over a Ten Commandments monument in Pennsylvania's New Kensington-Arnold School District. The case has been appealed after a judge ruled that Schaub and her daughter did not have standing. Marie is the only publicly-named plaintiff in the case, has been vilified, and will be honored with FFRF’s Atheist in Foxhole Courage Award.


 

HANK ZUMACH

Hank Zumach, a longtime member and activist from Wisconsin, will be bestowing the Henry Zumach Award for Freedom From fundamentalist Religion for 2016 upon FFRF at the convention. This award is $10,000, and Hank awards it to those who diminish the influence of fundamentalist religion. Hank was pivotal in helping us find about 20 other plaintiffs to successfully sue over a Ten Commandments monument in a public park in La Crosse, Wis. in 2005.

Check back soon for updates! Register today!

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Map & Directions

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Check back soon for updates! Register today!

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Convention Site

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more information coming soon

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Hotel Site

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HotelSite

39th Annual National Convention - October 7-9, 2016

Wyndham Grand Pittsburgh Downtown
600 Commonwealth Pl.
Pittsburgh, PA 15222

Reserve hotel rooms now. Individuals may go online to register. FFRF has reserved a block of rooms at the Wyndham Grand Pittsburgh Downtown at 600 Commonwealth Place. Room rates for FFRF guests are $159 single or double occupancy. Phone 412-391-4600 (direct) or 888-317-0197 (toll-free). Refer to the group name “Freedom From Religion Foundation” to receive the guest rate. The cut-off date to reserve rooms is Sept. 12, but do it early to avoid disappointment as the reserved rooms normally fill up.

Additional Info: 

Wyndham Parking Map
Wyndham Meeting Rooms

Check back soon for updates! Register today!

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National Convention

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pittsburghconvention

Register now for FFRF’s 39th national convention in Pittsburgh

The Freedom From Religion Foundation’s 39th annual convention will be held Oct. 7-9 in Pittsburgh, Pa., one of the top-rated cities in the country.

The national convention, hosted at the Wyndham Grand hotel in downtown Pittsburgh, will include such notable speakers as cognitive scientist Daniel Dennett, award-winning author Susan Jacoby, biology professor Jerry Coyne and theoretical physicist and author Lawrence Krauss, who will receive FFRF’s annual Emperor Has No Clothes Award.

Pittsburgh

Pittsburgh resident and chair of FFRF’s Executive Board Stephen Hirtle and his wife Kim offer these words on the host city:

Pittsburgh has been garnering national and international attention for its quality of life and unique features. Recent accolades for Pittsburgh:

  • Listed as one of the best places in the world to visit (Travel + Leisure).
  • Rated as the No. 1 food city in 2015 (Zagat).
  • Offers America’s most stunning views (USA Today).
  • Listed as the “coolest American city you haven’t been to” (Huffington Post).

Pittsburgh, with a population slightly more than 300,000, is also known for having more bridges than any city in the world, including Venice. The three main rivers — Allegheny, Monongahela and Ohio — join downtown at Point State Park. Two inclines (funicular railways) dating back to the late 1800s take tourists and commuters up the side of Mount Washington, just as they did when steel was the main industry. The Gateway Clipper Fleet offers river-based sightseeing tours, including views of the Steelers’ Heinz Field and the Pirates’ PNC Park.

Downtown Pittsburgh, where the FFRF convention will be held, is known for its striking and varied architecture, notable restaurants and cultural amenities. The Andy Warhol Museum (named for a Pittsburgh native) and the Carnegie Science Center are just across the river on the North Shore. The Carnegie Natural History and Carnegie Art Museums are housed together, a short taxi or bus ride away, in the Oakland neighborhood, which is also home to Phipps Conservatory and two world class institutions: the University of Pittsburgh and Carnegie-Mellon University. Pitt’s main building — the Cathedral of Learning — was not named for religious reasons, but for its Gothic design and grand Commons Room with vaulted ceilings. Noted Caltech physicist Sean Carroll claims “the Cathedral of Learning is pretty much the perfect building” due to its striking architecture, which includes the 30 Nationality Classrooms designed to reflect the culture and history of the diverse immigrant groups of Pittsburgh.

Speakers

(The following speakers will be signing copies of their books during the convention.)

Jerry A. Coyne, professor emeritus in the Department of Ecology and Evolution at the University of Chicago, has written 119 scientific papers and 150 popular articles, book reviews, and columns, and a trade book about the evidence for evolution—Why Evolution is True, which was a New York Times bestseller. His second book, Faith vs. Fact: Why Science and Religion are Incompatible was published in May 2015. Coyne plans to speak on the topic of "Evolution and Atheism: Best Friends Forever." He previously was honored with FFRF’s Emperor Has No Clothes Award.

Daniel Dennett, one of the so-called “Four Horsemen of New Atheism,” is co-director of the Center for Cognitive Studies at Tufts University, is the author of many books, including Breaking the Spell: Religion as a Natural Phenomenon. Dennett said the title of his speech will be, “Has the dam broken? Omens and worries.”

Susan Jacoby is the author of 11 books, most recently, Strange Gods: A Secular History of Conversion, which will come out in March. Her articles have appeared frequently in the op-ed pages of The New York Times, including one in February, “Sick and Tired of ‘God Bless America.’”

Jacoby is a previous recipient of FFRF’s Freethought Heroine Award.

Lawrence Krauss is an internationally known theoretical physicist and author and is director of the Origins Project at Arizona State University and Foundation Professor in the School of Earth and Space Exploration and the Physics Department at ASU. He has won numerous international awards for both his research and his efforts to improve the public understanding of science, he is the only physicist to have received the top awards from all three US Physics Societies, and is also the author of nine books including bestsellers The Physics of Star Trek and A Universe from Nothing. Krauss starred in a feature-length documentary called “The Unbelievers,” which followed Krauss and Richard Dawkins around the world as they discussed science and reason.

He recently wrote an op-ed for The New Yorker, “Put an atheist on the Supreme Court,” and will receive the Emperor Has No Clothes Award from FFRF at the convention.

Lauri Lebo is an author, radio station owner and former reporter from Harrisburg, Pa., where she was the principal local reporter covering the Kitzmiller v. Dover trial in 2004-05 while working for the York Daily Record. She was featured prominently in the Nova documentary Judgment Day: Intelligent Design on Trial, both because of her coverage and because her father, who owned Christian radio station WWII-AM in Harrisburg, sided with the Dover school board in the controversy. After more than 20 years as a journalist, she left reporting to write The Devil in Dover, a book about the Kitzmiller trial and its effects on Dover.

Marie Schaub is the only named plaintiff in an ongoing case near Pittsburgh. She joined FFRF in 2012 to ask the New Kensington-Arnold School District to remove a 6-foot-tall granite monument depicting a copy of the 10 Commandments that is prominently displayed in front of the public high school her child was scheduled to attend.

For more information on convention specifics, click on these links.

 

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Convention Site

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MONONA TERRACE - 1 John Nolen Dr, Madison, WI 53703

ABOUT THE MONONA TERRACE

Frank Lloyd Wright originally proposed a design for a “dream civic center” in 1938. His architectural vision for the City of Madison – a curvilinear gathering place that would link the shore of Lake Monona to the State Capitol – has now been realized. With interiors redesigned by Taliesin architect Tony Puttnam, Monona Terrace spans ninety feet out over shimmering waters, incorporating thoroughly modern technology and amenities with the architect´s signature organic design.

Monona Terrace offers a full range of amenities such as:

  • Wireless Internet Access
  • Courtesy In-House Phones
  • Pay Phones
  • Food and Beverage Service
  • Telephone and Electrical Services
  • Audiovisual and Sound Services
  • Event/Facility Security
  • Guest Service Greeters
  • Badge Checkers
  • Internal Event Posting Monitors & Outdoor Marquee
  • Coat/Luggage Check
  • Baby Changing Facilities
  • Ample Restrooms on All Levels
  • ATM Machine
  • Concessions

PARKING

Parking at Monona Terrace is $1.50 per hour up to a maximum of $12 for daily parking. 

MAPS OF MONONA TERRACE

Level 1 - Lakeside

level1

Level 2 - Mezzanine

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Level 4 - Meeting Rooms & Grand Terrace

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Level 5 - William T. Evjue Rooftop Gardens  

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