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Welcome to the Grand Traverse Humanists. If you value science, reason, and compassion and believe that humans are responsible for their own destiny, you have come to the right place. We are a community for the non-religious in the Grand Traverse area, offering a forum for discussing and advancing a secular worldview based on our common humanity. Our programs include monthly speakers and discussions, film and book groups, and various volunteer and social events. All are free and open to the public. Check out Upcoming Events below, or click on the calendar. Nontheists, agnostics, atheists, freethinkers, rationalists, humanists, and more…we welcome you to join us!

Please note: MEETINGS AT THE LIBRARY ARE TEMPORARILY ON HOLD. We are meeting outside in person when possible, and on Zoom as schedules allow. Check the Upcoming Events below for details

In Memoriam:

In the last six months, four of our fellow Grand Traverse Humanists have died. We are saddened by the loss of Ed Rom, Walter Foote, Mark Gustafson, and Gordon Grimm. Let us remember them well.

Upcoming Events

  • CANCELED: G.T. Humanists Ride the Betsie Valley Trail


    Due to a rainy forecast and concerns about the ability to keep socially distanced while on the trail (and picnicking on Frankfort beach afterwards), we’ve decided to cancel the bike outing on the Betsie Valley Trail, previously scheduled for Sunday, July 26. Sorry to those who were looking forward to it! Someday we will ride again!



  • G.T. Humanists Paddle the Cedar River/Victoria Creek

    Cedar River launch site off Kasson St. in Cedar
    Sunday, July 19, 3 p.m.

    Join the Grand Traverse Humanists for a paddle trip down beautiful Victoria Creek, aka the Cedar River! This is an easy trip appropriate for all skill levels. You can use a kayak or canoe, but not tubes (they’re too slow). Paddle boards would be acceptable, but you may not be able to keep up with those with kayaks/canoes.

    The river has no current to speak of, so this will be an out and back paddle. No shuttle required, as we’ll paddle out and return the same way. It will be up to participants to decide how far they want to go. If you paddle all the way to Lake Leelanau and back, it’s a 7.2 mile round trip, not including two optional “secret” side lakes.

    This river runs through the Leelanau Conservancy’s Cedar River Preserve. More info here: https://leelanauconservancy.org/naturalarea/cedar-river-natural-area/

    A few pointers and safety tips are always good to keep in mind:

    *Bring water, a change of clothes in a dry sack, sunscreen, a snack or sack lunch, and appropriate, securely fastened footwear. Flip flops not recommended, and bare feet are unacceptable.

    *Bring your PFD/flotation device. Even if you don’t wear it, you’ll need to have one with you.

    *Children and dogs are welcome, but must be controlled.

    *Don’t forget your paddle (and kayak/canoe)!

    *MOST IMPORTANTLY: THERE’S NOWHERE TO STOP ON THIS RIVER! Therefore there is nowhere to get out and go to the bathroom! Men may wish to bring a disposable bottle just in case. Women may want to curb their beverage intake if they think they’re going to have a problem! There is a porta-potty at the launch site.

    We’ll meet at the launch site at 3 PM. The launch is in Cedar in a parking lot off Kasson St. (the main street going through Cedar). On the north side of the river, turn into the parking lot with the American Waste recycling dumpsters.

    Email Linnaea at lmelcarek@gmail.com to RSVP. Hope to see you on the river!



  • G.T. Humanists Paddle Lake Dubonnet

    Lake Dubonnet State Forest Campground, Gonder Road, Interlochen
    Saturday, June 20, 2 p.m.

    Join the Grand Traverse Humanists as we paddle beautiful Lake Dubonnet! This 1000-acre lake has many secluded coves and small islands, making it perfect for exploring. It’s also a great fishing spot, so bring your gear if you’re so inclined!

    Normally this time of year, we get together to paddle one of the area’s rivers, but social distancing makes shuttling together in a vehicle difficult. So we’ve chosen to paddle on a lake, where no shuttle is required.

    To get to Lake Dubonnet, drive west on US 31 west of Interlochen Corners. Just after the golf course, turn right on Gonder Road and take that road all the way in to the campground, where you will find the boat launch. You will need a State Recreation Passport on your licence plate to enter. Please bring a change of clothes in a dry bag, your PFD, your own canoe or kayak and paddle, some snacks and water, and sensible water sandals/shoes (not flip flops). If it’s windy, a kayak skirt may also be desirable.

    Lake Dubonnet is also the site of the 6.5-mile Lost Lake Pathway, an excellent hiking and mountain biking trail. Those who are interested may want to meet there before or after paddling for some trail adventures.

    Email Linnaea at lmelcarek@gmail.com with any questions and to RSVP!




  • G.T. Humanists Book Club: Tightrope

    Sunday, August 2, 6 p.m. (meeting over Zoom: details to follow)

    For their next book club selection, Grand Traverse Humanists will read and discuss “Tightrope” by Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn. We are planning to discuss the book over Zoom meeting (link to follow closer to the event).

    Amazon.com description: “The Pulitzer Prize-winning authors of the acclaimed, best-selling “Half the Sky” now issue a plea–deeply personal and told through the lives of real Americans–to address the crisis in working-class America, while focusing on solutions to mend a half century of governmental failure.

    With stark poignancy and political dispassion, Tightrope draws us deep into an “other America.” The authors tell this story, in part, through the lives of some of the children with whom Kristof grew up, in rural Yamhill, Oregon, an area that prospered for much of the twentieth century but has been devastated in the last few decades as blue-collar jobs disappeared. About one-quarter of the children on Kristof’s old school bus died in adulthood from drugs, alcohol, suicide, or reckless accidents. And while these particular stories unfolded in one corner of the country, they are representative of many places the authors write about, ranging from the Dakotas and Oklahoma to New York and Virginia. But here too are stories about resurgence, among them: Annette Dove, who has devoted her life to helping the teenagers of Pine Bluff, Arkansas, as they navigate the chaotic reality of growing up poor; Daniel McDowell, of Baltimore, whose tale of opioid addiction and recovery suggests that there are viable ways to solve our nation’s drug epidemic. These accounts, illustrated with searing images by Lynsey Addario, the award-winning photographer, provide a picture of working-class families needlessly but profoundly damaged as a result of decades of policy mistakes. With their superb, nuanced reportage, Kristof and WuDunn have given us a book that is both riveting and impossible to ignore.”



  • G.T. Humanists Book Club: Democracy in Chains

    Sunday, May 10, 6 p.m.

    Grand Traverse Humanists will gather to discuss Nancy MacLean’s book, “Democracy in Chains: The Deep History of the Radical Right’s Stealth Plan for America.” Booklist called it “perhaps the best explanation to date of the roots of the political divide that threatens to irrevocably alter American government.” The Guardian said: “It’s the missing chapter: a key to understanding the politics of the past half century.” More information about the book here: Democracy In Chains

    We will hold this discussion over Zoom. Stay tuned for details on how to join in the discussion!




  • Meeting at the Library: Loreen Niewenhuis, Lake Walker

    Traverse Area District Library, 610 Woodmere Avenue
    Monday, March 9, 7 p.m.

    Grand Traverse Humanists welcome author and adventurer Loreen Niewenhuis. In 2009, Loreen Niewenhuis walked the perimeter of Lake Michigan and wrote the bestselling book, A 1000-MILE WALK ON THE BEACH. In 2012, she took another long journey, covering 1000 miles of shoreline touching all five Great Lakes. The book about this adventure, A 1000-MILE GREAT LAKES WALK, explores the entire Great Lakes system. Finally, in 2014, she launched off of the shoreline to visit many of the islands of the Great Lakes. In 2015 her book A 1000-MILE GREAT LAKES ISLAND ADVENTURE was released.

    Loreen will take you to islands in each of the five Great Lakes and their connecting waters. In words, photos, and video, you’ll explore the geology of the largest system of freshwater lakes in the world and why there are tens of thousands of islands in the Great Lakes basin. She’ll reveal how these islands are diverse in both geological underpinnings and in the life forms existing on the islands. She will also explore some of the scientific research on the islands that she assisted with during her island odyssey. From the wolf-moose study on Isle Royale to the conservation of the endangered piping plover on the Manitou Islands, Niewenhuis will open your eyes and minds to the complexity of life on our Great Lakes islands.

    Loreen Niewenhuis has a M.S. degree in the biological sciences and a M.F.A. in writing. She raises important questions about preserving our wild places and protecting the fragile ecosystems on which we all depend.