On May 13, The Oasis Network celebrated its five year anniversary. Let’s take a look at what we’ve accomplished together in five years, and what’s next.
When members of the secular community in Kansas City wanted to start gatherings similar to Houston Oasis, we knew we needed to create a new entity to accommodate them and secular groups in other cities. Oasis leaders went to a wine bar, where most of our best ideas got their start, to discuss what the new entity would be. We dreamed up the audacious idea of multiple Oasis communities in cities around the world, connected by a central network. At that meeting, I wrote down the mission statement for The Oasis Network: “To facilitate the establishment and to provide support for Oasis communities worldwide.”
In our first few years, it was important to establish an identity and culture. What makes a group an Oasis? Many of you have gone to another chapter meeting. It’s amazing to sit in a different place, listen to different music, with different people, but still know that you’re at an Oasis. Coffee, local music, community moment, and main presentation give us all a familiar comfort. Unique people across chapters help give each group its own personality. For example, biscotti is still just a Houston thing, but you never know.
We accomplished this by facilitating the most important function of The Oasis Network – to bring leaders from across chapters together for friendship and professional development. Whether it’s a summit, a retreat, or just a conversation online, connecting leaders across chapters means that successful programming in one chapter benefits us all. Could you even imagine Oasis without community groups? What Kansas City started with that program has become foundational across chapters. I wonder which chapter the next big idea will come from. We may not have to wait long. The next Oasis Network Summit will be right here in Houston in 2021.
The latest priority of the network is to build Oasis into a strong recognizable brand. In August of 2019, we “borrowed” a marketing video made by Houston Oasis and rebranded it to promote The Oasis Network. I asked for permission first. I promise. We’ve now partnered with a leading professional marketing company serving a wide variety of clients including The Houston Texans, Jimmy Buffet, Aerosmith, Luke Bryan, Kenny Chesney, and The Special Olympics. Now, they’re helping us develop a world-class website for all Oasis Network chapters. When secular people get on the web to find secular content, we want them to be inspired by what they see from The Oasis Network. We also want you to feel proud to be here. New websites launch August, 1.
There are 12 chapters - Galveston Bay, Houston,. Kansas City, Salt Lake, Toronto, Wichita. West Hill United is in Canada, and we have 3 others in Utah. North Orlando launched online during the pandemic. And Oasis Gaming is bringing gamers across all of the chapters together to play games and to promote secular values in the gaming community. Although, secular people outside these areas reach out to us all the time, we won’t be in a rush to add chapters. We want our growth to be steady and sustainable. Eventually we will add chapters in Mexico and other areas where English will not be the primary language and become a truly international network.
Oasis redefined secular communities, and we’re not done. The Oasis Network will update governance processes to limit conflicts of interest and redefine responsible governance, not just for secular groups, but for all organizations. We will provide professional training to our leaders to make them more effective and to build a more consistent culture. With our continued growth and influence, we hope to strengthen the voice of secularism so that “people are more important that beliefs” becomes a slogan for all of humanity.
Most importantly, we’ll make more friends on this journey, and enjoy good times together. In 2019, The Oasis Network went to the American Atheist Convention, and most attendees had never heard of Oasis. Now, we’ve formed close bonds with many of them, and some are forming launch teams for future Oasis communities. Many have come to speak at Oasis chapters, and are working with us to advance our common goals. I spoke last week at Kansas City’s weekly gathering and recognized so many friends from our first two vacation cruises. We’ll make even more friends when we go on our next vacation with more participating chapters in 2022.
I’m proud of what we’ve accomplished in five years. Happy 5th anniversary, Oasis Network.