Street Tabling: A Learning Tool
[The following article is taken from the July/August 2010 newsletter of the New York City Atheists.]
I recommend, for those who want to strengthen their confidence and skills in dealing with the public, that they consider joining our [New York City] street tabling group on Saturdays. In good weather, we pitch our tent at Columbus Circle, hang up our banners, set out our chairs and prepare to meet the public. It is only recently that I realized that street tabling is probably the most valuable tool we have in learning how to deal with, and communicate to, the non-Atheist community. You can get experience in telling people that you are an Atheist and why; you can rehearse your responses while answering the questions of the people who approach our table. Oddly enough, we get many new members via our street tabling, which shows me that some of our regular tablers have gotten quite proficient. In any case, tabling is a good first step before dealing with your parents or work colleagues. Street tabling is, indeed, a mini-classroom for people who want to build up their confidence, communication skills or interpersonal skills. It makes you aware of what people are interested in learning about Atheists, what reservations they have and how they perceive Atheists.
Street tabling can prepare you for participating in panels, organizing events or volunteering for political candidates who respect our goals.
And truth be told, street tabling is an easy way to “come out.” You are out there with a group of Atheist friends, chatting it up and having fun. You are telling non-Atheists, if they ask, why you are an Atheist and the wonderful delusion-free, selfdetermined Atheist way of life. You are actually out as an Atheist. Free at last.
So come join us on good-weather Saturdays, wear your Atheist tee shirt or cap, think about Harvey Milk and begin your life-long journey toward building a better society based on reality.