Northern Virginia Ethical Society (NoVES)

Sunday Platforms


The platform of an Ethical Society is itself the altar; the address must be the fire that burns thereon.

Felix Adler, Founder of Ethical Culture

What to Expect

Our platform meetings typically feature a thought-provoking talk on a topic of ethical interest, along with responses, music, a story for children of all ages, and more. We meet from mid-September through mid-June (see topic listings below).

Our Sunday School is devoted to teaching children how to make ethical choices, with a thoughtful, age-specific curriculum and a friendly, supportive environment.

All are welcome to attend a Sunday meeting and to bring children along for Sunday School. Casual, comfortable dress is the norm, we want you to feel at home.

We follow the more formal part of our meetings with a coffee and conversation time hosted by our members -- a chance to continue the conversation about the topic, to get to know each other, to learn from each other, and to find others with shared values and concerns.

A few times each year, we have inter-generational festival celebrations instead of talks at the Sunday platform meeting. In these events, we celebrate the natural flow of the seasons, honor the universal human concerns behind holidays, and enjoy a shared meal together.

Each Sunday, we pass the basket, giving members and friends an opportunity to help support the Society and its values. Half of all undesignated donations are given to a charitable or service organization or project; the Ethical Action committee selects and announces each week's recipient organization or project.

Sample Sunday Program

 11:00 AMOpening Words and Music   
  Welcome and Greet Your neighbors
 11:10 AMStory Time (kids gather up front)  
 11:15 AMKids go to Sunday School
 11:20 AMPlatform Speaker Introduction
 11:20 AM-11:50 AMPlatform Address  
 Response Period and Sharing of Responsibility (collections)
 12:00 PMClosing Words  
 12:15Conclusion of Sunday School  
 12:00 PM-1:30 PMSnacks and Social Time

Upcoming Topics

    • Sunday, January 21, 2018
    • 11:00 AM - 1:00 PM
    • Green Hedges School


    The winter solstice, also known as midwinter, is an astronomical phenomenon marking the day with the shortest period of daylight and the longest night of the year. Come celebrate the Winter Solstice, the End of Year Holidays and the 2018 New Year all rolled into one with your fellow Ethical Humanists on Sunday, January 21st at 11:00 am. The children of the NOVES Navigators will be our featured entertainment on stage and our leader, Randy Best, will preside as Master of Ceremonies. Please bring something to share that will abundantly feed 12-15 people. The Festivals Committee will be providing Meat, Beverages and power strips for your crock pots.

    The assignments are as follows:

    A-R Please bring a hearty side dish to share

    S-Z Please bring a dessert

    The charity for this festival will be Paige's Closet. Please bring any old coats and other outerwear you wish to donate.

    Any help to arrive early to set up and decorate the room will be appreciated. Doors will be unlocked at 10 am.

    Join us as we celebrate the Winter season!

    • Sunday, January 28, 2018
    • 11:00 AM - 12:30 PM
    • Green Hedges School

    Courage for the Resistance...and the Relationships.

    Many of us are engaged in social justice work, or political action, seeking to change the recent direction of our country. How do we maintain hope and build up our bravery for that work? And, at the same time, how do we stay true to our Ethical Culture principles? 

    Amanda Poppei, Senior Leader, Washington Ethical Society

    • Sunday, February 04, 2018
    • 11:00 AM - 12:30 PM
    • Green Hedges School

    How Fragile is American Democracy?
    American Democracy, with three independent branches, was designed to withstand all threats, domestic and foreign.  Is American Democracy robust enough to withstand the challenges that it faces today?  Will it be able to be faithful to its principles?  What events are required for American Democracy to collapse?  I will address these challenges and my fears about the future of American Democracy.
    • Sunday, February 11, 2018
    • 11:00 AM - 12:30 PM
    • Green Hedges School
    The Secular Coalition for America's (SCA) Senior Legislative Representative and Director of the Secular Values Voter campaign, Sarah Levin, unveils a vision and strategy to mobilize the secular community into a powerful voting bloc. Sarah will discuss a new messaging strategy focused on secular values and reframing the debate around religious freedom. She will also present  the details of two new SCA programs: a movement-wide Get out the Vote effort and the "Party Crashers" project, a program designed to give secular voters a voice in the political establishment.
    • Sunday, February 18, 2018
    • 11:00 AM - 12:30 PM
    • Green Hedges School

    A discussion panel hosted by members Govindan Nair and Jaime Argadona

    • Sunday, February 25, 2018
    • 11:00 AM - 12:30 PM
    • Green Hedges School

    Speaker, NoVES member Govind Nair


    This presentation will offer a humanist interpretation of what challenges and opportunities exist in various social networks, within and across local, national, and global levels. We will briefly review some core concepts in social network theory and draw on recent social science research using these concepts. Partly based on the presenter's experience in teaching a college course on social network theory, it will focus on the ethical implications of voluntarily and involuntarily being part of different networks. It will specifically consider these issues in the light of four moral imperatives discussed in a previous platform by the same presenter: managing our bounded rationality; reclaiming science as a dominant mode of public discourse; enforcing the protection of our global commons; and averting the politics of despair.


    Govind is a Board member of the Northern Virginia Ethical Society and is also active in the Platform, Adult Enrichment And Civic Action, and Communications committees. A dual USA/Australia national, Govind was born in Singapore, and, outside the USA, has lived in Asia, Australia, France, and Panama, and traveled in more than 80 countries on five continents. He is fluent in French, Spanish, and Malay/Indonesian, and has a working knowledge of Russian, Hindi, and Portuguese.

    Govind took an early retirement in 2010 as Lead Economist from the World Bank where his 25-year career spanned financial development, telecommunications policy, decentralization,  public-private partnerships and capacity building. He subsequently established a global private training and consultancy practice based in Fairfax, Virginia. In parallel with these engagements, he has remained for fifteen years an adjunct faculty at The George Washington University where he mainly teaches economics in a graduate program in organizational sciences, and occasional courses in social network theory and in organizational change management. 

    Govind studied economics in the USA as an undergraduate and graduate at Reed College and Princeton University, and in Paris, France at the Institut d'Etudes Politiques (political economy) and Sorbonne (French literature and civilization). He has also taught in MBA and public policy graduate programs at universities in Australia and Malaysia, and has been a speaker at more than two dozen international conferences and corporate trainer in several dozens executive and policy maker workshops.

    • Sunday, March 04, 2018
    • 11:00 AM - 12:30 PM
    • Green Hedges School

    NoVES Leader Randy Best will present the first platform of the month.

    • Sunday, March 11, 2018
    • 11:00 AM - 12:30 PM
    • Green Hedges School

    "Songs in the Key of Free: Music as a Healing Force"

    presented by August Tarrier and Miles Butler

    August Tarrier Miles Butler 

    August Tarrier and Miles Butler, co-directors of Songs in the Key of Free, will present a talk, with documentary video and music, that depicts the arts-based music program they co-founded which brings workshops in musicianship and songwriting to prisons. For the past year, they’ve been working at SCI-Graterford in Montgomery County, PA, partnering with 25 incarcerated artists to create a documentary film, a podcast, photo essays, and a cycle of songs addressing mass incarcerated that they are recording for an album in 2018.

    The focus of their program is captured by this quote from Angela Davis, “The prison functions ideologically as an abstract site into which undesirables are deposited, relieving us of thinking about real issues afflicting those communities from which prisoners are drawn in disproportionate numbers . . . . It relieves us of the responsibility of seriously engaging with the problems of society, especially those produced by racism, and increasingly, global capitalism” (Angela Davis, Are Prisons Obsolete? Seven Stories Press, 2003).

    August Tarrier is a community arts activist, a documentary filmmaker, a sanguine collaborator, a sleeve roller-upper, worker of modest miracles, diviner of mysteries, and seer of all things story. She is a writer, manuscript consultant, and editor who teaches workshops at area universities and in the prisons. She is the founder of Songs in the Key of Free, and of the Superheroes Project, an arts-based workshop for survivors of sexual trauma. She has been a Fellow at the Sundance Screenwriters Intensive, and at numerous residencies, including Yaddo and the MacDowell Colony. She earned a Ph.D in Contemporary Literature and Cultural Studies at Temple University.

    Miles Orion Butler is a multi-instrumentalist singer/songwriter from the Philadelphia area who plays and records with several bands. He was born into a musical family and spent his youth singing and touring with the Keystone State Boy Choir. In recent years, Miles has toured nationally as a solo artist and with the folk ensemble The Breaking Yard. His lyrics contemplate society, story telling, love, consciousness, and freedom. Miles' background in management with social-justice-focused retail organizations provided a strong foundation in launching a nonprofit. He is the Co-Founder of Songs in the Key of Free.

    • Sunday, March 18, 2018
    • 11:00 AM - 12:30 PM

    Member Dr. Elham Hassen will discuss her experiences working in global health.

    • Sunday, April 01, 2018
    • 11:00 AM - 12:30 PM
    • Green Hedges School

    • Sunday, April 08, 2018
    • 11:00 AM - 12:30 PM
    • Green Hedges

    Spring Festival!

    • Sunday, April 15, 2018
    • 11:00 AM - 12:30 PM
    • Green Hedges School

    Bart Worden, Executive Director of the American Ethical Union, will present a platform.

    • Sunday, April 22, 2018
    • 11:00 AM - 12:30 PM
    • Green Hedges School

    NoVES Leader Randy Best will present the monthly platform.

    • Sunday, May 06, 2018
    • 11:00 AM - 12:30 PM
    • Green Hedges School

    NoVES Leader Randy Best will present the first platform of the month.

    • Sunday, May 13, 2018
    • 11:00 AM - 12:30 PM
    • Green Hedges School

    Chris Centner will present the platform address.

    • Sunday, May 27, 2018
    • 11:00 AM - 12:30 PM
    • Green Hedges School

    Closed for Memorial Weekend- Memorial Weekend Camping Trip 2016

    • Sunday, June 03, 2018
    • 11:00 AM - 12:30 PM
    • Green Hedges School

    Tony Hileman, Former Senior Leader, NY Society for Ethical Culture, will present the platform address

    • Sunday, June 17, 2018
    • 11:00 AM - 12:30 PM

    NoVES Leader Randy Best will deliver a short platform recognizing our achievements for the year.

Directions to Sunday Platform

Green Hedges School

415 Windover Avenue NW

Vienna, VA 22180

Driving Directions

Take the Nutley Street North exit from Route I-66.  At the fourth light, cross Maple Avenue (Route 123) and start watching your odometer.  At 0.2 miles, you will see a driveway with “Watch for Turning Vehicles” and “Green Hedges” signs.  There will also be an Ethical Society sign next to the driveway.  Turn right into the driveway, park in the lot, and take the nearest entrance into the building.

Questions or platform topic recommendations? Contact the Platform Committee

AEU website

Click on the logo to learn more about Ethical Culture, ethical action nationwide, and AEU resolutions on national and global issues.

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