The other night I was at work (I work seasonally at a Drive In theater) and I was talking to a friend of mine about something silly and the subject of atheism came up. I was happy that not only was the conversation not derailed by the subject, but that my friend responded with ease "yeah, people think we..." letting me know without being terribly obvious that he too was an atheists.
After the requisite baby eating jokes and the like, we started talking about what we might be able to do in order to improve the image of atheists since what we were joking about was funny, but also unfortunately grounded in actual opinions people hold of my friend and I simply because of our beliefs.
The idea came about that it might be interesting to go around with a camera and do random favors for strangers for no reason at all - and at the end of the interaction mention that we are atheists and see what kinds of responses we get. Now, this kind of project would do very little to prove that your average atheist is a compassionate and kind person (which in my experience has been the case 95% of the time - but keep in mind that is mere anecdotal information) since the random acts of kindness would be completely motivated by an agenda that is not completely charity based. However, I do think these kinds of projects are important and if more of us took these ideas and transformed them into actual projects, we would all be doing a little something to, at the very least, provide the public with a more realistic view of what an atheist is.
So, I offer that idea up for you to mull over and in return I would ask to hear your ideas - have you ever conceptualized any kind of activity such as the one listed above and if so, did you follow through with it and what happened. If you didn't follow through with it, what's holding you back? I think it's important to remember as well that not everyone lives in an area where open and activist level atheism would be peacefully received. That's one of the reasons I feel compelled to take advantage of living in the liberal pacific northwest and trying to organize people who are interested in and willing to participate in these kinds of demonstrations.