2014 Pacific Regional Forum #4 – Saturday

Aloha from Boise, Idaho! Saturday is the long day at a Forum. We started at 9am and kept going through 10pm this evening. The beauty of an event like this that, as long as the day may be, it’s interesting, it’s fun, and the fellowship makes it all worth while.

I started the day with the breakfast buffet set up for us and chatted with folks I’ve met several times over the years. At breakfast the chat seems mostly social, talking about places we’ve been and where folks we’ve known are today. But soon enough it was 9am and we headed to the first session.

We started with three excellent presentations on The Grapevine and La Viña. We from two board directors and the executive publisher. I’m not including my notes in the post itself, they are all in attachment links you’ll find at throughout the this post.

What is clear to me everytime I hear about the Grapevine and La Viña at events like this is the enthusiasm we, as a Fellowship, show for them, but also how little we seem to support them. The Grapevine is in the black because of book sales, not because of subscriptions. In fact subscriptions are trending down or at least not growing. Do you have a subscription?

La Viña continues to be huge asset to the Hispanic community even if it hasn’t yet reached a level of self-support. Subscriptions did pick up when the magazine went to ‘perfect’ binding, that is, no staples. This allows it, as well as the Grapevine to go into prisons and institutions.

We had a quick break followed by a General Sharing/Ask-it-Basket session. Many of the questions were about Grapevine/La Viña. You can see them in my Saturday morning notes.

The morning ended with presentations by delegates, mostly Panel 64 delegates. They were excellent but one of my favorites came at the end, “Have We Forgotten Its a Fatal Disease.” The speakers reminded us that we often don’t see real low-bottom drunks as much as we used to because by the time they get to a meeting they’ve cleaned up a bit at detox or a treatment center. But because of the wait times for some of these places they are still out there drinking until they can get in. Are we going out and doing 12 step work with folks before they get to treatment. Of course things are different in different places, but there’s a kernel of truth here. I know that I see fewer low bottom cases now that my home group has moved off of the edge of Honolulu’s Chinatown to it’s new location just a few blocks away.

Let’s remember that alcohol is one of the leading causes of death in the US and worldwide. It is a fatal malady. Are we doing all we can to bring our message of hope to those who are afflicted or are we simply waiting for them to come to us. Yes, there’s a fine line between attraction and promotion at times, but we can help where no one else can.

Here are my notes from the morning session.

2014 Pacific Regional Forum – Saturday Morning Notes

It was then time for lunch and I shared a meal with other Area Chairs and Alt Chairs that were in from various Pacific Region Areas. It was almost as if we’d never stopped the conversation we’d started back in March at PRAASA in San Diego. For me sharing with folks who serve in the same capacity is one of the real joys of meeting at these events.

Then it was back to work with the start of the Saturday afternoon session. Here we had presentations on Finance, explained expertly by the GSB treasurer. I don’t think I’ve ever heard our finances explained so simply or entertainingly.

Phyllis H. our General Service Office manager was up next and did a great job explaining the relationship of the office to the various other parts of General Service.

This was followed by a presentation on Alcoholics Anonymous World Services.

After a short break we came back for another General Sharing/Ask-it-Basket session. While there plenty of pithy and tough questions, see my attached afternoon notes, there was also a bit of humor when we learned that Norwegian big book is blue not orange, and heard a lovely story about a restaurant meeting. It seems one day the regular waitress didn’t show up and a substitute was serving. Then the waitress who had called in sick walked in…and sat down at the meeting. This happened some time ago and she’s still sober or so the teller thought.

We then had a great presentation on “AA Around the World” by a trustee-at-large charged with international affairs. He had great stories about his travels in South and Central America and being the only non-Spanish speaking member at joint service meetings, learning to dance, and the joy folks have for AA in other countries.

This was followed up by a bit of comedy, a skit about the International Convention that was both funny and managed to convey some information about what can be done and what can’t be done. For instance, we don’t allow drunk junk to be sold at the convention (yes, it’s generally available off site by private vendors). We also can’t put you in touch with someone you met five years ago at the last one named John who you think came from Miami, or Detroit, one of the two. It was a lot of fun and great end to the afternoon.

Here are my notes from the afternoon session.

2014 Pacific Regional Forum – Saturday Afternoon Notes

That in itself would have been a long day. But we still had the an evening session to do after dinner. At this point I really needed to warm up and stretch so instead of having dinner right away I went out for an hour’s bike ride on the lovely Greenway on the Boise River. That really refreshed me, cleared the cobwebs from my head, and gave me an appetite.

That meant it was time for my dinner. Folks were still eating so I joined some folks I know from PRAASA and we talked a lot about our areas while we chowed down on tacos.

In the evening there were two sessions of workshops and we had our choice. I decided to go to “Keeping Our Rooms Safe.” One would think this would focus mostly on sexual predation but in fact there are a lot of things that really fall under this umbrella. It covers covers everything from making people uncomfortable or feel unwelcome by our behavior to assault, robbery, and the things that come, all too sadly, easily to mind. I’ll be getting more information about this topic from some of the participants who have held workshops in the past. I’d also point folks to the September 2013 issue of The Grapevine.

Ken was leading one of the second workshops on “Giving Freely without Recognition” and I’m sure it was great, in fact I heard people complementing the workshop as I met him after things were over for ice cream and a chat, but I went to the workshop on the Grapevine.

When I got sober I had to ride the bus from Honolulu to Kaneohe several times a week for IOP. My sponsor at the time had given me a big back of old Grapevines and I learned that I could read an entire issue on the bus ride there and back. I read a lot of Grapevine issues. I’ve had a love of the magazine ever since.

The workshop was great and I learned a lot I hope to pass on to our very own Grapevine Chair. My enthusiasm for the magazine was increased, if that’s possible, and I’m looking forward to the next issue.

My notes from the workshops are less complete than from the earlier presentations, but that’s mostly because of the nature of a workshop. These workshops are really more of a conversation than a presentation so it’s hard to keep track of everything that was said, but for better or worse, here are my notes…

2014 Pacific Regional Forum – Saturday Evening Notes

After this, as I said, Ken and I had a nice long talk and some ice cream. There was no ice cream social and darn near a riot because of it (well, Forum’s really aren’t social events per se), but we managed to find some in the hotel sundries shop. I really shouldn’t be eating ice cream, but it was a long day.

And that’s it for today. Tomorrow we have a morning session and then say goodbye to each other until 2016 in…wait for it…Kona!

Yes, that’s right, the next Pacific Regional Forum is being held in our own home state and you know that we will be encouraging everyone to attend. The Forum is an event put on so that you can learn about how AA works outside the group level. It is designed for everyone, not just those in general service. You can be sure we’ll be talking more about it as the date draws near.

Till tomorrow then, thank you for letting me be of service,

Bob H.