What to Take back from the 2014 Budget Assembly

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I’d like to extend a big Mahalo to everyone who participated in our 2014 Area 17 Budget Assembly with a special thanks to Tri-Island District 13 for being such great hosts (and getting a room with air-conditioning). Here are the “What to Take Back” items as I saw them. Please remember these should not replace your own notes, thoughts, and remembrances when reporting to your group. We all find something different at assemblies and every group may have different interests. The best way I’ve found to report at my group is from the heart. What excites me is more likely to excite other members than a dry reading of a list written by someone else.

  1. 2015 Budget – The 2015 budget passed unanimously. Let’s all give thanks to our treasurer and hardworking finance committee members who worked so hard on both the budget and budget presentations at District and home group meetings across Area 17.
  2. Asking the General Service Office to investigate the possibility of the holding the General Service Conference on the west coast every other year – This proposal from the Hang Loose Group on Oahu, brought up through the home group, the district, our Area Committee Meeting, and our Area Assembly passed with substantial unanimity. Our delegate will now draft a letter to GSO with the full weight of our Area’s decision behind it. Keep in mind we are not asking GSO to move the GSC, we are simply inquiring if it is possible. Let’s give ourselves a big hand for the excellent discussion of this topic at our assembly. We were able to see a motion brought forth, discussed, a friendly amendment made, and hear minority opinion. For those who haven’t participated in this process, you’ve now seen it done and done well, regardless the outcome.
  3. 2014 Area 17 Elections Assembly – Our final assembly of Panel 63 will be held in Puna District 12 on Hawaii Island, October 18-19, 2014 at the Pahoa Neighborhood Facility, 15-3011 Kauhale St, Pahoa, HI 96778. I know my heart went out to everyone on Hawaii Island, especially Puna, when Iselle struck the weekend before our assembly. I’m grateful that everyone is not only safe, but still willing to host our last assembly. I encourage everyone to send their representatives to this very important assembly and consider standing for Area Officer positions or volunteering themselves for Area Standing Committee Chair positions. The larger the pool of candidates our area has to choose from, the better off our area will be during our upcoming 2015-16 Panel 65. For more information on the duties and qualifications for these positions, please see our Area 17 Structures and Guidelines and The A.A. Service Manual combined with Twelve Concepts for World Service, both available online. In addition, feel free to contact any officer or standing committee chair for specific information about that position.
  4. 2015 Panel 65 Orientation Assembly – The first assembly of Panel 65 will be held January 17-18, 2015 in the Windward District at the Kokokahi YWCA, 45-035 Kāne’ohe Bay Drive, Kāne’ohe, HI 96744. Registration information should be available at the Elections Assembly. Everyone currently serving in Panel 63 should remember to help inform all the incoming GSRS and DCMS in their groups and districts as many will have no experience at the Area level and may not know how to register for an Assembly. Please encourage them to attend as this best assembly for us to inform new members how Area works and what the Fellowship expects of them in their new position. In addition, Joel, our new Pacific Regional Trustee will be in attendance and this is a great time to meet him and learn more about what he does and how he serves AA as a whole, the Pacific Region, and our own Area 17.
  5. 2015 Events – Currently the list of 2015 Area events and locations can be found on the front page of our Area 17 Website. Specific information will be available as soon as it available and submitted to the webmaster. Please note that design of the website is fluid and may change with time.
  6. 2015 International Convention – The International Convention of Alcoholics Anonymous will be held July 2-5, 2015 in Atlanta, GA.  with the theme “80 Years – Happy, Joyous and Free.” Information has been mailed to DCMS, GSRS and others (one reason to keep our contact information current). There is a form available for group hotel requests (10 rooms or more): IC2015 Group Housing Instruction Packet. This must be returned by August 22nd so be quick (instructions are included). This is not registration for the Convention, just a request for a block of rooms. Online registration at aa.org goes live September 3rd, 2014 at 3:00 AM HST.
  7. Registrar– Our registrar informed us that there are 228 active groups in Hawaii currently listed with GSO (and we’d certainly like to see GSRS from all of them at our Elections Assembly). However there are also 93 groups with an unknown status, 29 groups who have merged, and 246 inactive groups (1 pending). Please keep our registrar informed about the status of your group and let him know about changes. Keeping our directory up to date is one way we can insure that we can be found by the still suffering alcoholic (and those of us not suffering so much but needing a meeting).
  8. Treasurer – Our treasurer and finance committee would like everyone to thank their home group for supporting the work of Hawaii Area 17. Without your financial and service support we would be hard pressed to continue bringing our vibrant voice to AA as a whole and supporting the work of caring our message of hope throughout the islands.
  9. Archives – The Archives Committee is looking for material specific to Hawaii Area 17, it’s districts and groups, as well as long timer histories. Other material, specific to island wide events (not specific to the areas mentioned) should go to the archives maintained by each Intergroup.
  10. Convention – The Annual Hawaii Convention is still looking for neighbor island members to participate at this year’s convention. The steering committee is gratified at the level of neighbor island participation this year, but more is always welcome. In addition, entertainers are still being sought, if you are one, or know one, please contact the Convention Chair or the Steering Committee Chair. The cutoff for regular priced registrations is October 1, 2014 after which prices will go up, the meal cutoff date is October 8, 2014 and at this time meal purchases will not be available onsite. The AHC is encouraging everyone to purchase a meal as it helps offset the cost of the convention rooms and helps keep the convention affordable, besides it’s a great way to join in the fun and fellowship.
  11. Corrections – The Corrections Committee is always looking for volunteers across our islands. For specific needs please contact the Corrections Committee Chair.
  12. Website – The Website Committee is looking for the use of a large screen monitor as well as volunteers who are registered for the Annual Hawaii Convention and willing to help out at the convention committee display.
  13. Delegate Report Back – There are still two Delegate Report Backs scheduled on Oahu. Our delegate will sharing is 2014 GSC experience for the combined Leeward, Waianae, and Central North Shore Districts at the Sts. Peter and Paul Mission  at 11:30 AM on September 21st. The Windward district report back will be the following weekend. Please contact the DCMS of those districts for more information.
  14. Oahu Intergroup – The Oahu Intergroup Central Office is moving to: Century Square, 1188 Bishop St. #3406, Honolulu, HI 96813. Their phone number, 808-946-4138 will not change. Currently they are still operating at their Palama Settlement location but will completing the move shortly. Please see their website for more information: Oahu AA Intergroup of Hawaii.
  15. WACYPAA 18 – The 18th Annual Western Area Conference of Young People in Alcoholics Anonymous will be held in West Hawaii this coming December. Check out their website for more information.

That’s a lot of information to take back and I encourage everyone to check back in a week or so in case I’ve missed anything. If I have, please send me an email at my chair email address.

Once more, thanks to everyone who participated and served at this, our penultimate Panel 63 Assembly. Let’s all carry the message of service and share with your home group how important, not to mention how much fun, General Service work can be. Hopefully we’ll see many of you, and many others, standing or volunteering for Area positions at our elections assembly.

And finally, the work of Area 17 Panel 63 will continue through to the last hour of 2014. While it might seem that our last assembly in Puna marks the end of the panel, our regular work will continue and we all need to consider how we can make the transition to the new panel as smooth as possible. I ask everyone to remember what they would have wanted to know at the beginning of our Panel 63 journey and pass that one to the next trusted servant who will be taking over in Panel 65.

Yours in gratitude and service,

Bob H. – Area 17 Panel 63 Chair

What to Take Back from the 2014 Inform the Delegate Assembly

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Here’s the information you need take back to your groups from the Inform the Delegate Assembly. The process we used this year, having our own ‘mini General Service Conference’ seemed to work very well considering it’s our first attempt at format, at least in recent years. The best thing you can take back to your groups about this process is your enthusiasm and reflections on your experience. Besides that, here are the important ‘need to know’ items:

  1. Delegate
    1. Be sure to take your packet of information back to your group – if you need the contents please contact our delegate Ken K.
    2. International Convention Information – July 2-5, 2015 in Atlanta, Georgia will be available at the end of August. Please do not schedule local events for the same time as the International Convention.
    3. Box 459 – Please let them know if there are any celebrations of the Big Book (75th Anniversary)
    4. Regional Forum coming up in July in Boise, Idaho
  2. Treasurer
    1. Please be sure to schedule a Finance Committee Member to come to your District Meeting to present and explain the proposed budget.
    2. Standing Committee Chairs should be prepared to show how much they believe next year’s committee will need to do their work.
  3. Area Events
    1. May Committee Meeting 5/18 – Waianae District 17 – Oahu
    2. August Budget Assembly – 8/16-8/17  Tri-Island District 13 – Maui
    3. October Elections Assembly – 10/18-10/19 -Puna District 12 – Hawaii Island
  4. WACYPAA 18
    1. The WACYPAA 18 website will be wacypaa18.org. The hotel is current accepting reservations, be sure to mention WACYPAA. Register now as the $25 is the current pre-reg price.
  5. General Service Conference
    1. The GSC Is April 26 – May 3rd. Ken will be back and if your district hasn’t set up a Delegate Report Back yet.
  6. Annual Hawaii Convention
    1. The Annual Hawaii Convention is looking for a new secretary which is a paid special worker position and a 2015 area chair which is a volunteer position. In addition the convention is looking for volunteers from all islands. Please contact Cathy, Cheryl, Colleen, or Heidi G. if you have questions or are interested in submitting a resume.
  7. Service Positions
    1. Pattilyne B. graciously accepted the position of Grapevine Standing Committee Chair and was confirmed by our assembly.
    2. Linda McD, current archivist, graciously accepted the additional position of Archives Standing Committee Chair and was confirmed by the assembly.
    3. Note: Section 3.5 of our S&G requires that:

      3.5 If a position is vacated, an appointment from the chair will take place immediately, and the new appointee will be recommended to the assembly for confirmation.

My thanks go out to all who participated in our Inform the Delegate Assembly, those who were here in the assembly, those who volunteered to make the assembly possible, and all the members of the Hawaii fellowship whose generous contributions make it possible for our voice to be heard through our delegate at the General Service Conference.

Yours in service,

Bob H – Area 17 Panel 63 Chair

Idaho Elections Assembly – Saturday Business and Home

Aloha kakou,

It’s Sunday and I’m back on a plane headed home. Saturday was an event filled day that started early and ended late.

First up was breakfast with Joel, our current Pacific Regional Trustee. He’d come in late on Friday night, after I’d headed to bed, so I had not had a chance to say hello. The convention/assembly didn’t offer a Saturday breakfast, though the hotel did have a complimentary food. Joel had searched online for a breakfast place in Burley, found one, and suggested Barry and I join him. We did.

We had a great time catching up on events since we’d last seen each other. For me it had been at the Conference, though of course we’d all communicated over the year. All too soon we were due back at the conference hall and the start of the assembly. The convention would be starting as well in rooms separate from the business meeting.

Their Idaho Assembly currently is about the same size as our with somewhere around one hundred voting members. You’d feel right at home because in many ways there are a lot of similarities.

I’d been asked to sit at the check-in desk, which would be manned by our Registrar back home, and help folks check-in. Instead of signing in books here it was simple sheets of paper, each labeled with a district, and one for the Area Committee. It’s much the same as home, though instead of specially prepared voting slips I handed out orange index cards.

Assembly members came in fairly quickly. Here at the conference room everyone was seated in theatre style seating, not at tables as we try to do. In fact there were small signs showing each of their districts and everyone was sitting with other members of the their own district by rows.

Their officers and committee members were seated at tables in the front of the room, much as we used to do, and the microphone placement, in the center aisle, meant that when speaking assembly members were addressing the officers rather than, as we do, the assembly. I remember the discussions we had over that several panels back which led to our current practice. I’ll try to keep from editorializing too much, but I definitely prefer our method.

After some preliminaries, again similar to our own, they began the primary business of the day (and remember, their assembly lasts from Friday evening through Saturday, no Sunday as back at home). This was Idaho’s Elections Assembly, they are an ‘even’ panel, and they’d be electing their Panel 68 officers.

Their procedures are quite different from ours and I found it interesting. Like us they begin by electing a delegate, alternate delegate, and chair using A.A.’s wonderful Third Legacy Procedure.

Candidates stand just as we do. Qualifications are read and everyone qualified is asked to stand. Then anyone who feels they can’t do the job because of time commitments or other obligations sits down. Those left standing then line up and give their qualifications.

As my job at the front desk was over I’d been asked to be the ‘board man.’ That is to say, I wielded a marker up front on a white board writing down names and later voting tallies.

Like us colored voting slips were passed out, though not in booklets of five as we do. They’d hand out new slips for each vote.

There’s also another big difference between our procedure and theirs. Instead of having the count up front and tallying in full view of the assembly, their vote count takes place in the back and is conducted by past delegates and, in this case, a past trustee (also a past Idaho delegate), Madeleine P. It was great to see her as we’ve become friends over the years. She was the Pacific Regional Trustee when I first started in General Services, preceding both Rod and our current Trustee, Joel.

Because the assembly isn’t tied up with counting business is conducted during each count. Reports are read, though as we do, anyone standing for election doesn’t give a report until any voting involving them is complete.

Joel was running the election, as is usual when a trustee comes for an election, and he did a great job. He has lots of practice now. This was my first time “at the board” so it took me a bit of practice in getting all the names down and believe me, they had a lot of names as they had a lot of folks standing for each position. Our last election had a lot of candidates too and I think that’s great. The more choice there is for the assembly, the more confident we can be that the right person is chosen for the job.

So business went on and when a result was reached Madeleine would come from the back of the room with a tally sheet, Joel would stop the business and, if there were no election, the next vote would be conducted. In this way they sort of double up on their duties. We have a little more time as our assemblies are held over two days, but this does work, even if it takes a bit of time to adjust to it.

The other big differences are that their secretary and treasurer are not elected using the Third Legacy Procedure, it’s a simple plurality vote. That is, whoever has the most votes on the first ballot is elected. In the event of a tie it goes to a second vote. If there is still a tie, they go immediately to the hat.

I was having a blast because I wasn’t just a passive observer, but had a role up front writing down names and vote counts as Joel called them out. Good fun.

We did break for lunch, a box lunch, and after lunch Joel shared his experience, strength, and hope. I’d heard his story before but again I was struck by the similarity of our feelings, if not our circumstances.

Once his share was completed it was back to business. Throughout the afternoon. Like our at our budget assembly they had lively discussions with votes and reconsiderations. The issues are different, though similar, I could certainly see our assemblies taking up some of the same things in the future. And like us, they concluded lovingly, even if they, at times, disagreed. It was a wonderful demonstration of the power of an informed group conscience and I’m grateful I was able to attend.

In the late afternoon the assembly was over, as were the convention panels which, as I said, were running in other rooms while business was being conducted. We had time for a break and I took some time in my room to shower and meditate a bit on what the day had been like.

A real highlight for me during the day was the election of their Panel 68 Delegate who will taking over from my good friend Barry S. at the end of the year. Her name is Shannon C. and she is currently serving Area 18 as their Panel 66 Area Chair. She had much the same reaction I did to my own election to delegate, a bit of shock, a sense of overwhelming gratitude, and…I’m still not quite sure what I felt, but I’m sure you could see it all in my face. It was the same for her.

I’d brought a lei for the occasion and it was my great pleasure to extend our Aloha to her. I know she’ll do fine as a delegate and I’m truly looking forward to serving with her at the 68th General Service Conference next April.

I’d also brought a lei for Barry, the outgoing Panel 66 Delegate, and as I presented him with it I thought about what a great friend and mentor he has been to me during the first year of my term. I hope I’m able to return the favor next year.

Then it was time for dinner. I was seated with Barry and Joel, as well as David F. and his wife, and another couple from outside the area. David is a past Idaho delegate and we’ve met many times at PRAASA in the past and have developed a friendship over the years. Many years ago, and described in one of my blog posts when I serviced in a different position, I’d made a friendly amendment to a motion of his during the PRAASA business meeting. It passed and I’m sure it helped us bond as fellow servants and friends.

After dinner it was time for the Saturday night speaker. Greg T., the current G.S.O. Manager was scheduled speak but had, sadly, had to cancel. He was missed by me as he was one of the reasons I’d planned to attend this event. Primarily I was there to see Barry, but Joel and Greg together were strong incentives to make the trip.

His absence also allowed me to be of bit more service to the Idaho Fellowship as, knowing I was coming, Barry had suggested the convention committee that I fill in as the Saturday speaker. I’m happy to report that they’d accepted his suggestion and I was asked, several weeks ago, to be their speaker. Lest you think having a delegate from Hawaii speak in Idaho at their convention a singular event, I should tell you I was simply following in the footsteps of Vernon G., one of our past delegates who spoke on Saturday night at the same events, I think in 2012.

My share was warmly accepted and, because a I felt so welcomed the whole weekend, I was very comfortable. I felt the love of their assembly and that kept from being terribly nervous. It was quite an experience.

Right after that they had, much as we do at our convention, a dance. The dance floor was quiet at first, but I dragged Shannon, the newly elected Panel 68 Delegate out on the floor and insisted she have a little fun. Being elected can be a bit overwhelming and it’s really important not to take everything completely seriously, remember Rule 62.

After that I simply had to go to bed. I’d be leaving in the morning after breakfast to return home and start preparing for our own upcoming October Committee Meeting. I’ve a Mynah Bird article to write after all: have you written yours?

There isn’t much more to say about their assembly and convention as it was drawing to a close, but my day, as it turned out, was just beginning.

Because of the onslaught of yet more bad weather in the Gulf, the airline flying in and out of Twin Falls was experiencing delays. My flight would be delayed by an hour or so, which wouldn’t affect my connections, but Joel’s flight out was delayed enough that he’d not be able to get home without rebooking.

The solution was clear. If we could drive to Salt Lake City, about 3 hours by car, he could make his connection there. As my own flight connected there, I’d be able to do the same, though it wasn’t necessary for me. Barry, our friend and current delegate jumped at the chance to spend more time with us and after breakfast, and wonderful Aloha from all present, we were off on a great road trip South the Salt Lake.

We had a great drive in every way. The road was clear, the weather good, if windy, and the conversation was great. We discussed a lot about service in A.A. of course, but we are also friends and there was a lot of humor and just good stuff. Being able to spend several hours with friends I don’t see often with whom I share a life of recovery is really beyond words. “…to have a host of friends — this is an experience you must not miss.”

Thanks to you, the love you shown me and each otehr, the opportunities for service and growth you’ve given me and each other, and the support you show me and each other each and every day, I haven’t missed it. And for that I thank you. I have no words.

We weren’t quite done though. Barry and I dropped Joel off, with hugs and tears, and I still had a couple of hours before I had to leave. Rather than spend it alone at the airport, Barry and I drove off in search of an A.A. Sure enough we found one at a local hospital We were a few minutes late, but that didn’t bother the regulars. We were new faces and it turned two other new faces turned up. It was one of the regulars 18 month anniversary and it was a wonderful meeting, just what we needed.

Barry and I grabbed a final lunch together, burgers at chain he said would make him the envy of his peer group; they don’t have them in Idaho. We laughed and joked and made sure we knew each other’s plans for PRAASA and then he dropped me at the airport in Salt Lake City.

It wasn’t long before I returned to where I’d been when I wrote my first post in this series, in an airline seat somewhere over the Pacific, this time heading home.

I miss you all, even though I was gone but a short time. I look forward to seeing you all soon, especially at our upcoming committee meeting, and hope you’ve had as wonderful a weekend as I did.

Yours in loving gratitude and service,

Bob H.
Area 17 Hawaii
Panel 67 Delegate

 

Idaho Elections Assembly – Friday in Burley

Aloha kakou,

I’ve now been in Idaho for a full day and a bit more. It’s been a great experience so far and I’m having a great time, and hopefully, being a good ambassador for Hawaii Area 17.

After being picked up in Twin Falls yesterday by the current Area 17 Delegate, Barry S., we did a bit of siteseeing, visiting the Snake River Canyon in Twin Falls, and yes, there are falls. It’s also the place that Evel Knieval tried to jump the Snake River and the mound he built as a ramp is still there. The Perrine Bridge across the river in the area is used by base jumpers…parachuting off the bridge. We watched several safely jump and land and then headed out to Ketchum and the home of Thad N., the current Idaho Alternate Delegate.

I was getting pretty tired by this point as I have a hard time sleeping on planes, but I didn’t want to nap early as I really wanted to adjust to the local time, four hours ahead of Hawaii, so I was pretty tired. Still those of you who know me know I love to attend local meetings and off we went to a local club’s Thursday night men’s stag. Thad, my host and alternate delegate, was chairing the meeting and it was, as you might suppose, a lot like meetings back home. After the meeting we did something we are all familiar with, or at least I hope we are, we went out to break bread together and have that all important meeting after the meeting.

Then I slept. Like a log.

Friday morning we were up early and headed out for a bit more siteseeing. Snow comes early to Idaho and yes, there were patches of snow in Ketchum which is in the foothills of the the mountains. Barry was driving again we went up into the mountains for some spectacular views before we turned and headed to Burley and the site of convention and assembly.

You may be wondering why I’m talking about siteseeing and the like on a ‘service blog.’ Well, I’m glad you asked. In my opinion service goes way beyond meetings and agendas and the “things we do at assemblies” or in our groups as coffeemaker, greeters, and secretaries. It’s also about building bonds of unity throughout A.A. It’s about learning from each other how we carry the message of A.A. in love where we live and with the unique challenges we face, wherever we may be. Barry and I may have been siteseeing, but we were talking A.A. and, yes, having fun doing it. I encourage you, on whatever journeys you may take, to remember that we aren’t a glum lot and, just as importantly, service is anything we do to help carry the message, build bonds between areas, and yes, one alcoholic talking to another.

Coming out of the mountains we reinterred the “high desert” of Idaho and crossed some laval plains that could be dropped near Kona without anyone noticing.

Soon we were in Burley registering for the convention and the assembly. I was introduced by Barry as the Hawaii Delegate and I was very warming received. Idaho has their own version of Aloha and the folks here certainly extended it to me. I felt very much at home here, though I did have to dress a bit more warmly.

After getting to my room I changed into one of the suits I wore at the Conference and my report-backs. It’s a small ‘t’ tradition that at least the delegate here dresses, so I did the same.

In Hawaii our assemblies start on Saturday morning and include Sunday. Here it starts Friday night after an opening speaker meeting. The speaker was  a good one and it was enjoyable to be in a group of A.A.s listening to a speaker share their experience, strength, and hope. It’s a little more informal, and smaller than our Annual Hawaii Convention.

After the speaker we broke up into familiar roundtable groups, DCMS, GSRS, and so on. I joined the GSR roundtable which was led by Thad, the Alternate delegate.

This was a quite a different experience from our practice at Hawaii Area Assemblies. Rather than a group discussion about issues we face in our service position, this was more a briefing for what to expect at tomorrow’s assembly. Thad went over the agenda and made sure everyone knew what they needed to have to be prepared for tomorrow. Then it was opened up for questions. Barry, the delegate had joined us, and he answered the questions he could, and was gracious enough to include me on. It felt great to be in a position to help out, and because he knows what committee I was on, Policy and Admissions, he had an idea of what questions I might be able to answer.

It was fun, I hope it was useful for the GSRS, and overall I think they have a very good system. Is it something we should do? I can’t answer that. Our travel is different from theirs in many ways and the way we do things is good too. But it’s really wonderful to be here and see how another Area conducts their business. Is it better? No. Is ours better? We can, however, learn from each other and incorporate small things we’ve learned from each other. I’m very grateful that I get to be here.

After the roundtable we broke for the evening. Things ended around 10 PM tonight, though there may be an alkathon going on. To be honest, I’m too tired to stay up.

As I write this, around 11:30 PM Idaho time, Joel has probably just touched down in Twin Falls and is now being driven to Burley. I’ll be having an early breakfast with him, Barry, and a few others, and I promise to pass along your Aloha.

Tomorrow is the ‘big day’ for their elections, and a big day for me too. I’ll share that in my next post.

Yours in love and service,

Bob H.

Area 17 Hawaii

Panel 67 Delegate

Idaho Elections Assembly – HNL to TWF

Aloha kakou,

I’m sitting on a plane somewhere over the Pacific Ocean on my way to Twin Falls, Idaho. In truth I’m really headed to Burley, Idaho, the site of the Area 18 Fall Assembly & State Convention.

Over my years in General Service I’ve made quite a few good friends and Barry S., the current Area 18 Delegate is finishing up his rotation as Area Delegate. He’s a Panel 66 Delegate which means it’s time for Area 18’s Election Assembly and for him to pass the torch on to the next trusted servant.

I’d decided a few weeks ago that it might be fun to journey to Idaho and attend both their assembly and convention. Over the years we in Area 17 have talked about holding our Fall Assembly in conjunction with our Annual Hawaii Convention, but little has come of it. Idaho combines these events and it might be helpful for our area to see how it works. There’s no guarantee we’ll ever do this, but the more information we have the better we can judge if this is something we might like to try.

So I called Barry up and asked if I’d get in the way if I attended their assembly. He said no, the more the merrier and suggested he’d find something for me to do. A few years ago the then Alaska Delegates, a great fellow named Bruce, came by our Inventory Assembly and, as I was then our Area Chair, I put him to work. Same idea here.

It’s also an opportunity for me to catch up with Joel C., the current Pacific Regional Trustee. We all had the opportunity to visit with him earlier this year at our 2017 Orientation Assembly on Maui and many of us took the opportunity to go out for gelato with him. Here in Area 17 we generally invite the Pacific Regional Trustee to our Orientation Assembly, most other areas invite the trustee to elections. As this is the Area 18 Elections Assembly, he’ll be there.

On a side note, you should know that Hawaii Area 17 isn’t paying for an extra trip to send me to Idaho. This was originally just a personal trip to see friends, a little fling before it’s time to buckle down to work for the upcoming 68th General Service Conference. As it turns out I’ll actually be in service at their convention, and I’ll have a bit more to say about that in a future post.

And so here I am on a plane, a red-eye to LAX on the first leg of my trip to Idaho. I’ll be going through Salt Lake City next, and then on to Twin Falls and ultimately Burley. I’m told there was snow in Idaho already this years so the weather will definitely be a change of pace. I’m not sure if there’s been snow in Burley, but in checking the temperatures online I note it’s on the cool side in the evening.

Generally there’s no Wi-Fi on flights over the ocean so I can’t post this till the morning in LAX, so I’ll be trying to catch a bit of sleep.

If you want to find out more about my journey stay tuned, I’ll be posting a daily report on our area website on the Delegate’s Corner and send these posts out to our Area All mailing list.

Thanks again for allowing me to serve as your Panel 67 Hawaii Area 17 Delegate. It’s a privilege and a pleasure to serve our Area and AA as a whole and I want you to know I know just how lucky I am to have this opportunity. So I’ll be in Idaho spreading our Area 17 Aloha. We are not a glum lot.

Yours in love and services,

Bob H.
Area 17 Hawaii
Panel 67 Delegate

67th GSC Final Report

Aloha kakou!

Our 2017 Budget Assembly is fast approaching, August 26-27 in West Hawaii. As you may know, the budget is only one of the agenda items, besides the budget, it to take a look at the 67th General Service Conference Final Report.

My report-backs were my report on my journey to the Conference, what I saw, heard, felt, and did. The 67th General Service Conference Final Report is the official report of the doings of the Conference. We’ll be taking some time to go over the final report so that we know how to approach it, what’s in it, and how to discuss it with the Fellowship.

New this year, and as a direct result of an action by the 67th GSC, this year’s final report is available in an anonymity protected PDF version. You may know that we bring in about 250 printed copies of the report. While this is enough for groups participating in Area Service through their GSR to have a copy, it falls short of making a copy available to the thousands of members throughout our area. This new version can and should be distributed to all Hawaii AA members. The Conference, though it may seem remote and not of local interest, it held by and for all AA members in the US and Canada. The Conference exists to help keep AA alive for future generations and we all have a stake in that.

I’m attaching a PDF copy of the report here and I encourage you as DCMS, Standing Committee Chairs, and Area Officers, to distribute it to your email lists, GSRS, committee members, and other interested parties. I have also spoken with our Pacific Regional Trustee, Joel C., as well as the other delegates from the Pacific Region, and there is no impediment or concern about posting this on our website and indeed, most of the Pacific Region area websites either have it up or will soon. Therefore I am asking our webmaster to post it on our website both on the Budget Assembly page and under our Service Material tab so that is available to us throughout this panel and beyond.

I encourage everyone to at least glance through it before the assembly, and encourage the GSRS in your district and on your committees to do the same, so that we at least a bit of familiarity with it before we discuss it. We have a lot on our plate this assembly and it’s always good to arrive prepared. Please know that besides the PDF version, we do have the regular printed copies, about half our order has already arrived, and we will be distributing them at the assembly, It isn’t necessary to print out the PDF in order for us to discuss the report.

To aid in finding our way through the report, Linda J., the Area 29 Maryland Panel 66 Delegate put together a brief index to the report and I’m including here as well.

Here’s a link to the documents:

67th GSC Final Report (Anonymity Protected_ English)

Index for Final Conference Report.2017

I’m looking foward to seeing you all in West Hawaii very soon and want to thank you again for allowing me to be of service to you as your panel 67 delegate. This final report has special meaning to me now that I’ve participated in a Conference. But please know, you have participated in the Conference as well through your participation in General Service in bringing the voice of your group to our assemblies. Thank you for your participation.

Yours in love and service,

Bob H
Area 17 Hawaii
Panel 67 Delegate

GSC 2017 – Day Seven

Aloha kakou,

The title of today’s post is just a wee bit misleading. In truth the Conference ended yesterday when we closed at the end of business. Today is not a business day, instead it’s out time to say so long, have a final meal together, and hele on.

I was mostly packed as I did a lot of that last night. I’d also asked the front desk how late they’d let me keep the room without incurring a charge. I had a couple of extra hours and that was great…I didn’t have to hurry. That’s never been a favorite pastime I do not recommend it.

At 8:30 AM we gathered together for a final brunch together. We’d been encouraged to sit with people we didn’t know when we’d first arrived but by now, we all knew each other. So really, we just sat with friends because that’s what we’d become.

The only thing that could be called business today were the farewell talks by five out-going trustees. Unfortunately only four were present as Terry Bedient, our out-going Class A (non-alcoholic) Trustee and chairman of the GSB could not attend. I wish him the best and will miss him. We’d first become acquainted at the Pacific Regional Forum and he’s tremendous servant of A.A., all the more so as he’s a non-alcoholic.

We did hear from four Class B (alcoholic) trustees who are rotating out and they gave wonderful talks about their journey. They are all happy to become just alcoholics again, members of home group,  and as they said, try to avoid becoming bleeding deacons. In my estimation they are all elder statesman, though that does not having anything to do with their actual again.

And that was it. The 67th General Service Conference was really and truly over. We hugged, we laughed, we cried. We told the other Panel 67 delegates we’d see them next year and thanked the 68’s from the bottom of our heart’s for showing us the way.

I finished packing and, rested in my room a bit, then headed to the lobby to see if anyone was still around. Some of us were waiting for shuttles, other’s staying till tomorrow were just chatting, but many had already gone. Through a chance encounter I ended up having lunch with Lynda B., our AA Grapevine director. She’d been to our Pacific Regional Forum and really loved it. She’s from Canada and brings a great perspective to her long service in A.A. She is also very charming and wonderful dining companion. Of course we have a lot in common. As she points out, she’s just a drunk too. Just like you and me.

And you know, that’s one thing that really came home to me this past week. Everyone here is just a member of Alcoholics Anonymous, doing the best they can carry out the Conscience of our Fellowship, just like we do in our Groups.

It was time to go. I did.

As you may know, I’m staying around a bit so I headed to Manhattan and checked into my hotel. Then I headed out into the city. Not being quite ready to let go I hooked up with my friends Barry S. and Thad N., the delegate and alternate delegate from Idaho. I’ve become their friend in the years we’ve served together at PRAASA and at Forums. We wandered around a bit and made our way back to the same restaurant we’d had lunch at over a week ago when we’d arrived. Yes, we talked A.A., but not as delegates or alternate delegates, but as three friends sharing aloha and talking story.

And then we did let go. They headed back to Rye Brook and I walked back to my hotel. on the way I checked the online A.A. schedule for the area and realized I could catch a meeting. And that’s what I did. I went to a meeting of Alcoholics Anonymous. I went because I’m an alcoholic. The room was much like my home group was when I first walked through the doors, a little cramped, a little dinghy, well used, with uncomfortable chairs that wobbled, and filled with the most wonderful folks in the world. You. I may not be back in Hawaii yet, but I am definitely home, not New York, but A.A.

That’s what this past week was about. That’s what all the hard work you did leading up to our Inform the Delegate Assembly was about. That’s what we do everyday, keep the doors of Alcoholics Anonymous open for the drunk just walking through the doors. I hope you never stop remembering that and we can continue together, trudging the road to happy destiny, drinking lukewarm coffee, and always, always, always, holding out our hand in love to the still suffering alcoholic. Thank you for your service. Thank you for letting me help.

Yours in loving fellowship and service,

Bob H.

Hawaii Area 17

Panel 67 Delegate

 

GSC 2017 – Day Six

Aloha kakou,

I just don’t have the words tonight. We finished the business of 67th General Service Conference, your business, at 7:43 PM (EDT). In Hawaii that would have been 1:43 PM (HST). We gather again tomorrow to break bread, say a hui hou and malama pono to those who are rotating to other forms of service in Alcoholics Anonymous, and those, like myself returning next year. We’ll then begin to head home to let you know what it is we’ve been up to this past week. You should know and make sure we did it right.

This morning started, not with my bike ride and coffee, but with breakfast with my fellow Pacific Region Delegates. It turns out they’d insisted on having breakfast with me before business began. You see today, April 28th is my sobriety date and today is (at least it is back in Hawaii for a few more hours) my 13th anniversary. Yes, I’m a teenager. It’s hard to believe that thirteen years ago I shaking so bad I could barely sign the papers allowing me to enter the treatment center were I began the journey leading me here to the 67th General Service Conference. It is, in truth, unbelievable. Unbelievable anywhere except in Alcoholics Anonymous where, again in truth, it’s not that unusual.

We are not here in New York for me. We are here for the drunk, who like me thirteen years ago, hasn’t yet come through our doors and has no idea that a life beyond imagination is about to unfold. I don’t just thank you for allowing me to be of service, I thank you for my life and for the lives of those yet to find us.

What did we do today? Well, today was much like yesterday. We continued to hear Conference Committee reports and vote on committee recommendations as well as discuss there additional considerations.

Some went quickly, some…some took some time to get right. And remember, right may mean doing nothing. That can be difficult because, and I can’t speak for others, people like me want to jump and fix things. Sometimes I want to do this when there isn’t a problem. That’s one reason there so many of us at the conference. I’ve discussed this before, but because of our insistence on Minority Opinion it really only takes one sane person in the house to set things straight.

Today we worked on agenda items right up to lunch and even a few minutes into lunch. I think we all sensed we were near completion and wanted to make sure everything was done and we left no dangling threads to unravel everything when we closed the Conference. And in a sense, we actually did complete our scheduled work before lunch. We finished with the last of our Committee reports at 12:10 PM (EDT). But that wasn’t all of our work, we still had tabled motions and floor actions to work on, but lunch first.

 

After lunch we did take some time to hear a wonderful presentation on The Grapevine and La Viña by the A.A. Grapevine Director. I was reminded how inspired I was by The Grapevine when I first got  sober and read old GV issues my sponsor had given my while I rode the bus from Honolulu to Windward Oahu several times a week during my early recovery.

I hope when I get back we can talk about the Grapevine and how we can insure that it will continue as the voice of Fellowship. I was troubled to note that while Grapevine and La Viña had good years financially, subscriptions dropped in Hawaii by around 5%. I’m sure that our rates ebb and flow a bit, and perhaps they’ll pick up. I hope so, because I hope I have will still have a bag of past issues to hand to a sponsee who faces a long bus ride several times a week to IOP, just like I did not so long ago. Let’s work together and make sure that happens!

Then it was back to work. We had five motions that had been tabled earlier during the week. In essence these were all very similar motions, those having to do with allowing Conference Committees to conduct conference calls prior to the Conference. Wow…the word ‘conference’ three times in one short sentence.

Now you might think they could all be bundled together and taken care of in one discussion but because of the nature of the Conference Committee system and the way we are structured that actually could not happen. We had a lively discussion about the issue which wasn’t, as you might think, simple. In the end we reached combined solution, but it had us in a quandry for some time.

Once we’d finished that, we started on Floor Actions. These are items that, hopefully, arise out of need from the way the Conference progresses. While allowed, it is not completely correct to come to the Conference with a the idea of bringing up a Floor Action to get an item heard. This method of business circumvents the Committee system and does not really allow for an examination of background material. Items that arise out of the work of the Conference are generally modifications or extensions of other Conference business such that there has been background material to read by members of the Conference and we aren’t operating blindly.

In our Hawaii Assembly while it may be possible to make a motion and have it voted on during an Assembly it is at the discretion of our Chair, currently Kunane D. We generally ask that a motion be submitted to our Chair early enough that it can be discussed at an Area Committee Meeting to insure it’s worded properly. Then, with sufficient time, it can be discussed by the Assembly, taken back to the groups, and brought forward again at the next Assembly for a vote. Our procedure is different, but very similar in intent to that of the Conference. We always want to be sure that the top of the triangle, our groups, have the time to discuss issues before they send their Group Consciences to the Assembly. While we may handle small matters “from the floor,” any substantive matter really needs approval by the bosses of A.A., the Groups!

We worked until dinner, our last dinner together during the 67th General Service Conference. I’ve said we all dine together as a rule, though sometimes by region or in delegate only settings. Tonight many of the trustees dined together to conduct some of their own business and we dined more socially. And you know, dining together really works to foster unity. I don’t think I’ve had a meal, outside of regional meals in which business is done, where I’ve sat with exactly the same group. In this way the 93 delegates, the trustees, and staff have time to get to know each other, talk story, build bonds, and yes, have a little fun.

Today at lunch, for instance, I chatted with the delegate from Iowa. Some of you may know I bicycle across that state from time to time in a big annual ride. Well I’d met a member of A.A. there (yes, there are meetings on the ride) who was a past trustee. I hadn’t know that for several years, though I’d seen him off and on at meeting during my two of my trips there. Last summer we rode together for an hour or so and had a great chat. I had a picture of him on my phone but for some reason no contact information. Well I showed the picture of my riding buddy to the Iowa delegate and yep, they knew each other and I had contact information in no time at all.

That’s the Fellowship for you. And I was also able to send along our greeting to our friend and past Area Archivist Ted K. I asked the delegate from the area he’s moved to if she knew him and, as you might expect from Ted, she does. Aloha Ted, all the best!

And then…back to work.

We finished all the business of the Conference, as I said, at 7:43 PM (EDT). Or did we?

When you get down to it, the Conference is not just this annual event. It’s an on-going year long, even multi-year, process. Yes, we met for a week and made decisions. But implementation of those decisions, whether that be creating a plan or putting one into practice, goes on all year. So does  the careful thought and work of our groups, districts, areas, and regions as they carry the message and ask for the tools to do that job even better; to reach the drunk who hasn’t yet found us. I, like the other delegates, will spend the summer reporting back to you the results of the work that’s been done this week. But the heart of the Conference, odd as it may seem, isn’t the assembly I’ve just been to, it’s you and your group, and all our groups. It is, after all, the groups that are at the top of the triangle deciding what is that they need to do their job better. The Conference in New York and the GSO aren’t, in the end, some mysterious body making decisions disconnected from you and your group. They are your servants, doing their best to bring you the tools you’ve requested so that you can go on a Twelve Step call or great a newcomer at the door with the message of hope and love that is alcoholics anonymous.

Tell us what you need and we’ll do our best to get it to you. That’s the process I saw and participated in this week. It’s real. It’s fantastic. It is spiritual and inspiring. But it’s not an end in itself and I trust it never will be. It is your Conference.

I can’t wait to come home and tell you about your Conference and the work you did there through your delegates, trustees, and special workers. I hope you have many questions. I hope you hold us accountable. And I hope above all else, that tomorrow, or the next day, you’ll be able to hold your hand in love and guide the next suffering alcoholic through the doors of A.A. into life beyond imagination, just like you did for me thirteen years ago.

A hui hou kakou malama pono.

I love you all and will see you soon.

Yours in love and service,

Bob H.

Hawaii Area 17

Panel 67 Delegate

GSC 2017 – Day Five

Aloha kakou,

Like most good plans some adaptability is necessary. The General Service Conference is such a plan. If you’ve been to one of our assemblies you know that one of the chair’s biggest jobs, after creating an agenda, is keeping it on track. You’ll schedule 30 minutes for the delegate’s report and they’ll use 15 or want 45 (you’ll be able to see how I do on this pretty soon – no guarantees). Then you’ve got to fill in the extra time with something else, move on item forward or backward, and still, hopefully, end on time (or early – we know).

Today was such a day at the General Service Conference. And given all we had on our agenda, we did good and even ended on time this evening. We opened and went right into Conference Committee reports and voting on their recommendations and discussing their other considerations.

Today, if I’m not mistaken, and I could well be mistaken at this stage of the game, we began with the rest of the business held over from yesterday for the Conference Committee on Literature. We had some great discussion and on the last recommendation before us we saw passage by the Conference, minority opinion, and a motion to reconsider based on minority opinion. Ultimately the item passed, but not before we’d really “kicked the tires” as one delegate puts it.

Next up was the Finance Committee and if there’s one thing we alcoholics like to talk about, it’s money. It’s really important to note that our services are really not for us, for you and me. We’re sober. We’ve gotten the message. We contribute through the Seventh Tradition to keep our doors open for the alcoholic we haven’t met yet. Bill W. says it well in a 1967 Grapevine article also found in the pamphlet Self-Support: Where Money and Spirituality Mix.

 “The answer is simple enough. Every single A.A. service is designed to make more and better Twelfth Step work possible, whether it be a group meeting place, a central or intergroup office . . . or the world service Headquarters . . . .

“Though not costly, these service agencies are absolutely essential to our continued expansion — to our survival as a Fellowship. Their costs are a collective obligation that rests squarely upon all of us. Our support of services actually amounts to a recognition on our part that A.A. must every- where function in full strength — and that, under our Tradition of self-support, we are all going to foot the bill.”

When I get back I’ll be reporting that we are doing okay, but just that and, if things run as they often do as soon as we say that contributions (and they are contributions to our common welfare and the welfare of those to come, not donations) will drop because we’ll all think things are in hand. Let’s remember it is, as Bill says, our obligation. It’s an obligation to our future. I only have to look at my own story to know how important the future is. When I drank again in 1990 I was very lucky to have that moment of clarity, that recognition of my powerlessness and the need to do something about it, in 2004. That was fourteen years later. I shudder to think what would have happened if, during that period, we’d closed our doors because we decided funding our future wasn’t important.

That’s a rather long way of saying we talked about money a lot today. We were passionate about our obligation and we held different viewpoints. But, and this is definitely part of the spiritual atmosphere of the Conference, or any informed Group Conscience, we talked, we voted, we voted again, we listened, and when we finished, we didn’t carry our differences into our treatment of each other. We stayed as one, unified in love and service. Wow!

Next up was the Conference Committee on the Agenda. This topic really deals with how the Conference is run and while we are definitely passionate, there isn’t quite the same urgency we feel about money: at least not today.

There are a few things we are cautioned about. Just as we discussed at our own Inform the Delegate Assembly we are told to trust the process and the committee system. Essentially that means trust our trusted servants. Another thing we asked is not to “wordsmith.” That is, spend a lot of time choosing one word over another, especially if it’s in a statement that’s been through Committee. That doesn’t mean we can’t do it, or that we don’t, just that we should really think about it before we do.

At this point I should note that one way we get to think about it is by actually writing down what we want to say before we get to the microphone. At least once today I wrote down what I wanted to say on an issue and discovered that by the time I’d written it I no longer really needed to say it, and not just because someone else had said it. Sometimes when I saw my thoughts on paper I realized perhaps they weren’t quite as incisive and brilliant as I’d first imagined. Something about “restraint of tongue and pen” comes to mind, but this would probably best be described as restraint of tongue by pen.

And that’s the way I’m leading up the fact that I spoke today about an ‘s.’ Sigh. You see there was motion which included a title for something. A Conference delegate made a motion to amend the title. I ended up speaking against it if it was stated in the plural. The next person up offered an amendment to change the to singular (something I hadn’t done so technically speaking, was I wordsmithing?).

And so it goes.

Now all of this may seem a little silly if you aren’t here. But we are very cognizant that what we are doing is important and that it’s important to get things right. In many ways it is often better to say nothing than something that is just slightly wrong. In A.A. Comes of Age Bill stated:

I learned that the temporary or seeming good can often be the deadly enemy of the permanent best. When it comes to survival for A.A., nothing short of our best will be good enough.

We do try to keep it mind.

Sometime during all of this we managed to fit in lunch and I had some great conversations on Safety in A.A. with fellow participants. I’ll be keeping it mind when I get back as it’s an issue that I get asked about a lot and it’s also, and quite personally, important to me.

Dinner was in there too. Breaks are important and I’ll freely admit that the conversation at my table tonight (we sit at tables holding 8-10 people) veered more to Fellowship than to Service. We are not, even amidst this business, a glum lot.

After dinner, two presentations which had been bumped from earlier in the day were given some time. The first was by Bob W., our outgoing Trustee-at-Large/US on the topic the 24th World Service Meeting and on his experiences during his four year term. I’ll share much of this with you when I get back. The only word for it is inspiring. Thanks Bob.

The other presentation was on A.A. Around the World given by staff member, Mary C. She’s a tireless servant with a great sense of humor and joy and her talk was no less inspiring. Indeed some of it really got me thinking about how I’ll carrying out my job as co-chair of the Remote Communities Meeting next year.

And then…more business.

We finished for the evening with the Conference Committee on Public Information and even though we are very passionate about money, it was a topic or two from this committee that really sparked our interest and led to quite a long discussion, one actually held over from before dinner. I’d rather tell you the whole story back home, but let’s just say we really tested the limits of Robert’s Rules of Order. No, I don’t mean we were at each other’s throats or in any way angry and required cooling down, instead we were very passionate and strove to do the best through a series of recommendations, amendments, amendments to amendments, tabling of motions, minority opinion and reconsiderations, taking items off the table and, in the end recommitting items to the trustees for more work.

I know this all might sound a bit like talk for talk’s sake but I can assure you it isn’t. We really, really, really want to do the best thing and sometimes doing sending things back for more work really is the best approach. If we don’t have enough information, or realize we need to rely on professional help as we are not experts, then that is by far the best course of action. Further, the passion of the discussion, the thoughtfulness that goes into it, and our willingness to go at every angle shows our General Service Board that this is something they really need to take seriously and I know they heard us because I asked several of them. In the end rather than “take no action” we decided to “recommit” which is a formal way of saying to the Board that they need to work on and give us their very best effort. I’m very much looking forward to seeing the results at our next Conference.

And finally we had a few minutes of General Sharing (we call it “What’s on your mind”). It was here that several members expressed their gratitude for their opportunity to participate in this process. I too share that sentiment and am grateful beyond words for your allowing me to be of service in this fashion.

Tomorrow we gather again to finish our Conference Committee business and then take up the Floor Motions (we had two in our last assembly as you’ll recall – both arising from the business at hand). We have at least 8 at this point (I was told that there 11 last year) and it appears, though I can’t see the future, that’ll we’ll be up late tomorrow night. That’s okay, it’s as it should be and what you sent us here to do. Please remember that when you hear about General Service work. It is not something separate from you as an A.A. member, or something separate from your Group. It is your Groups’s work. It is your work. In the end, it is our work; all of us together in Unity.

Thank you. I love you all.

Bob H.

Hawaii Area 17

Panel 67 Delegate

GSC 2017 – Day Four

Aloha kakou,

Today was definitely a busy one and we took care of a lot of business. I’m not going to day much about the outcome of things. Until the Conference is closed and we aren’t conducting business it’s probably best not to say anything. But there’s still plenty to report…

We started the morning with easy stuff. Easy for the Conference, difficult for the those on-stage, but only for two minutes. We heard more Area highlights from the Panel 67 Delegates. I’m so glad I did ours back on Monday, one less thing to worry about. It’s not actually that stressful, but we all want to do well, so it’s on our minds. We heard from the East Central Region and the West Central Region. If you want to see where those are, check the A.A. Regional Map.

Next up we began listening to Committee Reports and voting on their recommendations and discussing their Additional Committee Considerations. Recommendations are generally specific requests for an action of some sort, developing a plan, adding or removing text, creating new material, and so on. Additional Committee Considerations are where the committee says that they considered an agenda item and took no action, or decided to make a suggestion.

First up was the Conference Committee on Treatment and Accessibilities. The full procedure for a committee report is actually a very interesting, and fair, way of doing business. First the report, which has been compiled by our hard working staff, is signed off on by the committee chair. This happens prior to distribution to the Conference. Complete copies of each report are given the Conference and we begin full Conference deliberation.

To start the committee chair reads the report exactly as written with no explanation or commentary. We have the document in front of us so we all follow along. Next, should their be recommendations, each is taken in turn. This year business is being conducted by Greg T. the GSO Manager and he did a great job of keeping things moving while allowing everyone to have their say.

This Committee had only one recommendation. Greg reads it and asks for discussion. Those wishing to discuss the item line up at the microphones, we have three, and say their piece. While many folk do speak for or against a recommendation, quite often a question is asked. When that happens the committee chair has the opportunity to answer the question or explain the committees reasoning as appropriate. If it’s a question that requires an answer from a trustee or a staff member they come to the microphone and share their knowledge.

In the case of the first committee up their only recommendation passed, and I’ll let you know about it all once the Conference is complete, but passing the recommendation isn’t really the interesting bit in their case. Rather it was the discussion that followed on their additional committee considerations. Just as with a recommendation folks have a lot to say and ask a lot of question.

Mostly the questions are excellent, bringing up points perhaps the committee hadn’t considered. But sometimes, as with anything in life, the are just a bit off topic. Mostly this happens when someone asks if the committee had discussed alternatives to the agenda item not mentioned in the background material. Think of a simple question like “should AA buy cake?” A question might come up asking if the committee had considered, “should AA buy pie?” The answer to that would probably be no, because the committee wasn’t asked to consider it and there was no background material on pie. Clear enough?

The second committee to come up was the Conference Committee on the A.A. Grapevine. Again they had only one recommendation and many additional committee considerations. This recommendation I will mention because the outcome, or rather, lack of outcome was interesting and shows how we use our modified Robert’s Rules of Order. It’s really a lot like the way we use them in our assemblies and committee meetings only a with a little stricter eye towards correctness.

The item that came up was the item about allowing the committee to have a conference call 60 days before the Conference. As soon as it came up for this committee a member came to the mike and suggested we table the motion. You see not all the committees had finished their work and as each committee has the same agenda item, only specific to their committee, it would not be right to discuss it in general session before those committees had completed their discussion. Keep in mind, just because my committee was done doesn’t mean everyone was finished. That doesn’t mean they weren’t doing their job, just that they either had a lot of items to go through, or the items were particularly difficult to decide (or not decide).

With the motion tabled, we discussed their additional consideration.

We then began work on the topics for Policy and Admissions, my committee. The first recommendation we discussed didn’t take much time but the second created a lot of discussion. So much in fact that we broke for lunch just as a motion to recommit was made. A motion to recommit is a request from the Conference to send this agenda item back to the Trustees for more consideration. We would have to wait on that vote till after lunch though.

Lunch was not a break by any means. Today was another lunch by region – with business. We had to decide who we would put forward as our regional nominee for Trustee-at-Large/US. This is a huge job involving, according to the current one, some 100 days on the road. I explained a bit of this job in an earlier post so I won’t repeat it, it’s big.

The procedure we used was for each delegate with a candidate to speak for up to 2 minutes on why his or her area’s choice should be put forward. After we’d each shared, though one area did not have a candidate, we used the 3rd legacy procedure just as we do back home. I’m sorry to report that, despite my best efforts, Scott C., our nominee was not selected. The selection when to Monte S. from Utah. Now keep in mind that this didn’t give him the job, it was simply our region’s choice for nominee to the full Conference.

We also made our selection for the location of the 2020 Pacific Regional Forum. It most likely will be Las Vegas pending approval at GSO and their ability to work out the time and contracts. Don’t worry, I’ll keep you informed and remember, we have the 2018 PRF to hold first, in San Jose from September 7-9.

We had little time to eat actually, and scurried back to the Conference floor.

When we got back it was time for elections. The Trustee-at-Large/US wasn’t the only trustee position up for election. The East Central Region and South East Regions both elected their Regional Trustee (think Joel C. but in a different region).

The entire Conference doesn’t take part in the election but we are present. Again the elections are by Third Legacy Procedure, just like at home. And in both elections the decision went to the hat. We use that same procedure in Hawaii and will do it again in 2018 at our Elections Assembly.

I should note that even though I wasn’t voting for either of these candidates I played a large part in the proceedings. Actually it wasn’t so much me as my hat. Yes, I was sitting up front and was one of the few folks with a hat so…my hat chose two new regional trustees…very Harry Potter if you ask me.

Then it was time to elect our next Trustee-at-Large/US. This time all the US delegates could vote (as well as some others). As I said, sadly our choice was not in the running, each region can only put forth one choice. And this time the Third Legacy Procedure came down to…yes…down to the hat. My hat.

I feel sort of special, though in truth I did nothing but bring a hat with and sit up front. But I will have a great introduction to those three new trustees when I meet them!

The elections took a lot more time than the schedulers had planned. Keep in mind going to the hat involves a number of votes to begin with, and in this case I think they all went the distance before the hat. Not a problem though, we can work late.

It was time for dinner. I took a short walk to keep the blood moving and get some fresh air before I went in. I had dinner with a Bob, the outgoing Trustee-at-Large/US, and he keep going outside to call the newly elected trustee and let him know the outcome. Also there were one of our great non-alcoholic trustees, Judge Ivan L.R. Lemelle. I’d met him first in Hawaii at the Pacific Regional Forum and he’s a great dinner companion. In truth everyone here is a great dinner companion (hope I am too). We have a great time breaking bread and doing what we do best, sharing in the language of the heart.

After dinner we heard presentations on Contributions. The specific topics were:

  1. Spirituality and Money
  2. Fully Self-Supporting Our Obligations
  3. Apathy and Power of the Purse

I have copies of them and can see that you see them if you like, but it’s too late at night and I start too early to think about it now. It’s almost midnight and I’ll be up early again and back at it. They were good presentations though and plenty of food for thought. How would you address those topics? Why not let me know?

After that we got back to the work of the Conference and got back to voting on recommendations. We finished up Policy and Admissions and mostly the Conference agreed with our decisions which showed we’d done our work, and you yours. Of course having the Conference turn down a recommendation isn’t a bad thing. It’s a good thing. It means that the Conference process really does work and that when we gather collectively and ask our higher powers to be present we can be sure that we are doing the absolute best we can do at the time.

I’m very happy with our work on the Policy and Admissions committee and that’s thanks to you and a whole lot of other AAs just like you in home areas of each member of that committee who did the same work you did and did it well.

When we broke we were still on the Literature Committee’s work. They too had a lot of items and there’s lots to share on this one when I get home. I will say this, their recommendations brought up a lot of discussion (money and changing literature are probably the two things that’ll bring everyone to the microphone – and just in case you are worried none of this involved the Big Book). We had votes, minority opinion, reconsiderations due to vote changes, a motion to amend the motion (did not pass), and even another motion to recommit.

That last one, a motion to recommit, brought me to the floor. I was against the recommit (sending the whole thing back to the Trustees). It involved adding one word to a sentence and while I absolutely agree it was an important word to either add or leave off, I couldn’t believe that 125 voting members couldn’t come to a decision over that, especially when we had much more important stuff to do. That’s what I told them. The motion to recommit did not pass and we went forward with our vote. Did it pass? I’ll let you know when I get back.

And that was it for day four. We’ll be hard at work tomorrow early. We’ve a lot ahead of us and we’ll stay at it till it’s done.

But right now I’m done. It’s been amazing to watch this process unfold and, though it’s a bit bigger and has better audio-visual equipment, it’s a lot like conference we held at the ITD. That was great preparation for this and I thank you all for working so hard to Inform the Delegate.

I’m honored and humbled that you’ve allowed me to participate in this process. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

A hui hou kakou, malama pono.

Yours in loving service,

Bob H.

Hawaii Area 17

Panel 67 Delegate

GSC 2017 – Day Three

Aloha kakou,

It’s hard to believe but we are almost halfway home here at the 67th General Service Conference. Today was actually sort of a light day today, at least that’s how it felt.

Once again I headed out for morning coffee on my bicycle. And once again it became an opportunity to bond with another delegate. This time it turned out to be my “conference buddy,” Andrew from Area 45, the Southern New Jersey area. If I’m not mistaken this is at least the second time we’ve (Area 17) had been paired with with a delegate from Area 45. Linda McD, our Panel 59 Delegate, was also paired with that same Area. He’s a great guy and a dedicated servant. Because of the great advice I received from our past delegates I haven’t had to ask him much, but we’ve definitely become friends and I’m sure we’ll be in touch long after this panel is over.

After coffee it was time to go back to work on the last few agenda items my committee, Policy and Admissions, had to complete before we could say pau. I’m grateful and quite happy to report that we finished our work about 15 minutes before the scheduled ending of our work period. At least one committee didn’t finish and had to go back to work this evening after dinner. I got to go back to my room and start writing this…and get to bed early for a change.

The process of committee work is extra tough on the staff today. They take the work we’ve done already and write it up in the form of a report. They also double check each other’s work to make sure that all the i’s are dotted and the t’s crossed. Basically they want to be sure the item is what the committee actually wanted to say and that there isn’t anything cinontradictory or that would hinder understanding. They do great work, as I’ve said, and this is their “hump day.”

Once we finished our work it was time for lunch. Folks are starting to tire a bit, me too, and as soon as I’d finished I dug out for a rest in my room. I had a great chat at lunch with David Morris, our super non-alcoholic Finance Wizard and the East Central Region trustee, Bill F. David comes out to Hawaii often and we agreed I’d send him our 2018 assembly and committee meeting dates in case he’s out here at the same time. Our past delegates have always done a great job presenting financial information, but David is the master.

After lunch there were more area highlights, mine being done I could relax. After that was a general sharing session. Much like a what’s on your mind back home, here you talk about whatever you like, except agenda items as they are still off limits until they come to the floor. Most folks use the time to ask questions of either the GSO management or the Board, and they expect answers.

I asked the simple question you’d asked me at the ITD Assembly. You may recall asking me when newly passed recommendations go into effect? Is it after they are passed or when the AA Service Manual is next published?

It’s a great question and I didn’t have the answer at the assembly. But I did text Joel C. and ask him. He said he thought it was right after the Conference but we should check at the Conference. i

So I did and Joel was  correct, it is after the Conference. The Service Manual isn’t the official legal expression of our will, it’s simply a presentation (more or less). I’m not saying that quite right, but I’ll get the wording right before I get home. The important part is that things go into effect at the end of the conference, not after the next printing.

Moving one we then headed for a workshop sessions. The conference participants were divided up, just as we do at home in our assemblies, We had four questions about Anonymity and I’ll put them here so you can ask yourself the same questions. Rather than let you know what we said, why not tell me what you think?

Participants are invited to share on the workshop topic selected by the 2015 Conference, “Anonymity – The Spiritual Foundation.” The following questions are intended to facilitate a full and fruitful sharing session:

  1. What are some of the ways groups/districts in your area foster awareness of our principle of anonymity?
  2. How has misinformation about personal anonymity among A.A. members been an obstacle in Public Information and Cooperation with the Professional Community service?
  3. What is the experience of members in your area regarding social media with regard to A.A.’s Anonymity Traditions?
  4. How well do we practice a “genuine humility”? As members? As a Fellowship?

Honest, let me know!

After the sharing session we broke for our delegate’s only dinner. Dinner was fun and I may or may not have worn a lava-lava, don’t believe everything you hear. I’m not sure if it was planned, but we sat with our region tonight and it was fun catching up on what we’ve been doing since our lunch a couple of days ago. It seems like forever, even though things seem to have been moving so fast. We can’t, of course, discuss our agenda items, but did share how well things are going.

I’m told that so far this year the mood of the Conference is very, very good and very collegial. There may have been Conferences in the past that had more tension, but ours has been warn and friendly, helpful and unifying. That may change tomorrow when we start discussing committee recommendations on the floor, but at least tonight we were one.

Our last bit of business was to pull our next delegate chair of the Conference from the hat. Actually each region pulled one of their own delegates from the hat and then then those names were put back into the hat to choose next year’s delegate chair and alt. The closest I came to being pulled was that they used my hat. I’m not at all sorry I wan’t chosen. I’ve got a job next year, co-chair of the remote communities meeting, which, though it isn’t part of the conference is definitely service and will give me plenty to work on over the course of the coming year. Given that Hawaii is, as we always say, a remote community made up of of remote communities, I think it’s appropriate. My co-chair is a dear friend whom I’ve served with for several panels and we plan on doing our jobs to the best of our ability while having as much fun doing it as possible!

And that was it for the day! I’m ready for bed about an hour earlier than last night and I want you to know I’m super grateful for that. I’m having a wonderful, spiritual time, but our days are long, the work requires attention, patience, and our complete focus…getting rest isn’t just a good idea, it’s the only way to do our job properly.

So again, thank you so much for allowing me to serve. I’m humbled just thinking about what we are doing here and that I, and all of you, get to play our part.

A hui hou kou malama pono.

Yours in love, service, and gratitude,

Bob H.

Hawaii Area 17

Panel 67 Delegate

GSC 2017 – Day Two

Aloha kakou,

First, let me make amends for leaving out an important item from yesterday’s report. Recently the Hawaii fellowship said a hui hou and come back soon to a good friend and great servant of the area, Erik T. Well he’s not back in Hawaii, but guess who showed up last night for our opening dinner? Yep, Erik it’s great to see you! And no, he’s not a delegate for his new area, at least not yet. I’ve got a couple of photos which I can’t, of course, post here, but he looks and sounds great and what an unexpected pleasure it was to see him. I’ll always owe him, not just for his service, but for taking me on a fantastic journey into Haleakala crater one cold night under bright full moon. Thanks Erik…visit us in Hawaii soon!

So…let’s see…

Once again I headed out on my bicycle for some morning coffee and to get my blood moving this morning. I ran into a couple of folks with same idea, the coffee, not the bike, and started my morning with caffeine and fellowship and not just caffeine alone.

Soon though it was time to head back to my Policy and Admissions Committee meeting. Again, I can’t say anything about what we discussed (well you do know which agenda items they are), but I can tell you that I’m on a great committee with great folks. We don’t always agree, but we are united in trying to reach the best decisions possible. I’m grateful I’ll get to serve next year with the 67’s in my class, but I’ll never forget the 66’s I’m serving with right now. It’s an honor and most definitely a pleasure to serve with them.

Let me tell you a little about committee work. The committees are the real deal here. We have a staff member with us who does our recording, can request resources, reads back what we’ve just said if we ask, and brings a great sense of history and institutional memory to the proceedings. But she is super careful never give us her opinion on what we should do – that’s for the committee alone.

We are also allowed, perhaps even encouraged, to call in trustees and staff as resources to give us more information or explain the rationale behind some of things we are looking at. Today we were blessed to have Greg T., GSO manager, take the time to come and answer our questions for around 45 minutes. He graciously answered our questions accurately and did not try to “sell us” on anything.

We got a lot done today and I think we all felt good about our progress. We’ve more to do tomorrow but I think we are all happy to dive in and none of us are looking to shirk our duty. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, it’s an honor and a pleasure to serve with this team, just as it is with you.

Committee work was not the only thing on our agenda for the day though. Lunch was up next. This time lunch was a group affair with all the members of the conference able to participate (instead of a regional or delegates only affair). It was great to sit with folks I didn’t know and talk story. We don’t discuss business outside of committee, though of course we do talk AA and the language of the heart. We also tell a lot of funny stories – just like at home.

Lunch was over soon and up next were the first of the First Year Delegates Area Service Highlights. Only first year delegates get to do this, partly to warm them up to speaking to the conference and give them a chance to present to everyone, but also because it’s great to hear what’s going on elsewhere. I think it’s also a great opportunity to once again put a face with an area. These folks will be my peers again next year and the more opportunity we have to learn about each other, the deeper our unity will be for the rest of this year and next. First up this time were the Eastern Canada and Southeast Regions. They did great.

After that it was time for Terry Bedient, the General Service Board Chair to give us his report. Hopefully you’ll remember him from the Pacific Regional Forum which he played a big part in and helped make that event such a success. I’m so grateful I got to meet him, and many other trustees and staff, at that event because I think I might have been nervous about approaching them here. But because we have events like the PRF it’s possible to meet and greet our fellow servants and learn that they are not only dedicated servants and here for us (all), they are very, very approachable. In fact, they want you to talk to them. I can probably really learn a lesson there,

We then heard from Bill N., one of the general service trustees and a real fireball of a servant. He’s definitely got ideas and his love of AA is evident in everything he does. I don’t know him as well as some of our past delegates do (they did ask me to say hi to him and I did), but I’m definitely keeping my ears open to hear what he has to say.

Then it was time for Joel C., this time wearing his chair of the Grapevine hat, to take the floor and give us his report. He did a super job of imparting both information and enthusiasm just as he did when he visited us at our recent Orientation Assembly. He’s been taking great care of the Pacific Region Delegates and I can honestly say I count him as an inspiration, a trusted servant, and, just as importantly, a trusted friend.

And then we were on. By we I mean the First Year Pacific Region Delegates. It was our turn to give our area highlights which meant I had to get up in front of everyone again. I did not wear a formal lava lava this time, though I must admit it probably hasn’t been completely retired from the Conference yet. Everyone did a fine job. We all did our highlights previously at this year’s PRAASA but you, it really feels a bit different here. Everything feels a bit different here. You can read my highlights here if you haven’t already: Hawaii Area 17 Panel 67 Area Highlights.

After the Pacific Region it was time for the First Year folks from the Southwest Region to do the same. They did a great job too.

And that was till dinner. We had a bit of a break to freshen up and I grabbed my bike and headed out for another coffee (there’s coffee here, but it’s good to get a bit of exercise and get free of the hotel for a few minutes). Our webmaster had fixed our recent email glitch so I sent out my previous reports again. If you are on our Area All list but don’t have an area17aa.org email address, my apologies for you receiving those emails twice. If you do have an area17aa.org email address please pass my posts on to other members of the fellowship who might wish to know a bit about the Conference and my experiences there.

I had a wonderful dinner. The food was fine, but the company was awesome. I sat with Yoli F., the Southwest Regional Trustee. We are encouraged to meet new folks at meals and not to sit with the same folks all the time. I’ve taken that to heart and tonight was super. She’s different from Joel, but you know, she’s also sort of the same. There’s just something about regional trustees I guess. I had a great time chatting with here and even remembered to let her talk some of the time.

After dinner came David Morris, our non-alcoholic financial wizard. If you’ve been in area service for a while you’ve probably seen a copy of the great “picnic table” reports he creates every year. Better you may even have gotten to be there when he presents it. If you have, you know. He really is a wizard at explaining our financial situation. I’ll be bringing back a lot of information on this and don’t want to get bogged down with it here. Let me summarize, AA had a good 2016, but that’s no reason to rest on our laurels. We are still not completely self supporting through member contributions and literature sales still have to make up the difference, but let’s be sure to thank all our groups for the contributions they made in 2016.

Finally, after the finance report it was time for some Q&A on finance and then some general sharing. I ran back to the room to get my review sheet for the day which I’d left in the room so I could drop it off when we were done. They ask us all to review every part of the Conference and they do read every word. It seems to me by the number of sheets turned in that we are all taking this very seriously.

And then, it was done. Tonight I did not hang out in the lobby chatting. I came straight to my room and wrote this report. I’ll be asleep soon, early than last night which was earlier than the night before. I’m not exhausted but we are, as was said to us at the beginning of this journey, that we are running a marathon and not a sprint. We need our rest to remain sharp and focused, we owe that to the Fellowship. So tonight, I’m counting sleep as part of my work. I hope you sleep well too.

Thank you one more time for allowing me the opportunity to serve as your Panel 67 delegate, It’s an incredible experience and not one I could have imagined a few short years ago. Mahalo nui loa for my life and my passion. I love you Hawaii!

Yours in grateful fellowship,

Bob H.

Hawaii Area 17

Panel 67 Delegate