It’s Sunday morning, the last day of PRAASA 2013. But this report isn’t about the last day, it’s about the longest day of PRAASA, Saturday. I’m writing this so late as our business meeting went well into the night which is, in my experience of six PRAASAS, not the norm.
Saturday at PRAASA is generally a full day and evening of events. The day starts with panels as on Friday, but then it moves into other areas. Here’s the general structure.
- Panel 5
- Panel 6
- Panel 7
- Lunch (with a choice of venues, Fellowship lunch, Delegate lunch, AFG Lunch, and so on).
- Trustee’s Report
- Business Meeting
- Main Speaker
- Late Night Discussions (but this time around it was…well you’ll see)
The Panel topics in the morning focused on several different Concepts covering II, III, IV, IX, X, & XII. Of course those aren’t the only Concepts, we have 12, but those were chosen to fit in with the overall theme, the same as the GSCS upcoming theme, “THe General Service Conference Takes Its Inventory – Our Solution In Action.”
The presenters were all good and I got something new from all of them. By this time during PRAASA one can be operating with information overload. My advice is to try to listen to everything, but not to try to remember it all. In my experience the important things will stick.
We had no presenters or readers and timers from Hawaii Area 17 during the panels on Saturday, but that probably would have been unfair as we had so many on Friday. O
One of the highlights for me we was a Spanish Language presentation that reminded me just how difficult it might be for members who speak other languages to understand our proceedings at regular AA meeting. I don’t speak Spanish and can only understand a few words, none if spoken rapidly. An interpreter did translate afterwards, but of course it’s likely that much of the flavor of the presenter’s language was lost. Still it was an excellent presentation, the translator doing a fine job. We’ve had translation issues come up in Hawaii, most recently with the request for a Tongan translation.
Then it was time for lunch. Not being a Delegate or Past Delegate I had to option of attending either the Fellowship Lunch or the AFG Lunch. I guess I could have gone out into Boise as well, but I find that having lunch at PRAASA, and sitting with folks you don’t know, is a great way to meet new people and get fresh ideas.
Next up was Rod B.’s Trustee’s Report. Those of us at the recent February Committee meeting heard much of the same material as presented Ken K., but it’s always good to hear it from our Trustee. He has a great sense of humor, a real love for AA, and a dedication to serving us all that is definitely worth emulating.
Then it was time for our PRAASA business meeting. PRAASA is not a working conference or assembly in the sense that no votes are taken on issues relative to AA as a whole or even in the Pacific Region. But PRAASA does have business and that’s the business of PRAASA itself. The first order of business is generally to review the minutes of the past meeting and the financial report from the last PRAASA. Sometimes this goes smoothly, sometimes it doesn’t.
During the PRAASA it didn’t. Madeleine P., our immediate past Pacific Region Trustee ran the meeting and she had her work cut out for her. Folks were in a mood to question everything and they did. Indeed the discussion wasn’t finished by 3:30 PM, the scheduled end time, we hadn’t even gotten to old business or new business. It was agreed that’s we’d reconvene after dinner and the speaker to finish the business of PRAASA as there were some important topics on how PRAASA will operate to discuss. I should note that the voting members of PRAASA consist of everyone who is registered and present. There’s a committee made up of the current Pacific Region Delegates who work hard to formulate plans and recommendations, but as in AA, everywhere, the ultimate authority lies with us and not with those we’ve placed in positions of leadership. We are responsible.
As soon as the business meeting had adjourned for the afternoon, I’d tried to schedule a photo opportunity for the Hawaii Area 17 members who wished to participate. Photos like this have to be done in relative privacy as it’s both a breach of etiquette and a possible breach of anonymity to include passers-by or folks who don’t want to be in a photo.
Unfortunately it didn’t work out quite as well as I’d hoped and I take full responsibility for that. The word didn’t get around to everyone from Hawaii apparently as we had a light crowd of only about 16 members. I took the photo, three of them in fact, but no one else offered me a camera, nor did I think to ask them to and we broke up moving on to the next event. Sadly two members showed up just after we’d split up and several folks had left. I didn’t feel right about that, but at the time there was nothing to be done for it, I wouldn’t have been able to call back everyone and we were pressed for time.
It was time to move on and I headed to the Chair/Alt Chair roundtable for day two. Again I can’t stress enough how important these roundtables are for the participants. This is were we can really learn how others do our job, ask questions, get support, and network with others doing our job in the Pacific Region.
I put forward a topic during this discussion, “How do we handle corporate memory at the area level?” I explained that by this I wasn’t talking about archives, but rather the business of our Area itself. Yes we in Hawaii Area 17 take and publish minutes of our discussions, but how many of can truly say we remember all the motions and outcomes from Panel 61, Panel 59, or earlier. It’s hard to look through the minutes of so many meetings when you are actively seeking information during an assembly so I wondered what others do.
Some Areas are, of course, in our position, they have minutes but don’t have much more organization than that. Some Areas, however, have a number of ways of dealing this this and I will be looking into how we can improve our corporate memory of actions taken, and just as importantly, those not taken.
After the roundtables it was time to break for dinner. I ran back to my room and changed into something a bit more formal. I also tried to let everyone from Hawaii know we were going to try again to take a group photo right after the speaker. This took me all over the building as well as around the dining room. I also had to make a trip back to my room for my camera. Because of this I declined sitting with a table filled with our Hawaii members. Don’t think this is a hardship though, sitting with folks I don’t know is one of the highlights of my PRAASA and I was grateful the company I did have, a group of alcoholics from Utah, a place I’ve not been nor one I immediately associate with alcoholism. Apparently Utah has its fair share of us.
Dinner was followed by our main speaker, a past trustee Ruth J. She told us her story, filled with humor and warmth, and genuine humility. She’s been to 39 PRAASAS if my count wasn’t off and her love for PRAASA is obvious to all.
Next we did take another picture, this time with at least another half dozen of us. I truly apologize for anyone who missed participating if they would have wished to do so. Next year we’ll organize before PRAASA to make sure we’ve got everyone covered. Live an learn.
And last but not least, it was time to reconvene the business meeting. Usually at this time of the evening, after 9 PM, there’s be late night discussions scheduled and this year was no different. I don’t know how many people attended them as it seemed most of us returned for the business meeting. We are passionate about our PRAASA and want to see the best for it so it’s not surprising.
At issue were three things, the first being the recommendation of the delegates to change the way PRAASA rotates between Areas. In the past it’s been on a bid system and that’s how we’ve gotten PRAASA to Hawaii every ten or eleven years. We’ve put in a bid having done the footwork in advance and were approved. The delegate’s committee had come up with a plan simply to rotate PRAASA through each area on a fifteen year schedule.
You’d think that’s what we’d be taking about, and we were, sort of. What we actually talking about was their report, not voting on the proposal itself, which had actually been tabled and thus wasn’t part of current business. It would have to come off the table for that.
We got through the report, finally. Then it was time to discuss the actual motion. Of course it was on the table so we had to bring it off table first causing more than a little confusion. You can’t, of course, discussed tabled issues till you’ve taken them up again. We did and eventually after much loving discussion the motion passed. As I understand it, we will be changing the way we rotate PRAASA in the future, once the current bids have been played out if I’m not mistaken. I could easily be mistaken, it was a confusing meeting and I hadn’t been at PRAASA last year when the initial discussions were held.
Then came a proposal, from David F., past Idaho Area 18 delegate, to stop shipping the PRAASA archives to each PRAASA but rather to continue them online. The actual archives would be stored at location to be determined. As these archives are documents, we don’t do cups and t-shirts at PRAASA, digitizing is possible and as I understand Area 72 did much of the work already.
It was hear that I finally said something in front of all PRAASA attendees. The proposal was worded such that the archives of PRAASA would be placed under the ‘archives tab’ on the website. To an old webmaster this is a problem. By wording the proposal this way it limits design choices to one, a tab. There are many ways of creating links on a webpage and page tabs are only one. In essence the motion, as worded, had the unintended effect of making design, not just content, choices for our PRAASA website.
I discussed this with the motion author who happened to be sitting at my table and subsequently made a friendly amendment, which he graciously accepted. Basically I asked that the wording being changed from ‘under the archives tab’ to ‘accessible through an appropriate archives link.’ It seems a small thing, but it’s less limiting in the future and we don’t know how web design will change in the future. Links we’ll probably have with us, but what form they will take we don’t yet know.
So that was my contribution to the business of PRAASA. Sure it’s small, but it’s service and I’m grateful to have had the opportunity to lend a hand. My amendment was accepted and soon afterward the motion was passed.
There were a few more bits of business, including a motion for PRAASA to take it’s own inventory in the future (which was tabled for discussion next year as we were approaching 11:30 PM when we had to be out of the room) and we adjourned till next year. Whew…it was a long day.
I’m still working on my first cup of coffee on Sunday, the last day of PRAASA and I’ll tell you all about it later today once this has all come to close for another year.
Yours in service,