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

GSC 2017 – Day One

Aloha kakou,

Today was the first day of the 67th General Service Conference, “Supporting Out Future.” While it’s true I’ve been busy, nothing we’ve done so far was officially part of the conference, though most has certainly been related. It was a long, busy day, but oh so exciting.

I started the morning much as I might any morning. Up for a quick shower and out for coffee with a friend (and fellow Pacific Region Delegate). But once back, we headed to the main ballroom lobby of the hotel for registration and then the opening.

Registration is really nothing much as we are pretty much already registered. Basically we picked up our name badges, which we are to wear at all times, mostly to facilitate talking to each other. With so many delegates and other servants here it’s hard to keep straight who everyone is and where they are from. Badges make it easy – at least if you can see the badge.

After getting our packet – a big binder chock full of carefully chosen information (you’ll see it when I come home) we entered the ballroom and found our seats. Actually we found any seat. We do not have assigned seating and are encouraged to move around every time we return in order to mix with delegates from other areas rather than simply sit with the same people every day. Good enough…part of the magic of the Conference is getting to know everyone (and I mean everyone).

Then we opened. Terry Bedient, Class A (non-alcoholic) Trustee and Chair of the General Service Board said a few words and then introduced a member for an opening reading, 2017 Readings (English) – Why Do We Need a Conference from page S20 of the Service Manual.

Then Greg T., the GSO manager, called the roll. When the roll is called and we acknowledge our presence the Conference actually opens. My name was called at 10:11 AM. Chicken skin. Seriously. Thirteen years ago I was still drunk, contemplating how long it would be till I would fired from my job, lose my apartment, and be turned out by my friends. Today my name was called at the 67th General Service Conference. I have no doubts that A.A. works. None.

We then greeted by the Delegate Chairperson, Bob M., and heard the keynote address by trustee Bill N,

Following that we received a number of instructions that insure the Conference runs smoothly. Many of them are the same as those we use in our own assemblies, some are specific to the Conference. Finally there was a bit of time for questions, there weren’t many, we’d done our homework.

Lunch with our region followed. This was really set up as an orientation lunch but we’d done that at PRAASA so we just enjoyed each other’s company. We did have one piece of business, just for the Pacific Region. It was about where to store the PRAASA archives and more will be forthcoming.

After lunch we returned to the main ballroom and heard three presentation centered on Growth. The three topics shared by the chosen delegate speakers were, Diversity, Safety, and Communication. The presenters did a great job.

Once the presentations were over we went straight to our first Conference Committee Meeting. As you may recall I’m on the Policy and Admissions Committee. I can’t speak about the business we conducted till after the Conference, but I want to let you know I was a little nervous going in. I was sure that everyone would be better prepared, would be be able to recall every word in the background from memory, and…well, I was wrong.

Now don’t get me wrong. They were prepared. Very well prepared. But it turns out, thanks to you and the Hawaii Fellowship, so was I. Thank you so much – your hard work made it possible for your voice to be heard because I knew our collective Group Conscience.

Again, I can’t say what we discussed for now, but I do want you to just how darn great you are! And know this, it’s not that I can’t talk about it with only you, I can’t talk about it with anyone outside my committee PERIOD.

After our committee work (and there’s plenty more of that to come), we had a quick break followed by our opening dinner. We’ll be eating all our meals, except breakfast, together for the rest of the week. It builds unity, is a lot of fun, and, given our workload, is more efficient.

After dinner we didn’t go back to the business of the Conference. Instead we attended to the business of staying sober and centered. We had a four speaker meeting. Each only had a few minutes, but all shared from the heart, just like we do at home.

That’s it for the night…it’s midnight and I’ve got an early all in the morning. I’ll report again tomorrow and let you know how it’s going here at 67th General Service Conference.

Yours in grateful fellowhip!

Bob H.

Hawaii Area 17

Panel 67 Delegate

GSC 2017 – Remote Communities

Aloha kakou,

Today, Saturday before the conference opens tomorrow, was a busy day. Even though the Conference hasn’t opened we didn’t really have the day off. There was fun to be had and work to be done.

I started early with breakfast with a few of my fellow Pacific Region Delegates at the hotel. We’d gathered to chat before heading out with the rest of the Pacific Region folks and a few other guests like our US and Canadian Trustees-at-Large to view the Rockefeller estate, Kykuit (a Dutch name meaning overlook).

If you aren’t familiar with the Rockefeller’s part in AA history know that it may well be that we wouldn’t exist today, or at least not in our present form, with John D. Rockefeller Jr.’s help, and his refusal to give us a lot of money, though he did help with the costs of printing the first Big Book. He had foreseen that we might have more trouble than we bargained for if we had access to a lot of money and, in part, this led to our Tradition of self support.

Joel C., the current Pacific Regional Trustee, had arranged to continue the small ‘t’ tradition that they Pacific Region Delegates get together on Saturday morning before the Conference for a group outing. He was able to arrange a tour of the nearby Rockefeller estate, though it is not yet open for the season.

Off we went in two buses to the estate. Keep in mind that the Rockefellers were at one time the richest folks around and the estate shows it. It’s a huge property that really supports a village’s worth of folks engaged in maintenance, groundskeeping, schooling, and so  much more.

The estate itself is simply stunning. Serious collectors of art, the estate houses a huge collection of modern art by names that even I know, Calder, Picasso, and many, many more.

If you ever get the chance, and a have love of history, art, or simply an interest, have a look. You can get a peek at this site: http://www.hudsonvalley.org/historic-sites/kykuit

After the tour, and it was a couple of hours tramping through the mansion and the estate grounds led by two super docents, we drove off to a big group lunch. It was delicious, but even better was the fellowship and laughter.

That was the fun! It was now time for some work – fun too of course, but business none the less.

The first order of business after we returned was the 1728 meeting. Just so you know, 1728 is 12 * 12 * 12. This a meeting that is held to help our wonderful Class A Trustees (non-alcoholic) understand our Traditions and Concepts a little better. You and I, as alcoholics, really need our Traditions and Concepts to insure our groups and services function; in short, in order to live. The meeting is held so that we, alcoholic delegates and members, can share our experience on how these help keep our Fellowship alive (and I really want to say, because “upon AA Unity depend our lives and the lives of those to come”).

Among the topics was Tradition Seven. I thought it fitting that Tradition Seven was discussed because, although the Rockefeller tour was attended mostly by Pacific Region servants, family, and friends, the Seventh Tradition really is tied, in no small part, to the Rockefellers. I shared briefly on my experience with the Seventh in a specific event, as did many others.

After a short break it was time for the Remote Communities Meeting. This is not an official part of the Conference but is well attended. Several speakers were asked to share on specific topics and I was honored to be among them. The topic I was given was “Linking Remote Communities through Technology.” As at PRAASA I was asked to keep it about 7 minutes, but they weren’t timing me and I know I ran over, though not by much.

You can read my report through this link: 2017 RC Meeting – Linking Remote Communities through Technology.

After our presentations we broke into round tables, much as we do at our Assemblies and Committee Meetings, and discussed remote community issues in our Areas. Notes were taken and those will be available at some point in the future. It was a great conversation at my table and the concerns we have in Hawaii are really, at the heart, much like those of any area. Interestingly the idea of our kapuna, our elders, especially when in care homes or retirement living situations being much like remote communities came up and I was able to share the hard work we in Hawaii have done with our CEC Committee and our CEC Workbook.

After the round tables were completed it was time to ask for two volunteers to chair next year’s Remote Community Meeting. No one raised their hand until…I’m honored to announce that I will be one of the two chairs of the 2018 Remote Communities Meeting at the 68th General Service Conference. The other is Phil W., a fellow Pacific Region Delegate, he from Nevada, Area 42. Thanks Phil! We’ll have a blast.

Then it was time for break and it’d been a long day, with more to come. Most folks headed to dinner. I didn’t, having eaten a big breakfast and lunch. I went to the fitness center and sat in the jacuzzi for 20 minutes. Then it was back to my room to change and attend the annual Delegates Only Meeting.

The Delegates Only Meeting has had a variety of formats and purposes since 1954 when it was inaugurated. Currently, it’s a chance for several second year delegates to speak on how the Conference works, it’s purpose, and how we fit into the scheme of things. A lot of good things were said and I’ll share some of them when I give my report-back.

My hat was then used to pull the names of panel 66 Delegates from each Area to share briefly on their experience. My hat! Okay, it was about the only hat in the room and I was up front, but still… 🙂

We closed with the Responsibility Statement and broke up for the night, we’ll be back at it soon enough tomorrow. Of course no one, perhaps some really smart folks, went straight to bed. Many of us chatted in the lobby, and then did it again. Finally I returned to my room and typed out this report.

I’m signing off, but not before I give you a bit of good news. From here through the end of the Conference my reports will probably be much shorter. We can’t talk about what goes on in our committee work or what we’ve been discussing until after we finish. I can tell you what meetings I attended but not what went on in them. I’ll continue to let you know the stuff I can and tell you how I’m faring…and some stuff will be fair game, but I’ll be very busy from now through Friday evening. I promise you’ll get to full story when I get back, but until then I’ve got to concentrate on the business of the Conference.

Thank you so much. I’m truly honored to be allowed to serve you here at the Conference as your delegate and in all the jobs you’ve given me leading up to this. I’m told tomorrow when the formal roll call for the Conference happens it’ll really hit me and you know, everything our past delegates have to told me so far has been on the money, I’m guessing this will be too.

A hui hou kakou malama pono.

Yours in grateful fellowship,

Bob H.

Hawaii Area 17

Panel 67 Delegate

PS – If you hear the rumor that I wore a formal Samoan lava-lava and flip flops to the Remote Communities Meeting it is quite possibly the truth.

2017 GSC – Arrival in Rye Brook

Aloha kakou,

It’s been a bit over twenty-four hours since I arrived in Rye Brook, NY. The conference won’t start till Sunday, but that doesn’t mean I’ve been idle. As with many AA events like PRAASA or our own recent Pacific Regional Forum, even our assemblies and committee meetings, there are friendships renewed, visits to local meetings, sightseeing, and plenty of fellowship.

After I checked in at the hotel in Rye Brook where this year’s General Service Conference is being held I ran into a couple of other Pacific Region Delegates. There are 93 area delegates from the US and Canada attending the conference and I’m happy to say that the Pacific Region shows up early! We caught up for a few minutes and agreed we’d be at a special AA meeting the next day and they were off to make their own preparations.

My day wasn’t done though. As most of you probably know I travel with a bicycle and yes, I got in a few miles of riding around my neighborhood for the next week or so. My first trip was into the town of Port Chester for some groceries for the room. The town is nice and it’s also a pleasure to do a little sightseeing when visiting a new place whether on AA business or not. The bike also serves another purpose. One of the pieces of advice I’ve received, from many folks including our Pacific Regional Trustee Joel C., is to be sure to stay active and get exercise during the week. This is advice I’ll gladly heed.

I wasn’t done quite done with the bike for the day though. After a quick and tasty dinner at the hotel I headed out again to go to a meeting of the Port Chester Group. This is a local meeting not connected with the Conference and I always try to make local meetings outside of whatever activity I’m attending. I’m happy to report that AA works just fine in Port Chester. The meeting was well attended and I was the only person from the Conference there. I made some new friends and both gave out and received contact info. I’m looking forward getting back there soon!

When I got back to the hotel I ran into still more Pacific Region Delegates and again, made plans for a that special meeting the next day (today). Then it was off to bed because we’d agreed to meet at 6 AM for a train into the city.

And yes, I was up early this morning and made it on time to head out with the Area 72 (Western Washington) panel 67 delegate, Steve C., and the Area 18 (Idaho) panel 66 delegate, Barry S., as well as Thad N., Area 18’s alternate delegate. He’s out here just to check things out and isn’t part of the Conference, but he’s a friend and a welcome guest. Indeed all of us have served together for years, attending the same roundtables at PRAASA and meeting and Regional Forums. We most certainly aren’t a glum lot, in fact, once on board the train to Manhattan we were actually asked to pipe down. We decided we’d be good ambassadors and complied, but that did nothing to dampen our enthusiasm.

Manhattan! We arrived at Grand Central Station and headed out into the city. It was crowded, fun, and, I’m sorry to say, a bit cold and damp. It wasn’t hard, more like one of our local mists, but it the temperature was on the cool side if you’re from Hawaii. Luckily I was dressed for it so it wasn’t a problem in any way, but hot coffee was needed at regular intervals throughout the day.

We had a couple of things on our agenda. The first was to head to the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Times Square. Barry, a panel 66 delegate, wanted to take us there to show where we 67’s (and the incoming 68’s) will be next year. Seeing the hotel wasn’t really the point though, more important was his showing us where the “good” coffee shops, markets, and restaurants are in that neighborhood. We’ll be there for a week next year and knowing where to stock up on things, have a quick break, get a cup of coffee or a breakfast can be invaluable.

Mission completed we jumped on the subway and headed uptown to the General Service Office at 475 Riverside Drive, New York, NY 10115. They open at 8:30 AM in the morning and yes, we were the first visitors of the day. On entering we immediately ran into Greg T., the current GSO manager who I first met at the Pacific Regional Forum. Besides being the manager, he’s a great guy and it was nice to quickly catch up. We visited the archives room (if you have any interest in the history of AA this is the place to be), and even asked a staff member to take our picture on a couch once belonging to Bill W. No, I won’t be posting the picture online. I will post this one though…

After browsing through newspaper articles, photos, displays, and really meditating on just how lucky we are to have Alcoholics Anonymous, we decided we really needed some breakfast. GSO is currently located in the Interchurch Center building on the 11th floor. In the basement of the building is an excellent cafeteria serving all the offices in the building, the food is good and inexpensive (for NY). We ordered omelets, got some fruit, and coffee, sat down and continued the laughter and fellowship we’d been sharing all morning. That’s when we spotted the Regional Forums Desk Assistant, Ivy Rivera. She’s a non-alcoholic (which is why I’m using her last name) employee and one of the hardest working folks I know. If you were at our Pacific Regional Forum you may have met her. She’s been putting on forums for around 25 years and boy does she know her stuff. We hugged and laughed and promised to catch up again later in the week. I have no doubt she’ll be as busy as any of us, in truth, probably more so, and with a smile on her face the entire time.

Next we headed to that “special meeting” I mentioned. If you are ever in Manhattan on a Friday you can go to the weekly meeting of AA held by the GSO. It’s not actually in Interchurch Building these days, there isn’t enough space for all of us it seems. Rather it’s held just up the block in the Riverside Church. The meeting is attended by alcoholic staff members, visitors, and also simply by folks in the neighborhood. You’d think that maybe a meeting like this would somehow be special and you’d be right. It’s special in that it’s just like any meeting of AA, everyone is on equal footing, speaking the language of the heart in love and fellowship.

Also as you might expect in New York, being from Hawaii didn’t make me someone traveling the from the most exotic location. We had members from Ireland, the Ukraine, and from across the street. It was a great meeting and again I’m happy to let you know that the Pacific Region delegates were there in force. I’m pretty sure that as far as regions go, we had the most number of folk present. The highlight of the meeting was a young lady with just 90 days who had the courage to share a bit of herself with us, reminding us of the real reason we do this, to keep the doors open for the alcoholic who is suffering and hasn’t met us yet. I’ll say more about her in my reportback, but she really made it a heartfelt meeting.

After the meeting, and lots of after-meeting fellowship, we hurried back to GSO for a tour. I’ve been on the tour before but the staff positions have rotated since then so it was great to meet the folks I’ll be working with at GSO over the course of panel 67. I’m staying in NY for my vacation from my regular job for the week after the conference and I’ll be back for that meeting and another visit to the offices.

We all agreed we were tired, and hungry. Our Manhattan journey wasn’t quite over. Barry wanted Italian food so off to Little Italy we went, by subway of course. We had a late lunch in a great Italian restaurant and took in quite a bit of street life after eating to find the best cannoli in the neighborhood. I didn’t have any, but I do know where to find them.

And then we were done. It was back on the subway to Grand Central, then on the train back to the hotel. Try as we might after getting back we didn’t make it out of the lobby for an hour after arriving. Lots of folks were showing up and one drunk talking to another really is what we do best. Finally we managed get back to our rooms and I could start writing this post.

Tomorrow is a day of both play and work. We’ll be going on a tour in the morning and later in the day going to the Remote Communities Meeting. It’s not really part of the of the Conference, but is a valuable extra. I’ve been asked to present on “Linking Remote Communities Through Technology” and I’ll be reporting on how that goes sometime tomorrow evening. I’ll also be posting my presentation and a few other things so stay tuned.

Every hour I’m here I’m more grateful for the opportunity you’ve given me to be of service to Alcoholics Anonymous and our own Hawaii Fellowship. I’ll leave with a quote from the Big Book that is close to my heart when I think of why I’m here: “Our real purpose is to fit ourselves to be of maximum service to God and the people about us.”

Thank you for the chance to do my best as your Panel 67 delegate.

A hui hou kakou malama pono.

Bob H.
Hawaii Area 17
Panel 67 Delegate