2016 PRAASA – Alt Delegate Report #06

Aloha everyone!

PRAASA 2016 has come to an end and…wow! I feel like I get a little redundant when I describe this PRAASA as perhaps even better than the last one. But, for me at least, that always seem stop be true.

And you know, redundant as it may sound, it may well be true. After all each PRAASA does try learn from those that came before, just as we learn from our sponsors. I know for a fact that when I was on the PRAASA 2011 host committee I spent hours talking with the folks who’d hosted the past few PRAASAS and did my best not to repeat their mistakes. Admittedly I wasn’t always successful, but I tried.

The other reason also has to do with something I’ve said over and over in writing these reports for the last several years. The quality of my relationships with our fellow servants at PRAASA continues to get better with time and contact. I remember being at my first PRAASA, very confused and, I’ll admit it, a little in awe of the ease with which I saw people in interact. I couldn’t do that then. I’m not sure I can do it all the time now, but now I have a host of friends, a fellowship has grown up about me, and PRAASA is an experience I definitely do not want to miss. I know you’ll feel the same way if you attend. If you haven’t been to one yet, join us in Sacramento next year.

So what about Sunday?

Well as you probably know Sunday is a half day with less on the agenda, but in many ways the best is saved for last. The order of business if for Sunday is:

8:00 AM to 9:00 AM PANEL 8—WHAT’S ON YOUR MIND?
9:15 AM to 10:45 AM PANEL 9—PAST TRUSTEES SHARING SESSION
11:00 AM to 12:00 PM PANEL 10—DELEGATE’S ASK IT BASKET

The first is simple enough, it’s an open mic for folks to talk about whatever they didn’t get a chance to say at the earlier panels. And of courser, in true AA fashion folks have a chance to say whatever on their mind – related or not.

Next up is always the Past Trustee’s Sharing Session and this, for many – myself included, is one of the biggest highlights of any PRAASA.

Our past trustees are an incredible group of people. The wealth of AA history and practice they bring to the table is beyond compare. A diverse group to be sure, they do all share several commonalities; humility and compassion come to mind right away. And yet they aren’t “high and mighty” by any means they embody the best of servant leadership and are very accessible and easy to talk to.

Any notes I could post would shortchange their words so I’ll just say this. Almost unanimously, and perhaps it was unanimous, they all suggested that one of the biggest dangers we face is rigidity. All to often we decide there’s only one way to do things, one way to work the steps, one way to run a meeting, and we can have a tendency to insist on conformity to our own vision of AA. They encouraged us to remember that one of the prime requisites for recovery, indeed simply for a happy life, is to remain openminded, open to change, open to trying new things.

The last panel of PRAASA is always the ‘stump the delegate’ panel. These are questions from the ask-it-basket, much the same as we do at our assemblies. And like the questions at our assemblies some are easy to answer, some not so easy, and some really have no answer or perhaps many answers, all good but all different.

Each delegate received at least one question pulled from the basket and distributed by Joel, the Pacific Regional Delegate. He may not admit it, but it was pretty clear he was having some fun deciding who should answer which question.

Our own delegate, Cheryl N., received the question: “What is the difference between H&I and Corrections?” As may know, Cheryl is serving on the Corrections committee at the GSC so this is a particularly  apt question for her.

But of course, as you may also know, in Hawaii we don’t really have an H&I committee, we have a Treatment committee. Well that’s pretty much what Cheryl explained. She went on to explain further that in Hawaii the lines between committees can be a  bit blurred and we depend on the folks doing the work to do it, regardless of which particular committee it “belongs.”

And that was it! PRAASA 2016 had come to a close. Of course I spent time saying see you soon to friends old and new and then I was off thinking PRAASA is over and I’ll do a little siteseeing.

Well I’m a big fan of museums so I headed to the Northwest Museum of Arts and Cultural to see what was what. Part of the admission price includes a tour of the Campbell house (not the same family as in Hawaii) and since it started right after I go there I figured, why not?

And of course PRAASA wasn’t really over. Sure we’d closed with the Responsibility Pledge, said our farewells, and dispersed, but it seems a couple of us dispersed to the museum, so the conversation continued.

Later in the afternoon I headed to a meeting at the local Alano Club and found, yep, two folks from Hawaii there attending a potluck dinner and two speaker meeting. I drove a couple of other visitors back to their hotel, exchanging contact information, and talking story the whole way of course. Nope, PRAASA really wasn’t over yet.

Yesterday morning I really did have to get ready to leave, but not before going to a meeting at the 5th Avenue Fellowship Hall again, and seeing some of my new Spokane friends to wish them will. After that I had time to write most of this post, but as you’ll see, I didn’t finish it in time to post it yesterday.

And a good thing too because…PRAASA wasn’t really over. 🙂 On the way home, passing through Seattle I ran into another Hawaii member who’d been there from Maui and as we both had an hour or two to kill we had a very nice (for airports) trout dinner and, you guessed it, talked story the whole time.

This morning I’m back at work and I can’t get over the feeling that maybe PRAASA is never really over. Maybe PRAASA isn’t just the annual event, but the ongoing bonds of friendship and fellowship that we find when we come together in love and unity.

I don’t know about you, but I’m making plans for PRAASA 2017 in Sacramento! Please join me.

Yours in love and service,

Bob

 

2016 PRAASA – Alt Delegate Report #05

Aloha all! It’s Sunday morning and no, this isn’t my Sunday post, this is my Saturday post.

Why so late? Well Saturday is the longest day of PRAASA, starting at 8:00am (earlier if you headed to a meeting) with the first panel of the day and stretching into the late night ending at midnight. When I got back to my hotel last night I was done. Done in would be more correct.

The panels on Saturday were:

  • ANONYMITY—THE SPIRITUAL FOUNDATION
  • ATTRACTING AND PROTECTING OUR MEMBERS
  • ARE WE GOING TO ANY LENGTH?

All of these topics were excellent and very timely.

The speakers on the first panel really made me think about how we treat anonymity in and out of the rooms of AA. Does using our last name in the rooms break anonymity? Does using someone else’s last name in the rooms break their anonymity? It’s clear that identifying ourselves at the level of press, radio, films, and yes, the internet (in public forums and social media) is against the spirt of our Traditions, but are we doing a disservice to ourselves and others when we insist on anonymity in the rooms?

I have opinions on all this of course, but you know, it’s not really my thoughts that are important, it’s your thoughts. I say that because I honestly think we should all take a good look at how we practice all of the Traditions in all parts of our lives; in and out of the rooms. It’s also good, so I’ve discovered, to check out what I think we another person, my sponsor, my service sponsor, and those I respect and cherish in, and out of AA.

I’m not climbing on the soapbox today, so if you want to know what I think I’d love to tell you all about it, but Saturday is the long day, as I’ve said, and there’s so much more to talk about.

I’ll just leave this topic with a  couple of great resources:

Our own Area Chair, Coleen A., was the moderator for the next panel on Attracting and Protecting Our Members. She did a great job, but what else would you expect?

This panel also gave me pause for thought. How well do we protect our members? What do we do when we see predatory and dangerous behavior of any kind? I know I’m guilty of thinking that this really applies only to men hitting on newcomer women and yes, that is a problem, but other sorts of dangerous behaviors were brought up as well. We all need to be vigilante when it comes to this issue and the the solution starts in our own home group.

There was also much discussion on how welcoming we are or aren’t these days in A.A. Are we doing more than simply greeting newcomers? Are we sitting down with them and listening? Are we immediately telling them what they need to do to get sober and insisting they follow through or are we getting them a cup of coffee, telling them they are welcome and safe, and making sure they are cared for, not ordered about?

I think the most striking example of non-welcoming behavior, and one I’ve probably been guilty of more than once, is standing around outside a meeting afterwards and running down another member, or the speaker, or the group. Imagine being a newcomer overhearing me tell someone else what I think is wrong with another member? Would you want to come back? I’m not sure I would.

There’s a whole lot we can do to be more welcoming and I think every group I’ve ever been to does some things very well, and, honestly, there are some areas where we could improve. One of the best tools we have for making our groups more welcoming is a simple one: the inventory. Has your group had a group inventory lately? If not I really urge you to suggest it at your group. A great inventory tool can be found in the A.A. pamphlet: The A.A. Group…Where It All Begins (P-16).

The last panel of the morning is one that that is still causing ripples today (at the open mic).  There were a couple of hot button issues discussed including the idea of a translation of the Big Book from English into “Plain English.”

First and foremost the suggestion that this be done is not a suggestion to replace the Big Book with a newer version. It’s hard to image that Alcoholics Anonymous would ever replace the Big Book and just to be clear, that’s not the issue. But many people feel that the language in the Big Book has, with time, become a bit dated and hard to understand, at least without a dictionary. And it’s easy to find examples, brainstorm for example did not mean the same thing in the 1930’s as it does today. Then it was a literally a “storm in the brain,” today it’s a tool for collaborative planning. Go figure!

Still as you can imagine there are strong opinions on both sides of the issue. Further discussion on this also has to do with the fact that there’s discussion of translating the GSC Background material into Spanish and French and the expense that entails. Some are asking if it wouldn’t be more prudent to put that work in place before we worrying about translating our literature from English to English.

And the final hot button issue of the day was removing what is, in my opinion at best “dated language” about the status of women at GSO in Concept XI. I’ll let you find it yourself, but my hint is that you’ll find it in the The A.A. Service Manual combined with Twelve Concepts for World Service (BM-31).

After the panels it was time for lunch. I’m happy to report that there is no shortage of places to eat in Spokane should you ever find yourself here. It’s good thing too because the alternate delegates have a small t tradition of going out together for lunch. Actually I think we started this when many of us were area alt chairs and chairs and found we had so much to share with each other that there really was never enough at PRAASA itself. We’ve kept in touch through email over our turns in service and it’s been a very valuable connection for me and I suspect, all the others. This is one the great things about PRAASA. It’s an opportunity not only to learn from each other, but to forge bonds of fellowship and recovery that last a lifetime.

So, yes, lunch was good.

We made it back just in time to catch Joel’s Pacific Regional Trustee report. If you’ve never heard Joel speak on his life and work in AA, and present information about the current state of AA do not hesitate if you ever get a chance. His very genuine warmth of love of AA come across every time I hear him speak; the language of the heart indeed.

Next up, the business meeting.

Perhaps a few years ago you’ll remember my report from the ‘business meeting that would not die.’ That is, the meeting from PRAASA 2013 held in Boise. As I recall we had to stop for dinner and reconvene late in the evening. Well this meeting wasn’t nearly that bad, but we didn’t finish the business at hand – there were two pieces really.

The first was a reformatting of the PRAASA guidelines to be more user friendly. The second were some changes to the document itself. When I looked at the two proposals I knew there was going to be trouble. Both proposals were covered on the same document and it was almost impossible, at least in my opinion. to tell which ‘edit’ came from which proposal; a recipe for disaster.

It think it might have been better, even though it would have used more paper, to have two sample documents; one showing the new formatting, another showing the changes to the actual text. Just my two cents.

The meeting was soon over though with no one calling for reconvening later in the evening. Whew, dodged a bullet.

And now it was back to our round-tables. Originally I’d been scheduled to moderate this session but I’d switched with the Alaska Alt D at her request so I was more or less finished for the day. Of course I participated in the discussion, but once I’d filled her in one where we’d left things off I could relax and not worry.

This was the last time I’ll participate in this particular round-table, though there is an addendum of sorts to be added. As such parting at the end was a little bittersweet. Next PRAASA I’ll bet most of us are there, but only half, the even panel areas Alt Ds, will still be serving in that job. As for the rest of us? Who knows? I know I’ll be in Sacramento though, I’ve been thoroughly bitten by the PRAASA bug.

Now about that addendum. Many of the Alt Ds said they’d be at the Pacific Regional Forum, September 30 – October 2 at the Hilton Waikoloa, and we’ll be getting together one more time for lunch! That’s in itself is a big motivation for to be there, as if attending the forum itself wasn’t enough (trust me, it is, don’t miss it!).

I went back to my hotel for a break over dinner. Those who who know me know I “eat funny” and as much as I’d have loved to break bread with other PRAASA participants, I needed a rest.

But soon I was back for the Saturday night speaker, a past trustee Nancy. I’ve had the privilege of dining with Nancy and her husband several times over the years and she is font of information, good humor, and love for AA and her fellow AAs. It was great to hear her story and yes, she definitely qualifies as a member. I sure related to her story.

After the speaker meeting there’s an ice cream social and while I’m not eating ice cream I stood in line with friends from Idaho while they got their ice cream and talked story (though they don’t know to call it that). Again, this is truly one of the best parts of PRAASA, the camaraderie and fellowship, speaking the language of the heart.

On Saturday there is a late night discussion and I’m sorry to say this reporter was just too darn tired to go. I did try for a couple of minutes but found myself drifting off and figured it was time to head for my room.

It was raining. In Hawaii a light rain like that would be a blessing. Perhaps this was for those in Spokane, but honestly, the best I can do is describe it as a cold drizzle. Not for me. Luckily another member from Hawaii was just about to head to his hotel, had a car, and was willing to give me ride. I’m terribly embarrassed to say that my directions got us lost. Sigh.

But you know, that was okay too. He’s someone I don’t know well, though we’ve certainly seen each other around the rooms in Honolulu and while we found our way back to the right road, not nearly as easy as you might think, we had time to share and become friends. It’s funny that sometimes you have to travel 2500 miles to meet your neighbor, but there you go. That’s AA for you.

I’ll have one more report about our doings today, the last day of PRAASA 2016, but I’ll be writing that after dinner. I don’t leave till tomorrow so I’m going to soak up a bit more of the local culture before heading back to the hotel for my last night in Spokane, Washington.

Thank you so much for allowing me to be of service,

Bob

2016 PRAASA – Alt Delegate Report #04

Aloha from Spokane!

Today it was PRAASA for real! While a lot of us were gathered together last night, as I’ve said, PRAASA really started today at 12:45pm with a welcome by the Scott R., the Area 92 Delegate, Joel C, our Pacific Regional Trustee, and Jeff S. the 2016 PRAASA Chair. Just before this there is an orientation for those folks who haven’t attended before or want a refresher. And PRAASA was off and running.

As for myself, my day started much earlier when I attended the same 7am local meeting that I went to yesterday. It was still small, still just as friendly, and still just as needed by me. Next I drove over to the convention hotel and picked up some good friends and fellow servants from Alaska and we went out for fellowship and a big breakfast. The current Alaska Panel 66 delegate, Laura, had Crunchy French Toast; made with a corn flake batter apparently. I never knew such a thing existed.

Back at PRAASA, and just after the opening, it was time for the first time delegates to give us an area update. This is no small thing as they will have to do the same thing at the General Service Conference and this is their shot at a live practice. They only have a few minutes and just as at area, we will politely clap them down if they take too long.

The first year delegates, Panel 66, this year are:

Alaska 02, Arizona 03, California Northern Interior 07, San Diego Imperial 08, Mid-Southern California 09, Idaho 18, Oregon 58, and Washington State East 92.

I’ve served with many of these folks and it was great to see them get up and do a great job with their first PRAASA presentation. Cheryl had to do this last year, but there was something else in store for her.

California Northern Interior (07) will be hosting PRAASA 2017 in Sacramento and I’m really looking forward to that PRAASA as the delegate, who’ll be 2nd year delegate by then is a friend and because I’ve never been to Sacramento. Should be a good one.

After these reports it was time for the second year delegates to do their bit. As I mentioned previously they were all given the same topic:

Living Our Spiritual Way of Life In All Our A.A. Affairs

I knew there’d be a wide range of answers and I wasn’t disappointed. It would take too long to go into everyone’s presentation, but I will say that our Delegate, Cheryl N. did a fine job. She reminded me that when our Higher Power speaks through the group conscience we really need to learn to trust the group.

I know sometimes I really feel “I know best” at a group conscience but I need to remember that in truth, I don’t. The group does though and I need to heed and trust their decision whether the group, collectively, agrees with me or not. I am happy to report that my own group has made a lot of good decisions over the years without any input from me.

The delegates answering this question in their own way were only given 4 minutes each which isn’t a whole lot of time but my impression is that they all used their time well and said so much, so well, that it’s hard to believe they didn’t have more time.

Next up as Panel 2!

CONNECTING WITH THE NEWCOMER

This was an excellent panel. The topic really is a great one as it’s something we really all need consider, at least in my opinion. One of the things that was brought up was the difference between how members ‘back in the day’ headed out and literally brought the message of hope that is AA to active drunks and today we, for better or worse, seem to depend more on detox and treatment centers to do the initial work of introducing AA.

Along these lines it was great to hear that one area actually has a committee that’s formed a partnership with a local detox. When someone comes in to dry out a call goes out to the committee and a volunteer comes in and meets that person as soon as possible, hopefully the same day. I’d really be interested in how that impacts member retention, you know, sticking with us.

A lot of questions were brought to my mind in other areas as well. How soon do we involve new members in service and really make them part of a group? Is our literature as inclusive and welcoming as it can be?

Actually that last one was discussed a bit with one of the presenters suggesting that as gay man he really felt like he counted for something when early one he read our AA and the Gay/Lesbian Alcoholic. However, there may be a question about whether our Big Book, which has the perspective of a 1930’s white male is still friendly and inclusive.

As you probably know, one of the topics being discussed this year is whether an update prplain language (which is to say modern language in my opinion) Big Book should be produced.

All in all this panel was one of my favorites and it gave me a lot of food for thought.

Of course each panel has time for comments from the assembly, on topic it is always hoped (open mic time is provided on Sunday) and members from both Maui and Hawaii Island had a bit to say.

Speaking of members from Hawaii, once again there are lots of us here. I don’t have a definitive count, but I suspect our attendance is pretty much as good as ever. It seems everywhere I turn I’m seeing one of us!

The day continued with two more panels:

CONNECTING WITH EACH OTHER 

&

CONNECTING WITH A.A. AS A WHOLE

Both had excellent presenters. I won’t go into all the details, but I will mention that I heard again something I’ve heard before, but like many things in AA, it seemed all new to me when I heard it again:

The Steps connect me to the past.
The Traditions connect me to the present.
The Concepts connect me to the future.

That last panel was held after dinner, a meal I enjoyed with our own Scott C., our immediate past Pacific Regional Trustee Rod B., and others. It seemed that the restaurant were were in, a steakhouse, had been taken over by Hawaii as the tables on either side of us turned out to have Hawaii members as well. We are everywhere.

And then it was time for my favorite part of PRAASA (or at least one of them), the round-tables. I’d volunteered to be of service at this PRAASA (as have a lot of Area 17 folks – probably a lot more than could actually be accommodated). I’d been selected as the moderator for our Saturday Alternate Delegate’s round-table. As it turned out, the Friday night moderator asked if I’d be willing to switch so they could attend a different round-table, remote communities, that was very relevant to service in their area (as it is in ours). Of course I agreed so I had the job last night (meaning I can relax a bit at today’s round-table).

Here’s the thing, as a second year Alt Delegate I know a lot of the folks attending this round-table. Like the Delegate and the Chair/Alt Chair round-tables ours is ‘closed’ and the attendees theoretically all have the position. In truth very few people who serve in different capacities have asked to attend. However it does happen and we’ve always been happy to admit them, as we did again last night with a fellow who wandered in.

As moderator one of my jobs is  to help define the topics we discuss and we came up with three, perhaps four topics. In the past there have often been a lot of topics suggested and we’ve had to weed them down; not this time. My other job as moderator is to insure that everyone gets to have their say.

Now when folks are simply presenting information this is easy – you go around the room and give everyone their say. Moderating a real discussion is a little trickier as there’s a fine line between stifling conversation between our more vocal members and encouraging those quieter members to share their experience.

My other job is not dominating the conversation myself. I think, for a change, I did okay there this time. Listening is a skill and I can’t claim to be good at it, but I do think AA service is helping me improve.

So what did we talk about?

  1. The “Feasibility Study” and “Action Plan”  – ask Cheryl or myself about this if you aren’t familiar with it.
  2. Finances. When don’t we discuss finances?
  3. How other area handle the Alt Delegate position (especially with regards to training GSRS – a topic that came up at our own Inventory Assembly).

In practice these topics did blend together a bit. The first two lent themselves to discussion, the latter really was more presentational. We’ll probably be taking them back up today at our second round-table, so everything will get in-depth treatment.

We finished at 10:30pm and frankly I was beat. I walked the mile back to my hotel, a nice walk in chill air that cleared my head and really got me ready for bed. I tried to write this post once I got back, but had to finish it this morning…I honestly couldn’t keep my eyes open. Yep, that’s PRAASA for you!

So now it’s Saturday, a very full day, and I need to start paying attention so that’s it for this post. More later…

Thank you very much for allowing me to be of service to you, Hawaii Area 17.

Yours in love and service,

Bob

 

2016 PRAASA – Alt Delegate Report #03

Aloha again! I’m posting twice today because a lot has been going on during this ‘non-PRAASA day and if I put writing about it, well it’ll never happen.

After running my errands I headed back to my hotel for a short break when it was time to head back to the PRAASA site and greet our both our Delegate, Cheryl N., and our Chair, Coleen A. And, of course, there were lots of other folks around, yes, some from Hawaii. It really is great to see how many of us attend PRAASA from Hawaii.

After a quick computer check Cheryl, Coleen, and I head out to a great food co-op where we all bought a few supplies. I then headed back to my hotel room across town and got in a much needed nap.

In the late afternoon I was back at the convention center for registration. Even though this isn’t an official day of PRAASA, it really is the start, at least for me. I picked up my packet and started greeting and chatting with fellow servants from all over the Pacific Region.

At 7:30pm we had our regular pre-PRAASA AA meeting. This is a small-t tradition at PRAASA, not part of the event, but something many of try to make. It’s clear that the shares, usually about how much General Service or PRAASA has meant to the person are heartfelt, truly spoken in the language of the heart. Sometimes of course, while no less heartfelt, they take a humorous turn, “My sponsor told me to say something. I’m done. Thank you.” That was my favorite this year.

I also have a bit of non-news to pass on. Many of you have been wondering about the Pacific Regional Forum, coming up this September 30 – October 2 at the Hilton Waikoloa. Specifically i’m getting a lot of questions about an hotel discount code. I’ve checked with GSO and that information will be coming out soon. I don’t have an exact date but it shouldn’t be long. The information, when it is available will be posted on the aa.org website’s Regional and Local Forum page. There are five forums listed for this year, happening in June, July, August, September (ours), and October. Information has been posted for the those in June and July, an “additional” forum for the Southwest region and Eastern Canada region. Western Canada, the Pacific (us), and the Southeast regions are listed but do not have information posted yet. I check this page on a regular basis and will let you know just as soon as there’s more information to report.

And finally, I wanted to let you know that once again it seems I’ve been wrong! Go figure! I’d thought that our upcoming Pacific Regional Forum was a first for us in Hawaii, that we’d only had a special forum in the past. Nope. According to Greg M., our past General Office manager and past delegate from Hawaii we have had a regular one. He passed on that information, by the way, in the manner of a friendly private correction after the big meeting tonight when I’d made sure to invite everyone to join us on Hawaii Island later this year. Live and learn.

That’s it for the night. Tomorrow I’ll be headed to an early AA meeting and then out to breakfast with some of our friends from Alaska, another Area in the Pacific Region that is familiar with the term ‘Remote Community.” I’ve always said we we are a remote community made up of remote communities, but if that’s us, Alaska may have even more remote communities, both those that are simply hard to reach and those across cultural divides.

Until tomorrow,

Yours in love and service,

Bob H.

2016 PRAASA – Alt Delegate Report #02

Aloha from Spokane everyone!

PRAASA 2016 doesn’t really start until tomorrow, though registration opens this evening at 5pm and I believe there’ll be a pre-PRAASA AA meeting as there usually is at PRAASA. But my PRAASA has already started in more than one way.

One of my favorite ‘rules for recovery’ is to hit a meeting as soon as I’m in a new place. It’s not always possible of course, but in general this rule has served me well. Keeping that in mind I woke early and headed out on foot for a 2.5 mile walk from my hotel the 5th Avenue Fellowship Hall for a 7am meeting! Those of you who know me personally know I’d probably bike a lot further for a meeting, but without a bike here I, and still needing some exercise, this seemed perfect…and it was. It’s AA of course!

The 5th Avenue Fellowship Hall is an older building and it looks pretty much like you’d imagine on the inside. Kind of like this:

5th Avenue Fellowship Hall

It kind of reminds me of my home group, Downtown Lunch in Honolulu back when we were on Bethel St. only much, much bigger, much, much cleaner, and much, much more organized.

There were only a handful of us there, but it’s never taken more than 2 to have a meeting. And what, you might ask, does this have to do with PRAASA?

As it turns out, the secretary for today turned out to be the webmaster for PRAASA 2016. Some of you may recall I’ve served as webmaster for our Area and, back in 2011, had the same position at PRAASA! We bonded instantly, as only folks in AA, and especially those who’ve shared service position can do. I have a new friend and I look forward to hearing more of his stories about life in Spokane, being a PRAASA webmaster, and you know, all that fellowship stuff.

I was off to a good start.

Then it was off to pick up a car and do a little grocery shopping. I’m trying keep my instincts, specifically those around eating too much on trips, under control and I figured having the sort of food I’m down with eating around would a be good thing.

That done I took off for another service mission. As I mentioned at the last few PRAASAS I’ve been to, the group I’ve served with, the other Alt Delegates last year, and before that the Chairs and Alt Chairs, generally get together for lunch on Saturday. Delegates have their own special lunch, but we alts like to get together and break bread ourselves and we do.

Well I’d volunteered to check out the restaurant and make a reservation so I was off to a downtown location a couple of blocks from the convention center. It looked great, though I’ll admit we aren’t the only group who’s going to be there, but I made a reservation and let the other Alt-Ds know.

Today Cheryl, our delegate will be arriving in a couple of hours, and I’m going to help her with a tech thing and then head to the convention center to register and being PRAASA in earnest.

That’s it for now! Most of my other reports will center more on PRAASA itself, but as I learned early this morning, it really starts as soon as you get to a meeting in the host town.

Yours in love and service,

Bob H

2016 PRAASA – Alt Delegate Report #01

Aloha everyone!

I’m at the airport waiting for my flight to Spokane, WA for the 2016 PRAASA. Just in case you don’t know, that’s the Pacific Region Alcoholics Anonymous Service Assembly. Rather than try to describe it myself, I’ll let the PRAASA website supply the words:

The purpose of PRAASA is to develop a greater unity among the members, groups and Areas of the Pacific Region, to encourage the exchange of ideas and experiences; and to provide an opportunity for members to discuss pertinent aspects of AA.

 

The entire weekend is packed with panels, roundtable discussions, presentations, open mike sharing, speakers, wonderful meals and ongoing fellowship. “Our Spiritual Way of Life: Steps, Traditions and Concepts”. The panel topics include: “Anonymity–The Spiritual Foundation”; “Connecting With Each Other”; and, “Connecting With the Newcomer”.

I’ve been going to PRAASA since I started in General Service and have found it to be one of the most valuable on-going experiences I’ve had. So far I’ve attended PRAASA in:

  • Portland Oregon 2007
  • Anchorage Alaska 2008
  • Oakland California 2009
  • Los Angeles California 2010
  • HONOLULU HAWAII!!! 2011
  • Oops—couldn’t make it in 2012
  • Boise Idaho 2013
  • San Diego California 2014
  • Layton Utah 2015
  • and now….Spokane Washington 2016

There’s always plenty to discuss, especially when we break off into our round-table groups. Once again I’ll be with the other Alternate Delegates from the Pacific Region, many of whom I’ve served with through several rotations as I’ve been honored to be allowed to serve you, our own Hawaii Area 17.

Many of us are in service in Spokane, starting of course with our Delegate, Cheryl N. who will, along with the other second year delegates be given a slot to present her view on:

Living Our Spiritual Way of Life In All Our A.A. Affairs

I know I’m looking forward to hearing her.

She’s not the only one in service though, Hawaii has always had excellent participation at PRAASA and we are known for being one of the most well informed Areas around. I’ll be reporting on who else is doing their bit in Spokane, as well as my own experiences over the course of the weekend.

For my part I’m moderating the round-table on Saturday of my fellow Alt Ds. I’m really looking forward to seeing them again, including those friends I haven’t yet met.

Stay tuned to my Blog Posts for my take on PRAASA 2016!

Thank you all for the honor and opportunity to serve Hawaii Area 17.

Yours in love and service,

Bob

 

 

2016 Inventory Assembly – Alt Delegate’s Report

Aloha All!

First let me say that’s both an honor and a pleasure to serve as your Hawaii Area 17 Panel 65 Alternate Delegate. True there is work to do, but I promise you it’s also a lot of fun.

As you probably know, much of my work is actually done outside of assemblies. One of my jobs is to serve as a member of the Annual Hawaii Convention, as does our Alternate Chair.

We are both hard at work working on the 55th Annual Hawaii Convention to be held October 27 through October 30th, once again at the Hilton Hawaii Village Resort on Oahu. Besides the hard work everyone is putting in for the upcoming convention, planning has already started for future conventions. Remember it is your convention, if you have any suggestions or comments please feel free to contact me or any other member of the steering committee. If you’d like to help step right up and check the convention website for details on what needs to be done.

I also serve at the convention webmaster, at least for the time being, and as part of my commitment to fiscal prudence I’ve researched and implemented a change of web hosting sites (not the name annualhawaiiconvention.com – just where it ‘lives’). Our previous host was costing us hundreds of dollars a year to maintain a presences on the web. By moving to a host who offers free hosting for 501c3 organizations our cost per year is now only $12.

This change has implications for our area site as well. Over the past years we’ve been faced with a huge increase of spam emails delivered to our area webmail system. The system we’ve implemented, at no cost, on the convention system has much improved spam filtering and it may be possible for us to switch at least our email to this system at the beginning of the next panel.

I also sit as a member of the Oahu Intergroup and little needs to be said about the challenges being faced and overcome. Our new manager is in place as are new safeguards and checks and balances. In the interim period many hands were called upon to step up and everyone came through with flying colors.

I was called upon to stand is in as the webmaster and to get the office manager’s computer in order. I’ve been helping out since late last year and I think we’ve managed to get things pretty well organized and cleaned up. There’s more to do and again, I have to say it’s a lot of fun. Look for some new changes in searching for meetings coming online at the Oahu Central Office website in a few weeks.

Here at our assemblies I’m charged with being the ‘training officer’ for the assembly and it’s always a pleasure to meeting and introduce new member to the assembly and the General Service structure. Once again this assembly we had a great group of new GSRS and other servants.

Further as this was a inventory assembly I want you to know that I heard you loud and clear when the assembly, you, said that we really need to go further in helping GSRS understand our process and getting them the materials they need. It takes a while to get a handle on how our Area operates and what we need to do to be full participants, but I promise we’ll do our best to provide the support your groups need to join fully in the life of AA as as whole.

And now for the big news. I’ve been asked to act as the Chair of the Host Committee for the upcoming Pacific Regional Forum. If you haven’t been to one I have to say these are great events. If you have been to one you already know how wonderful these events are and how important they are to both our individual growth as servants of AA and to our Fellowship as a whole.

“Our” Pacific Regional Forum will be held at the Hilton Waikoloa Village on the Kohala Coast from September 30, 2016 to October 2, 2016.

These events are managed by the General Service Office itself so we don’t have to do much in securing the location or conference planning, but we do have a huge job ahead of us in being ready to show our Aloha to Forum Participants; servants from the GSO, Trustees and Past Trustees, Staff Members, support staff, as well as folks attending from other areas and, hopefully, many, many of us from Hawaii. Remember this is a free event so everyone should be able to attend!

Because we realize that hotels costs can be prohibitive plans are underway to secure space at a nearby beach park for those who might wish to camp. We’re also planning a big post forum luau to celebrate the event.

As host committee chair I’m also going to be working with volunteers from each island to host pre-forum events to make sure the words gets out just what a Regional Forum is, why we should attend, and how just how much fun it is!

We’ll also be needing feet on the ground in West Hawaii to act as guides and hosts, giving directions, and generally helping out. Of course in Hawaii we like to give lei to our honored guests and a team will need to help out there.

Finally let me say that when I said GSO is responsible for most of what happens at a forum. That means I don’t have all the answers at the moment. I’ve been in contact with the Staff Members at GSO who are responsible for managing the forum but, as you might imagine, they are very busy with preparing for the General Service Conference but they’ll be hard at work on the Pacific Regional Forum soon enough.

There is information available on the AA website (aa.org) on Regional and Local Forums and I urge you to take a look.

I’ll have a lot more to say on the Forum and if you’d like to volunteer in any capacity please contact me at altdelegate(at)area17aa.org.

Once again, thank you for letting me serve.

In love and service,

Bob H.

 

 

 

2015 Budget Assembly – Alt Delegate’s Report

Aloha all! It’s been quite some time since we’ve all gathered together and I look forward to seeing and working with you all again. It’s both an honor and pleasure to serve as your Area 17 Alternate Delegate.

Since our June committee meeting there has been much to do. As you part of my Area duties I serve on our Annual Hawaii Convention Steering Committee along with our Alternate Chair. This is my second turn on the committee, having served when I was alternate chair. I will admit that this time around I’m a lot more relaxed as I’m pretty familiar with the process, the specific language, and the challenges we face.

The convention itself will be starting very shortly on Thursday October 29. If you haven’t registered already please do so soon. Further we really encourage you to join us for a meal. Not only is it a lot of fun and delicious, it really helps the convention make their food minimum. Please forgive me for suggesting that if you can only go to one meal with us, make the Friday Night buffet style dinner. The reason; we’ll be on the Great Lawn, dining al fresco, and the meal will be followed by the fireworks show before we reconvene for the Friday night speaker.

I’d also like to remind our Standing Committee Chairs to talk to myself, our Alternate Chair, or the AHC Steering Committee Chair on Saturday if they wish to have a table tor displaying the work of their committee.

Further, the Standing Committee Chairs will be hosting a panel at the convention on Friday. I know I’ll be there to hear what they’ve prepared. And, directly following that, your Area Officers will be hosting a panel on “Anonimity – The Spiritual Foundation.”

Finally, the Convention is looking for a new Treasurer. This is a paid position for an AA Special Worker. More information can be found on the AHC website (annualhawaiiconvention.com). The deadline for submitting a resume is November 27th.  We’ll also be looking for a webmaster soon as well. We are still discussing just what the job entails as it has changed significantly over recent years as the convention has adopted new technology. I’m looking forward to turning it over and if you are interested in what the job entails feel free to ask.

I also sit, in lieu of our delegate, on the Oahu Intergroup. There has been a lot confusion recently as our Central Office Manager was terminated. I urge you not to repeat any rumors you may have heard to seek out the full story from the Oahu Intergroup Chair or other steering committee member. I can also try to answer any questions but I am not a steering committee member so while I can help, I am not privy to all the information. Besides attending regular intergroup meetings I have, during this time of transition, stepped in as temporary webmaster for the Oahu Central Office website (oahucentraloffice.com).

I’ve also been in touch with OYPAA members regarding the 2016 HICYPAA which will be held on Oahu. I’ve offered to help them in any way I can. More information will be available about this September 2016 event in the future, but for now I can tell you that their Host Committee Elections will be held on Sunday November 8 at Kapiolani Park on Oahu near the Archery range. I plan on attending and again offering support.

And last, as part of my summer travels I was able to attend the International Convention in Atlanta. I blogged my thoughts about the convention on our area website but would be happy to answer any questions you may have about the convention. I’m not sure I can answer them, but I’ll try.

I was also able to squeeze in a visit to GSO in NYC. Wow, what an experience. It’s hard to put into words just how grateful I am for the service provided by staff the GSO and just how much time they take to make visitors feel welcome and cherished. I do, however, feel I should point out that due to remodeling tours have been suspended through November 30th.

As you can see from my report,. there’s been a lot going on during the recent time between our Assemblies. The work of carrying the message doesn’t stop just because we haven’t been meeting as often.

There’s a lot coming up next year, starting with our January Inventory Assembly which I’m sure we’ll be hearing more about later, the upcoming Regional Assembly, and everything else we, as a group, will be participating in during 2016.

Thank you so much for allowing me to participate in service. It is an honor, a challenge, and ultimately, one of the biggest blessings of my life.

Yours in service,

Bob H.

2015 International Convention – Alt Delegates Report #4

Happy July Fourth everyone! As you can imagine today was quite a day here in Atlanta; both AA and the US were celebrating birthdays – complete with fireworks!

It was raining this morning, though not as hard as it did yesterday. I headed out early as I was anxious to catch the panel on Traditions and AA Events. As your Alternate Delegate I serve on the Annual Hawaii Convention Steering Committee and I wanted to benefit from the collected wisdom of AA.

I’m so glad I did attend. The first speaker has been involved in a number of events over the years and clearly articulated challenges involving the traditions. I’ll be giving his talk a lot of thought and it will certainly help me do my job better at the AHC. I’m not sure I agree with everything he said, but hearing opinions I already hold isn’t generally that useful – it just reinforces my own prejudices. Hearing and examining opinions that are new, or presented in a new way can really give me the opportunity to stretch and grow.

The second speaker took a different approach and I also got a lot from her talk. She’s involved with PI work and thus the things she talked about were less directly applicable to conventions and the like, but I certainly have a new perspectives of the challenges involved in that area service.

The other big highlight of the day, at least for me, was the Oldtimers Big Meeting. This year ten oldtimers who’d signed up previously were chosen to speak and they did a great job. Each was only given a few minutes and all of them packed a lot into their brief share.

I heard two things over and over from each of the speakers.

The first is to maintain an attitude of gratitude. Each of them, with fifty plus years and more, said that they were profoundly grateful for the life they have been given through the practice of AA principles in their lives.

The second thing almost all of them said was that AA did not work for them until they became completely willing, as willing as only the dying can be.

It was a great reminder that if I want to Happy, Joyous, and Free, the theme of this convention I must continue to be grateful, to find things to be grateful for, even on tough days, and who doesn’t have those. And further, I must be completely willing to surrender and take to heart and practice the steps and principles of Alcoholics Anonymous.

Again, after a tough day (and being in crowds like the ones at an International can be tough) I really needed a meeting and these ten oldtimers delivered.

Tomorrow our birthday party will come to end and the work will begin for Detroit 2020! Will you be there? I’ve already started – I’ve never been to Detroit and I can’t think of a better reason to go.

Yours in love and service,

Bob H

2015 International Convention – Alt Delegates Report #3

I didn’t post yesterday because aside from the party in the park the convention hadn’t actually opened. Of course folks were coming in to register and it was pretty clear the town was getting full.

The Pacific Region hospitality suite was open, but did shut down before the party. The big news of the day was that the weather was going to be uncooperative and we had to move the opening party indoors. It was too bad, but probably the right thing to do. Of course that move prevented any rain.

Today, Friday, was the ‘real’ first day of the convention. Marathon meetings started at midnight, after yesterdays party, and this morning the panels kicked off. I’d like to say I was able to attend everything I wanted, but events conspired against me. We really did have major thunderstorms in the morning and that kept me out of the loop for a bit. In addition I managed put  myself in the position of needing to replace an item I’d brought with me so I had to go shopping and use MARTA, the Atlanta transit system, to do it.

I was back in the early afternoon and checked the Pacific Region Hospitality Suites. I didn’t a catch anyone from Hawaii, though I did see many of us around town and at the convention site, but I did see several trusted servants from Alaska and we had a great chat. We are definitely looking forward to both PRAASA 2016 (in Spokane) and, of course, the 2016 Pacific Regional Forum (on Hawaii Island).

Next I made it to a panel being held by our sister Fellowship, the Al-Anon Family Groups. I always enjoy attending Al-Anon events and working their trusted servants on common projects. I wasn’t in service of course, but there were several folks from Hawaii in attendance and around the Al-Anon site so it was time well spent.

Next I had dinner with a great friend of mine who’d moved away from Hawaii several years ago. We then went off to attend the Big Meeting/Flag Ceremony at the Georgia Dome.

Wow.

Wow is really all I can say. Terry Bedient, the current Chair of the General Service Board (who is a class A trustee, non-alcoholic, so I can, in fact should, use his full name) welcomed us to AA’s 80th birthday party and our 14th International Convention. He then turned the event over to the secretary, one of our alcoholic (Class B) trustees, and he got things moving.

If I’m not mistaken there were over 90 flags in the flag ceremony. It’s incredibly inspiring to know that AA has touched so many lives the world over. The first flag this year was representative of our Native American/First Nations members. Each flag bearer flew their banner to great applause, often even greater when the country the represented was tiny. Many of those carrying the flags wore traditional clothing which also met with great approval.

And then it was time for our meeting. Yes, at the International there is a real meeting of alcoholics anonymous. Three speakers were chosen in advance, a woman from New York, a gentleman from California, and another gentleman from Australia. Let me say that they were a diverse bunch, as diverse as any meeting in Hawaii – and in some ways, more so.

I say this because the second speaker, the gentleman from California addressed us in Sign. Instead of having an interpreter for those who do not have hearing, we – the bulk of the audience, needed an interpreter.

I also bring this up because he said something that really touched me and gave me pause for thought. He said that he doesn’t care for the term ‘special needs’ and prefers to talk about accessibility. For, he said, when he is up on stage addressing us in Sign he has no special needs. He’s fine, he’s telling his story. It is the rest of us who have a need, who need access.

And all too soon it was over for the evening.

Like I said before, wow. Until you’ve been to a meeting with over 50,000 other members (that is not the figure, just a low ball park guess), you haven’t attended a big meeting. That was a big meeting.

And better, we do it again tomorrow.

Aloha till then.

Yours in love and service,

Bob