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.

2014 Pacific Regional Forum #5 – Sunday

Aloha everyone! The 2014 Pacific Regional Forum is over and I am feeling very grateful that I was able to attend in service for our Area. Thank you for sending me.

The schedule for today was simple and short. We started with another General Sharing/Ask-it-Basket session. There were some good questions asked and you can see my notes by following the link after my post.

I took the opportunity to stand and thank all the hardworking folks who gave so much of themselves to put on the Forum. I also started training everyone for the 2016 Pacific Regional Forum by giving a big Aloha and letting everyone know their job was give a big Aloha in return. I also let them know that they could practice for 2016 by attending our Annual Hawaii Convention and WACYPAA 18 later this year!

After this session we had a first time attendee session. This was time set aside for those of us who were first time attendees to share. As I’d already shared a bit this morning I didn’t, but it was great to know that there were lots of first-timers. In fact, of the 523 attendees 305 of us were there for the first time.

After we first-timers had our say it was time for one of the best features of a Forum (or a PRAASA): Sharing from Past Trustees. Our past trustees are a wonderful group of folks and a tremendous asset to AA. I’ve paraphrased their comments in my notes, but I do want to tell you that Madelaine P., the Pacific Region Trustee before Joel and Rod asked for and got an extra two minutes and insisted that everyone stand a greet one or more folks they’d never met before. I can’t say I’ve now met everyone at the Forum, but it wasn’t for lack of trying.

And then it was over. Many of us hung around the ballroom a few minutes chatting and saying our goodbyes. That is, our goodbyes until next time.

It was just after noon and I now had a full afternoon to myself before dinner so I took a nice long bike ride. First I rode downtown, the area we’d been in for the 2013 PRAASA, and had some coffee and a light lunch, then I finished up riding the Boise Greenway. If you ever get a chance to come to Boise, at least outside of winter, you must take in the Greenway. This multi-use path (bikes, skates, boards, pedestrians, dogs) is really well utilized and amounts to a huge park stretching through through the heart of Boise. Another great pastime on the river is tubing. I wasn’t able to try that because of my recent hip operation, but it looked like a blast. Lots of folks were on the river today. Next time.

After a couple of hours out in the heat, it was about 100 degrees today, though cooler by the river, it was time to head back and get cleaned up for dinner. I’d talked with Ken in the morning about having dinner together as Cheryl and Daniel had already headed back after the Forum closed and he’d agreed. He’d texted me and said he had a ride for a meeting and dinner at 6:45pm with Rod B., our immediate past trustee. Good enough I thought. What was to follow was in many ways the highlight of the weekend.

I went to the lobby at 6:40pm, a couple of minutes early, and found Ami B., the executive editor and publisher of the Grapevine chatting with a young woman from Boise. As I’d met her the previous evening at the Grapevine workshop, I asked if she’d seen Rod. It turned out she was waiting for him for the same reason and the young woman she was with had offered her services to drive us.

So Ken, Ami, Rod and I were graciously given a ride to Boise’s Midtown Meeting. This was a really good literature based meeting with lots and lots of sobriety. Let’s just say I felt a bit like a newcomer in the room. Everyone was happy to us as visitors and all of us were called upon to share during the meeting. The topic was the Third Tradition and we all gave our heartfelt thanks that AA existed and that the Third Tradition meant we could join. Imagine all the membership rules we could have, and don’t, that could and would spell our death.

After a bit of post meeting chatting we were then given a ride to dinner. I didn’t know quite what to expect but it turned out that over twenty of us were to have dinner at a great little Mexican restaurant in the area. This was a wonderful example of a meeting after the meeting.

The gratitude expressed by the Boise members at being able to host the Forum was really overwhelming. They were overjoyed to see folks from our General Service Office who work so hard to make sure that we can continue to carry our message of hope. I have to say that I feel the same. Come to the 2016 Forum in Kona and I promise you’ll feel it too. Honest.

All too soon I was back at the hotel. Tomorrow I’m headed home in the afternoon after one last bike ride. I’m a little blue as this weekend has been such a great experience, but I know I’ll be happy to touch back down in Hawaii and see all of you!

Thank you for allowing me this experience. It’s a honor to be of service to Hawaii Area 17.

I’ll see you soon!

And, as promised, here are my notes from our final session.

2014 Pacific Regional Forum – Sunday Morning Notes

2014 Pacific Regional Forum #4 – Saturday

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here are my notes from the morning session.

2014 Pacific Regional Forum – Saturday Morning Notes

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here are my notes from the afternoon session.

2014 Pacific Regional Forum – Saturday Afternoon Notes

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2014 Pacific Regional Forum – Saturday Evening Notes

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

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

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

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

Bob H.

2014 Pacific Regional Forum #3 – Friday Night

Aloha Everyone! It’s Friday night around 10:30 pm local time and we’ve closed our first session for the evening. For you folks back home in Hawaii it’s 6:30 pm, there’s a four hour difference right now. I’ve managed to adjust to Boise time, so it’s getting close to bed time. But first, here’s my report from the day.

As things weren’t starting till evening I was able to do a lot in and out of the Fellowship before things got rolling. I had breakfast with our delegate Ken K. this morning and we decided we’d try to get to an AA meeting around lunch time. Cheryl N., our alternate delegate is here too so we gave her a call and she said she’d like to go too along with another Hawaii Island member, Daniel.

The “Greenway” is a 14+ mile multi-use path following the Boise river and many of you know how crazed I am for cycling so I was off for a nice long morning ride. That was great and really worked the cobwebs out of my mind after “the long day” yesterday. Then I met up with the other Hawaii forks for a 1:30 pm meeting which was small but fun. I’d hoped I’d picked meeting with lots of local (meaning Boise) folks, but it was not to be.

Back at the hotel I registered and picked up my badge and spent time conversing with friends new and old. At a forum there are no big social events like a speaker meeting, but the hotel had put up a very nice inexpensive buffet dinner just before things got started. I decided it as a good idea and had dinner with some folks from different places in California, mostly the LA area. It was great time sharing our experience, strength, and hope with each other, and swapping service stories.

Then it was time to open the session. There were remarks from Joel C., our new Pacific Region Trustee. This was his first official act and he joked that he really didn’t know anything yet because he really hadn’t served yet. He did a great job though, and like all the past Pacific Region Trustees I’ve met he’ll do a great job. We need to bring him out to Hawaii for a visit and I hope we can arrange that. [Note: we generally do this at the Orientation Assembly at the start of a panel, other areas do it at the elections assembly.]

Terry Bedient, Class A non-Alcoholic Trustee and Chair was on the panel as well as staff members (who are are alcoholic). By the way, when we print names of trustees we always use the full name of our amateur Class A trustees and identify them as non-alcoholics. Naturally our alcoholic trustees and staff members, as well as any member, are identified only by their first names.

The opening was an orientation for folks like me, first time Forum attendees. Remember, forums are educational events in many ways, we learn from the GSO representatives and they in turn learn from us, their ‘bosses.’

After that we learned about the jobs of the different classes of trustees and what meant by a GSO Staff Member. I learned a lot and later I got up and asked how one becomes a GSO Staff Member. The panel said it was a great question. For the record, they said every question was a great question.  The short answer is that when a position opens up it is noted in Box 459 and they accept applications. They are looking for a diverse set of skills, including communications skills. If one comes up, you might consider applying. As you rotate every two years it’d be challenging job, but it sounds very rewarding. Just so you know, I asked because I was interested in the process, not in becoming a staff member.

I’m attaching my notes from the session in PDF format rather than forcing everyone to read them here in this post. I haven’t cleaned them up except to remove names where appropriate. I realize something may be a little hazy, but I think there might be enough there to get a sense of the conversation. Any errors are mine and not those of the panel member answering the question, they got it right. If it’s wrong, I took it down badly.

2014 Pacific Regional Forum – Friday Night Notes

Tomorrow there will be a number of presentations with lots of general sharing sessions in-between. First up will be a presentation by the Grapevine and La Viña. Next up will be presentations by many of the delegates, though this time not Ken – he’ll be up in the evening leading a workshop on “Giving Freely Without Recognition.” Later there’ll be a presentation on corporate issues, finance, the general service office, and AAWS.  There will also be a presentation on AA Around the World.

There will be a dinner tomorrow, but they’ll be directly followed by workshops (including the one Ken leads). There are two sessions for these and we’ll be going into the night.

I’ll be going to lunch with my  Pacific Region Chairs and Alt Chairs. Not all of them could make it but I look forward to seeing those who did as we’ve had a great time sharing with each other when we’ve attended PRAASA and through our email list.

Here’s a question for everyone. Would you rather I attend the workshop Ken leads and report on that or go to a different one?

Well it’s time for bed here in Boise, I’ll be starting early tomorrow and I want to be rested up.

Thank you so much for letting me be of service,

Bob H.

2014 Pacific Regional Forum #2 – The Long Day

Today has been one of the longest on record for me, at least since you know when. As I wrote yesterday, I was on my way to Boise on a red-eye out of Honolulu to San Francisco where I would change planes to Boise.

Unfortunately I’m not good at sleeping on planes so I didn’t get any sleep across the Pacific. I had a three hour layover in San Francisco, not enough time to get out of the airport, but as it turned out, this was a real blessing.

After breakfast as I was walking to the next gate I heard my name shouted out. Sure enough there was another member of our Hawaii Fellowship waiting for a plane back to Hawaii. We go to chat for a while and catch up on things when he let me know another Hawaii member was in the airport. Unfortunately we weren’t able to catch each other, but we did exchange a flurry of text messages and I was able to ask this person to help out in service matter. Go figure.

Then it was off to Boise. The temperature here is in the 90’s during the day, getting towards 100, but it’s fairly dry, more or less a high desert. The driver of the shuttle told me they had rain back in early March. That’s my experience from last year’s PRAASA, also held in Boise, there was rain.

After I checked in I did a bit of exploring around the grounds. This is a large facility with rooms spread out through several buildings. Because I’d booked early my room as upgraded, at no cost to either myself or our Fellowship, to a suite. But the TV doesn’t work. That’s okay, there won’t be much time for that this weekend.

Then this evening things started happening. Several other members from around the Pacific Region started showing up, including some past delegates I’ve met at past PRAASAS and a few more current Pacific Region Area officers. We chatted and caught up and made plans for further meetings over the weekend.

I can never stress enough that our services meetings, area assemblies, committee meetings, PRAASAS, and Regional Forums are important not just because of the information or decisions made at the event itself, but because of the conversations that happen outside of the formal meetings. These are important to foster unity across the Pacific Region, and beyond, but also because this is were we can ask each other, informally and without any pressure, how to solve problems we share in common. Ideas get tossed around and we can ask each other for help.

In fact, almost as soon as I got here one of the folks from Alaska asked if I were the Hawaii Chair and said I needed to talk to one of Alaska officers about something. She wasn’t quite sure what it was, but wanted to me to know. I guess I’ll find out tomorrow.

Tonight was social and not part of the program, but it’s an important part. Tomorrow the Forum itself starts and I’ll be reporting on the main event. But I urge all of us in service to cherish the bonds we form with fellow servants from other places, be it the other homegroup in your neighborhood, from from neighbor islands, or, as at events like this, folks from across the Pacific Region and beyond. Our AA experience, and our ability to learn how better carry the message is enriched beyond measure when we speak the language of the heart with those with the same goal in mind, being there when any alcholic reaches out for help.

Aloha and thanks for all you do!

Bob H.

2014 Pacific Regional Forum #1 – The Airport

Aloha everyone! It’s Wednesday night and I’m at the Honolulu International Airport waiting for my flight to San Francisco where I’ll transfer to a smaller plane for the flight to Boise, Idaho and the 2014 Pacific Regional Forum. I’ll be posting daily about my experiences and hope that you’ll follow along and get a taste of this AA event. Don’t forget, Hawaii Area 17 will be hosting the 2016 Pacific Regional Forum in Kona on Hawaii Island.

For those who don’t know, a Regional Forum is an event put on by GSO at little or no cost to the host area, though we do have to supply a bit of research, publicity, and a lot of hands to help out when we get closer to the event. Stay tuned for more information as we enter Panel 65 next year.

Members of the GSO staff, trustees past and present, Grapevine representatives, and many others will be on hand to answer our questions and let us know what it is they do. It’s an educational event more than anything else and to insure that as many possible turn out, registration is free for all.

Here’s what our agenda looks like:

2014 Pacific Regional Forum Agenda

 

As you can see it’s a busy time but there is ample opportunity to ask questions as you can see from all the General Sharing/Ask-It Basket slots.

Anything you’d like to know? Send me an email at chair(at)area17aa.org and I’ll see if I can get an answer for you.

Last night I spoke with our Alternate Delegate, Cheryl N., and today with Ken K., our delegate. We aren’t sure if anyone else from Hawaii Area 17 will be in attendance, but we’ll be sure to let you know. All of us are looking forward to experiencing this event, especially as ours is coming up so soon.

One thing I am looking forward to is having lunch with all the other Pacific Region Area Chairs with whom I shared so much at this year’s PRAASA. Those of us who are attending plan on a Saturday get-together to continue the dialogue we started in March, spoken, of course, in the language of the heart.

I’ll be posting daily until I return and am looking forward to reporting to you as much as I can.

Thanks for all your hard work and I’ll see you soon!

Bob H.