It’s Sunday and I’m back on a plane headed home. Saturday was an event filled day that started early and ended late.
First up was breakfast with Joel, our current Pacific Regional Trustee. He’d come in late on Friday night, after I’d headed to bed, so I had not had a chance to say hello. The convention/assembly didn’t offer a Saturday breakfast, though the hotel did have a complimentary food. Joel had searched online for a breakfast place in Burley, found one, and suggested Barry and I join him. We did.
We had a great time catching up on events since we’d last seen each other. For me it had been at the Conference, though of course we’d all communicated over the year. All too soon we were due back at the conference hall and the start of the assembly. The convention would be starting as well in rooms separate from the business meeting.
Their Idaho Assembly currently is about the same size as our with somewhere around one hundred voting members. You’d feel right at home because in many ways there are a lot of similarities.
I’d been asked to sit at the check-in desk, which would be manned by our Registrar back home, and help folks check-in. Instead of signing in books here it was simple sheets of paper, each labeled with a district, and one for the Area Committee. It’s much the same as home, though instead of specially prepared voting slips I handed out orange index cards.
Assembly members came in fairly quickly. Here at the conference room everyone was seated in theatre style seating, not at tables as we try to do. In fact there were small signs showing each of their districts and everyone was sitting with other members of the their own district by rows.
Their officers and committee members were seated at tables in the front of the room, much as we used to do, and the microphone placement, in the center aisle, meant that when speaking assembly members were addressing the officers rather than, as we do, the assembly. I remember the discussions we had over that several panels back which led to our current practice. I’ll try to keep from editorializing too much, but I definitely prefer our method.
After some preliminaries, again similar to our own, they began the primary business of the day (and remember, their assembly lasts from Friday evening through Saturday, no Sunday as back at home). This was Idaho’s Elections Assembly, they are an ‘even’ panel, and they’d be electing their Panel 68 officers.
Their procedures are quite different from ours and I found it interesting. Like us they begin by electing a delegate, alternate delegate, and chair using A.A.’s wonderful Third Legacy Procedure.
Candidates stand just as we do. Qualifications are read and everyone qualified is asked to stand. Then anyone who feels they can’t do the job because of time commitments or other obligations sits down. Those left standing then line up and give their qualifications.
As my job at the front desk was over I’d been asked to be the ‘board man.’ That is to say, I wielded a marker up front on a white board writing down names and later voting tallies.
Like us colored voting slips were passed out, though not in booklets of five as we do. They’d hand out new slips for each vote.
There’s also another big difference between our procedure and theirs. Instead of having the count up front and tallying in full view of the assembly, their vote count takes place in the back and is conducted by past delegates and, in this case, a past trustee (also a past Idaho delegate), Madeleine P. It was great to see her as we’ve become friends over the years. She was the Pacific Regional Trustee when I first started in General Services, preceding both Rod and our current Trustee, Joel.
Because the assembly isn’t tied up with counting business is conducted during each count. Reports are read, though as we do, anyone standing for election doesn’t give a report until any voting involving them is complete.
Joel was running the election, as is usual when a trustee comes for an election, and he did a great job. He has lots of practice now. This was my first time “at the board” so it took me a bit of practice in getting all the names down and believe me, they had a lot of names as they had a lot of folks standing for each position. Our last election had a lot of candidates too and I think that’s great. The more choice there is for the assembly, the more confident we can be that the right person is chosen for the job.
So business went on and when a result was reached Madeleine would come from the back of the room with a tally sheet, Joel would stop the business and, if there were no election, the next vote would be conducted. In this way they sort of double up on their duties. We have a little more time as our assemblies are held over two days, but this does work, even if it takes a bit of time to adjust to it.
The other big differences are that their secretary and treasurer are not elected using the Third Legacy Procedure, it’s a simple plurality vote. That is, whoever has the most votes on the first ballot is elected. In the event of a tie it goes to a second vote. If there is still a tie, they go immediately to the hat.
I was having a blast because I wasn’t just a passive observer, but had a role up front writing down names and vote counts as Joel called them out. Good fun.
We did break for lunch, a box lunch, and after lunch Joel shared his experience, strength, and hope. I’d heard his story before but again I was struck by the similarity of our feelings, if not our circumstances.
Once his share was completed it was back to business. Throughout the afternoon. Like our at our budget assembly they had lively discussions with votes and reconsiderations. The issues are different, though similar, I could certainly see our assemblies taking up some of the same things in the future. And like us, they concluded lovingly, even if they, at times, disagreed. It was a wonderful demonstration of the power of an informed group conscience and I’m grateful I was able to attend.
In the late afternoon the assembly was over, as were the convention panels which, as I said, were running in other rooms while business was being conducted. We had time for a break and I took some time in my room to shower and meditate a bit on what the day had been like.
A real highlight for me during the day was the election of their Panel 68 Delegate who will taking over from my good friend Barry S. at the end of the year. Her name is Shannon C. and she is currently serving Area 18 as their Panel 66 Area Chair. She had much the same reaction I did to my own election to delegate, a bit of shock, a sense of overwhelming gratitude, and…I’m still not quite sure what I felt, but I’m sure you could see it all in my face. It was the same for her.
I’d brought a lei for the occasion and it was my great pleasure to extend our Aloha to her. I know she’ll do fine as a delegate and I’m truly looking forward to serving with her at the 68th General Service Conference next April.
I’d also brought a lei for Barry, the outgoing Panel 66 Delegate, and as I presented him with it I thought about what a great friend and mentor he has been to me during the first year of my term. I hope I’m able to return the favor next year.
Then it was time for dinner. I was seated with Barry and Joel, as well as David F. and his wife, and another couple from outside the area. David is a past Idaho delegate and we’ve met many times at PRAASA in the past and have developed a friendship over the years. Many years ago, and described in one of my blog posts when I serviced in a different position, I’d made a friendly amendment to a motion of his during the PRAASA business meeting. It passed and I’m sure it helped us bond as fellow servants and friends.
After dinner it was time for the Saturday night speaker. Greg T., the current G.S.O. Manager was scheduled speak but had, sadly, had to cancel. He was missed by me as he was one of the reasons I’d planned to attend this event. Primarily I was there to see Barry, but Joel and Greg together were strong incentives to make the trip.
His absence also allowed me to be of bit more service to the Idaho Fellowship as, knowing I was coming, Barry had suggested the convention committee that I fill in as the Saturday speaker. I’m happy to report that they’d accepted his suggestion and I was asked, several weeks ago, to be their speaker. Lest you think having a delegate from Hawaii speak in Idaho at their convention a singular event, I should tell you I was simply following in the footsteps of Vernon G., one of our past delegates who spoke on Saturday night at the same events, I think in 2012.
My share was warmly accepted and, because a I felt so welcomed the whole weekend, I was very comfortable. I felt the love of their assembly and that kept from being terribly nervous. It was quite an experience.
Right after that they had, much as we do at our convention, a dance. The dance floor was quiet at first, but I dragged Shannon, the newly elected Panel 68 Delegate out on the floor and insisted she have a little fun. Being elected can be a bit overwhelming and it’s really important not to take everything completely seriously, remember Rule 62.
After that I simply had to go to bed. I’d be leaving in the morning after breakfast to return home and start preparing for our own upcoming October Committee Meeting. I’ve a Mynah Bird article to write after all: have you written yours?
There isn’t much more to say about their assembly and convention as it was drawing to a close, but my day, as it turned out, was just beginning.
Because of the onslaught of yet more bad weather in the Gulf, the airline flying in and out of Twin Falls was experiencing delays. My flight would be delayed by an hour or so, which wouldn’t affect my connections, but Joel’s flight out was delayed enough that he’d not be able to get home without rebooking.
The solution was clear. If we could drive to Salt Lake City, about 3 hours by car, he could make his connection there. As my own flight connected there, I’d be able to do the same, though it wasn’t necessary for me. Barry, our friend and current delegate jumped at the chance to spend more time with us and after breakfast, and wonderful Aloha from all present, we were off on a great road trip South the Salt Lake.
We had a great drive in every way. The road was clear, the weather good, if windy, and the conversation was great. We discussed a lot about service in A.A. of course, but we are also friends and there was a lot of humor and just good stuff. Being able to spend several hours with friends I don’t see often with whom I share a life of recovery is really beyond words. “…to have a host of friends — this is an experience you must not miss.”
Thanks to you, the love you shown me and each other, the opportunities for service and growth you’ve given me and each other, and the support you show me and each other each and every day, I haven’t missed it. And for that I thank you. I have no words.
We weren’t quite done though. Barry and I dropped Joel off, with hugs and tears, and I still had a couple of hours before I had to leave. Rather than spend it alone at the airport, Barry and I drove off in search of an A.A. Sure enough we found one at a local hospital We were a few minutes late, but that didn’t bother the regulars. We were new faces and it turned two other new faces turned up. It was one of the regulars 18 month anniversary and it was a wonderful meeting, just what we needed.
Barry and I grabbed a final lunch together, burgers at chain he said would make him the envy of his peer group; they don’t have them in Idaho. We laughed and joked and made sure we knew each other’s plans for PRAASA and then he dropped me at the airport in Salt Lake City.
It wasn’t long before I returned to where I’d been when I wrote my first post in this series, in an airline seat somewhere over the Pacific, this time heading home.
I miss you all, even though I was gone but a short time. I look forward to seeing you all soon, especially at our upcoming committee meeting, and hope you’ve had as wonderful a weekend as I did.
Yours in loving gratitude and service,
Area 17 Hawaii
Panel 67 Delegate