A.A. is based on a Program of Principles.
What are our AA Principles? A General Service Board member Dennis E. in 2004 gave a presentation on Principles in A.A. at a Regional Forum that is included in the background material on discussion of a 5th edition Big Book. He referred to a Random House dictionary definition of the word Principle, in brief – “a fundamental, primary or general law or truth from which others are derived – a guiding sense of the requirements and obligations of right conduct.” Principles can be found in our 12 Steps, 12 Traditions, and 12 Concepts for World Service. In his presentation he described the foundation of A.A. as based on the principles found in the Steps, Traditions, and Concepts. In reading the essay, in discussions with other A.A. members, and hearing speakers at PRAASA this year, I have been reflecting on the program of recovery in the Big Book. My recovery comes from the action of working the Twelve Steps and living the Twelve Traditions and not the book by itself. This original thought is from David E., but I agree. I am sober and happy today because I work a program based on the principles of actions resulting from working the steps. The literature and Big Book are integral to that process, but it is the program of action and engagement where I receive results. The literature is intended to carry the message of hope to new and current people in need.
In his essay on Tradition 1 in the Twelve and Twelve, Bill W. says that “the unity of Alcoholics Anonymous is the most cherished quality our Society has. Our lives. the lives all to come depend squarely upon it. We stay whole, or A.A. dies. Without unity, the heart of A.A. would cease to beat; our world arteries would no longer carry the life-giving grace of God; his gift to us would be spent aimlessly.” Dennis E. described in his 2004 presentation that all the principles contained in the Traditions and Concepts are designed to help our Fellowship achieve and maintain Unity. Fundamental to my own sobriety and well-being is maintaining unity within A.A., because without unity I am vulnerable to a program based on self-interest and self-absorption. I have amble evidence from my past to know that did not work and is not a substitute for a program based on unity, recovery, and service. As we explore the agenda items for the upcoming General Service Conference, please keep in mind that the Traditions and Concepts allow for “Right of Decision”, “Right of Appeal”, and warranties that counsel against personal punishment by A.A. and reaching decisions based on substantial unanimity. Overall, the primary purpose to carry the message of A.A. to those who need it requires unity. The discussions we have can be loving and respectful. A fellow Delegate shared during PRAASA that as a member I can ask questions, but I will not “break A.A.” How we treat each other as we find a path forward on topics in A.A. is as important as what we agree to do or not do.
As part of service I attended PRAASA, the Pacific Region Area Service Assembly, which was held online March 4-6, 2022. The theme this year was “A.A. 2.0: Unified in Love and Service”. This is the theme of the 72nd General Service Conference. Planning for each PRAASA begins two years earlier with selection of a host Area and arrangements for a hotel for in-person functions. Unfortunately, planning had to change due to health restrictions and PRAASA was converted to an online-only event for 2022. PRAASA 2023 will be hosted by Area 05 and PRAASA Chair Thomas B. announced it will be held at a major conference hotel adjacent to Los Angeles International Airport (LAX). The location is a large hotel with ample day parking available and close to the airport.
The conference was held online and the panel session, business meeting, A.A. Speaker Meeting, Pacific Trustee Report, and Delegate Ask-It Basket were recorded. Some roundtables were recorded but not all. I have heard members talk about the sessions as being scripted and lacking spontaneity. One reason is the time allotted for each session is strictly enforced. If any presentation were to run log there would not be extra time for the remaining presenters. That is why there are limits and when time is up you will need to stop, either through polite applause or the sound is turned off. The other reason for talking slowly is for the ASL (American Sign Language) interpreters. For my presentation I was asked to send the written talk two weeks prior to the PRAASA planning committee so they could translate for the moderators and Spanish interpreters. That means in the PRAASA archives are the written talks for all presentations along with the audio recordings. When the sound recordings are available, they will be accessible through the MSCA 09 website, under “Delegate-Confidential Resources”.
Here are my thoughts on my PRAASA experience.
Panel 1- Area Highlights: Each delegate from the fifteen A.A. areas in the Pacific region, plus honorary member BC/Yukon, are asked to give a two-minute area highlight. Two minutes with translation is not a lot of time for a highlight and I am admitting that I did not get through my highlights under two minutes. I got within three sentences when I ran out of time.
Panel 2- Carrying this Message in Challenging Times. Brian P., Area 05, was able to join the online PRAASA presentation even though during a power blackout. His topic was “How Do AA’s Go to Any Lengths to Recover, Unify and Serve”, which was appropriate. Area 03 Delegate Kathy R. spoke on “Concept III -The Right of Decision and Tradition Two – The Principle of Mutual Trust” and did a great job as the first delegate speaker. Gabriel K. Area 58 gave a moving presentation on “Concept V. – Right of Appeal vs. Refusal to Accept Group Conscience” as an important statement on the principle of unity in A.A. and the value of tolerance.
Panel 3- Sharing Our Message Through Our Literature. Ramon R., Area 09 was moderator. Congratulations and thank you for starting off Saturday morning with the first panel session. Area 07 Delegate Jenn D. spoke on “Should the Chapter Titled, “The Doctor’s Opinion” Be Returned to Page One”. I was caught up in her personal story and how the program of recovery through action of working the Twelve Steps and living the Twelve Traditions. By working the Steps, the text comes to life. I was pleased Amalia C. GSO was available to present in Spanish on “The Proposed 4th Edition to Alcoholicos Anonimos”. Watch for announcements in April-June for calls for writing your story for the 4th Edition. Vera G. AAWS Nontrusted Director and former Delegate spoke on the “The Proposed Revision to the Pamphlet for the Black and African American Alcoholic”. The Literature committee is looking for stories and yours might be part of the new pamphlet. The announcement is on the MSCA 09 website under “General Service Office (GSO) – GSO Announcements”.
Panel 4- Our Primary Purpose. Area 08 Delegate Monty C. spoke on “Our Primary Purpose- Is It Changing in a Changing World”. The need to carry the message that recovery alcohol, and for me fear as well, is possible even when the world changes around us. Yes, people got sober and stayed sober before me. Yes, it is still possible to get sober and stay sober even in today’s circumstances. That is a message of hope.
Panel 5- Carrying This Message in Changing Times. Alejandro G., Area 09 moderated the session and Ariel R. gave a presentation on Online/Virtual Groups- Finding a Path for Their Voice. Thanks to both for participating in PRAASA. Area 92 Delegate Ben N. spoke on “Paying for Placement of PSAs on Streaming Platforms”. The Public Information background material on the PSA agenda items has links to view the recent public service announcements that are already playing is some media markets. Tandy W. Area 02 Delegate spoke on “Building Bridges to End Digital Inequality for Remote Communities” and her experience with A.A. in Alaska. Remote is more than just distance, but language, culture, and means of contact. Remote can still happen even in densely populated regions like Area 09. The presentation by Area 18 member P. J. W. on “PreambleChange- Impact to the Fellowship” was moving and I heard discussions throughout texts and during the Delegate Roundtable about P.J.’s presentation.
Panel 6- A.A. Comes of Age 2.0: Unified in Love & Service had a Spanish presentation by Blas A. Area 03 on “Communication- The Key to an Informed Decision”. This year PRAASA had three Spanish presentations, five moderators and readers, and one ASL presentation.
Panel 7- The Future of AA- Our Responsibility. This was the panel that I spoke and my presentation was on “Service Rotation- The Key to Our Future” and my colleague Amber N. Area 08 Delegate and PRAASA co-chair spoke on “The Importance of Growing Leadership in A.A.”. I was moved by Amber’s presentation on the future of leadership in our organization. PRAASA is a great place to see new people get involved and those with time share their experience.
Kathi F. Pacific Region Trustee gave a summary of the January General Service Board meeting with Trustees and Committee Chairs held in Brooklyn in January 2022. You can read the entire report on the MSCA 09 website under “General Service Office (GSO) – Pacific Regional Trustee Reports”. I included the highlights in my February Delegate Sharing Session, which is also on the MSCA 09 website in the Delegate Corner.
PRAASA Business Meeting was chaired by Joel C., past Pacific Region Trustee, and past Delegate Area 08. The business of PRAASA is done during the event because PRAASA only exists as a n event and not an organized business unit. Money available after expenses from the 2022 event is distributed across the next four PRAASA areas, leaving a balance of zero dollars.
The A.A. Speaker Meeting at this year’s PRAASA featured Vera F., a past Delegate from Area 58 and current A.A.W.S. non-Trustee Director. Vera shared her experience with the Grapevine and work done on updating the pamphlet for black and African Americans and her involvement with A.A. as delegate and now non-trustee director.
Sharing from the Past Trustees Sharing, What’s on Your Mind? and Delegates Ask-It-Basket reminded me that there is still room for growth in A.A., to attract the still-suffering alcoholic but also to grow as members in love and tolerance and, hopefully, find wisdom and compassion.
I want to thank the roundtable moderators and scribes for their work in the Friday and Saturday night sessions. Those sessions were not recorded but there may be notes the roundtables prepared for the attendees. PRAASA is an opportunity to meet and engage with members across the Pacific Region and learn from each other. A.A. is alive and well in Southern California but we need to nurture and care for the program to make sure it is available to all who need it, now or in the future.
On another topic, what to know about the getting the delegate ready for the 72nd General Service Conference, April 24-30, 2022, in Brooklyn NY.
Her are the action items:
- Share your feedback with the delegate. The options are available.
- Participate in the Bootcamp and Pre-Conference Workshops.
- Deadline April 10 and April 17 for late submissions.
Background material in English ready to use. Unfortunately, Spanish is still pending.
The information in the worksheets and review are only summaries of the background. Information presented in the summaries is carefully distilled or extracted to be concise and provide enough information so that all districts and members in MSCA can fully participate. Background information can be access from the MSCA 09 website (http://msca09aa.org/) under “Delegate”, “Confidential Resources”. Please do not consider the summaries opinions of the MSCA officers. Only the section on “What the Delegate needs to know” is personally from our Delegate. If, after your review of the Background Information, you think there are strike-out items that deserve feedback, I would appreciate your input at email@example.com.
72nd General Service Conference Background Material:
The documents for reviewing the Final Agenda Items received from the General Service Conference on March 10, 2022, are available for GSRs and A.A. members to review and share with their groups. In 2021 General Service Board conducted Equitable Distribution of Work (EDW) to easy the workload for some Committees. In 2022 fifteen agenda items were distributed to six Committees on agenda items that deal with literature topics. For the 2002 GSC there are 81 Agenda Items and a total of 90 total agenda topics. (In comparison, the 71st GSC had 83 agenda items and the 70th GSC had 103- too many to discuss). Some agenda items involve material that is only available to Committee members, so those topics are marked with strikethrough and not included in the online Google Form, but the summaries and references to Background Information are there for your information. The Google Forms are linked on the MSCA 09 website under “Delegate”, “Confidential Resources”.
Please remember that the background material on agenda item topics is available for the 72nd General Service Conference, and as such may be a confidential AA document. Distribution is limited to AA members. Placement of this material in a location accessible to the public, including aspects of the Internet, such as Websites (including social media pages) available to the public, may breach the confidentiality of the material and the anonymity of members.
I encourage GSRS, District officers, Standing Committee Chairs and Committees, and individual A.A. members to read the background material on the agenda items that interest you the most. Share with your groups and gather their well-informed conscience on items. Use the Google Forms or paper documents for feedback. For paper bring the documents to the district meetings or Pre-Conference on April 10 to get them back to the delegate. You can also share your thoughts with me in-person or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thank you for the opportunity to speak this morning and to be of service to the Area and A.A. as a whole.
Mitchell B., MSCA 09 Panel 72 delegate
Cell: (949) 278-8263