Area 03 Delegate Kathy R. has a quote she uses in her email signature.
Listen like I have no opinion. Discuss like I respect other people’s opinions. Decide like I trust a loving Higher Power.
Escucha como si no tuviera opinión. Discuta como si respetara las opiniones de los demás. Decide como si confiara en un Poder Superior amoroso.
Petition, Appeal, Participation, and Decision: Four Principles of A.A. Service
Referring to Bill W..’s 1956 speech to the General Service Conference, about service. As we enter 2023, I am thinking about how to encourage more participation in General Service year-round, but especially leading up the General Service Conference in April 2023. The entire speech is in Our Great Responsibility, pp. 149-157.
“A.A.’s structure of service is no empty blueprint. It is manned by people who feel and think and who act. Therefore, any principles or devices that can better relate them to each other in a harmonious and effective whole are worth considering.
So, I now offer you four principles that might someday permeate all of A.A.’s services: principles which express tolerance, patience and love of each other; principles which could do much to avert friction, indecision and power-driving. These are not really new principles; unconsciously, we have been making use of them tight along. I simple propose to name them, and, if you like them, their scope and application can, over the coming years, be fully defined.”
Petition – an ancient device to protect minorities and the redress for grievances. Any A.A. member, inside or outside our services, should have the right to petition his fellows. If seldom used the existence of such a right to petition, and everybody’s knowledge of it, would go far to stop those morale breakers of undue domination and petty tyranny.
Appeal – as a measure against fear of a tyranny of the majority, especially that of an uninformed, the angry or the close majority. Under right of appeal, the minority of any committee, or a minority of the board of trustees, or a minority of the Conference could continue to appeal, if the wished, to the whole A.A. movement, thus making the minority voice both clear and load. Though probably not taken to the extreme, the existence of the right of appeal makes majorities careful of acting in haste or with too sure cocksureness. The practice of voting with two-thirds vote in substantial unanimity is to prevent hasty or inconsiderate decision by ca close majority.
Participation – we are all voting equals at the Conference level. All members shares be given service standing and an authority commensurate with their actual duties and responsibilities. This is the concept that all members of the Conference are our service team, all are partners in a common enterprise of world service. There is a division of duties and responsibilities among us. Not all can be elected delegates, appointed trustees, chosen directors or hired staff members. We have to have our respective authorities, duties and responsibilities to service; otherwise we couldn’t function. But there is a danger that our Conference will commence to function along strict class lines. To avoid power-driving we have Article Twelve of the Conference Charters that states. “No Conference member shall ever be placed in a position of unqualified authority over another.”
Decision – all organizations need leadership. But leaders must lead. If we don’t trust them enough, if we hamstring them too much, they simply can’t function. They become demoralized and either quit or get nothing done. How to get the best of the trusted servants? Trust our leadership with proper powers of decision, carefully and definitely defined. We shall have to trust our trusted servants to decide when that shall act on their own and when they should consult their respective committees or boards. The Conference cannot rush back to the grassroots with all its problems or even many of them. The Conference should never take a serious problem to the grassroots until it knows what its own opinion is, and what the pros and cons of such a problem really are. It is the function of Conference leadership to instruct the group conscience on the issues concerned. Otherwise, the instruction from the grassroots which rally doesn’t know the scare can be very confusing and quite wrong.
Therefore, Conference delegates much have liberty to decide what questions shall be referred to the A.A. group and just how and when this is to be done. The conscience of A.A. is certainly the ultimate authority. But the grassroots will have to trust the Conference to act in many matters, and only the Conference to act in many matters, and only the Conference can decide whey they are. The Conference, however, must at all times stand ready to have their opinions reversed by its constituent group, but only after those groups have been thoroughly informed of the issues involved. Anarchy may theoretically be a beautiful form of association, but it cannot function. Dictatorship is efficient, but ultimately it goes wrong and becomes demoralized. A.A. wants neither.
Therefore, we want leadership that can lead, yet which can be changed and strained. As servants of our Fellowship, our leaders must always remain trusted. We want a Conference that will remain extremely responsible to A.A. opinion, yet a body completely able to act alone for us when necessary, even in some great and sudden crisis. Such then could become the A.A. service principle of decision.
If we incorporate the words petition, appeal, participation and decision into our service thinking and action, I believe that many of our confusions about A.A.’s service functions will begin to disappear. More harmony and effectiveness will gradually replace the service gears that grind and stick among us.
Happenings in Mid-Southern California Area 09
The last Preliminary Proposed Agenda Items were received from GSO on December 27 and the Area 09 Webmaster Faith B. posted them to msca09aa.org under “General Service Office (GSO) – Conference Materials”. There are 184 preliminary agenda items and some have been tentatively assigned to committees, some rejected, and some pending final decision at the January Trustees Meeting at the end of January 2023.
I registered for the 2023 PRAASA at http://praasa.org. Registration is $25 and there are dinner and lunch meals that can be purchased. PRAASA 2023 is scheduled March 3- 5, 2023, at the Los Angeles Airport Marriott, 5855 W Century Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90045, adjacent to LAX and hosted by Area 05. I am in the process of recruiting Area 09 volunteers for possible speakers, moderators, readers, and Roundtable moderators and scribes.
Activities within (and without) the Pacific Region
On 12/1, I join 23 other Pacific Region delegates, including incoming Panel 73’s and outgoing Panel 71’s in a 1.5 hour long, bitter and sweet A.A. meeting. The January Pacific Region Delegates call was on January 5 with Panel 72 and incoming Panel 73 delegates, plus the guest Delegate from Yukon/British Columbia.
As Conference agenda Committee Chair, I welcomed five new members to the Agenda Committee by email on December 13. In January the Agenda Committee will be meeting in an online call with the Conference Secretary and Secretary for the Agenda Committee, Diane L. and the Conference Committee Trustee Reilly K. on or about January 13 as an orientation. The call will not discuss agenda items. What we will talk about is the history and structure of the Agenda Committee, the role of the Committee votes and how we will agree on the process for voting, how to prepare for the committee discussions, the timeline for Committee work, and to answer questions from current and new committee members.
On a somber note, agenda Committee member and outgoing Panel 71 Delegate Ruth C. from Area 01 – Alabama/Northwest Florida, passed in late December. Ruth was a member of the Agenda Committee 2020-21 and contributed her good humor, sharp comments, and collected group conscience from Area 01 in the business of the Agenda Committee and from microphones during the conference. Past Agenda Chairs and I drafted a remembrance letter for Area 01 and shared our condolences with the Area 01 Delegate and the Area 01 members. Ruth’s family has requested privacy during this time but asked to keep her in our thoughts during the holidays and New Year.
For area 69 Utah, Past Delegate Patti Walters passed on Monday, December 26, 2022. At the time of her passing, Patti was 85 years old and had 51 years of sobriety in Alcoholics Anonymous. Patti was the Area 69 Panel 39 Delegate, serving during the years of 1989 and 1990. After she was Delegate, Patti served Alcoholics Anonymous for another four years as an Appointed Committee Member on the Trustees Committee on Cooperation with the Professional Community. Patti was a wonderful example of living a life of service to the Fellowship of Alcoholics Anonymous. She will be missed by all who knew her.
Getting Ready for the 73rd General Service Conference
On 12/12, I received a welcome letter to the Conference Secretary with names of new Panel 73 Delegates. I contact each new member by email and called this past week to speak with each individually, to welcome them to the committee and answer initial questions.
On or about January 13, the Conference Agenda Committee will have an online conference call with Reilly K (Trustee Chair), Diane L (General Service Office Secretary), and myself (Conference Chair) for a preview and any discussion of the Agenda Conference Items. This year an Agenda Committee member for Area 85 – Montreal Quebec, so my committee will be conducting all business in French and English simultaneously – for the benefit of all committee members.
In accordance with the 2021 Advisory Action from the Conference Policy/Admissions Committee, and as indicated in the Conference coordinator’s previous correspondence to Delegates, the deadline for sending in agenda item proposals for the 73rd General Service Conference was September 15, 202. To date we have the following items on the committee’s agenda:
- Review suggestions for the theme of the 2024 General Service Conference.
- Review presentation/discussion topic ideas for the 2024 General Service Conference.
- Discuss workshop topic ideas for the 2024 General Service Conference.
- Review the General Service Conference Evaluation Form, distribution process and 2022 Evaluation Summary.
- Discuss progress report on Conference improvement.
Following the General Service Board meeting on January 31, 2023, I will prepare a final agenda, together with background material, which will be emailed on or about February 14 to the Agenda Chair and the rest of the committee.
Background Information is expected on or after February 14-16 for what are likely to be more than 100 Conference Agenda Items. That means the background material will arrive after the February ASC. My hope is that English and Spanish material will be available at the same time. When I receive the documents I will be shared with the Area in the “Delegate – Confidential Link” on our website (msca09aa.org). As soon as possible, summary information will be provided in table form to provide a document you can download and use to write out discussions and the group conscience. I will use Google Docs to solicit input, and I will visit Hispanic Districts to obtain more input with in-person discussions and copies of the print agenda Items worksheets. To provide additional opportunity for discussion about Agenda Items I will hosting online session in February and March so I can hear from GSRs about responses from their groups conscience about Agenda topics. The Pre-Conference workshop will be on 4/16/2023 where we will share the results of our planning.
Last year’s Pre-Conference was tremendously helpful in providing me with quotes from members about their support or concerns about Agenda Items with I distilled into a workbook for myself. At the 72nd General Service Conference I used phrases and quotes from that feedback in speaking on agenda Items.
I hope the district-lead Preconference Bootcamp approach to examining and discussing agenda items will be held again. At last year’s event there were questions that really helped me understand topics and a few I took to New York and shared with fellow Delegates and trustees.
As Conference Agenda Chair I will be attending the First Quarter Trustee Meeting in New York January 27-31, 2023. As a committee chair, I will be attending Trustee meetings where the Final Agenda Items will be discussed and assigned to committees. Work on the agenda items will not begin at this meeting but I will have the opportunity to give advice and counsel on how to position agenda items and get an update on the preparation of background material in English, Spanish and French.
Following the General Service Board meeting on January 31, 2023, I will prepare a final agenda, together with background material, which will be emailed February 14 to you and the rest of the committee.
On 12/27/2022, I receive a list of 184 Agenda Items (dated 12/17/2022), which is a partial list of the final list we expect on 2/14-16/2023. That list is on the website under “General Service Office (GSO) – Conference Materials” and included in the MailChimp eblast sent for today’s Assembly by Manya. I also receive the Conference Communications Kit, a 40-page document with everything you need to know about the Conference.
Before 3/1, we will contribute money to General Service Office to support the delegate’s Conference expenses. Whereas the minimum contribution is $1,800, Area 09 typically contributes $3,200.
News from New York:
On December 27, 2022 GSO announced a now available the Hardcover Jacketless Formats of the Big Book, Alcoholics Anonymous and Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions (English). The jacketless format will eventually replace the jacketed version for the foreseeable future. The new format is the result of our ongoing efforts to more effectively extend the hand of A.A. to our members and the still-suffering alcoholic via our literature. A double win: This innovation will greatly reduce our backorders — and we will be able to fulfill our great responsibility for the distribution of A.A.’s most beloved books.
On December 20, 2022 GSO announced a Vacancy for Non-trustee Director of AA Grapevine Board in 2023. Deadline: Friday, February 3, 2023. A General Service Conference delegate is not eligible to apply until one year after their last Conference. Therefore, only Panel 70 delegates and prior panels will be eligible for consideration for this opening.
Availability to attend:
- All quarterly and planning committee meetings of the AA Grapevine (currently up to eight per year)
- Three weekend meetings of trustees’ committees (to which corporate board directors are appointed)
- The General Service Conference for one week in April
- In addition, directors may be called upon to attend subcommittee or other meetings and to represent AA Grapevine at Regional Forums or other AA functions
Delegate’s Bulletin Board (DBB)
Contents of this Delegate’s Sharing Session will also be posted immediately after today’s Area Service Assembly.
Honored to be of Service!
Honored to be of Service!
Mitchell B., MSCA 09 Panel 72 delegate
Cell: (949) 278-8263