Alcoholic’s Anonymous - Area 75
9:00 a.m. Saturday, October 15, 2005
Milwaukee Marriott - West
PRE-CONFERENCE ASSEMBLY MEETING
OFFICERS PRESENT: Howard P, Area Chairperson; Monica M, Alternate Area Chairperson; Nancy G, Delegate; Robert S, Alternate Delegate; John B, Secretary; Kathy W, Alternate Secretary; George B, Treasurer
STANDING COMMITTEE CHAIRPERSONS PRESENT: Nancy S, Archivist; Terry R, Archives; Ken Y, Bridging the Gap (BTG); Paul H, Corrections; Stu E, Cooperation with the Professional Community (CPC); Jo Mc, Grapevine; George P, Public Information (PI); Marian B, Treatment; Cindy H, Conference Advisory Chair
DCM’s PRESENT: D1-John N; D3-Jim K (Alt); D4-Nick S; D6-Liz Y (Alt); D8-Toni M; D11-John W; D12-Annette D; D13-Chris C; D17-Carol Mc; D19-Patrick N; D20-Dan K; D27-Gary M (Alt); D28-Ken N (Alt); D30-Lori M; D32-Dale H; D36-Dennis L
GSR’s & DISTRICT COMMITTEE CHAIRPERSONS PRESENT: D1-Don K, Art B; D2-Jim K; D3-Deb T; D6-Fred K, Liz Y (Alt); D7-Bonnie B, Mike R, Cathy F; D9-Andrea C, April B; D11–Don K; D12-Tue Hartford Women’s; D13- Cheri C, Kent B, Phyllis R, Tom W, Dolly H, Peggy D, Jodi K; D14- Frank S (Alt); D20-Doreen H, Susan B, Debra B; D25-Marty P, Ken Mc; D29- Dennis D, Beth S; D32-Mike A, Chris E, Don D, Chris P, William S (Alt), Pat S; D34- Sharon B; D36-Carrie
Howard P, Area Chairperson, opened the meeting with a moment of silence, followed by…The Serenity Prayer.
Bob S, Alternate Delegate, read the Twelve Concepts.
John B, Area Secretary, took Roll Call.
Secretary’s Report - John B reviewed the minutes from the Pre-Conference Assembly Meeting and noted a correction to the list of GSR’s present. Don K was incorrectly listed as Don V under District 11 attendees. A question was raised regarding parliamentary procedure and whether or not a tabled item was automatically placed back on the next agenda. Howard had a copy of the Robert’s Rules of Order that indicated it was. At the conclusion of the report the minutes were approved unanimously.
Treasurer’s Report – George B reported that Area 75 has $1,579.69 in its checking account, $2,000 in the prudent reserve and $2,000 in conference seed money. Total assets are currently $5,579.69. George mentioned that the translation equipment listed on the balance sheet should probably be removed as it had been on there for a number of years and never depreciated. George is working with the Alternate Treasurer, Nancy H, in an attempt to develop better reporting of the area funds. George reported that there were not sufficient funds available to restore the prudent reserve to the desired level of $4,000 at this time. Note: A copy of the area balance sheet has not been made available to the area secretary at the time the minutes were published.
Delegate’s Report – Nancy reported that more of the final conference reports are available from the 2005 General Service Conference for those that didn’t get a copy at the Pre-Conference Assembly last month. Nancy went on to talk about the upcoming Regional Forum, giving background and historical information on the structure of the Forum.
Regional Trustee’s Rrport – Bob M introduced himself as the newly elected Regional Trustee and thanked the area for the invitation to attend the conference. Bob stated that he was from Ontonagon, MI and extended an invitation to visit his home group, the Gitchigumi Living Sober Group. The group meets on Wednesday night in Ontonagon. Bob’s service background includes being a past Delegate, Area 74 – Panel 50. Bob stated that the trustee’s position was just another instance of saying yes instead of no when asked to be of service to his fellow alcoholics. Bob said that he would do his best to fill the position during the next four years. Bob said his main job was to listen to those in service at all levels, to best represent the collective conscience of the region. Bob went on to explain the upper levels of the service structure and how the position of trustee fits into that structure. Bob reported that Grapevine subscriptions were down slightly and its director, Robin, will be at the upcoming Regional Forum to present her plan for circulation improvements. AWS literature sales are currently ahead of projection for the year, but isn’t sure why. One of the jobs of the Regional Trustee is to travel within the region and attend various conferences at the area level. Current contributions for the region are down two to three percent over the previous year. Bob mentioned that he went to his first Regional Forum a few years ago and was exited to meet the people he read about in BOX 459 and the Grapevine. He invited all those in attendance to come to the upcoming Regional Forum armed with questions for the representatives from the General Service Office (not him).
Emergency Business: Bids for the 2008 Fall Conference – On behalf of District 12, Annette D submitted a bid for the conference. No other bids were forthcoming and District 12’s bid was accepted unanimously.
Area 75 Inventory – Monica M presented the questions from the “Ask-It Basket”.
Should Area 75 eliminate the Spring Conference and replace it with a Service Weekend where more time could be spent on business? Discussion: The conference would not be successful, as it would loose the support of those that come to hear the panels and the guest speakers. Last year and ad hoc committee was formed to research the current conference structure and the response from the fellowship was very poor. Only twenty-five responses were received from all the groups in Area 75. It would not be wise to change the current structure without more input from the fellowship.
Should Area 75 conferences be service only? Discussion: Service only conferences would not reach the new-comer and the still suffering alcoholic.
Would it be possible to move the proposals to be voted on at assemblies to earlier in the day? It appears sometimes they don’t get the spiritual attention they deserve because people are anxious to go home. Discussion: Part of the problem has to do with the “sense of the meeting” lunch break. People are more attentive with a lunch break than without. The proposal voting should be moved back to the morning session as many people leave at lunch. The agenda items don’t get the discussion they need in the afternoon as people want to go home. We would discuss them more thoroughly if the were brought up in the morning session. If the “setting the agenda” is moved to the morning at the Agenda Planning meeting the service committee meeting will suffer. If the voting is moved to the morning of the Pre-Conference Assembly the DCM sharing session will suffer. What are we willing to give up so we could go home earlier in the day? Moving the voting to the morning session at least gives one the opportunity to leave early if they desire. At the Agenda Planning Meeting, some of the service committees are done much more quickly than others. If they were moved to the afternoon, one could leave rather than wasting up to two to three hours of the day waiting for the other committees to finish. Nobody will stay for the standing committee reports it the structure of the meetings is changed. We need to make decisions based on what is best for the still suffering alcoholic. The lunch break gives members a chance to discuss the area business with other members. One thinks more clearly when they aren’t hungry. Maybe the meeting should be changed to Saturday so not to conflict with football. Many proposals are brought forth as a result of the standing committee meetings at the Agenda Planning Meeting. Moving the “agenda setting” to the morning would eliminate that opportunity. Those members of the fellowship that are diabetic will have to take a lunch break regardless how the voting goes. The conferences and the area assemblies should be held separately.
What methods are DCM’s and GSR’s using to encourage groups and members to contribute regularly to GSO, Area 75 and our Central Offices; to seek service positions at the group/district/area; to attend Area 75 conferences? Discussion: Service reports should be given enthusiastically to engage the listener’s attention. Groups should encourage members to contribute in the birthday plan. The group treasurer’s report should be given from the podium so that individual group members understand what happens with the seventh tradition money. Address the sponsor in hopes that they will encourage their sponsee’s participation. Send district members out to talk to groups that currently aren’t participating. Most groups don’t know what a GSR is or does and have very little knowledge of the service structure. Educate these groups through workshops sponsored by the district as it’s less threatening. One group includes in their format an explanation of what entities are supported through their seventh tradition donations. That way the regular members as well as visitors to the group are reminded on a weekly basis the importance of contributing. When relating your story to other members of Alcoholics Anonymous try and stress the importance of service in your recovery. At the district level send thank-you notes to the groups that are contributing. A non-smoking format for the district meeting increased attendance. Poor attendance is often a lack of education about the benefits of service. Educate the groups through district workshops. The most important thing is to reach the groups that aren’t participating rather than preaching to those that are.
What does Area 75 do? Comment: It was the Monica’s opinion that this question fits in with the first two questions from the printed inventory and turned the meeting back over to Howard.
Howard acted as moderator for the questions from the printed inventory.
What is the basic purpose of the Area Committee? Discussion: Howard discussed the three legacies of recovery, unity and service and how he began his involvement in service under the direction of his sponsor. The basic purpose of the area committee is described in the service manual. Beyond that, the area committee must be responsive to the needs of the groups within the area. Howard went on to explain some of the service positions available at the group, district and area level. A comment from the floor was made to the effect that the purpose of the areas responsibility was to carry the message to the still suffering alcoholic. Nancy G replied that, yes it is the purpose, but it is responsible for more than just that. From chapter five of the service manual: Perhaps more than any other group of people in AA. The area committee is responsible for the health of the Conference structure and thus for the growth and harmony in the AA fellowship. If GSR’s are lax, if there is a lack of harmony in a district, if there are difficulties in public information or some other service area, the committee member knows it and can turn to the full committee for help.
Are we concentrating on the basic purpose? Discussion: Bob S took exception to the signs posted in the hallway that you must be registered to attend the panels. He did not feel that this was in line with carrying the message to the still suffering alcoholic. If we were to loose one opportunity to help only one alcoholic as a result of such a sign, it would be a crime. Howard mentioned that the signs had been taken down and any concerns with the signs should be addressed to the conference chairperson. A comment from the floor was made to the effect that the area inventory only needed to address whether or not we were reaching the still suffering alcoholic and that the rest of the inventory questions were unnecessary.
Is the Area Committee attracting only a certain kind of alcoholic to serve or are we getting a good cross-section of our Area? Discussion: Terry R made a comment in response to the last comment made in question two, that this was an area inventory and that we were here to gauge the effectiveness of our performance in serving the Area 75 AA community. Terry felt that we had extended the invitation for members from the African-American and Hispanic communities to attend area assemblies and was puzzled by their lack of participation. Another comment was made that the members of our area assembly were more affluent that the average AA member, due to the fact that most groups do not support their GSR financially. Another comment was made that the faces of the area committees don’t change much only the titles change. Howard then made the comment that it was up to each area officer and committee chairperson to line up their successor during their rotation.
Do new DCM’s and GSR’s stick with us or does turnover seem excessive? Discussion: A comment was made from the floor that it’s hard to get people to commit to a two-year service term and that the fall conference is ill timed for rural communities as its harvest time. Another comment was made that the lack of candidates for these positions is due to a lack of education of the service structure. Individual AA members are comfortable in the group and in there sobriety and don’t want to venture out into the world of service opportunities. If they are unwilling to volunteer then we need to start nominating them to get them involved. Another comment was made that if you’re able to find someone who is willing to commit to a two-year service position, they are ready you retirement after only one term of service and use “the principal of rotation” as an excuse for further involvement. Marian B made the comment that it’s important that we be enthusiastic about service if we want to attract others. Stu E made the comment that turnover does seem excessive in his estimate, that there are too many outside interests competing with AA service. AA commitments are usually the first thing to fall by the wayside when outside interests demand our attention. We as sponsors maybe need to be less understanding when our sponsee’s use this as an excuse for not fulfilling their full term of service. Another comment was made that we need more workshops at the district level that get AA members involved in service
Is adequate opportunity given to all members to speak and participate in Committee activities and to be the actual voice and effective conscience for our whole Area? Discussion: Cindy H stated that the answer to this question was yes. Everyone is given an equal opportunity to speak their minds at the area assemblies and to effectively represent their groups. Another comment was made on the right to minority opinion and how important it was that they had the opportunity to express an opposing viewpoint. An opinion was voiced that the old method of entertaining motions from the floor was better than the lengthy proposal format followed currently. We should do away with the proposal process and return to simpler times. Leo M commented on the spirit of rotation and the fact that he was still very much involved in general service even though he does not have an area position. His involvement today is through committee involvement rather than as a committee chair. Leo commented on the proposal process and stated that it was good to move slowly when formulating area actions. When proposals were accepted from the floor it was not unusual to vote one way only to undo the vote a year later when another motion was made from the floor. The proposal process gives us time to think about the issue rather than make rash decisions. Marian B commented once more on the importance of education about service opportunities. She then stated the responsibility declaration to support her contention that it’s up to us to get members from our home groups involved in service.
How do we treat the “Right of Appeal”, thus assuring the minority opinion will be heard and petitions for the readdress of personal grievances will be carefully considered? Discussion: Howard stated that he had seen this demonstrated not only at his home group, but also at the district and the area level. Bob M shared that he had seen this work at the General Service Conference as well, that minority opinion was discussed and debated for changes in conference approved literature. Even though this readdress did not result in changing the group conscience, it was still given careful consideration.
Are the issues brought to the Committee meetings made clear so we all know what we are voting on? Discussion: A comment was made from the floor that they had little or no idea what they were supposed to do in their newly elected service position. Ken G responded that he would be glad to come to their district for a presentation of the GSR school.
Are important decisions reached by discussion, vote and whenever possible, substantial unanimity? Discussion: Initially, no comments were made from the floor regarding this item. Howard offered the fact that he himself must remember to be respectful of the group conscience reached by substantial unanimity, even if it doesn’t agree with his own opinion. A question was asked as to what constitutes “substantial unanimity”? Ken G responded that two thirds or better of those participating in the voting process are required to be in agreement for substantial unanimity to exist.
Is the Committee democratic in thought and action? Discussion: No comments were offered from the floor on this topic. Howard offered that we try and do the best we can to ensure that decisions reached are done so through the democratic process.
Has our Area become the seat of perilous wealth and power, or do we have an effective system for accounting and reporting of funds? George B responded that he didn’t believe that our area had to worry about being a seat of perilous wealth and power and as far as the accounting goes; he and Nancy H were working on that. Howard mentioned that it was through the desires and actions of the area assembly that a finance committee was created to help with the budgeting process.
Do we give all members their chance of keeping informed about the whole of AA-Recovery, Unity and Service? Discussion: Howard made the comment that he was appreciative of those districts that sent him their minutes as this allowed him to keep in touch with the activities within those districts. He also mentioned that workshops were a good tool for educating AA members at the district level. A comment was made from the floor that it seemed in their district that communication flowed only from the district to the groups not from the groups to the district. Kathy W mentioned that the Area 75 website was a good tool for keeping up to date within the districts as well as at the area level. More activities are being posted regarding district functions and the Area minutes are now posted on the website (www.area75.org). Leo M mentioned that a group he attends in Waukesha recently decided through a group conscience that they had reached a point in their development where they needed a GSR. Leo also reiterated that the GSR report needed to be enthusiastic and interesting to hold the interest of the group members. Ken G remarked that the need for an active GSR and DCM cannot be overstated, that without those two things, you are cut off from AA and we should be angry about that. It is our responsibility as group members to make it known to our elected representatives that we value the information that they bring to us and shame on us if we allow them to think we don’t care. Those newly elected representatives who have questions should make themselves available to the service knowledge that exists with Area 75, especially our past delegates. George P mentioned that service opportunities allowed individual members to make the transition from an “I” program to a “we” program, but we need to get them to come here to realize that we are enthusiastic about service. A comment was made from the floor to the effect that the information was available, but that we had to want the information before we would be able to hear it.
Howard mentioned that proposal forms would be available on the area website for the upcoming Agenda Planning Meeting in January of 2006. Also available will be the Area Resume form and the Conference Bid form.
The meeting closed with the Lord’s Prayer.
January 22, 2006 – Agenda Planning Meeting, Madison Senior Center, Madison WI
March 12, 2006 – Delegate’s Workshop, Madison Senior Center, Madison, WI
April 9, 2006 – Pre-Conference Assembly, Madison Senior Center, Madison, WI
May 5 – 7, 2006 – Area 75 Spring Conference, La Crosse, WI
June 11, 2006 – Agenda Planning Meeting, Madison Senior Center, Madison, WI
July 7 – 9, 2006 – Unity Conference, Wisconsin Rapids, WI
September 24, 2006 - Pre-Conference Assembly, Madison Senior Center, Madison, WI
October 20 – 22, 2006 – Area 75 Fall Conference, Beloit, WI (Area Elections)
Note: The following reports were not presented at the business meeting due to the area inventory, but have been submitted to be included with the area minutes.
Report to Area 75 Fall Conference Assembly
October 13, 2005
Our Area 75 Cooperation with the Professional Community (CPC) Committee meets at the two Agenda Planning Meetings and at our two Area 75 Conferences each year. I remain much impressed at the energy and achievements of our district CPC chairs and their committees. Any district CPC chair, DCM, or any interested AA member is welcome to attend and to participate at our meetings.
Members of Area 75’s Cooperation with the Professional Community (CPC) Committee worked exhibit booths at two major conventions this year. The most recent of these was the National Convention of the NAACP in Milwaukee in July. I reported at length on this convention in my remarks and my written report to the Pre-Conference Assembly, available under “Area Business” at www.area75.org . One item did not make it into the written portion of that report though I did cover it in my comments at the microphone that day. In the interest of thoroughness, I would like to repeat in this report that the Area 75 CPC Committee and I again thank Greater Milwaukee Central Office for providing locally prepared “When & Where’s” for distribution as needed to NAACP members at the convention. This helped some local members of the Black community find AA meetings they had not been aware of, and it allowed us to provide copies to out-of-town convention goers who are also AA members and wished to attend a meeting while in Milwaukee. The unused portion of the 50 copies provided were returned to GMCO by David W., DCM of D27, my local co-chair for this event, and a regular member of the Area 75 CPC Committee, with our thanks. I also previously neglected to mention my appreciation for the support and help George P., Area 75’s PI Chairman, gave in manning the booth at that convention. We do try to have either myself, another area standing committee chair, a DCM, a past delegate, or a district CPC chair in the booth at all times in addition to our other volunteers.
Tom R., CPC Chairman for D34 and I addressed a group of probation and parole officers in a one and one half hour training session on September 29th. The Field Supervisor of three Probation and Parole Offices had invited us and had asked that we bring literature for forty-five officers. Though only a handful of officers made it to the meeting, that supervisor was provided with conference approved AA literature for the remainder. That literature came from the reserve I hold as your Area 75 CPC Chairman. Tom and I prepped thoroughly well in advance of the presentation. We did an introduction, showed the excellent video “Hope: Alcoholics Anonymous”, Tom did the bulk of our main presentation, and we conducted a question and answer session together. All went very well, and we expect future contact with this office. To all of Area 75’s other CPC Chairs and DCM’s, I would like to say that I will do my best to be available to assist you in such presentations if you would like. I do have one copy of the video, and I do have some literature. Limitations on my ability to help in person are mainly schedule and budget, but I hope we can work within those confines. I view an invitation to address a group like this as a sensible but huge amount of trust for a state agency to place in any community-based resource such as AA. We need to do our very best here. One note about corrections offices: security is in place in the building. Any visitor in these offices needs an escort; it is not a place to bring a large group to do such a presentation.
Plans are underway for our participation in the 2006 Annual Convention of the Wisconsin Association on Alcohol and Drug Abuse (WAAODA). You will hear more about this at our January Agenda Planning Meeting and in my 2006 budget. Just this week, Irene K. at the CPC Desk at GSO committed to providing literature support for that effort. We had a lengthy discussion about CPC work in general.
Again, my thanks for the trust and support you have given me as your CPC Chairman. Please consider joining us at one of our upcoming meetings.
Yours in Recovery and Service,
Stu E., Area 75 CPC Chairman
There are two new product improvements in the Group Life sections of the latest literature catalogue. There are special attachments available which allow groups to display books on the standard literature rack, and new, more universal Step and Traditions “window shades”, which hang from a chain rather than brackets.
Just a reminder that book prices increased as of July 1, 2005. All book prices increased by $1.00, with the exception of The Big Book (Alcoholics Anonymous). Also starting July 1, 2005, a shipping charge is being added to all orders under $250.00. The charge is a minimum $3.00, or 10%. Orders exceeding $250.00 are exempt.
The latest activity update reports, there have been 20 new translations accomplished in various literature and languages. Included in these is the “New Edition of Alcoholics Anonymous” in Portuguese.
A note of interest is that there are currently 56 national General Service Offices, not including New York. The Big Book has been translated into 52 different languages. This is a huge leap from our humble beginning, with one small office in New York and one English language publication.
One of the committees at the 55th General Service Conference dealt with “How to make newcomers aware of A.A.’s literature”. Newcomers become aware of A.A. literature by it’s availability at A.A. Meetings. The Big Book can be placed on the speaker’s table. The literature table should be attractive and highly visible, perhaps by the door. Display a sampling of A.A. literature in other languages. Select a group literature chairperson. Make an announcement at the beginning of the meeting, or at the secretary’s break, that literature is available to everyone, whether or not you can pay. Read “How it Works” directly from the Big Book. Quote and credit our literature when we share at meetings.
Most groups have newcomer’s packets and meeting schedules, as well as a supply of the Big Book, the Twelve & Twelve, the Grapevine, The Language of the Heart, and the literature catalogue. Give newcomers As Bill Sees It or the Daily Reflections. Point out the differences between A.A. literature and non-Conference-approved literature. Emphasize the history of A.A. and encourage members to become interested in learning about our co-founders through the literature on A.A.’s history.
It is helpful to read the literature together in meetings or one-on-one. Be sure to know the literature you are recommending. Share how the literature helped us and let newcomers know that this is where we found answers to our problems. We can give them specific pages to read. When someone asks us “how it works?” we can show him or her the Big Book.
Literature is not self-evident to newcomers. We need to carry it into jails and institutions. Bring A.A. literature on Twelfth Step calls. Personal contact with newcomers is essential. When we give out literature we can include our phone numbers. Don’t forget to also reach out to visitors who may be prospective A.A. members. Remember “attraction rather than promotion.”
Area 75 Alt. Delegate/Literature Chair