Report from the 2017 ABC

Thanks to Delegate Jeannie T. from the Saturday morning Palm Beach Gardens, From Surviving to Thriving meeting (Fl 170).  Jeannie attended the WSO Annual Business Conference (ABC) in 2017 held in San Diego and compiled her notes with those from Duncan B., Santa Barbara Intergroup (584), Sanne S., FL 158, and Jim R. of the Greater NY ACA Intergroup (017).  She provides us with this comprehensive report.

The ACA WSO 2017 Annual Business Conference

GENERAL OVERVIEW

This document reports on the 2017 Annual Business Conference (ABC), held in San Diego, California.

This report outlines, generally, the proceedings of the Conference.  The minutes of the meeting will be made available at some point on the ACA WSO website, adultchildren.org.  Additionally, audio recordings of the proceedings were created, and will be made available.

The ACA ABC took place over 2 days, Thursday and Friday, April 20 and 21, at the Handlery Hotel, in San Diego.  The site of the Conference was a mid-sized, mid-Century hotel.  There were a variety of rooms big and small for the various speakers at the following World Convention and a good sized central ballroom offering ample space for the conference.

CONFERENCE:  DAY 1

The conference was attended by roughly 90 delegates, up from about 50 last year. A large majority of the participants were at their very first ABC. We began the event with a focus on the delegates – clarifying their rights and responsibilities.  The Delegate Training Subcommittee initiated this training creating outreach to all delegates long before we gathered for the ABC.  Details were provided about the actual workings of the conference – making motions, voting on proposals, minority opinions and more.  This portion of the event was entirely new and quite welcomed, giving the delegates guidance and an opportunity to question.

There were Delegates from around the USA, Canada, Mexico, Denmark, and Czech Republic in attendance, and many more listened in on teleconference or via internet link. There are currently approximately 1700 ACA meetings worldwide. The Delegates and Trustees sat at rows of tables arranged in a congressional style semicircular layout all focused toward a central table where the parliamentarian sat, a podium for presenters, and an audio visual screen. We were each issued an enormous 292-page binder, and the proceedings were begun by orienting the Delegates to the Business Conference.

Another new aspect of this year’s ABC, and a part of the pre-business meeting agenda, was a presentation from the Service Structure Committee.  Their focus is the form and functioning of the ACA world… from roles and representation, to rules and responsibilities.

The ACA organization is on the threshold of envisioning and implementing a renewed and revised service structure and this Committee is dedicated to informing the fellowship of their findings and recommendations and also involving the fellowship in the process – bringing ACA members along through the steps of change.

At the conclusion of these introductory sessions, and before the actual business meeting, the delegates were introduced to the Board members and committee chairs among them, to learn about the various committees and to be welcomed as volunteers on those committees.

This year, the “adversarial seating plan” had been replaced with a congressional-style arrangement – a semi-circular layout of tables and chairs, focused on a single table and a seat for the Business Meeting Chairperson and the WSO Secretary.  As it turned out, it was the place to seat the professional Parliamentarian, who had been engaged for the occasion, while the impromptu Secretary sat amid the delegates.  And this seating arrangement allowed all the Board members to sit among the delegates.  It provided a democratic, participatory atmosphere.

Adjacent to the Chair’s table, were a podium for orators and presenters, and a screen for projecting slide presentations.

The Conference agenda was rather straightforward – very reminiscent of a standard group business meeting.  Among other items, the agenda called for:

  1. Accepting the minutes of the previous meeting
  2. Accepting reports from various committees
  3. Discussing adoption of proposals of change to the organization

The minutes of the previous meeting were read aloud.  This was followed by the reading of reports of various committees by various committee chairs.  This comprised the business end of the agenda for the first day.

Binders

The OPPM and other foundational documents were grouped together and placed in a separate section.  All the reports – the preceding minutes, the Treasurers Report and committee reports were grouped in one section and arranged consecutively, as they were to be presented. Each committee report was asked to contain some basic information, such as:  the mission of the committee; the members; goals for the year to come; and contact information.

We reviewed Parliamentary Procedure and Robert’s Rules of Order, our ACA 12 Concepts of Service, our ACA Operating Procedures & Practices Manual (OPPM), and our ACA Commitment to Service (BRB pg 601). We were encouraged to invite an Alternate Delegate from our local area to join us in service. We celebrated the formation of the Greater Western US Region; currently the only region in the world, called “Region 2” because it was once one of eleven regions. ACA is currently experiencing a rapid international regrowth and many more Delegates are expected at the next 2018 ABC in Toronto, Canada. A presentation was made by the Service Structure Committee clarifying our primary purpose of people organizing to serve newcomers and comparing varying fellowship service structures. The ACA Service Structure is still evolving and coming of age.

Small groups discussed fellowship support questions: Creating connection and structure between members / groups / WSO: improve flow of information, networking, teleconferencing, internet, Skype, and outreach to other areas. How to make ACA more accessible: teleconferencing, Skype, making ACA WSO website easier to navigate, more central location of ABC. How to improve awareness of ACA in the community: PSAs, reaching out to therapists, treatment centers, hospitals, jails, participating in healing information fairs, distributing literature, BRBs to professionals, register BRB with libraries so they’ll buy and stock it, bodily showing up to share about ACA with people in the community.

After our preliminary morning activities and lunch the actual Annual Business Conference was begun with the ACA Serenity Prayer and David McB. from Louisiana was elected to chair the meeting because he was the one most familiar with Parliamentary Procedure. Thankfully, he had a good sense of humor and conducted things in a simplified casual manner. There were not Delegate introductions which would have taken hours. The minutes of the previous year’s ABC were read, reviewed and approved followed by reports from the Board of Trustees and the following WSO committees: Executive, Finance, Audit, Literature, Distribution Center Oversight, Annual Business Conference, Ballot Prep, European, Member & Public Service and its Intergroup, H&I, and Delegate Training Subcommittees, Database & Website, and Service Structure Adhoc Committee. Details of these reports are contained in the ABC 2017 binder and available for member review. Most or all of the committees are seeking help with ACA service.

Highlights included focus on the rapid growth of ACA inside and especially outside the USA and the need for continued development of literature and the translation of our literature into other languages. The new International Spanish version of the BRB and Yellow Steps Workbook are now in print and available for purchase from WSO! The Russian BRB has been completed and may be available later this year. The Japanese, Castilian Spanish, Polish, Greek, and French BRBs plus other books in other languages are in process. ACA meeting starter kits have been sent to Malta, Switzerland, and Romania. ACA has begun utilizing Amazon.com for literature sales and distribution.

CONFERENCE:  DAY 2

The second day of the Conference was primarily devoted to the discussion of those proposals, generated by meeting groups around the globe, which had garnered a 2/3rds majority, in favor of being included on the agenda.

Progress Toward Perfection

Before the business meeting convened, the delegates were informed of the work of the various committees and of the opportunities to get involved.  A table, with handouts describing these opportunities, was manned by WSO members, ready to answer questions and accepting names and contact information.

Also on the second day, the current Board members were ratified individually by the delegation, after each of the Trustees introduced themselves and explained their interest in continuing on as Board members.  This was a new and welcomed part of the meeting proceedings.  This led to the seating of the representative of Region 2, as a Trustee, indicating the growth and direction of the World Service Organization.

This process of ratification led to the surprise nomination and acceptance of 3 new Board members, each well known to the Trustees and involved with much of the current work of the organization.

The Thirtieth Annual Business Conference

April 29 & 21, 2017. The Handlery Hotel, San Diego, California

Notes taken by Jeannie T., Fl, ACA Court Reporter

Additional Notes:

Bill D. Audit Committee

To the room : Hopefully we will be twice this size next year. Auditors recommended we do some things. For example: accrual accounting.  More expensive but then we show our expenses when we commit to them. The budget shows the commitments for that month. More of a clear picture. Vetted 5 CPA  firms. Selected top 2. Want our records to be “jam up and jelly tight,” as Bill’s dad would say.    Mary Jo working on info they need.  Issuing a draft to us  4/28.  Review 5/15. By 5/26 should be complete.  Committee has worked diligently.  Details important. We have records in 3 locations presently.

Mary Jo OPPM Committee Report.(Operations Manual)  Revision.  We wish it to reflect current practices.    Many changes. A work in progress.  She is the only one left on this committee so we need a new committee. Motions previously made did not make it into the OPPM. Bill D said we are on the verge of a big growth spurt.  As part of our changes it is important we change our foundational documents too.  Got 5 volunteers!

Charley H Virginia.  Service Committee and Literature Evaluation Comm.

He stated that we are a global structure.  Jeffrey is here from Prague. Denise from Alaska. The training effort is now stronger. Intergroups getting stronger. The fellowship is the driving force.  And we, as delegates, are important.   A great deal of information is in binder. Their committee looked at other fellowships.  AA “came of age” as well. They looked at the role of the conference.  Our primary purpose is to serve newcomers.   Imp: Our role. Many fellowships have year round committees that can be active in shaping the agenda.  Looking at ways to encourage involvement.  Many ways we can learn and improve our model.  This committee wishes to be authorized to continue.

Marcia. Ohio. See handout in front binder pocket. Current service and projected needs.  9 or 10 organizations researched to analyze how we can improve.   Investigated other non-profits also.  Conversation and analysis.  Role of delegates, the conference, how international foundations operate.   Literature.  Representation and opportunities for service.  Pg 77.  Recommendations pg. 73.

MaryJo L.  Currently the treasurer.  Came to ACA in early 90’s – 2011 inter group. Went to the ABC in Long Beach.  She was asked if there was a meditation book and then she headed the group that developed that. In 2013 she became the treasurer.  Served two terms.  We now need cost accountants and budget finance people.  We are in need of budget professionals.

Majbrit M. Denmark European Comm Chair. She was in Denmark in 2013.  There were 66 delegates there. What is important regarding our international outreach is related to her own awareness that “My inner child does not speak English.” This is what we face in Europe.  The BRB is in Danish and Finnish and ongoing in Russian, Japanese and Spanish. There are few sponsors in Europe and they are in desperate need for support.  We can offer meetings there through Skype and translators. Please do more.  Many countries wish to form groups even without our literature. MajbritJeffrey, European Comm.  Cannot fill what is needed in other countries.  ACA is so needed and wanted.  Inspire others to want recovery. Monthly calls. 16 countries. Other countries struggle to figure things out regarding structuring etc. The process takes longer in other countries. The shares in the BRB are very different than in other countries. Possibly nurture international communities here. Translation in Japanese almost done.  People need to step up.  They went to Russia.  They have 44 meetings there.  See the Lights On Initiative.  Malta , Switzerland and Romania.  First official visits to Hungary and Russia, Italy. Progress in Germany.  See pg 44.  Russians : The laundry list is hard to translate terms. The Russian BRB is more than 1000 pgs. What you can do is Skype with Russian translators there.  Also there is focus on Africa!     Please consider sponsoring someone in another country.           `

Jeffrey, Prague.  Literature Comm.  He has been 19 years in ACA. Went to the Helsinki ABC and got involved in service. We have a newcomer booklet in Swedish.  Took him all of last year.  The Russian BRB is being printed.    We have an international one for sale here.  Workbooks are in the works.  There are translations in Castilian Spanish soon. Sanne, from Madrid,  was introduced.  She is editing the translation. Always investigating how we can print and sell more inexpensively.  Some countries can’t afford a U.S. Based dollar system.  We split the margin 70/30.  We get 70 and local inter group gets 30% discount.  Shipping was so high also. So much better than previously.  Some countries have duties. Ex ~ Latvia.  We will probably print Russian ones in Russia.  Presently in Australia we get different and better shipping within the countries themselves.  Same thing in New Zealand. We do what we can so that the literature is on their tables.  Hoping to go freight with large orders.  Hope to flip the pricing in Australia.  $35 now.  Now purchasing in advance. Not so previously.  They got the literature because it was: “Here’s the books.  Pay when you can.”  Foreign titles now printed abroad close to where they are.  Latvia printing.  Charlie said Jeffrey brought amazing ingenuity to this committee.  Amazon US is going!  UK BRB’s are $75.   “Ready Set Go” not ready for publication in its current form.

Mary Jo Distribution Center.  Larry and Inez were on this committee too.  About 700 meetings and 70 inter groups. We contract to Ware Pak but they are costly.  This is why we need a cost consultant.  Melani stated they are volunteers and thanked them.

Charlie H.. Va.  Literature Evaluation Comm. is becoming Lit Dev. Comm.  We need help with publishing experts.  It is important as lives are being saved.

Laura. Delegate Info.    “Delegate training came from 2016 conference. Great team effort. Please read the Commitment to Service. Pg 120. We are working toward inclusion and not exclusion. The goal is to reflect the spirit of the group. Each person functions according to his or her own abilities. The focus is within interest of unity.” Discussion took place.

Charlie H. Outreach:  See questions for consideration regarding outreach. Discussion. Jeannie brought up an idea regarding developing a public service announcement committee, and the development of a contact handout for groups/meetings.  Melani’s trifold. Please talk up telephone conferences within groups.  Focus on service mindedness in meeting and business meetings.  Structure workshops.  Skype. Reach out to treatment centers and other fellowships.  Give red books to public libraries. Work with H and I Committees. Identify trauma therapists. E-Mail them.  Meetings in their area grew after that.  Psych ward reach out.  Electronic efforts and face to face.  Have ACA tables at events.

Bill D.- Membership and Public Service Comm. We had half this many in participation last year and 10 to 15 in attendance in prior years.  Continue Reaching out. He came in ACA in 1986. Did not have out books, no lit.  They were reading therapy books back then.  He put last year’s ABC and first world convention together. It energized ACA in their community. He is now the Chair of Service Structure Comm.  He has 4 positions.  Facilitates transmittal of ACA and WSO news.  Jeffrey put forth “Slack.” Not a social media for sharing but where committees work. A platform for messaging and joining committees.  14 channels.  With # sign public.  Those with lock are private.  Email mps@adultchildren.org and ask to join Slack.  Ask to be invited.  125 users from all over the world.  A great collaborative tool.  1700 meetings now.  Need a data base.  See Ksbr.org to hear  Laura’s radio interview. We must be present.  Bill is from Miami and stated that:  Florida state AA convention ~ we were there.  4000 people there. Inter group function is to get meetings registered.  We received almost 8000 emails.  Sent 4100 emails. And returned 1500 bondage messages.  131 units of literature sent to therapists and treatment programs.  (In PBC. (LW, Singer Island, Jupiter)