July 2014: SOAR 8 – Baton Rouge

The SOAR 8 Recovery Convention will be held in Baton Rouge, Louisiana on July 11-13, 2014. The convention will be held at the Embassy Suites Baton Rouge. OA needs your service at this event! There are lots of opportunities. If you would like to volunteer at the event, please click here to download the registration form.

You can register to attend the event at http://www.soar8july2014.eventbrite.com. (Please not that a surcharge is added when using this website to register).

Want more information? Visit the SOAR8 website at http://www.oaregion8.org and click on the links in the box called “Next Regional Assembly.” For more information on SOAR 8, please contact Aleta P. at (225) 753-2739 or aph42@att.net. Continue reading

Report from July 2010 SOAR 8

Report from the July 9–11, 2010 SOAR 8
Recovery Convention and Business Assembly
from SOAR Reps Mary Anne and Neill

Executive Summary

Recovery

The theme of the convention was “Twelve Steppin’ in the Big Easy.” The recovery convention sessions were organized around the steps and made festive with theme days. For example on Friday all of the attendees from the local COLA intergroup wore New Orleans Saints colors (black and gold) and on Saturday, they all work Mardi Gras beads and other accessories in the Mardi Gras colors of gold, green, and purple. The Friday night skit was on the theme, “Am I Still Your Sponsor?” while the panel presentation, with three speakers focused on the theme “Without the Steps, OA is just another diet and calories club.” On Sunday morning the 12th Step Within Committee presented one of the OA Road Show skits demonstrating what happens to a meeting when people share their mess instead of the message.

Announcements

  • The 12th Step Within Committee is very interested in ideas about what intergroups do to help spread the recovery message to those in relapse or still struggling.
  • The Ways and Means Committee is interested in fund raising ideas that local IGs have used successfully.
  • The July 2011 SOAR will be in Nashville, TN, July 8-10, at the Holiday Inn Opryland. It will be hosted by the Middle Tennessee Intergroup. Registration will be $40.
  • Everyone is encouraged to attend OA’s 50th Birthday Celebration to be held August 26-29, 2010 in Los Angeles.
  • According to the CRC 7 of the 10 states with the highest rates of obesity are in our SOAR region. Our regional chair announced this to draw our attention to the need to grow OA in our region, to make it available to everyone who wants it. She said emphatically that obesity is not an outside issue.
  • We are trying to increase our service to countries in our region outside of the US. There was a delegate to this assembly from the island nation of Aruba. Our chair and trustee will be conducting a service and traditions workshop and speaking at an assembly in Bogota, Columbia.
  • Responding to a request for more efficient checking of credentials, the board instituted a system in which board members and IG reps showed their badges to the doorkeeper who kept a simple tally and reported that tally for voting purposes. It was more efficient, but the down side was that it didn’t let us know which intergroups, or even how many intergroups were there. We only know that there were 28 reps, 7 funded chairs, and 3 board members as the voting members of the business assembly. This does not count the parliamentarian and the regional trustee who cannot vote..
  • Non controversial motions (i.e. to institute two new forms for transactions with the treasurer) were voted to be placed on a consent agenda. If any one objects to any piece, it cannot be part of the consent agenda. Once a consent agenda has been accepted by the group because there were no objections, the whole content is voted “yes” or “no” with no pro and con speeches and no discussion.
  • The Technology/Website Committee is looking into developing a system in which contributions to SOAR can be made online with PayPal or something similar. This is contingent on finding a process that does not violate the traditions by seeming to endorse an outside enterprise as well as full protection of privacy.
  • In addition to the two new forms on the consent agenda, the Assembly made the following decisions:
    • A section was added to the By-Laws to allow for emergency appointment of nominees to the regional trustee position if there should be no nominations at the fall assembly, or if a vacancy should arise when there is no business assembly before WSBC needs the nominations. There had been no contingency plan for this in the by-laws until this vote.
    • New language for the Soar8 Policies and Procedures Manual (the P&P) was accepted to flesh out descriptions of the Unity in Diversity Committee and the Bylaws/Electronic Documents Committee which were created at the last assembly. New language was not yet accepted for the new Technology/Website committee as that committee is still working on defining its role.
    • An emergency motion passed to move the SOAR8 webmaster position from being a part of the Technology/Website committee to a position in service to the board. Although the current webmaster is a volunteer, the motion was amended to give the board the freedom to hire a non-volunteer webmaster in the future if that should become necessary. Whether or not the webmaster is a volunteer, his or her expenses to attend SOAR assemblies will be paid, but he or she will not vote.
    • Following the resignation of our long-time secretary Joel, an interim secretary was elected to serve through the end of the November assembly when the elections are held.
    • Nominations were taken for board positions. Elections will be held in November.
    • Because only 17% of Region 8 intergroups (10 of 59) were represented at WSBC this year, we can send up to 5 additional delegates from the region. However, in the treasurer’s opinion based on the current budget, we will only be able to afford to send 3. Eleven delegates, including Neill, were nominated from the floor. They must each submit applications to the SOAR8 board by early in September. Voting for delegates will take place at the November election.

Procedural Changes

Business Accomplished


Full Report

Friday night 07-09-10

7:30 pm. Opening Business Meeting

After the traditional opening—serenity prayer, 12 steps, 12 traditions, and the 07-09 reading from For Today—Stephanie (Action is the magic word), our chair, welcomed the representative from an intergroup that had not been represented at SOAR before, the Caribbean island Aruba. She then went on to talk about how even though this was a business meeting, abstinence was the most important thing that any of us were there for. She encouraged us to do whatever we needed to do to maintain our abstinence including asking someone to be a temporary sponsor for the meeting, calling or texting our sponsors back home, and maintaining our regular daily spiritual practices. She distributed “smiles on a stick” and reminded us then, and throughout the meeting of our slogan, “Fun in abstinence!”

She explained our new system of checking in at the door, an experiment in streamlining the meeting by eliminating the intergroup-by-intergroup roll cal that has traditionally started each session and been repeated after every break. IG reps showed their badges to the doorkeeper who kept a simple tally and reported that tally for voting purposes. It was more efficient, but the down side was that it didn’t let us know which intergroups, or even how many intergroups were there. We only know that there were 28 reps, 7 funded chairs, and 3 board members as the voting members of the business assembly. This does not count the parliamentarian and the regional trustee who cannot vote.

The meeting ratified a new agenda that added election on an interim secretary (necessitated by the early resignation of our previous secretary, Joel) and nominations for representatives from SOAR to next year’s World Service Business Conference.

Our vice chair, Gloria (Trust God. Clean House. Help Others.) was ill and unable to attend, but she is getting better and expected to be back at work soon.8

The business meeting concluded with a tutorial on using our website OAregion8.org. One feature that was especially highlighted were our link to the meeting list for the region. Through this connection, if a meeting changes its information on the OA.org website, it will automatically be updated on the SOAR website as well. There is an events calendar to which intergroups can submit their retreats, conferences, and other events, and a message board called the forum which includes, but is not limited to password-protected sections for communication among committee members between assemblies.

8:30 pm COLA Welcome, Skit and

In the skit, performed by the host intergroup, a sponsor checks in with her sponsees, asking them each if she was still their sponsor.  She asked them why they hadn’t been in contact or had stopped working their program.  They all had reasons or excuses for not being in regular contact.  She reassured each one that she was still there for them, but that they needed to stay in touch and work the steps.

The evening’s panel discussion topic was “Without the steps, OA is just a diet and calories club”.  Three people shared their experience, strength, and hope. Highlights from the panel are highlighted under the first name initial of the speaker:

D.  “I did all my eating in private.  I did a lot of dieting in my head.  I avoided interaction with people.  When I came into OA, I wanted to find THE DIET.  I did lots of diets, the cabbage soup diet, 2 shakes and a sensible dinner diet, etc.  I dieted off my weight, but I gained it back.  I smiled on the outside, but I was dying on the inside.  People in OA understood me when no one else could.  I bought all the OA literature and though that I could figure OA out all by myself.  Having a sponsor really helped me.  ‘Keep coming back’ really worked for me!”

A.  “I heard that if your Big Book is falling apart, then you are not.  I have been a compulsive overeater all my life.  I had no emotional skills to deal with life, so I ate.  I gained weight due to a death in my family, 70 pounds over the summer.  I spent my life holding back from experiences due to fear.  All the solutions I found before OA were about diet and calories.  I weighed 263 pounds twice and was alternately anorexic and bulimic in my life.  When I came into OA I found that there was a spiritual solution for my compulsive overeating.  I learned the importance of the fellowship.  I got a sponsor.  I had a calling network.  But I had to work the steps and use the tools.  Then I experienced freedom, freedom from the bondage of food and fear.”

G.  I am abstinent for 17 years with a 100 pound weight loss.  The diet clubs worked for a while, but I would always gain the weight back.  I have a disease that is mental, physical, and spiritual.  All my life, I looked for the book that would show me how to live.  When I joined OA, you (the fellowship) gave me the book, the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous.  As the Doctor’s Opinion states, my body is as abnormal as my mind.  I used to make the refrigerator my God.  When I came into OA, I had borderline diabetes, high blood pressure, heart palpitations, and knees that hurt.  My doctor told me that I might not live to be 50.  I went out of his office, prepaid for a year of a well-known diet club.  Then I went to an ice cream store.  I decided that if I might die, I might as well eat some good food before I died.  In OA I found that I had to be food sober from my binge foods.  I work the steps and use the tools.  I make 3 OA phone calls a day.  I do what I need to do each day to be abstinent.

Saturday 07-10-10

8:30 am. Business Meeting Continues

The morning session began with the serenity prayer, reading of the 12 concepts, and the 07-10 entry in Voices of Recovery. To perpetuate Fun in Abstinence, we were introduced to Recovery Bingo. Everyone was given two bingo “cards” with each of the 25 blocks containing a word or phrase such as “Bylaws,” “Meeting,” “Motion,” “Service,” “Serenity,” or “Sponsor.” Any time someone in the meeting used one of the words on either or both of the reps’ cards they would mark off that square. If a player was able to mark off five cells in a row in any direction, he or she was instructed to wait until the current item of business was open and then proceed to the center microphone to call “bingo.” Prizes were given to the first 10 people to get “bingo.” Neither of your reps really liked this game very much because we found it hard to pay attention to the business at hand, take good notes for our report to you, and mark our cards at the same time.

In the Saturday morning meeting, there were 41 voting and 4 non-voting members in the room including the pages from the Memphis group.

After adoption of the standing rules, the concept of a consent agenda was explained. If there are items that are deemed completely non-controversial—in this case the treasurer had proposed the modification of 2 forms that she uses for routine business functions—the chair can seek a consent agenda. For this to occur, the group has to vote unanimously that they have no debate or questions about any item included. If any one objects to any piece, it cannot be part of the consent agenda. Once a consent agenda has been accepted by the group because there were no objections, the whole content is voted “yes” or “no” with no pro and con speeches and no discussion. The two form revisions were accepted as a consent agenda and the agenda was accepted so that no further discussion or voting was required.

Minutes from the March meeting in Memphis were approved.

As is customary, the parliamentarian gave a lesson in procedure. She covered two points—withdrawing a motion and “The Gordian Knot.”

  • Withdrawing a motion. If the chair has not stated the motion, it is the property of the maker of the motion and can be withdrawn. Once the chair has stated the motion, it belongs to the assembly. The chair may ask if there are any objections to the withdrawal. If anyone objects, it is resolved with a straight “yes” or “no” vote.
  • The Gordian Knot (named after the near-legendary action of Alexander the Great). This occurs only when there has become a hopeless tangle (for example many nested amendments and people wanting to withdraw amendments, etc.) and neither the chair or parliamentarian know how to resolve it. It calls for a suspension of the rules which allows all of the action to date to just be set aside and for the group to begin at the beginning. To implement the Gordian Knot requires a 2/3 majority.

Each of the board members was to give a five-minute report. Because neither the vice chair nor the secretary were there, the chair asked for and received permission to extend the time for herself and the regional trustee.

  • The Chair praised COLA for their recovery presentation of the previous night and talked about how the board had attempted to implement suggestions from the March meeting to streamline procedures. This included pre-assigning mentors for green dots (first time reps), the consent agenda (explained above), the elimination of the roll call, and continuing to work toward remote attendance. (Currently, members unable to attend can log in and watch the assembly but they have no mechanism for speaking or voting.) She gave a brief report from WSBC (as did several other board members) and reported that she and our regional trustee (Gerri, trust God and buy broccoli) will go to Bogota, Columbia for a service and traditions workshop and to speak at an assembly there. She also reported that, according to the CRC 7 of the 10 states with the highest rates of obesity are in our SOAR region. She said that this was a call for the need to grow OA in our region, to make sure that it is available to everyone who wants it. When questioned from the floor about whether obesity is an outside issue, she said emphatically that it is not.
  • The Treasurer provided a new  report to update the one provided for the meeting packet as that one had to be produced 30 days before the assembly. She hopes that the November contributions will bring our regional finances into better line with our budget. She asked that if groups want confirmation of their contributions that they include an e-mail address for that purpose. Two technical issues are currently under investigation. One is the pros and cons of enabling groups to make contributions online through an intermediary such as Pay Pal. The other is to make the mandated list of group contributions available on the website, but with some assurance that this information is not available to inappropriate readers.
  • The Trustee, like the Chair, reported on the WSBC. She reiterated that only 17% of the service bodies (primarily intergroups) in Region 8 were represented at WSBC, which permits the region to send up to 5 additional delegates next year, as funding permits. She encouraged everyone to attend OA’s 50th Anniversary Celebration in Los Angeles August 26-29 and passed around a sample of the souvenir bookmark issued to celebrate the anniversary. She also stressed the importance of supporting Lifeline—including placing them in doctors’ offices with local meeting information written on the back. She concluded by talking about the importance of carrying the message by example, by maintaining a normal weight.
  • One of the Region 8 delegates also gave a report on WSBC. All 3 reports are carried in full in the most recent issue of the SOAR Newsletter, available on the website. Everyone reporting on WSBC encouraged members to give feedback on the new tool “Plan of Action.”

In addition to the two new forms on the consent agenda, the Assembly made the following decisions:

  • A section was added to the By-Laws to allow for emergency appointment of nominees to the regional trustee position if there should be no nominations at the fall assembly, or if a vacancy should arise when there is no business assembly before WSBC needs the nominations. There had been no contingency plan for this in the by-laws until this vote. (Amending By-Laws requires a majority of ¾ of the votes.)
  • New language for the Soar8 Policies and Procedures Manual (the P&P) was accepted to flesh out descriptions of the Unity in Diversity Committee and the Bylaws/Electronic Documents Committee which were created at the last assembly. New language was not yet accepted for the new Technology/Website committee as that committee is still working on defining its role.
  • A general motion also passed, after an unsuccessful attempt to amend it, to fund the regional Chair to attend the World Service Convention every three years. Under the previous policies and procedures, the chair was funded to attend the required meeting of the regional chairs that takes place at that conference, but not to attend the remainder of the conference.

Lunch

A CD of the lunch speaker has been donated to the intergroup tape library.

2:00 pm. Committees met

Neil is on the 12th Step Within Committee. Mary Anne is on the Electronic Documents and By-Laws Committee.

4:00 pm. Final business meeting

In accordance with the by-laws, the Board had appointed Jane C. to act as secretary for the assembly following Joel’s resignation. However, those by-laws also stipulate that at the first assembly after the resignation, an interim secretary must be elected. A written ballot is used for elections. The winning candidate must receive a majority of the votes. Jane C. and Patty S. were nominated and the election was very close. Because some people abstained (turned in blank ballots), no one received a majority on the first 2 ballots. Finally Jane C. was elected to serve through the next assembly after which the person elected at the regular November elections will begin. Both of the candidates for interim secretary were also nominated for that position.

Gloria (the current vice chair) and Janice S. were nominated from the floor as vice chair. They must submit applications 60 days before the next assembly. As there are two apparently eligible candidates, there will be no nominations from the floor in November.

The Chair and Treasurer are elected on alternate years with the Vice Chair and Secretary so that there is never an entirely new board.

Although, as explained above, SOAR is allowed to send up to 5 delegates to WSBC, the treasurer reported that we would most likely be able to afford to send 3. There were 11 nominations including Neill from our intergroup. All applications must be submitted by early September.

The July 2011 SOAR will be in Nashville, TN, July 8-10, at the Holiday Inn Opreyland. It will be hosted by the Middle Tennessee Intergroup. Registration will be $40.

Two emergency motions were passed. The first was to move the SOAR8 webmaster position from being a part of the Technology/Website committee to a position in service to the board. Although the current webmaster is a volunteer, the motion was amended to give the board the freedom to hire a non-volunteer webmaster in the future if that should become necessary. Whether or not the webmaster is a volunteer, his or her expenses to attend SOAR assemblies will be paid, but he or she will not vote. The second was to give the ways and means committee a budget override of $265.99 to cover the costs of additional fund raising.

Saturday Night

After dinner and an inspiring speaker, the group was entertained by The Double Steppers—a local group of cloggers who clogged in a sort of line dance formation, unlike NC cloggers whose performances are more closely related to square dancing. There was a DJ afterward; but tired from a long day of business, only a handful of us stayed to dance.

Sunday Morning. Recovery Meetings

After morning meditation, the 12th Step Within Committee presented one of the OA Road Show skits demonstrating what happens to a meeting when people share their mess instead of the message. It pointed out how important it was for those people with real recovery (even, or especially when they are in the minority within the meeting) to not only share in meetings but to be available to sponsor and encourage those who may not be seeing or hearing much about the 12 Steps in their current meetings.

Members were encouraged to share what their meetings and intergroups did to carry the message within the fellowship.

The assembly ended with a final inspiring speaker, “I put my hand in yours,” and the Serenity Prayer.