In September of 2011, Christy R, Nick R and I went to the annual Central Office/Intergroup/AAWS/AA Grapevine Seminar in Tucson, AZ. We thought there might be some answers for the questions we were hearing at the Salt Lake Central Office. Our then Central Office manager was not going to attend the event, and we felt attendance could be beneficial to the Salt Lake Central Office.
We found the Seminar to be a 3-day whirlwind of information and discussion, most of it relevant to our topics of concern. We appreciated the presence of GSO and the Grapevine, we met our Central Office/GSO contact, Jim K and our GSO office manager, Phyllis H. We met many people from all over the country, doing what we do. We left there a little puzzled (and bruised) by the refusal of the Seminar to share with us their wealth of information contained in a database that was accessible to “office managers only.”
We returned home and discussed our experience, wondering what happens next. Since we each paid for the trip out-of-pocket, it wasn’t likely that we would be attending another Seminar. We had no access to the database. We wanted to continue having a venue of discussion with other Central Office/Intergroups. We considered the five Central Office/Intergroups in Utah and the idea to hold our own “Seminar” was born.
The Outreach Committee at Salt Lake Central Office began preparation for a “gathering” in Salt Lake City. An invitation went out from the Salt Lake Central Office to the Ogden Central Office, Cache Valley Intergroup, Utah Valley Central Office, Dixie Central Office and the Utah Area 69 Delegate to attend the five hour gathering, with a request for topics of discussion. The response was overwhelmingly positive with acceptance from all invitees.
We met on a Saturday in mid-March, had a wonderful 5-hour discussion about various issues and topics, exchanged phone numbers and emails and left contented, but wondering what happens next?
Erin B, office manager for the Cache Valley Intergroup, was very inspired by the event. She was particularly interested in more contact with Area 69 and requested funding from her Intergroup to attend the next Assembly. The Intergroup did not approve the expenditure. Erin called GSO and talked to our contact, Jim at the group-services desk, to see if there was anything in the collective consciousness about her predicament. Jim told her of a conference call that had been started in Maryland that kept the Central Offices connected, and the Area also took part in the call.
Erin spoke with the moderator, Cynthia T, and learned that the call had been going on for a year or so and they were having great success with it. Erin and I were invited to join one of their calls. I was amazed at the amount of information that passed between the attendees: announcements of upcoming events, follow-up on previously planned events, and reports from the delegate and each of the offices.
Erin was very excited about the possibility of having a conference call here in Utah with the attendees from the previous gathering. I was very excited at the thought of maintaining continuity, an annual event seemed a little sparse. We have issues, people. Erin created an account on a free web service that allows unlimited numbers of callers and can record the conversation for those who might have missed it. The invitations went out and we waited.
The first Utah Central Office/Intergroup monthly conference call was held on September 26, 2012. Cynthia graciously accepted our invitation to attend and gave an opening presentation of the experience, strength and hope of her Area and Intergroups. She had many valuable insights as the call went on. We really appreciate her kindness, and her willingness to stay up well past bed time. On the east coast, she joined the call at 10pm! Our Area delegate was on the call, even though the attendance doesn’t indicate he was there (sorry Keith!), and we are very grateful for his strong interest and support of the central offices and intergroups in Utah. He was very grateful to be able to attend in his pajamas.
We had a great meeting full of interesting topics and some ground-rule setting. It was discovered through this call that there were many events coming up in the following month that may have been better planned if we had been in contact with each other. I’m looking forward to the growth and effectiveness of the conference call. It’s available to anyone who is interested in attending, contact firstname.lastname@example.org for the call-in number.
In loving service,
Salt Lake Central Office Outreach Chair