NEWSLETTER Issue 4 April 4 2018
Welcome to this 4th SecularAA newsletter, which was supposed to be published by the end of 2017! A tremendous amount of progress has been made in the organization of the ICSAA 2018 conference since the last newsletter and it has only been my procrastination that has delayed this update. Many apologies! So, without further ado, let’s get this newsletter on the road.
It says a lot about the popularity of SecularAA, that this newsletter has a current distribution list in the region of 1000 recipients! Thanks for all your continuing support.
We will start off with the conference and the SAA related updates can be found at the end.
The registration for the ICSAA 2018 conference is on-track and the attendee numbers are rising at an accelerating rate.
Like most things in life, the registration process hasn’t been all plain sailing, but the conference page, registration form and the hotel booking link, are attracting new registrations on pretty much a daily basis. We are on target to reach the Austin 2016 attendance levels and hopefully will be able to exceed their 450 registrants. We currently have nearly 100 registrants, mainly out-of-towners.
The conference details can be found at https://secularaa.com and the registration page for both the conference, and the discounted-rate Marriott hotel rooms, are accessed at https://secularaa.com/registration.
The Marriott is offering registrants a discounted room rate of $220 CDN per night. This is a great rate, being about $170 US, 139 Euros or 121 GBP as of today’s currency rates. (Note: when we opened registration in Sept 2017 the exchange rate corresponded to $180 US, 149 Euros or 132 GBP.). It seems to be getting cheaper to visit Canada, so make the most of it.
The ‘regular’ room price is normally around $369 CDN per night and our discounted rate represents very good value for money for a top rated hotel in downtown Toronto.
As an alternative, you can make your hotel booking by phoning Marriott reservations at 1 800 905 0667 and quoting event code ICSAA 2018.
This rate is applicable three days either side of the conference dates, over the period of August 21-29, 2018, for any attendees wishing to extend their stay in our beautiful city. As you can see from the following graph, quite a few registrants have taken advantage of this deal. So, there should be other conference attendees to tag along with, on your Toronto sightseeing excursions.
Of course, if you come early, you might like to help with the Conference setup! (No Pressure.)
Our allocation of discounted rooms is filling up quickly and it is recommended that you book soon if you haven’t done so already, to take advantage of this great offer.
By staying at the conference hotel, you will have more opportunities to socialize and network with other attendees, and not so far to travel, from your hotel room to the conference room! We would like you to be aware that the overall individual registration cost of attending the conference, is linked to us fulfilling a commitment of a certain number of room nights in the hotel.
The conference committee has been keeping a very close eye on the things to do and places to see, whilst you are in Toronto. We have been working closely with Tourism Toronto and our ambition is to make this the best SAA conference yet.
There are going to be sights to see; places to eat; bicycles to hire; maybe a concert or two; a ball game; a trip to Niagara Falls and other things to do. The Canadian National Exhibition (CNE) is on at the same time as the conference and that is always fun. There might even be an opportunity for you to get off the beaten track and take a walk by Lake Ontario, or through one of the many ravines in the city! It is a great way to discover Toronto.
Details can be found at https://secularaa.com/explore-toronto and will be updated as we get closer to the event.
But the real reason that people want to come to the conference is happening inside the conference halls.
Now, let’s get into some more details about the conference, itself.
As announced previously, the theme of the 2018 Conference has been chosen to be “Inclusion and Diversity”. The Program Committee has worked unbelievably hard to incorporate the theme into the program schedule. We want to reflect AA as it is today, acknowledging and celebrating our history and including everyone who has a desire to stop drinking, regardless of their religious or spiritual predispositions.
Here is an update from Carol M, the Host City Committee chair.
“The Host City Committee is pleased to announce that the program for the Conference is getting close to completion and will be available to view, very soon, on the ICSAA conference website, https://secularaa.com/conference-schedule.
Our early conference registrants have suggested all of the workshop topics and credit and thanks must go out to them. We believe that this program represents our ICSAA 2018 theme of “Inclusion and Diversity” which we are gathering in Toronto to celebrate. We hope that the program will both inspire and challenge your thoughts, and reinforce AA’s commitment to an informed group conscience which values the minority voice on all topics.
It should be noted that this program is where it stands at the moment. We all know that things change. Updates will be provided as workshops and panels are either added or details amended. There will also be a great selection of Secular AA meetings in different formats from various groups, to take part in while attending the conference. These will be included in the program in the next while. Please let us know if you want to run a meeting during the conference.
At this point we probably do not need further suggestions for workshops and thank everyone for their input. The Host City Committee thanks everyone for their hard work on the program.”
The Outreach Committee has been hard at work spreading the word about the conference and there are many resources to be found at https://secularaa.com/resources that can be downloaded, and printed at home.
Even if you can’t make the conference, yourself, you can print and distribute posters, flyers and postcards to your AA groups, your local intergroup or District and Area meetings.
We have a few promotional items, which will be on sale at the conference. We already have a small number of Tee shirts, available at $20 CDN, and buttons for promotional purposes. These will be available at our registration desk at the conference. If you can think of any other souvenirs you might want to buy, such as coffee mugs or hats, let us know, and we can look at pricing them out.
There is an opportunity on the registration form to volunteer for various tasks ranging from, setting up and greeting, through to manning registration. Use this registration selection to express your wish to help out. However, you will NOT be required to make coffee!
The hotel is offering great quality food choices, some of which are included in the registration fee. They are able to cater to all food groups and they are experienced with dealing with allergies. We are noting your food preferences from the registration form and there will be something for everybody.
Bidding for the follow-up conference in 2020
One big issue that will be addressed at this third ICSAA conference in August 2018 will be, “Where and when, is the fourth ICSAA conference going to be held?”
The Request for Proposal (RFP) and conference criteria documents have been put together and bid packages are available on our website at https://secularaa.com/icsaa2020/.
Get moving on it and get your group together to put in a bid for your neighbourhood to host the next conference! The future of this organization is in your hands!
Other SAA administration issues
As you are probably aware, Secular AA, via its website, https://secularaa.org , has become the prime location for information about all things relevant to Secular Alcoholics Anonymous. There are listings for all known SAA meetings around the world, (both in real form and on-line); directories of podcasts and secular AA social media groups; and resources for literature etc.
SAA is hosting three weekly on-line meetings through the website. It is also maintaining social media sites on Facebook and Twitter as well as contributing regularly to other related Facebook pages. It is truly fulfilling its mission to be the reference point for the repository for all things to do with Secular AA.
The meeting directory now has a vast number of meetings listed from around the world and is constantly being updated.
We must thank our Webmaster, Courtney S., for all the tremendous work that he puts in, to keep the sites up to date and secure, and trouble shoot the many issues that seem to be randomly generated from the ether.
The SAA board of directors have been meeting regularly and there has been a change to the SAA board. Jerry F. has taken over the role of By-laws Chair from Pat Y. Welcome Jerry and thanks for your contribution, Pat.
On the financial side, the conference is on-track to be self-supporting from registration fees. However, we really appreciate the donations that have been forthcoming from registrants and others. We received a legacy from the 2016 conference in Austin and aim to pass on money to kick-start the follow-up conference, wherever that might be.
When visiting the SAA websites, you may have noticed this
tucked away at the very bottom of the web pages.
Whereas all the board members, administrators and conference organizers, involved with the Secular AA organization are volunteers, there are certain expenses that are needed for the maintenance of the web-based services. These include domain name upkeep charges, and on-going hosting services.
In keeping with the AA seventh tradition, we would like to remind you that Secular AA as a “group ought to be fully self-supporting, declining outside contributions.” These donations will help to pay our on-line expenses.
Please do not ignore the opportunity to donate, to keep these resources viable. We know from social media feedback, how important these services are, to many people, particularly those who have no ready access to traditional SAA meetings.
Thank you so much for reading through all of this. The conference is for you, and by you. Please help make it very special.
Looking forward to meeting a lot of you in Toronto in August. It is only 20 weeks away, so I’ll end with a message FOR the organizers – DON’T PANIC!
Nigel S. Newsletter Chair
3440 East Russell Road Las Vegas, NV 89120 USA