Bob D. from Las Vegas, had been putting together conferences that focus on the 12 Steps all across the country. In March of 2012, when Bob D. was speaking at the Love and Service group, Kent D, from Concord, CA mentioned that there was not a yearly conference in the San Francisco Bay Area. Bob said he was way too busy to even think about it for 2 years, but that he had thought about doing a conference on the 12 Traditions and not another one on the 12 Steps.
At the first Woodstock West AA Conference in Los Angeles, CA in September 2014, Kent ran across Bob D. and Bob called out to Kent, “How is it going on that conference on the Traditions”? Till then, Kent didn’t consider himself involved, but his sponsor Tom I. and Polly P. were listening and both suggested it would be a wonderful conference for Kent to get involved with.
Several organizational meetings were arranged after that, and the first Unity and Service Conference was held Labor Day weekend in 2016.
This is likely the first A.A. conference focusing only on the 12 Traditions and 12 Concepts. The motivation for the conference was the result of a group conscience. It was to see if it was possible to present A.A.’s 12 Traditions and 12 Concepts (to non-General Service and General Service members) in an interesting enough way to encourage people to volunteer for service.
Our first goal was to choose topics that would appeal to our target audience: members with 2+ years sober, that have a sponsor, have worked the Steps, and who might not yet have a commanding understanding of the Traditions and Concepts.
Next, we sought people who have the ‘gift of gab’ to present these topics in an exciting and engaging way.
Then we located individuals who have had challenging experiences with A.A. where Traditions &/or Concepts played a role in solving. We asked them to present a vignette of that experience in less than 10 minutes.
There were 6 presenters: 5 alcoholics and 1 Class A Trustee. Each speaker had up to 45 minutes for their topic and was preceded by one vignette on a Tradition, and one vignette on a Concept.
Throughout the conference, we encouraged the attendees to submit questions for an Ask-it-Basket panel on Sunday (the panel included all presenters). We did not get to all of the questions, but answers for all of the questions were sent out an email after the conference.
Prior to each speaker, and during the breaks, service entities provided tables where the attendees could learn about Public Information, Corrections Correspondence, Young People, Bridging the Gap, Hotline, and Hospitals and Institutions (Corrections and Treatment), Accessibilities and they were able to sign up to be a volunteer. (The presenters were either the giver and/or the receiver of the message from the entity they are hawking.)
It may not be so obvious, but we intentionally stayed away from telling our story of recovery and the Steps. The idea is to inspire attendees to take action in their home group or in A.A. beyond the group, and to learn how others have incorporated the tools of the A.A. Traditions and Concepts in their lives.