Jesse S. writes:

We’ve arrived at the primary goal point of our journey, tomorrow we stand in line to get a badge situation sorted out and then give flyers to everyone. EVERYONE. :)

It’ll be the first time that I am in the same place two days in row since we started, we met a large group of our type across from the park and that was great. It’s so nice to see things go from imagination to reality. Dinner of fish soup and now to bed. Maybe I can brain better in the morning, I’m dozing off now. Sleep well everyone, whichever timezone you’re in. :)

Keep Austin Weird

Austin Convention Mascot

cartoon Texas longhorn cow with tie-dyed Texas flag on body

I’d like to introduce you to the mascot of the 2016 convention, donated by a member of an Austin group. It’s a longhorn cow with a tie-dye map of Texas on the body. Is that jimson weed it’s chewing? One of us, one of us, one of us…

Something you should know about Austin since you will be there for the convention next year: it’s weird. Yup. When you get off the plane you’ll notice the gift shops featuring tie-dyed t-shirts that say “Keep Austin Weird” in psychedelic colors. Wow, man.

Bats

No, that’s not a derogatory term for mental illness, I mean real bats. From mid-March through November, Mexican free-tailed bats congregate under Congress Bridge in downtown Austin. People from all over the world go to Austin to see the bats fly each evening. You might want to get in the mood by perusing the goods at Austin Batworks.

Weirder Still

When in Austin, don’t forget the Museum of Natural & Artificial Ephemerata. Or, you might want to take in a movie at East Austin’s Blue Starlite Theater. For more links like these and a great list of restaurants take a look at 10 East Austin Experiences That Prove Our Weirdness Isn’t Just Down South on austin.com.

BBQ

You know how the locals can tell I’m not from Texas? The way I eat BBQ. I like sauce, while the purists tell me that is an abomination. If you are flying into Austin you have a chance to get one important thing accomplished before you leave the airport. For some of you that might be to buy a Keep Austin Weird t-shirt, but for me, I hightail it directly to the Salt Lick BBQ joint right in the airport, suck down some succulent BBQ, and that obligation is taken care of immediately. Like a boss!

Now, for serious eating, I like Black’s BBQ, bar none. The brisket! Oy vey ist mir! Ordering is a little weird at Black’s, and you’ll have to watch out because they have multiple locations so if you tell your friends to meet you at Black’s make sure you agree on one location. There are other BBQ joints in Austin, but Black’s tops the list for me.

See You In Austin

So, it’s settled then, we’ll all go to Austin, we’ll take part in the weird, we’ll eat some bodacious food, we’ll attend the convention, and we’ll have the best time ever. At the top of the sidebar there’s a button to order convention tickets. Do yourself a favor, buy your convention tickets now so you don’t have to wonder if you’re going. Oh, and have a weird day.

WAAFTS Unite At The 2015 Alcoholics Anonymous’ International Convention

The 2015 International Convention will be in Atlanta, Georgia USA from Thursday, July 2 to Sunday July 5. It would be great if some of us atheists, agnostics and freethinkers would gather before it starts. The first event of the convention is 7:00 PM with the Party in the Park & Dance at Centennial Olympic Park.

I would like to see as many of you as possible at 5:00 PM, July 2 at the Pemberton Café www.cintl.com , which is just north of the park across Baker Street. The address is 121 Baker St, NW Atlanta, GA 30313. It offers fresh food fast, with a variety of delicious menu offerings if you are hungry. The menu includes burgers, hot dogs, fresh salads, sandwiches and kids meals. In addition, a selection of vegetarian menu items is available as well as tempting dessert items.

I will be there early with a WAAFT sign so you can find us. I will be on the patio if it is not raining. I look forward to seeing you. You can reach Dorothy’s cell @ 818-915-3380 if you have any questions.

Ed S.,

Columbus, Ohio

We Want To Meet You!

 

Hello,
Dorothy H. and I will be traveling through a number of states to promote the 2nd bi-annual We Agnostics, Atheists and Freethinkers International AA Convention (WAAFT-IAAC II) to be held November 11th-13th 2016 in Austin, TX and there are some cities that we would think should have like-minded individuals but that we don’t have contacts in. If you are in one of these cities, nearby or know someone who is and would like to get some materials from us to help promote or too learn more about the convention, please email us here at

weagconvention@gmail.com.

Montgomery AL (7/2/15)
Chattanooga TN (7/4/15)
Murfreesboro TN (7/4/15)
Louisville KY (7/5/15)
St Louis MO (7/6/15)
Topeka KS (7/8/15)
Provo UT (7/10/15)
Salt Lake City UT (7/10/15)

Looking forward to seeing you all,
Jesse S.

Board Member at Large

Reno, NV

Yellow Apple Seed trip is leaving port next week!!

We are set to leave next week on our spread the word trip and we realized that we hadn’t told the story behind why we were calling this the Yellow Apple Seed trip, here is the condensed version:

Dorothy and I were talking about the logistics of going to Atlanta after we had decided to embark on this journey and I mentioned that we were traveling all this distance and taking all of this time just so that we could show people that there was more than one color of apple in the world.

Everyone that we knew in our orchards was a red apple and they were very happy being red apples. We found out when we looked closely at ourselves however that we weren’t red apples, we were yellow apples; but they told us that we couldn’t be apples if we weren’t red. We were told that it simply *wasn’t* possible according to this or that book. We came to understand that we had to be true to what we were and honest about that reality.

We showed them that we were yellow or green or some a shade of blue, and told them that we really liked being in the orchard; we considered it our home. Some accepted us for what we were, but there was a vocal minority that said that we didn’t belong in the orchard if we weren’t red or at least willing to believe that we could become red if we tried. Many of us tried, and an unfortunate amount could not go through with the charade and were left to spoil in the sun. I myself was on that path before I went to the first WAFT IAAC in Santa Monica and I am partaking in this excursion to help the next person that is where I was.

So our trip is to carry yellow apple seeds (or green or blue to continue the metaphor with no particular rationale to the color) and show our fellow apples that we exist and to cultivate new fields where we can thrive together with all the apples regardless of hue.

Looking forward to seeing you all in Austin,

Jesse S.

Board Member at Large

Reno, NV

Looking For Contacts

by Jesse S., Board of Directors of WAAFT IAAC

Atlanta

Dorothy H. and I will be traveling to Atlanta GA to promote WAAFT-IAAC 2016 in Austin TX at the International AA Convention which is held once every 5 years. We will be travelling through 9 states on the way to Georgia and then 9 more after that taking a different way then the way that we came.

Looking For You

While on the road we would like to distribute flyers and posters for people to leave at their local clubs, and of course to fellowship with our fellow AAs at stops in cities. We currently have no contacts in Tennesee, Kentucky, Kansas or Utah and would like to know if anyone from those areas is interested in getting together for coffee. If anyone has a place that we could stay in Murfreesboro, TN we are looking to travel through there and stop for the night on our way to Indianapolis. We are also hoping to make contact with someone in Utah as well around Salt Lake or anywhere on I-15, it would make our final leg much simpler as we will be driving from Grand Junction to Boise and would like to cut that drive in half. I lived in Springville for 8 months as a troubled youth and I know that there must be some of our kind there that would like to know that they are not alone.

List of Cities

Here is a list of the cities that we are traveling through, and while we may be hauling from one place to another while we pass through, if there is anyone that wants to meet up and get some flyers and have a coffee we will of course stop for that. You can email us at weagconvention@gmail.com, or visit the website at waftiaac.org (waaftiaac.org will be up soon).

Looking forward to meeting you all,
Jesse S.

Spreading The Word

Hitting The Road

“We will be spreading the word about the 2016 WAAFT-IAAC at the 2015 International AA Convention in Atlanta, Georgia.” by Jesse S.

Dorothy H. and myself (Jesse S.) are on the board of WAAFT-IAAC and a few months ago we were speaking about ways to outreach the convention to the general AA population and she mentioned that the International AA Convention was happening this year in Atlanta, GA. Not seeing any better way to inform our fellow AAs than to travel to the largest gathering of AA members from the worldwide community, which happens to meet only once every 5 years, we agreed that we would travel there this summer and give flyers to everyone that we meet and maybe pick a few cities to stop in to hang posters at Central Offices and Alano clubs that we come across. Maybe even meet with some of our friends that we wouldn’t get to see again otherwise until Austin.

Connecting

The plans have expanded beyond the original idea of just getting there with a few stops along the way however, as we now will be stopping in each state that we go through that has a WAAFT meeting that we know of to meet with everyone that we can; officially to give out fliers, but really to make friends and to foster the community that we all crave by connecting members of the groups with each other and letting those that haven‘t heard of what is happening know that they aren’t alone.

I personally hope to find people that were as discouraged as I was before I knew that there were others like me; on the road, in the meetings or that will just hopefully see our fliers in the clubs; to let them know that they aren’t weird or beyond hope and that they don‘t ever need to feel excluded from a group that purports to have the solution to the alcohol problem that is available to all. We are a minority within a minority as secular people seeking recovery, but none of us should be denied the chance at sobriety simply because we don’t subscribe to another person’s set of beliefs. Our program’s methods help us learn to live without fear, and no one should fear coming to a group or starting their own because of the opinions of others.

Please Donate

We have funded our gas, lodging and food with 7th tradition donations from AA members and are looking to collect the last round of donations for the posters and fliers that we will be distributing. We will be using generic stock for the fliers in an effort to get as many out as possible and will make some tasteful and nice looking card stock posters to hang in the Central Offices and clubs. We will be taking a different way back than the way that we will go to Atlanta so that we can put up as many fliers as possible and make as many contacts as we can.

If you would like to donate to the creation of the fliers, it can be done through PayPal by sending a payment to waafts.at.the.international@gmail.com (click send at the top of the page and use that email) or by mail if you’d like to: WAFT IAAC INC., P.O. Box 284, Hollywood, CA 90078. We will be keeping a running blog of our journey here on this website, please also write to us on this page or through email at weagconvention@gmail.com so that we know that you all are out there, and please let us know if you would like to meet with us while we’re on the road. We will give you fliers to spread to your local area and we will be incredibly happy to meet with our people as we traverse the country.

Thanks!

Jesse S.

The future is bright, we’ll have to wear shades in Austin, Texas

Attendance began at a little under 200 0n Thursday afternoon and by Saturday night we had reached nearly 300 AAers packed in the sanctuary of the Unitarian Universalist church to hear the Very Reverend Ward Ewing speak.  A former GSO trustee, many were curious to hear what a reverend would have to say at a convention for agnostics, freethinkers, atheists and others.  He reminded us that the impossible was possible.  It had become clear throughout the event.  Fellowship abounded above all.  There were some bumps in the road, but as first conventions go, despite the painful loss of one of our steering committee, Jonathon G., Dorothy and I, found ourselves surrounded and supported by many who stepped up without reservation to assist in putting the finishing touches on the days of details.  We are eternally grateful, for it is in love and service that we put this convention together and it is with love and service of the fellowship that it was a success.

There is hope and a certain future for the inclusiveness we envisioned.  There is a newly elected (and larger) board of directors which includes Dorothy and myself, Chairwoman and Secretary, respectively, along with Alex K., Berkeley, CA (VP), Dianne P., Toronto, Canada(Treas), and Board Members at Large: Jesse S. (Reno, Nevada), Nik H. (Austin, Texas), Michelle B. (Alta Loma, Calif.), Stuart S. (Atlanta, Georgia), Don F. (Vermont/Florida), Ken S. (Melbourne, Australia) and Jayne J. (New York, New York).  This is an amazingly wonderful and unique group of individuals who are committed to the success of our conventions going forward.

So, onward we go to 2016 in Austin, Texas.  Hope to see you there.

In love and service,

Pam W.

 

By Scott A. ~ Thoughts on attending the convention

This is just a babble about deciding to attend the WAFT convention….
your choices are, of course, your own.
Perhaps I should have titled the thread “one alcoholic talking with another,”
but I can’t resist a good joke…nor even a bad pun.
Tis approaching the season to play with our merriment,
even though I don’t think of my fellow heathens as “faithless” since
I consider myself to have put my “faith” in AA to help me stay sober,
and it has been a faith that has worked for me… so far…
After months of hemming and hawing,
two days ago I finally “pulled the trigger” and decided to strive
to make my attendance at the WAFT IAAC November 6, 7, & 8.
For me the journey there will be arduous, expensive, and ill-timed with work projects.
Though I grew up atheist and long resisted AA in part because of the gawdstoof,
I have, for a while, managed to endure “in” AA.
It has only been in the past year+ that I have found any atheist/WAFT AA connections online.
I’ve known many an open minded AAer with perhaps an equally vague or semantic “HP” as me and mine,
sober with a wink and a nod, but not with the clear and precise declaration
“sober without a god, because there isn’t one” as this site says.
Gravity… “a force I can not see, but cannot deny, that connects me to every part of the universe”
had long been my paganized version of an “HP”
(though I don’t especially find it “loving” as the big book urges of an HP)
For me, AA has long and patiently invited me to join my universe,
to be “a part of…not apart from”
while my dis-ease (whether actual drinking or just my “character defects”)
is very much about isolating me from my universe.
When I learned of the convention, I registered for it,
partly in the hope I might actually get to it, partly figuring even if I didn’t,
at least my registration would “contribute” to the worthwhile cause.
Two days ago, as the clock ticked on…
in the middle of my work day I took a short walk around the back way.
The walk began with the jumble of thoughts competing to tell me
“too expensive, bad timing, I don’t like crowds anyways…”
and as I turned the corner, the thought bubbled up,
the line I am so fond of repeating, what has always been for me the CORE of AA,
“one (sober minded) alcoholic sharing with another.”
… I have to go!
I’ve long said “I am NOT a ‘people person,’… I’m a person person.”
I could spend all day talking with one individual at a time,
and carry on with my life quite comfortably, but a couple hours with a group or a crowd
and my “social energy reserves” begin to rapidly deplete.
I don’t expect to have life altering experiences because of some magnanimous speech from the podium.
But perhaps I’ll long remember some off handed comment shared in the chow line
by a newcomer or a curmudgeonly centuries long sober soul.
I have expressed my fears that I may be activating my own AA indignations by hanging out (online)
with righteously put-off fellow atheist/WAFT AAers,
but I am glad the conference is aimed at “fitting in” within AA WHILE being true to ourselves,
and perhaps even more importantly broadening the gateway for those who have yet to peer in.
Thanks for your help in keeping me sober.
…Hope to see you there.

 

Emergency Steering Committee Meeting

There will be an emergency steering committee meeting on Monday, Oct. 27th at 7 p.m.   


Location: Denny’s Banquet Room, 5751 Sunset Blvd. (at Van Ness Ave.) 

Please come and join us even if you don’t know what you can do to help.   We need your help.

For those of you who knew Jonathon G., we  ask if you have stories or memories  that you would like to share, please feel free to email them to weagconvention@gmail.com so we can include them in the memorial at the convention.

Details regarding memorial services by the family are not known at this time.  We will keep you informed as we know and details of the memorial at the convention will be shared as well, once we know more.

In Love and Service – a memorial to Jonathon G.

By Dorothy H.

The Unknown
“Man can learn nothing except by going from the known to the unknown.”
~ Claude Bernard

To say that Saturday, October 18, 2014, was a stunning and shocking day would be akin to saying that if the earth spun off its axle it would be a bad day.

At 10:00 am, Pam W. called me in a controlled panic saying that she hadn’t spoken to Jonathon Goley, the third member of the We Agnostics and Free Thinkers (WAFT) International AA Convention (IAAC) steering committee, for over a week and was fearful. Pam went to his place to see if she could help Jonathon out of a possible depression. When she got there she saw that Jonathon’s smokes were on the porch, his car was in the garage and his condo neighbors had not seen him for over a week. Pam contacted his sister, Dorathy. Dorathy told Pam that he didn’t show up for his 62nd birthday party that they had for him a few days before.

Pam called the police.

I felt powerless.

Like many other things in my alcoholic life, I wanted to refuse the reality of life for my benefit.

I lived too far away to pack my hammers to go break into his condo myself. To prove to everyone he actually found the love of his life and flew away with him to a warm tropical island, where they were sitting on the beach by exquisite waterfalls.

Two hours later

Pam called back

Her voice was flat

She spoke slowly

Without tone.

“Dorothy… Jonathon has passed away. The police called me and said they found him in his home… the police said that there was no foul play, no evidence of an overdose or suicide. They are saying it’s natural causes.”

“No, no… NO!… WATERFALLS… Pam… WATERFALLS…”

I said as all that makes me who I am collapsed inside me…

“I know, I know, honey,” Pam said. “I want to remember him as the successful artist he was on the verge of becoming. The mural work he was doing, the recent art show awards he received, the freelance book illustrations, and how he was getting a new pension from the studios he worked for, and how that was going to pull him out of his financial troubles.”

Broken Hearted
“A generous heart, kind speech, and a life of service and compassion are the things which renew humanity.”
~ Buddha

Jonathon grounded me, loved me, supported me, opened his home to me, cooked for me, and explored the internal and external world with anyone who would take his hand in friendship.

I had known Jonathon since my third week of sobriety. He gave me my first year medallion and my birthday cakes.

From the first time I heard him speak at the meeting, I was impressed with him. He was thoughtful, insightful and gentle. Jonathon struggled with depression and childhood issues and had a history of drug use. He traveled the world. He loved Buddhism and was beginning to explore Druidism/Paganism and Taoism.

Often, when I was stressed or in a complaining mood, Jonathon would stop the conversation, point to the sky and ask me how many colors I saw in the sunset. He asked me if I could describe the colors to him. Then he asked me to breathe and watch the sunset with him.

Once, I was talking with Jonathon about my struggles to understand my role in the growing WAFT movement, and the world we live as he drove me to my commuter train. Jonathon gave me love and support, and at the end of it, he told me about the old movies and biographies of women he loved watching and reading. Jonathon said he admired and loved strong-willed, determined, fiery women and said not to give up on what I know what was right no matter what others think.

He hugged me and waved as the train left.

The Loss to the WAFT Movement
“If we learn to open our hearts, anyone, including the people who drive us crazy, can be our teacher.”
~ Pema Chödrön

Jonathon was an unsung hero in the WAFT movement. Unlike me, Jonathon was not someone who felt comfortable entering into the larger WAFT debates. To many in the global WAFT AA Fellowship, he was the anonymous steering committee member, but he was not like that to the LA WAFT groups.

To the LA WAFT groups, he was a community builder. He was known for throwing BBQs and potlucks where he brought the different WAFT groups together.

Jonathon made my transition into sobriety smoother. The parties brought us all together where we could relate to each other outside of the shares at meetings, but to one another in a daily human level.

It was Jonathon’s love of fellowship that inspired him to be a part of creating WAFT IAAC. Jonathon wanted to create a warm, loving, safe environment for all AAers at the convention and within global AA. He was hoping to incorporate an art show into the convention events. He was going to create all the signage for the days of the convention by hand. Jonathon helped design the WAFT IAAC logo and created the graphics for it. He also designed our fliers and traveled with me on various outreach trips around southern California. Jonathon, Pam W. and I all worked collaboratively on every decision the Steering Committee has made.

We NEED Your Help
“We are not going in circles, we are going upwards. The path is a spiral; we have already climbed many steps.”
~ Hermann Hesse, Siddhartha

Don’t worry; we are determined to follow through with the convention! The Los Angeles groups are closing ranks to help with the technical aspects of the convention and to love and support Pam W., each other and me through this difficult time.

WAFT IAAC was built on the belief in AA and the WAFT fellowship. The Steering Committee has always known, without the help of the international WAFT Fellowship at large, this event would not happen!

We are calling on our WAFT brothers and sisters for your love and patience with Pam W. and me, along with the Los Angeles WAFT groups. Organizing an international convention itself is a stressful and daunting undertaking, but it is a 100 times more daunting as we are trying to push through our grief in this process.

We may not be able to make updates to our site as quickly, emails may not be answered immediately, phone calls may not be return right away, and we might forget many other important details at the days of the convention. When we meet you in person we may not be as sociable as we may like to be.

In asking our WAFT brothers and sisters for love and support, we ask that when you arrive at the convention, if there is any way you see you can be of service to the convention, please don’t be shy. Move into service any and every possible opportunity you can humanly do so.

With you, we know we can continue the work that Jonathon and many other WAFTS have dedicated the last two years of their lives to.

Pam W. and I are working out the details for a memorial service for Jonathon at the convention. Once we have those details down, we will make an announcement about it.

If you are able to arrive to Santa Monica on Wednesday, we will be having a volunteer meeting at the Unitarian Universalist church where the convention will be held at 3 PM.

We are looking forward to meeting you in November!

Yours in Love and Service,
Dorothy H.
Chair/Founder of WAFT IAAC