Episode 39: Reflections on WAAFT IAAC


This podcast episode was recorded shortly after returning from the We Agnostics, Atheists and Freethinkers International AA Convention that was held in Austin, Texas from November 11-13th. Included in the discussion is Benn B., from Lincoln, Nebraska and my co-host on AA Beyond Belief, Vic L., from New York, New York and a past board member of WAAFT IAAC, and Willow F. from Seattle, Washington.

The four of us had a conversation about our experiences at the convention, including what we liked and what we might like to see improved. In addition to the podcast, you may want to read the article by Vic, “Some Observations from Austin”, and the article that I wrote “Thinking About Austin”.

If you attended the convention, please share with us your thoughts on the experience. You might also want to read Life J.’s excellent article on AA Agnostica, “The Secular AA 2016 Austin Convention.”

Thank you,

John S.

P.S. There were some audio issues with this podcast for which I must apologize. There is a bit of an echo that I was unable to mitigate through the editing process.

 Podcast Transcript

You can read the transcript to this podcast below or download the pdf.


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  1. Joe C. November 29, 2016 at 9:05 am - Reply

    Ditto to Bob’s comments – it was a great four-way chat that was helpful for me who was there but couldn’t be everywhere. I hope it’s also useful for people who couldn’t make it. On a point of information, there was a time when Grapevine was costing the fellowship money. It’s declining readership (like almost every other magazine in the internet age) slanted income vs. expenses. But Grapevine is leaner now and a net gain for AA. Many magazines would like to have 91,000 subscribers. However, for us, for 95% of our membership is apathetic to a magazine version of AA (“AA’s meeting in print).  Grapevine’s ten-times more relevant than my podcast for instance, but AA fellowship driven blogs, podcasts and eZines and Social Media are way bigger than Grapevine.

    On the issue of how often we should meet, I think two years is the perfect compromise. Five years leaves the newcomer in the lurch. Don’t we care about them? Every year is an extraneous financial commitment for anyone who wants to be at all of them. We don’t all have to go every two years, but I think we ought to collectively roll the carpet out every 24 months. ICYPAA (Young People) meet every year. There are regional young people meetings that also meet every year. Every two years isn’t too often, for me.

    ICYPAA has a rotating advisory board of 15 members + a host committee. It includes three members of each of the five last host cities. Each of those host cities likely bid for many years so everyone on their board is surrounded by members with plenty of experience. Maybe we ought to have a board that has staggered rotation the way they do. I think that there are dangers of having a board that are all new to this and then rotate out once they know their way around. If we had a board that rotated one-third of the members every conference year we would have more continuity. Just an idea, not a campaign.

    In the AA service structure, there five regions in the USA and two in Canada and all seven meet every two years. On the odd years each region gets a visit from GSO by way of a regional Forum. There are lots of good ideas we can borrow from existing AA structures that have already gone through growing/learning curves.

    It’s a great idea to have a hospitality suite or tent or table at the World Conference. Since 1995 there has always been a We Agnostics panel (named after the book chapter but – in all but one of these – have been a gentle panel of us, being part of AA). Maybe we could keep a slush fund from our conference reserve for hospitality at the Word Convention in Detroit in 2020, Vancouver in 2025 and every five years from there. ICYPAA is there. LGBT AA is there. ILAA (lawyers) and IDAA (doctors) do such a thing. Maybe ISAA could too 🙂

    Looking forward to the next podcast.

  2. Bob K November 27, 2016 at 8:35 pm - Reply

    The panel discussion worked out well, I thought – 4 articulate folks with nobody trying to dominate. Well done. I’m inspired to catch up on podcasts I’ve missed.

    My father was an AA guy from 1961 on, and there was an era where the Grapevine was a big deal. I think it’s now irrelevant, and hemorrhaging money. I hear accounting tricks are being used to hide how much.

    Toronto should have a strong home team attendance as agnostic AA is flourishing here with about a dozen meetings in and around the city. We’ll be testing the regional round-up idea in 2017.

    The Tuesday night meeting of Toronto intergroup reps is something that has me twitching – in a good way.

  3. Thomas Brinson November 27, 2016 at 7:13 am - Reply

    Thank you Willow, John, Benn and especially Vic for this most engaging podcast discussing the exceptional gathering we experienced together in Austin. It is a propitious testament, which demonstrates that our secular AA movement is evolving and growing fully within and cooperation with mainstream AA. I greatly enjoyed meeting again each of you and sharing with you throughout the auspicious weekend of our deliberations.

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