Regional Forums originated in 1975 at the suggestion of Dr. Jack Norris, then Chair of the General Service Board of Alcoholics Anonymous. They were to be weekend sharing and informational sessions designed to help the General Service Board, A.A. World Services, Inc., the Grapevine Corporate Board, the Grapevine Staff, and the General Service Office Staff stay in touch with A.A. members, trusted servants and newcomers to service throughout the A.A. service structure.
Originally, at the invitation of a region, four Regional Forums were held each year. Since the U.S./Canada service structure is composed of eight regions, a Regional Forum was held in alternate years in each region on a rotating basis. In October 2006, the General Service Board approved the concept of an Additional Regional Forum to be held upon request in each region every eight years also on a rotating basis, bringing the possible number of Regional Forums held each year to five. In 2012 the General Service Board agreed to discontinue Additional Regional Forums after completion of the eight region cycle in 2016.
The location and agenda for Regional Forums are decided jointly by the Regional Trustee, Area Delegates and G.S.O. The responsibility for initiating contact with the hotel is assumed by a local A.A. Host Contact working with the Forums Coordinator and Regional Trustee. The Forums Coordinator at G.S.O. distributes registration forms to groups and service workers throughout the region and, working with the Host Contact and Regional Trustee, coordinates the details of the Forum.
There is no registration fee for Regional Forums or Additional Regional Forums. The General Service Board covers the expenses of meeting rooms. In many places, area committees, districts and groups cover or defray the transportation and lodging expenses of the trusted servants representing them at a Forum.
In October 2006, the concept of Local Forums was approved by the General Service Board. The purpose of Local Forums is to bring Forum information to A.A. members in remote, sparsely populated areas, urban neighborhoods or underserved A.A. communities. Any A.A. community or service entity may request a one-and-a-half or two day Local Forum. Unlike Regional Forums, the responsibility for Forum expenses such as meeting room rental and miscellaneous expenses are assumed by the Local Forum Committee. The General Service Board will send two participants, one from the Board and one from the General Service Office or Grapevine office and display literature at Board expense. Like Regional and Additional Forums, Board participation in Local Forums requires the approval of the trustees’ Committee on International Conventions/Regional Forums. The Regional Forums Coordinator works closely with the Local Forum organizing committee to create an agenda that is responsive to local needs.
As all Forums are intended to be sharing sessions, no formal actions result. Sharing at Forums is captured in Forum Final Reports which are distributed to all attendees. Regional Forums Final Reports are available on G.S.O.’s A.A. Web site. Forums provide unique opportunities to share and exchange valuable experience, ask questions and spark new ideas. Regional Forums and Local Forums carry A.A.’s message of love and service by improving communication at all levels of our Fellowship.