30 min read

March 28 - Equality - Tim A. (Philadelphia, PA)

March 28 - Equality - Tim A. (Philadelphia, PA)

Michael L. (00:43):
Good morning, Lee, how are you?

Lee M. (01:25):
Good morning. I'm doing great this morning. How are you? I'm well, I'm really excited for today. Yeah. So today's March 28th, right? That's correct. It's still March 28th. And today we have a great guest here with us. We've got Tim EI from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and he's here to share with us on the reflection for today, which is entitled equality.

Michael L. (01:47):
Fantastic. Well, Tim, welcome to the show. It's great to have you on the podcast.

Tim A. (01:51):
Thanks so much for having me. It's wonderful to be here.

Michael L. (01:53):
So Tim, maybe just introduce yourself to the, uh, to the audience. Let it, let people know who you are.

Photo by Noah Cote / Unsplash

Tim A. (01:58):
Sure. So I'm Tim, I'm from Philadelphia, as you mentioned. My sobriety date is April 12th, 2015. That daily reflection for today has always been a very special one to me because, uh, when I think about where alcoholics anonymous is at its best, I think it's at its best when we're as inclusive as we can possibly be. And, uh, you know, diversity inclusion have been topics which have come to the forefront of culture and society lately. And I think alcoholics anonymous has a real opportunity to continue to ever wide in that gateway that allows more sick and suffering alcoholics to pass through. And I thought that today's reflection, you know, especially, uh, touches on some of those topics that are so important to our fellowship.

Michael L. (02:38):
Speaking of the reflection, Tim, would you get it started and read it?

Tim A. (02:41):
Absolutely. So for March 28th, this is today's daily reflection and it's titled equality. Our membership out to include all who suffer from alcoholism. Hence we may refuse none who wished to recover nor ought AA membership ever depend upon money or conformity, any two or three alcoholics gathered together for sobriety may call themselves an AA group, provided that as a group, they have no other affiliation. That's from alcoholics anonymous, page five 65 and several other locations throughout our literature. Prior to AA, I often felt that I didn't fit in with the people around me. Usually they had more or less money than I did. And my points of view, didn't jive with theirs. The amount of prejudice I had experienced in society only proved to me just how phony some self-righteous people were after joining AA. I found the way of life I had been searching for an AA.

Tim A. (03:33):
No member is any better than any other member. We're just alcoholics trying to recover from alcoholism. There there's a lot in there. You know, if you think about it, AA may be the most successful anarchy in the history of the planet. There's one rank member and I love the concept, but when we get into service, we sort of stepped down from that highest rank of member to serve the membership above us. And you know, we're here in Philadelphia. So I'm going to tell a little story. There's, there's a pretty cool statue of John Wanamaker over, over near our city hall. And it's, uh, it's my favorite statue in the city. Now, John Wanamaker had quite an accomplished life. You know, he started the first huge department store in the United States. I believe he was also the postmaster general, but I'd have to check on that.

A shot from the Rocky Steps at the Philadelphia Museum of Art of City Hall
Photo by Charl Folscher / Unsplash

Tim A. (04:17):
Um, but the statue of him mere city hall is just subtitled citizen. It just says John Wanamaker citizen, the most important thing to him that he had accomplished in his life was just being an American citizen, being a citizen among equal citizens. You know, I think our modern servants in Washington DC could do well to remember that, that they stepped down to serve the citizenry of the country. But, uh, we really do get that in AA where, you know, it's on day one, if you decide you're a member of alcoholics anonymous, if you decide that you've got a desire to stop drinking, uh, congratulations, you have reached the highest rank possible in alcoholics anonymous member. You know, that is so important to how this, this all works because with the disease, we have a disease of extremes. I think it is incredibly important to have everything kind of that level, that even that equality throughout the entire fellowship. Yeah.

Lee M. (05:12):
I love that. And speaking of disease, I think it might be important. Um, maybe just qualify just a little bit. What, what happened with you and your story? What brought you to the rooms of

Tim A. (05:23):
It's an interesting story. I think everybody has an interesting way that we got here and that's, what's so fascinating to me is that when I think of the confluence of events that led up to me, actually asking for help or willing to accept, help, it's a, it's really amazing. I don't think it's, it's not even a moment in time. It's sort of a point in time. There's a before and after, you know, I'd been out there for many decades, uh, trying it my own way. I had, I'd known I'd been an alcoholic for a long time. I had gotten to the point where I twisted my brain enough that I just accepted it and not only had accepted that, you know, I was a drinker and that's the way this was and what I did during every free Mo my job was there to turn the gears of my drinking career, everything I did in my spare time, revolved around drinking.

Tim A. (06:08):
And, you know, I'd kind of become okay with this. There was so much noise in my head that the actual signal of, uh, who I had wanted to be, uh, could not get through. Um, I had started avoiding mirrors because the person I saw in the mirror did not resemble who I thought I should be the confluence of events that got me in here. I ended up in Montreal and I was on a week long run at a conference up in Montreal, drinking a lot of Jagermeister and eating poutine. And, uh, it, it was a heck of a week and barely got to any of the conference. But on the last day, there was a keynote by a person I know in respected, uh, who was giving a talk. Um, and it was a technical conference. The talk was called the talent myth. And it talked about how we in technology had been sort of spoiled over the past few decades because we'd been in such high demand that a lot of bad behavior, you know, people looked the other way at a lot of things.

Tim A. (07:04):
And Mike, I know you're in technology as well, and can probably, uh, probably relate to what I'm saying here, but in the talk, he challenged us to really think about who we were and how we could make the technology communities. We are part of more welcoming. This was on the morning that we were driving back from Montreal to Philly. So little did I know I had had my last drink at that point. I'm still a little bit bitter. It was a Molson ice, which is probably the lamest last drink you could ever imagine. It's not even like, you know, it's not a bottom of the barrel schwag. Like I was drinking Milwaukee's best story. It wasn't a night. It wasn't, you know, a fancy drink. It was just a blah Molson ice. But, you know, I got back to Philadelphia that night and I noticed that my wife was, um, being a bit distant and I thought it was just, you know, I've been gone for a week.

Tim A. (07:48):
It's late, she's tired. But I woke up the next morning and, uh, while I'd been away, my family had planned an intervention for me, my wife, my sister, my mom, my dad were all there on the Monday morning before I went to work. Another part of my drinking was whenever the fliers season would end, I would try to take a month off from drinking. I never made it the 30 days. There was once that I made it two weeks and a friend was in from out of town. So I drank that night and tack the day on the end, but I never made it to the full 30 days. And the fliers season had ended while I was up in Canada. So they knew that it was time for me to put on this yearly Shirad of, you know, taking it easy for a month or cutting back for a month or whatever the hell you want to call it, you know, between seeing that talk and coming back to Philly, I can't quite put my finger on it nor do I care to.

Tim A. (08:32):
But at that point in time, I was willing to try something else. And I called into work. And even though I'd been out of town for a conference for a week and a half, I said, you know, I'm, I'm going to try going to rehab and getting a handle on my drinking. And my boss was completely supportive on my way to rehab. My mom actually shared a pretty incredible bit of information with me my whole life. My mom is a twin. She had a fraternal twin brother, bell who oddly enough, would sometimes forget her birthday. Uh, which if you think about it as a little weird, but I'd known uncle bill lived out in Arizona. So I only met him a couple of times in my life, but my mom, my whole life told me that I reminded her of her twin brother bill from growing up as a toddler all the way through my life.

Tim A. (09:12):
And on the way to rehab, she informed me that he was very active in alcoholics anonymous. He still took, you know, he was regular. He was a member of a home group. He had been general chair and let up their prison committee out in Arizona, in Tucson, Arizona. So he regularly took commitments to prison and, you know, I'm sitting there and the thoughts in my head are like, you know, this would have been really useful information like 15 years ago, mom, but, but you know, you get the information when you get the information. And I ended up in rehab and I had never cracked a big book. I had prejudged, alcoholics anonymous. I thought it was a, a cult that was going to turn me into a fundamentalist extremist of some kind. I am a non-believer. And, uh, I'm very grateful to alcoholics anonymous for being so open to people of all face or non-face while I was in, I got a copy of a big book from the person who went on to become my first sponsor and my uncle bill slipped the note and with my mom that just said, page one 30, two middle.

Tim A. (10:09):
And that's the, we are not a glum law, do not take the weight of nations on your shoulders, bed of the family afterwards. So that was the first part of the big book I ever read on day two while I was in there, I got my sort of welcome to rehab kit, which included a notebook. And on the inside of the notebook, I wrote one attend every session you can to never miss a roll call three, whenever you have a shift of chores, do them to the best of your ability. And I didn't know it, but right then I had really started to take the first and second steps. Like I, you know, th I like to say out of the 12 steps, the first seven words, I think are the ones I struggled with the least, we admitted, we were powerless over alcohol. Now the last seven words of the 12 steps.

Tim A. (10:50):
On the other hand, those are the ones that are the trickiest practice, these principles in all our affairs, it's like that all with the underline. It's almost like they know we're alcoholics and we'd look for a loophole if they didn't include that all with the underlying you build up. Yeah. He knew he being one of us, he knew exactly where we'd go with that. But, you know, rehab, I really, I, I took to it, like I took to my drinking and dove into the deep end of the pool without checking for water. It was the first time I had really felt, you know, coming back to the topic of equality, I really felt that I was amongst my own people, that we were all peers, that we were all there trying to help each other. The signal started to come through. The noise, started to dissipate.

Tim A. (11:30):
I realized that there were some insane things I've been doing, like, uh, you know, beside my drinking, like I had been on call 24, seven for 13 straight years, including while I was on vacation. And I had just, just in case something went up because this was a way of me trying to prove to myself that, that I wasn't an alcoholic. How could I be an alcoholic if I'm on call all the time and I keep getting promoted at work, and I'm an indispensable employee and I keep promoted, I couldn't possibly be an alcoholic. I mean, this is how deep the denial can run. The things I did to my brain were, uh, absolutely incredible, but, you know, I'm so glad that that confluence of events happened. You know, when I got out of rehab, I remember seeing the, uh, they, they used to have the printed meeting guides.

Tim A. (12:10):
They still do, but they gave me a printed meeting guide. And my first thought is, why the hell isn't there an app for this? And my second thought, as I was going through it, looking for what meetings I was going to attend was there was one at seven, 15:00 AM every morning in Philadelphia called sunrise semester. And I was like seven 15 in the morning. Those people must be nuts, no way I'm ever going to that one, you know, that's way too early. And I was right about the first part. They were absolutely not in the best way possible, but on the second part, I was wrong because when I came out of rehab, my daily schedule was, I'd worked from eight 30 to five 30 every day, and then go to IOP and outpatient program after work every night. So I wanted to do a 90 and 90 because again, diving into the deep end of the pool without checking for water, the only meeting I could hit every day was at seven 15.

Tim A. (12:55):
And I remember the first day I went down those steps to that basement and went to open that door. Just, just the feeling of how heavy that door was as I went to open it. We have a real opportunity, speaking of equality, with zoom to open up that gateway to so many more alcoholics right now. Cause I just remember how heavy that door felt, you know, opening that door for the first time was so intimidating as a newcomer, you know, with my hands still shaking and beads of sweat on my forehead, that was zoomed. You know, alcoholics may have the chance to attend a meeting from the comfort of their own bedroom, with maybe their microphone in their camera off and hear that one thing that gets them to convince, to get involved maybe after two or three days, they, you know, turn on the microphone or turn on the camera and share for their first time, from the comfort of their own home.

Tim A. (13:43):
It's a real opportunity for us to widen that gateway evermore, to encourage more people who suffer from alcoholism to become part of the membership. There's no reason for us to refuse anybody who comes in regardless of the method. So we're at a really unique time in alcoholics anonymous. Um, and so many ways this pandemic, you know, I'm trying to look for silver linings right now. It's been a year. It's been a very tough year. It's been an incredibly tough year. I've lost friends. I've been largely isolated for a year, but there are some things that have happened, which really gives us an opportunity to grow as a species and, uh, for AA to grow as a fellowship, it has accelerated, um, things like remote work and remote meetings in similar ways by sort of having a forced grand experiment upon us that we never would have done without a pandemic.

Tim A. (14:27):
And it's shown us, shown us that a lot of things are possible. I was talking with, uh, so I work on a group with a group of technologists who work on AA technology called code for recovery. We open source everything we do this group maintains the WordPress plugin, which powers a lot of sites, the Django app, which powers the CPS site here in Philadelphia, as well as, um, you know, it comes up with the specifications that power the app. It's a, it's a whole bunch of technologies that are now widely used within alcoholics anonymous. I was talking to Josh [inaudible] who really started up this group. And we were talking about, you know, five years from now, where do you see AA going? And I had always just assumed, you know, Oh, I can't wait to get back to in-person meetings. I just, you know, want it to be back the way it was during our conversation.

Tim A. (15:11):
He brought up some very good points and well, I can't wait to get back to in-person meetings and give, you know, friends. I haven't seen for a year huge hugs in that. There's a lot of good that's going on right now and see him. And he mentioned that he thought, you know, a couple of years from now that half of all the meetings might be done in video conferences. And I thought about at first and sort of shuttered a little bit that I thought about it more. And I'm like, you know, I'd like to go to a meeting every day, but if I'm being honest with myself, I probably get to 300 meetings a year. You know, they're probably 60 or so days where either I've got early morning server patching or things are just crazy busy. You know, the ability to go to my home group while on the subway has a certain appeal to it.

Tim A. (15:49):
The, the ability to go to my home group when I'm in another city and I really am feeling out of sorts and need that connection to people I know has a lot of appeal. So, um, I can see so many benefits to it as well, especially, you know, again, leveling leveling the playing field, bringing quality everywhere. You know, the opportunity to attend meetings worldwide gives people to find a place they belong worldwide. Cause, uh, you know, here in Philadelphia we have about 1800 meetings a week. So when people, you know, when newcomers come up to me and say, Oh, I can't find a meeting. I like, I'm like they're 1800 meetings a week. You haven't really tried that hard. But for people who might be in areas where there aren't 1800 meetings a week, like most places across the world data, it gives people a real chance to try the different flavors of AA.

Tim A. (16:36):
You know, if you ever get that boredom or wanderlust, you know, the ability to attend a meeting in Ireland or even in a foreign language is absolutely fantastic. And this all ties back into, um, you know, the reading from today that our membership should include everybody and the wider and more diverse our membership is the better. Like I said, at the beginning, you know, we really are at our best when we're inclusive. You know, it goes back to the preamble. If you think about the history of the preempt, the PR the modern preamble was first published in, uh, 1947 and the grapevine and the June issue. And it was born out of several regional preambles that had happened before that there was the Wilmington preamble, the Texas preamble and those early versions of the preamble. For example, they all said, AA is a fellowship of men who share their experience, strength and hope.

Tim A. (17:21):
By the time the one got published in the June, 1947 grapevine, it had switched it from being a fellowship of men to being the preamble. We now know a fellowship of men and women, but that 1947 version had a couple of things that have been changed since to the preamble. We now know and love today. It stated that the only requirement for membership was an honest desire to stop drinking that has, of course been changed to be the only requirement for membership is a desire to stop drinking instead of an honest desire. So the word honest was dropped, and this is also more inquisitive. So we've gone from being a fellowship of men to a fellowship of men and women. And we've gotten rid of that word, honest. So every time this is changing, the preamble is becoming more and more inclusive. And as we become more and more inclusive, that gateway widens to allow more alcoholics, more of the still second suffering to pass through it and become part of our membership.

Tim A. (18:14):
And you know, where the word like honest, who gets to be the arbiter of what is honest. That's a very dangerous word to have in there because you can have, you know, the sort of, uh, you, you could have discussions about, Oh, I don't think this person is really honest and their desire to stop drinking. Maybe we should keep them out. And that goes directly against what it says. And you know, in the daily reflection today that hence we may refuse none who wished to recover it, couldn't be more clear and you know, the third, fourth, and fifth traditions together. So incredibly important to ensure that there is a place for everyone and AA, no one can tell you, you don't belong. As you've decided you have a desire to stop drinking. And the fourth tradition ensures the AA isn't anything beyond what the preamble States, when people say things like AA does this or AA does that?

Tim A. (19:04):
I do bristle a little bit because AA doesn't, I've heard around the rooms. For example, it stated that AA meetings start on time and AA meetings end on time. And this fits very nicely into my personal style. I have to admit I'm sort of on board with this most of the time, but I have to remember, this is only true of an individual group. If it is adopted in the group conscience, if groups want to allow their meetings to run late, to allow everyone to share it, that's up to them. If they want to start late, when there's bad weather, that's up to them too. And if I don't like it, I have two options. I can attend a business meeting where my voice is equal to all the others, or I can vote with my feet. And, uh, it's really quite beautiful. I mean, it goes back to that Middleton group. We have read about in tradition for the 12 and 12, and the reason why group conscience is always written in pencil. Uh, you know, we reserve the right to make mistakes. Every voice, you know, enhances us and every voice lost diminishes us. So ensuring that, uh, that we continue to write in pencil and, uh, allow people to have their voices heard is just such an important thing. You talk about

Lee M. (20:04):
Equality and going back to the daily reflection, I know you have a unique take on a higher power. And I wonder if you would share that for them.

Tim A. (20:12):
Absolutely. So in the world, we have theists who believe in God, we have atheists who don't believe in God, agnostics, who claim you can't know. And I think, I sort of penciled myself into the atheist column, which is, you know, I've given up on arguing. I don't think it should really matter if we believe in God. And the argument sort of goes, uh, goes something like this. It's like, so if there is a God or gods and they are good and just then you want to do good things in life and be of service and be a good person because you want to be in there and their good graces. And if there is a God or gods and they are bad and evil, then you don't care about being in their good graces and you want to, you know, sort of go against the grain.

Tim A. (20:51):
And if there is no, God and evolution is the total answer. And just being part of the universe, figuring itself out like a small child is really what's going on. Then don't, you want to be the best. You can be at a service to your fellow people out of a, a way of making life, a little easier for another person out of a way of helping us grow as a species, ensuring that everybody can live their dreams and reach for the stars. And, uh, that sort of ties into my higher power. And, you know, when one alcoholic or addict gets honest with another alcoholic or addict, there's a kind of energy that forms between them, but I've never been able to quite put my finger on it, sort of like that point in time that I can't where, you know, on April 12th, 2015, that that point in time, I can't quite put my finger on it.

Tim A. (21:37):
And, and I don't character, there's this energy that forms when they get honest with another. And that's what keeps me coming back. And that's what keeps me sober is that honesty, that rigorous honesty between two alcoholic sharing and, uh, you know, that moment where you can, you can sometimes see a light come on. If you're witness to somebody meeting their sponsor for the first time. And seeing that thing that somebody who's been around for a little bit says that turns the light bulb on, in the eyes of a newcomer. And you just know that they're going to be around for a while now, because they've heard something that can next. And, you know, the opposite of alcoholism, the opposite of addiction is not sobriety. The opposite of addiction. Alcoholism is connection. This theme of equality and us all just being members, workers, among workers, members of my members is the way that we connect and we can all connect with one another.

Tim A. (22:24):
Um, when I look at, you know, people have become my close friends in the program, um, it's such a variety of people that, you know, we've heard it set around the rooms that I probably would have never met or hung out with if it wasn't for this wonderful fellowship and this wonderful program. And, um, you know, I get just as much wisdom from people that I sometimes see in an AA meeting. Once I remember things that I've heard and, you know, Oh, I saw one guy in a meeting in Arizona when I was out there and it sticks with me. And it's amazing how that can happen, how you can be touched. I remember I was in Seattle and Bellevue and, uh, I introduced myself as Tim from Shelley and they let me share the chair, turned over to me and looked and said, Hey, Tim, you know, what's amazing about alcoholics anonymous. It's the only place where you can walk into a room of strangers and reminisce stuck with me forever. Never seen him before since, but that'll always stick with me.

Lee M. (23:17):
You know, Tim I love your passion for ensuring that every single alcoholic has a seat and or anybody who's suffering has a place to come to without us having to decide whether they belong or not. And also your passion for ensuring that every single alcoholic has a voice. The fact that we're all equal and your passion for wanting to make sure that everyone can get this program the way that live, whether it's in the car or on the train, or in all the places on zoom and rooms. And it's kind of one of the reasons why we're doing this podcast to be able to bring the message out in ways that, um, some people may not be able to access that otherwise. And my question to you though, is in relation to the, the other thing that I love is that you're bringing voice to a lot of people who have a hard time believing in God, quote, unquote, this program needs to be open and roomy for everybody regardless of what they believe. So my question to you is for those people who are either atheist or agnostic, or, or don't believe in anything at all, or how do you suggest that they learn to turn their will and their life over to something greater than them, if they're having a hard time figuring out what that is. So maybe you could tell us what your journey was there.

Tim A. (24:32):
So it's kind of funny because Mike was sort of a part of that journey. The first day I walked into that basement, you know, Mike was there, we hit it off because we're both, you know, deeply into technology. And I think, you know, looking inward at a skill that I had and being able to be of service with that skill really helps me sort of develop a sense of a higher power of being able to help another, being able to rely on another, being able to trust another person because that trust had, uh, had not existed in my life for a long time. I'm not just another person, but, you know, and, and the general good of the world, I had been convinced that there was no point to life. I had a spot I referred to as my suicide spot, which was on the platform of the subway at eighth and market street here in Philadelphia, because every morning I would typically wake up, completely hung over, drag myself out of bed.

Tim A. (25:24):
And I would still be drunk from the night before the hangover would be overtaking the drunkenness from the night before, right about the time I would get to that platform at eighth and market, where the thoughts of is that all is this, all there is to life would come racing into my head. And I knew there was another train coming within a couple of minutes. And I'm like, if this is all there is to life, maybe it's worth just, you know, ending it here. And, uh, you know, I've regularly had those thoughts. I never acted on them. And I don't think I'll ever know, you know, how close I ever really came to doing it. But the fact that, you know, I was able to find other people to connect with, to put those thoughts so far away from my head was about connecting and trying to be an asset in the universe instead of a detriment, you know, be an asset instead of a liability.

Tim A. (26:18):
I think a lot of newcomers, you know, alcoholics are the most uniquely talented people, um, that I've ever been associated with. And everybody brings something to the table. And there's a way that through the fellowship, you can find a purpose and find a higher power by looking inside yourself and finding that unique talent and how you can use it to help another. And I am so lucky that the service I do is, you know, with the skills that I have and that I love it all ties together beautifully. I think other people could probably do the same because around the same time I got sober a couple of months after I got sober, a study came out of Texas a and M and it's really pretty fascinating. They found, um, the two neurons that control dopamine receptors are called the D one and the D two neurons, the D one neurons are what they call the go, go, go neurons.

Tim A. (27:07):
And the D two neurons are the stop. Stop, stop neurons within an alcoholic, the D one neurons fire and fire and fire. Typically the receptors on a normal human being look like a mountain Ridge within an alcoholic they mushroom out. So that the D one neurons would say, go, go, go, go, go, keep getting hit. And the D two neurons don't actually ever get through this is what creates the phenomenon of craving and why one or two drinks leads to 10 to 12 drinks or why some other people could stop at three or four drinks. And I thought, my whole life, that what I lacked was willpower. It turns out I'm actually wired differently than my colleagues who would stop after three or four drinks. It turns out they don't have more willpower than me. It turns out they were starting to feel woozy. And I was starting to feel ready to go because of how I'm wired, you know, learning things like this made me realize that being wired this way can also be an asset if I get a handle on my recovery. And that can be part of my higher power as well is, you know, looking at the science behind this and learning more about it and realizing that, you know, the way that I have been made, the way I am on this planet, um, can really be an asset. It really can be. And, um, I continue to look at that with amazement every day, when I say what amazing things my fellow alcoholics do,

Lee M. (28:28):
I love the understanding that, that we can get about why we're different than everyone else. And I first heard an explanation that made sense to me when I was listening to the Joe and Charlie tapes. And it was the first time I thought, Oh, it's not because I'm a terrible person. It's because I will legitimately have, I am wired differently. And actually it was the thing that made me double down on my recovery too, because if that's true, that means I can never drink again safely. So I better do this thing to the best of my ability. So I love that. Talk to us about the service that you do.

Tim A. (28:58):
Uh, so I'm a computer geek and, uh, I'm involved with a group of people who help work on websites. So Mike got me involved initially on, uh, on doing the Philadelphia area website. The Philadelphia website, when I came in was fairly outdated. It was running a very old technology. I don't think it had had a major overhaul. And about 15 years, Mike was coming in to do it in WordPress. And, uh, we rolled out a new website pretty soon after in late 2015, we hooked up with the guy I mentioned earlier, Josh, who was out of San Jose and, uh, Philadelphia and San Jose were actually the first two cities who were part of the meeting guide app, which is now actually run by the general service office in New York. It started as an project by Josh and Mike and I got involved early on.

Tim A. (29:45):
I started by writing a data adapter. I work in big data and I wrote a data adapter that took all the meetings out of the old system and ported them to the new system. So they'd be compatible with the new website, as well as the app. This became pretty popular in Philly, but our office team was struggling with the WordPress interface. So to get them more involved, we decided to write a secondary version and I won't bore people with the technical details, but this is grown out to developing a worldwide specification of how we share meeting information so that each group should, well, let's do a little history lesson since back in 1940, there have been various attempts to build a centralized database system of all the AA meetings where the central authority, of course, this is never going to work with our anarchy and a group of drunks, modern internet infrastructure has given us the ability to sort of do the opposite and turn that on its head and look at tradition for, and have each group be autonomous.

Tim A. (30:48):
Uh, so what we did was instead instead said, Hey, you can be part of this meeting guide app. If you present your meetings to us in this way, and in this format, we agreed upon and we'll take input. We actually still do take input from different inner groups on, you know, what meeting types should be included in things like that. And it started off with Philly and San Jose, and it's grown over time. And they're now, you know, over 300 groups that are plugged into this. So rather than trying to build a central authority, that would be updating everything all the time. We just made it opt in at the group level. So each group is still autonomous. They control what meetings they send us and what meeting types they want. And, um, you know, in the spirit of the fourth tradition, it's worked out great.

Tim A. (31:27):
Anybody can pick up the meeting guide or look at a local website and have a fairly consistent interface. We here in Philadelphia have been sort of the Guinea pigs for the new technologies. We were the first one to use the new front end that is starting to roll out, um, that you can see@aacp.org. It's got a new search on it. It's got a faster loading interface and it uses the same data source that the app uses for the website. This is big because there used to be two separate data sources. So sometimes there would be inconsistencies. People would be able to find something on one, they can't find on the other. So those are some of the newest features that are coming out. That's now available on the WordPress plug in, which is by far the most popular way. This is installed worldwide. Typically if you go to a city and look at your website, there's a very good chance they're going to be using that WordPress plugin. And they're going to be using this new front end that we've developed over the course of the next year. We'll be rolling that out. At some point, it's going to become the default, but right now they can switch over to it.

Lee M. (32:25):
Fantastic. And I love that you provided that level of detail. I'm thinking about the newcomer 10 there's, there's gotta be some newcomers that are, uh, tech minded. How would a newcomer into recovery get involved in the technology projects that are available? Great question.

Tim A. (32:41):
We're always looking for new people to get involved. Um, there about six of us, six, seven, eight of us who work on it regularly, if you're interested, just go to get hub.com/code for recovery. That's the number for the digital. We're going to post it in the show notes, for sure. Fantastic. Come on over to get hub.com/code for recovery, and you don't have to be a coder to get involved. You know, we're always looking for people to help with documentation ideas. They're issued lists, there's ways to beta test. So if you're a web servant for an inner group, we'd love to have you test out features before they, before they come into play. And, uh, they're all different kinds of ways to get involved. And, uh, it's, it's been, you know, one of the most rewarding parts of my recovery is being able to be involved with this.

Tim A. (33:25):
And like I said, you know, all alcoholics have such unique skills, such drive and such a Verve for life that, uh, finding, finding what your thing is. And being able to give back to alcoholics anonymous is something that I can't stress enough to the newcomer because you know, Mike here is the one who sort of grabbed me and said, Hey, guess what? You're in service. When I was on like my fourth day at a rehab, I think diving in as soon as you can is a great way. You know, they say stick to the stick to the center of the herd. There's no way to stick better to the center of the herd. Then you get involved in service at the intergroup level right away. So I strongly encourage it.

Lee M. (34:06):
Anything else you want to let the audience know before we wrap up? Yeah.

Tim A. (34:09):
Final thoughts. My home group is a group I helped start called progressive not perfection. We've continued to sort of push the boundaries a little bit, been an interesting experiment. So we follow a secular format. We've, uh, come up with our own version of the preamble, where we have changed men and women further to people. So we say alcoholics anonymous is a fellowship of people who share their experience, strength and hope because we have a fair number of people, of transgender experience who are regulars and home group members at our group. So while we appreciate the tradition of what it is, you know, looking back at the history of the preamble, it was already changed from men to men and women, and honest was dropped. And what I love about the history of the preambles, every time it's been slightly tweaked or changed, just tiny little bit of the words it's made it so much more inclusive, and this is our opportunity to do that.

Tim A. (34:57):
But this was actually a secondary meeting that I started with one of the most religious people. I know. So she's Catholic and goes to mass four times a week, but wanted somewhere in AA where she could talk about spirituality and not have it be tied to God. And we wanted to make sure it wasn't, you know, sort of an atheist meeting where people were sitting around talking about how stupid religion was that that isn't us at all. It follows a secular format and all are welcome anybody as well. We do read a what we value statements and people can share about their beliefs or lack of beliefs in any way they want at the beginning. And that love tolerance for others is our code. It's become a real source of strength for me. One of the unexpected beautiful things about it is we, we regularly have some people who come to our meeting on their way to church, because they say they get more honest discussion about spirituality at our meeting than they do in other meetings.

Tim A. (35:56):
Uh, you know, some of the people who are more religious, you know, bristle a little bit at what they call the God performance that goes on in some AA meetings. So that's been sort of a happy accident as Bob Ross would say that it's come out of all this, but, uh, now I encourage people to say, you know, look at your own meeting, look at your meeting format and look at how inclusive it is because we have we're, we're at a unique crossroads here in alcoholics anonymous, where I think we have an opportunity to really widen that gateway even more. And that was something that bill w really celebrated throughout his life. You know, he butted heads with the non-believers early on, uh, you know, Jim B uh, is the famous non-believer who some consider a founder, number three, he and bill w butted heads a lot over the language in the big book and the 12 steps early on. And he founded AA here in Philadelphia, but later on in his life, you know, bill w went on to say that, um, having these people who were nonbelievers was so key early on toward widening that gateway. So more may pass

Michael L. (36:56):
Tim. I love you brother. This has been a great episode. Love you too.

Tim A. (36:59):
Thank you so much. And Lee, it was such a pleasure to meet you. I love your kind of activism. I want to join the movement. Come, come by on Sunday and check it out. I will, for sure.

Michael L. (37:14):
And I want to let the listeners know that we're going to have Tim back. We've already got him booked for another episode later in the year. So stay tuned for that. I'll post all of the things that we mentioned in terms of the links in the show notes. Make sure you check those out, Tim. Thank you brother. Thanks so much. I hope you have both. Have a lovely, wonderful. Thanks for coming. Bye-bye thanks so much to Tim for stopping by sharing his knowledge, his experience, his strength, thanks to you. The listeners appreciate your support. If you want to find us online, you can follow us on Facebook at https://facebook.com/groups/dailyreflectionpodcast. That's all one word lowercase. You can find us on Twitter at daily reflector that's O R daily reflect, or you can read about recovery on our blog at blog dot daily reflection, podcast.com. Thanks so much. Have a great day.

Enjoying these posts? Subscribe for more