The North East Zonal Forum was born out of an idea that was nurtured from the first East Coast Convention in 1980 onward. During the nineteen eighties, several regions got together to discuss what NA is like in other parts of the country. A little later, at the WSC in Dallas, Texas in 1992, some of us learned that a few other parts of the NA World had already been meeting as Forums or Zones. In Dallas, many non-US Regions attended the WSC for the first time, and several of them were seated. One committee produced a paper about Zonal Forums. Several Regional Service Representatives (RSRs) from the northeast again discussed starting a North East Zonal Forum. Those RSRs approached the other regions of the northeastern USA present in Dallas about meeting together, and a small meeting was held.
Our next meeting took place at the Multi-Regional in New York City. Members of the Western States Forum and Canadian Assembly shared their experience, strength, and hope. We agreed to write a simple "Statement of Function and Purpose." Participants present shared on the unmanageability of the East Coast Convention (ECCNA) in each of our regions over the past seven or eight years. The ECCNA could no longer find an area in any of our Regions to host it, and it ceased to exist. This discussion gave us a concrete example of the benefits of talking and sharing with other regions. Several addicts met at the Connecticut Regional Convention in Stamford and wrote our Statement of Function and Purpose.
We met next after MARLCNA. As a result of that meeting, one of our first guidelines arose-that the NEZF would not ever again meet formally in conjunction with another event. We would meet separately, and would discuss issues in common to the areas and groups and our Regions.
The NEZF is comprised of 13 Regions of the Northeast portion of the United States. They are: ABCD, Buckeye, Connecticut, Eastern New York, Greater New York, Mid Atlantic, Mountain Valley, New England, New Jersey, Northern New England, Northern New Jersey, Northern New York, and Western New York. We meet twice a year for two days: once in the winter-usually in January or February, and once in the summer-usually June or July. In 2003, the Eastern New York Region hosted the NEZF and held a Friday Night NEZF Orientation to bring new NEZF members up to speed. This Friday night orientation has now become a regular part of the weekend. Our meetings take place on weekends, with an orientation session on Friday evening, topic(s) discussion and or workshops and Open Forum on Saturday, and a business session on Sunday morning, usually ending around noon or one o'clock. We elect our chair and vice chair for one-year terms, and our secretary for two years. These are non-funded positions. We typically elect these people a pool of former NEZF participants. Our hosting rotation is based on the alphabetical order of the member regions.
As new regions became active within the NEZF, we began to notice that we often spent a lot of time in discussion while making no apparent progress, since any region could stop our movement even if thirteen other regions were in favor of moving forward. We were faced with a quandary. It seemed that often the same one or two regions were habitually stopping the forward movement of the NEZF-for better or worse.
We appointed an ad hoc committee in 2000 to suggest a set of guidelines to the NEZF. During the discussion phase following the first draft of our proposed Guidelines, we hit upon the phrase, "Can You Live With It?" We came to believe that nothing we did was important enough that it couldn't be "lived with." At our June, 2002 meeting in Pittsburgh-after several painstaking discussions of these proposed Guidelines, we finally took the giant step forward and approved our Guidelines. We, as a body, have now decided that, since we have them, we will follow them!
The NEZF has come a long way, from a group of rather contentious members in the early nineties, to the loving family atmosphere that we enjoy today. At the 2000 WSC, a map of all the NA zones demonstrated that we are one of the largest-both in terms of numbers of regions and the numbers of meetings held in those regions. At that time, it was estimated that we comprised close to 20% of all the NA meetings in the world.
When the NEZF began meeting regularly, our meetings were hosted by those regions who volunteered to host them-mostly in the New Jersey Region; New York City, upstate New York, and Pennsylvania were soon added. We now follow our Guidelines and its protocol of alphabetical rotation. We're glad to say it's working well.
We lean towards a consensus-based decision-making process. We entertain proposals rather than motions, but we still vote. We discuss World Issues and Hot Topics. We've enjoyed the privilege of having World Board members do a C.A.R. Workshop at our meetings-first in Queens, NY in January, 2004, in Newark, NJ in January, 2006, and in Buffalo, NY in January 2008.
The last few years have brought some wonderful projects with tangible results. We had an ad-hoc committee work on a PowerPoint presentation on "NA and the Services We Provide," a project of which the members of the NEZF are very proud. We presented this at the World Service Conference to Regional Delegates from around the world.
In January 2006, we created an ad-hoc committee to work on creating a Zone-Wide Workshop. In June 2006 we set up an online discussion group for the NEZF members to use to communicate with each other and as a group in between Zonal Forums. It is not for conducting business per se, but merely to stimulate increased communication. At the June 2006 NEZF, we also appointed an Ad-hoc committee to investigate creating, maintaining and funding a NEZF web site.
2009 has been a exciting and pivotal year for the NEZF. As part of our ongoing effort to assess our strengths and weaknesses, we decided we needed a Zonal Forum inventory. At the January 2009 NEZF, we used part of our Saturday session to conduct a Zonal Planning Tool Workshop (ZPT). This was an adaptation of the Area Planning Tool. We completed steps one through six and appointed an Ad-hoc committee to complete the seventh and last step, the implementation of the results of the ZPT. The June 2009 NEZF in the Eastern New York Region will host our first ever Zone Wide Workshop. The NEZF web site has gone live as of June 26, 2009. The address is http://www.nezf.org/. The new website includes a message board forum and in due time, the old discussion board will be closed and all the material has been moved to the new site.
On January 29-31, 2010, the NEZF will be hosted by the Greater New York Region and will take place at the LaGuardia Airport Marriot Hotel.