I’m from Los Angeles originally but I moved around a lot growing up. I hit the streets at 13 and spent most of my teens and 20’s living nomadically. Now I live in New Orleans and spend my time working for social change, being involved in the recovery community, and doing photo & film projects. Also, I go to a lot of punk shows.

Finding Refuge was a circuitous route. I kicked dope for the last time while in jail in Portland Oregon a little over 13 years ago. When they let me out I found a good 6-month inpatient treatment center in Oklahoma of all places. While there, they let me do a work-study program. After treatment, I moved back home to Los Angeles to restart my life. I threw myself into service work and that felt good for a while, but then I started to get burnt out. It took me some time because I’m stubborn and a slow learner, but eventually I discovered there are better ways to stay clean than working 100 hours a week. So I decided to work on myself. During this time I engaged in a lot of study and self-help type stuff. Eventually, I found myself doing a 12 step program in earnest, not just going to meetings and going through the motions. I found a sponsor who came from a pretty great lineage, with more of a Buddhist lens on the steps than a Judeo-Christian one. But I still struggled with the “prayer & meditation” part. Not being particularly religious myself, and not subscribing to a god or deity type of higher power, I found a lot of the language of the big book quite challenging. Especially the capital “H” “Him” parts. Then one day, about 3 years ago, while I was in L.A. visiting family, a dear friend recommended I check out some of the “meditation meetings” they have at the ATS center. I hoped to learn about incorporating meditation into my recovery. So I went to my first Refuge Recovery meeting. That night they did the equanimity meditation, which really resonated with me. After that, I guess you could say I was “hooked.”

Voices of the Sangha: Beau

I’m still involved in, and fond of, the 12 step program, but Refuge Recovery is my main focus these days. A fellow Sangha member and I brought Refuge Recovery to New Orleans, starting Louisiana’s first meeting in the summer of 2015 and it’s been a tremendously rewarding experience ever since. The 4 truths and 8 fold path has helped to shine so much light in my life and has given me a huge amount of agency over my own addiction/suffering, as it has for countless others.

In regard to which part of the book resonates most deeply, I can really get down with Chapter 2: The Cause Of Addiction Is Repetitive Craving. I see a lot of effort out in the world to pathologize certain aspects of the human experience, and while I can see the usefulness in that at times, I find it limited and often very isolating when it comes to recovery. The “disease model” is not the only way to contextualize and understand all the ways we suffer from addiction. I like that the second noble truth reminds us how we all crave pleasure and seek to avoid pain, that our survival instincts & nervous systems demand it. It’s not a disease, it’s just being human. Reading about this is always very de-stigmatizing for me. I feel like my struggles are universal and relatable, it’s not just drunks & junkies like me who suffer from this.

Voices of the Sangha: Beau

If attending a Refuge Recovery meeting in NOLA you can expect to find a community that is open and accessible to all who seek refuge, in other words, you can expect some southern sangha hospitality. Besides using the sangha to practice and cultivate skillfulness with the 8 fold path in my own life, I want to help the New Orleans Refuge Recovery community continue to grow and be available, accessible, and workable to anyone in the area who wants it. To that aim, I do pretty much anything I can. I work on supporting and encouraging all my fellows in RR to sit regularly, study the book, and get through the inventories. Sometimes I facilitate meetings, sometimes I host inventory groups, and often I work with folks one-on-one. Often, the most helpful thing I can personally do for the Sangha is to take a big step back. I really appreciate that our little community values group decision making and keeping things non-hierarchical, it’s not always easy but sometimes the manner in which we do things is more important than the things we do.

by Hillary Wilde
Greetings from Eugene! I am the social media chair for our Refuge Eugene intersangha, which means I create daily media intended to inform members (and potential members!) of all RR events, meeting updates, and board meetings.
Here are some tools I use to keep members up-to-date and engaged:
Facebook, love it or loathe it, can be a very effective and free way to help the community to stay informed. Pages (versus groups) allow members to see the posts even without a facebook account. You can use the page naming formula, “Refuge Recovery xxx” so that it’s easily located by anyone searching in google or Facebook. Try to put a “pinned post” at the top of the page with a current meeting listing for easy-to-find information. You can use your Page to post graphics (more on that in a minute), or to create events such as a, “Refuge Recovery Bowling Night!”
Instagram is used by many members who don’t use Facebook, and since it’s visual media, a graphic or “flyer” is essential. When you post a graphic to Instagram, You can use the hashtag, #refugerecovery and add the meeting’s geolocation to the post for the ease of mapping directions. Most churches, temples, parks, and meeting houses have a geo-tag that is searchable in Instagram. You might also choose to hashtag the post with your city name, and #recovery. There are a lot of RR groups who use Instagram, follow them by searching for #refugerecovery and enjoy the greater connection!
To create a daily graphic for Refuge Recovery Eugene, I use the app called Canva. Flickr and Google both have options for searching for Creative Commons images that are free for “fair use.” This will keep your creative life drama free! Well, mostly.
After you’ve found a suitable image, you can select it from the canva app- from there you can add text. I like to use Refuge Recovery on each image, and the day, time, and location of each meeting. There’s a lot of room to manipulate the graphics with this app as you get familiar with it.
Another option you may want to explore is a website- Wix is a really easy to use website builder and editor. You can link your social media and maintain a current meeting list for those who don’t use any social media at all. Consider putting a google calendar on the website to inform members of daily meetings, monthly individual group business meetings, and intersangha events and board meetings. They also offer a free newsletter application and mailing list, to keep members connected to current local and national events.
You may want to ask around in your sangha for a service position commitment for these tasks. A three to six month commitment to maintain the social media presence is a big responsibility but it’s also fun! I get to interact with international members I may not have otherwise encountered!
Don’t forget the most important step- make sure to submit your new meetings to the website to be listed on the international map; www.refugerecovery.org/meetings!
Hope to connect, soon!