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 The Pacific Group

As I write several entries covering some of the good meetings and clubs of Alcoholics Anonymous in Los Angeles and Orange County, I couldn’t help but want to start off by featuring The Pacific Group.

The Pacific Group is a tightly knit group of recovering adults who are typically professionals and take recovery very seriously. The “Group” is filled with those who genuinely are practicing a program of recovery that is founded upon helping others. Members of the Pacific Group are typically incredibly active in AA, and will be a great resource for help getting started.  They typically go to meetings several times a week and participate in AA related “social” functions like celebrating members’ sobriety milestones by going to a “watch” the night before.  A “watch” typically consists of members who are having an annual sobriety milestone gathering the night before some members’ sobriety “birthday” milestone and spending time together until 12:00 AM (often at a restaurant like Norm’s!)  This is one of many social activities arranged by Pacific Group members outside of actual AA meetings.

Connection to  Clancy Imislund

Clancy is an AA “celebrity” for dedicating so much of his life to the community of AA and helping men and women recover. Clancy was very active in the Pacific Group in the past but I think attends sporadically at best due to age and health (as of my last knowledge in the mid 00’s). Members of the Pacific Group have a weekend ritual of spending the day playing softball nearby and then actually going to Clancy’s house (on the West Side of Los Angeles) for food and fellowship.

Clancy and his wife have been helping people for decades, inspired by the program of AA.  I think of him as an influential figure in the AA community.  Clancy’s method of working with newcomers is a “hardline AA” approach with strict requirements and lofty demands upon the newcomer’s who seek his help. I remember hearing that Clancy’s family of sponsees were required to dress formally for meetings and also were strongly pressured to participate regularly.  I also remember that Clancy would work with “low bottom drunks” from places like the Midnight Mission, which is admirable. It’s possible his regimented demands upon his sponsees were borne out of experience trying to get very desperate people back on their feet and living an upstanding, legal and rewarding life.

I’ve gotten some surprising vitriol in response to this post which I completely didn’t expect, and apparently Clancy is a controversial figure outside (and inside) AA. But from my personal experience, I was able to participate in the below meetings and there were never any expectations foisted upon me.  I was exposed to some pretty inspiring people and heard a lot of people living the solution of recovery.  I also know that if you are involved in the Pacific Group, there is a recovery related gathering happening within your support system literally every day and night of the week.  Anyone who understands the first 90 days of cold turkey sobriety will understand the obvious benefits of this. No AA group is for everyone, but there’s a lot of thriving people in this community.

The Pacific Group Meeting in Brentwood on Wednesdays at University Synagogue

(11960 Sunset Blvd, Los Angeles)

Arrival time for the Pacific Group Wednesday night meeting is 6:30 pm. Parking is available across Sunset Blvd at the Catholic Church ($2 per car).

This AA meeting is what I consider the true “home group” for the Pacific Group.  I always enjoyed this meeting greatly because filled with so much long term sobriety and the birthday milestone celebration was almost glamorous with many people dressing up for the occasion. However, this isn’t the easiest meeting to get to or park near.  I think the size of the congregation and formality of the affair somewhat make it less accessible to the newcomer. Also, this is a “speaker” meeting, not a “discussion” meeting, so the therapeutic opportunity to “share” in the group setting is not available. Many of the same people can be found at other meetings throughout the week and I would almost recommend starting at a meeting like one of the below before attending this Brentwood meeting. “Pretty good” for the newcomer.

Bellflower Big Book Speaker Meeting (Pacific Group) in Bellflower on Mondays

(9603 Belmont St, Bellflower)

This is great meeting for anyone at any stage of recovery. I also consider this a Pacific Group meeting although it’s not labeled as such in any directory. According to the current online meeting directory, there is a beginner Q&A and discussion that begins at 6:15, but the speaker meeting that I am familiar with begins at 7:30 and there is a great group of people who attend are dedicated to recovery.  I feel this group of people are passionate about AA and the setting is less formal than the other Pacific Group meetings that I will discuss in this post.  It is an excellent place to get inspired by a ton of thriving people in recovery. Great for the newcomer.

Sunday Night Speaker Meeting  (Pacific Group) in Newport Beach on Sundays at Newport Beach AA Club

(414 32nd Street, Newport Beach)

I consider this meeting a Pacific Group meeting, although it’s not referred to as such in the meeting directory.  Many of the people attend the other meetings listed here.  I recommend this meeting to the newcomer, it is a speaker meeting, allowing someone who is shy to quietly observe without pressure to share.  There is great socializing before and after (and during the break).  Some people might criticize this meeting for being a distraction from recovery due to the social nature and mixed company.  Others might be put off by the “Newport Beach” factor: it’s a little bit more glamorous and could be tacky, superficial, or even exclusionary to many in need of recovery.  If you are a “tough guy” tattooed biker, probably wouldn’t enjoy the crowd at this meeting.  (You would probably like most definitely enjoy the Bellflower Big Book meeting above or either “Soup Kitchen” meetings in Newport Beach on Tuesday). Pretty good for the newcomer. 

MORE INFO ON SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA AA