If you’d be willing

Dear Hope Nation,

Most of you know me as either a pompous clown or a mystical nitwit, either of which applies. Oddly, I also have other roles, different parts to play in this glorious medley of extemporanea we call life. Without any effort on my part, life occasionally places me as chair of this or that task force or commission. Don’t worry, dear reader, other than wearing a tie and referring to people by their titles, playing these roles doesn’t transform me into a professional stuffed shirt. I suspect there is a serious and staid “Keith Howard” somewhere in the universe, checking his email regularly for invitations to lead august groups. Apparently, as an early adopter of Gmail, and able to snag keithhoward@, I get all of that disappointed and oh-so-proper Keith Howard’s offers.

Most recently I’ve been elected to chair the New Hampshire Recovery Monument Commission, whose task is to design, fund and place a monument to honor those in recovery from alcohol and/or drug misuse and those who did not find their way into recovery, but died as a result of that misuse. This monument, then, needs to celebrate those who are in recovery while also memorializing those who have died, a challenging task to say the least.

While many of us on the commission are in recovery ourselves, we know we can’t possibly represent all folks who are in recovery. That’s where we need you—your story, your insights, your recommendations and your ideas. As someone in recovery and, unfortunately, probably someone who has lost friends or family to addiction, you are best able to tell us what you want.

If you’d be willing and interested, I’m inviting/imploring/begging you to contact me and sign up to speak before the commission. It’s all by Zoom, and you don’t need to fully identify yourself. Our next meeting isn’t until January, but please let me know if you’re interested. To help you make your decision, below I’ve included a letter that went out to the folks who just spoke this week.  Thanks in advance for your consideration.

You matter. I matter. We matter.


To help you prepare for talking with us, below are some questions we’d like you to consider. It’s perfectly okay if you don’t have an answer for each one. In short, we’d like to make this a conversation between you and the commission members, rather than an inquiry or inquisition.

  1. Please tell us your name, where you are testifying from and whether there is anyone else with you. (That last part is standard for state meetings in the time of Zoom, and does not have an impact on your testimony.)
  • Tell us your story of misuse and, more important, your recovery in your own words and from your heart (3-5 minutes).
  • A good structure for this is:
  1. What it was like before you got into recovery.
    1. What happened?
    2. What it’s like now.

Because of the anonymous nature of 12-Step fellowships, we don’t expect anyone who’s used such programs to mention Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous or any other group. A good workaround is to refer to “a pathway to recovery” or “a recovery program” rather than naming the fellowship.

  • When you think of honoring recovery and memorializing those lost to addiction, what would you like to see in a monument.
  1. Tone/flavor/guiding image, etc.
    1. Size
    2. Placement (e.g., rural vs. city, quiet vs. busy)
    3. Any particular city, town, region?
  • Is there anything you absolutely do NOT want in a monument (e.g., paid sponsorship by a distillery or a syringe in the shape of a cross)?
  • What suggestions do you have for ensuring the monument represents as many people as possible?

Out of our conversation, more questions and topics will naturally arise, of course, but the above are items to help guide the initial presentation. Again, thank you!

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