Dear Editor,

Now that improvements are being made to the website, maybe it’s time to restore a feature it once had: the ability to access almost the entire archive of The Point. 

Back in the day, you could even search the archive, by date, topic, author,  or other criteria. 

When this capability was removed, the reason given was that access to The Point Archive was not a priority. Maybe in this time of software upgrades we can make it a priority.

A Google search produces scattered results and is a barrier for the unsophisticated internet user. We need a well-organized website with a search function tailored to our site.

Kathleen C

Moving Forward

To the Editor, 

Now that we thankfully have a resolution to the acceptance of the $150,000 bequest far in excess of IFAA’s own guidelines, it’s time to move forward with forgiveness, understanding and love, however not neglecting to learn from our mistakes. It’s time for an honest self-appraisal, an acknowledgment of the defects involved and a sincere attempt to correct the wrongs.

As a result of the bequest issue, we have many new Intergroup Representatives. This is how it works with service committees – we can complain that we don’t have enough representation (perhaps forgetting that we’re only one of several service committees), but ultimately, if an issue arises which is truly vital, the Fellowship rises to the occasion.

It’s tempting for groups and individuals to rest on our laurels. As groups, do we think we’re doing enough if we’re paying our rent and maybe sending out periodic financial distributions? Are we really part of AA if we’re not sending representatives to our service committees? As individuals, do we think we’re doing enough if we’re going to meetings and sponsoring a few people? Are we ignoring the full implications of our Third Legacy because we think service committee meetings are boring or political, when almost all of us have benefitted from the necessary services they provide?

There’s a long period of soul-searching and reconstruction ahead. The groups resoundingly (with 72% of the vote) rejected the excess $140,000 in deviation from our Seventh Tradition guidelines, but why were the funds accepted in the first place? We need to get down to causes and conditions, for after all, bequests are but a symptom.

I look forward to a thorough review of why and how the excess funds were accepted. I look forward to improved transparency. Why wasn’t a question of this magnitude addressed in the monthly meeting announcements? The Buzz? A survey? What on earth is the point of having  Targeted Messages if not to convey issues/questions for the IGR’s to bring back to their groups? Somehow “wash your hands” managed to make it into Targeted Messages, but “ask your groups  if we should accept a $150,000 bequest” didn’t. Why wasn’t the income listed on the monthly financial statement, as are all contributions received by GSO, regardless of how they’re used? Surely, we could have been more transparent.

For the past five months that I’ve attended the Intergroup meetings as a visitor, I’ve noticed a prevailing atmosphere that the board is running the show. This is in direct opposition to our traditions and concepts and the upside down triangle which tell us the board members have delegated administrative responsibility: they implement policies. The group representatives make the policies. The board is supposed to be neutral on decisions in front of the committee, yet, from the amount of space allocated on the website to extolling the benefits of having the funds, to the loaded question “Should Intergroup continue to invest in improvements to the delivery of local services, via technical and operational upgrades through the use of the $140,000 Special Projects Fund?” (sent by the board to the groups on 11/12/2020), it was obvious their agenda was to keep the funds. This top-down management is the antithesis of the spirit of our traditions and exerted an undue influence on the discussion. 

And finally, what’s the deal with this much-touted “consensus model”? AA has had a beautiful method of decision-making that has served us well for decades, discouraging uninformed or hasty decisions. No organization is more respectful of the minority opinion or the right of appeal than AA, but, as Concept IX tells us, “We cannot, however, compromise always. Now and then it is truly necessary to stick flat-footed to one’s conviction about an issue until it is settled.” I know we in the Bay Area like to think of ourselves as a progressive lot, but maybe this falls closer to terminal uniqueness than progress and it may be time to re-think the confusing and ambiguous twinkle fingers approach. While the minutes for the March 2020 meeting state “the groups showed strong support,” many IGR’s have stated during subsequent public discussion that they in no way intended to approve acceptance of the bequest. 

I look forward to the June election of new board members conducted truly in accordance with the Third Legacy Procedure, wherein any members present at the meeting who meet the listed qualifications can make themselves available, state their qualifications and have the IGR’s vote. I look forward to greater humility from the lessons learned. And I look forward to seeing an even stronger Central Office emerge. 

In Fellowship,

Karen C

Editor’s Note: Members who wish to can apply as IFAA board candidates per The Third Legacy Procedure (below) per IFAA Bylaws, p. 5.

the online meeting host position appeared

An Open Letter to Conference Members, Intergroups and Central Offices (Feb. 2021)

The Board of Directors of AA World Services wishes each and every member of our Fellowship and their loved ones the happiest New Year. As we reflect back on the extraordinary events that we all have been experiencing it is with hearts full of gratitude that we say thank you to each and every group and member for all of the spectacular work of carrying the message to the still-suffering alcoholic that has taken place in these difficult times.

For many, this meant pivoting our groups to be online. For some, greeters became temperature screeners, enthusiastically encouraging mask use. In many of our meetings the coffee maker position went away and the online meeting host position appeared. As our many local AA offices met unsure financial outlooks, groups across the U.S. and Canada figured out how to make their Seventh Tradition support digital and supported one another as a whole. Service workers across the Fellowship worked from home, often tired and understaffed. As the pandemic pushed surges in binge drinking to new heights, our groups met the challenge head on and introduced a new generation of alcoholics to our program who have been sober for months now and have never even experienced an in-person meeting. The best is surely yet to come.

In the early months of 2020, many would not have imagined we could carry our message as fully, as far and as freely as we have online in the last nine to ten months. Some would have actively argued it could not be done. As a society, AA has never faced these challenges before. With no historical reference point for us to look to, after 85 years we faced a new pioneering period.

AA members everywhere responded, adapted and met calamity with serenity. We are a resilient lot. We have seen clearly that the message of AA and the lifesaving experience of our membership need not be limited by time, space, or custom. We are held up by 36 spiritual principles in our Steps, Traditions and Concepts that we can absolutely rely on to guide us through any uncertainty or challenge ahead.

We understand more clearly today the importance of prudence and why we keep a reserve. We have new appreciation for group conscience and its ability to be found even over great distances. Our primary purpose served to keep us unified and as a buoy in uncertain times where being of service to others has helped us through the storm. The evidence of these events over the last year make clear that our legacies of Unity, Service, and Recovery remain strong. We as a board are rejuvenated with hope for a new year ahead and all the great opportunity that awaits as the world begins the slow process of recovery from the pandemic.

COVID-19 has brought very hard, and sometimes tragic events to many among us and around us. In taking stock, these circumstances have forced a crack in our rigidity and created light where before there was only a glimmer. If we leave room for that light to grow and adhere steadfastly to our principles, we can confidently face any uncertainty ahead. As we continue meeting this challenge and those ahead, let us together continue to grow in understanding and effectiveness, constantly working toward ensuring that any person needing the message of AA can find it, and that together we preserve that message for the generations of alcoholics still to come.

Yours in service,

Beau B., Chairperson

A.A.W.S. Board

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