chair-report – Feb 2023 – Online Intergroup of Alcoholics Anonymous

Chair Report for Feb 2023

March 18, 2023 will be OIAA’s third real-time assembly. You can find the information on the March 18, 2023 Assembly at:

Assembly Page

Assembly Agenda

 

OIAA Chair Report

You are not alone if you often feel that you don’t know exactly what is going on in OIAA or the online A.A. world. The most difficult part of navigating the explosive growth within OIAA is that there has never been another A.A. entity of its kind. Just like when A.A. first began, OIAA is in an exciting flying blind period. We have no model to conform to in this new and exciting frontier in A.A.’s history. Individually, we may believe we know where OIAA is or should be going. We can trust the next correct steps will be revealed as we begin to work together in the IGR Quarterly Forums, Safety Forums, and the OIAA Assembly to develop an informed group conscience.

It is reasonable to expect that OIAA will experience the same error-filled process from  which A.A.’s Traditions were created. They were hammered out on the anvil of experience. The heavy lifting through which the Traditions and Concepts were developed will provide a reliable pathway if we are painstaking about our development. Because OIAA’s Assembly is its primary place for developing its collective conscience, I will review OIAA’s progress and imperfections in moving OIAA from email to real-time meetings.

First Assembly  – Passing OIAA’s New Bylaws

Progress: OIAA’s revised Bylaws were approved by the assembly in September 2022. This paved the way for OIAA to apply for and successfully be restored to its nonprofit status.¹ The Bylaws listed a set of OIAA Officers to be elected as its Board of Trustees. OIAA’s Chair gained approval from OIAA’s Board to form a Guidelines Ad Hoc Committee for the purpose of revising OIAA’s Guidelines per the requirements in the new Bylaws.

The primary concern of the Guidelines Ad Hoc Committee’s work is to move OIAA’s Assembly from its current email format to that of real-time. The purpose of the real-time format is to allow all members their Right of Participation in collectively hearing and responding to each other. This legal requirement brings OIAA in alignment with the spiritual principles in A.A.’s Traditions and Concepts toward the development and expression of an informed group conscience.

Imperfection: As Bill W. states on page C1 of the Introduction of Twelve Concepts for World Service:

Unforeseen flaws in the present structure will doubtless show up later on. New service needs and problems will arise that may make structural changes necessary. Such alterations should certainly be effected, and these contingencies squarely met. https://www.aa.org/sites/default/files/literature/en_bm-31_3.pdf

It is important for OIAA to develop a process for creating the understanding if and when something is wrong and collectively deciding on a means for its correction. OIAA will evolve in the development of its informed group conscience with the benefit of practice and experience. After all, our program of recovery suggests that each of us as individuals will need to continuously work to find and correct what is wrong.

Second Assembly: Holding an Election and Budget Assembly

Progress: The Assembly held an election for each Officer position listed in the Board of Officers (Trustees) in the Bylaws.  Four out of six Officer positions were filled with only one candidate standing for each position. No candidates stood for the Vice Chair position at the Election Assembly; so, OIAA’s Chair recruited a candidate who was confirmed by the Board at its December meeting. As of the date of this report, there are no candidates for the Finance Chairperson position. OIAA’s Treasurer appointed an Alternate Treasurer in February 2023. She will also act as Interim Finance Committee Chairperson until a Finance Chairperson can be found. An Alternate Finance Chairperson is also needed.

Imperfection: The well documented Third Legacy Procedure (posted below) guided the election of the Officers. The following two key imperfections presented themselves.

    1. OIAA’s eligibility standard was not read for each position. The eligibility standards were written in the assembly documents, but they were overlooked at the time they needed to be presented. This experience has now been noted in the Election Assembly script to avoid repeating the error.
    2. The Chair was not provided with a standard set of instructions needed to conduct the unanticipated decision making that occurred after the election of the last position on the agenda. A temporary solution to provide OIAA’s Chair with a standardized means of decision making has been developed by the Guidelines Ad Hoc Committee.

As with all the other elected positions, there was only one candidate who came forward for the Finance Chairperson position. Confusion ensued when OIAA’s Chair honestly presented that she had received a message in the Chat that questioned if the Finance Chairperson candidate met OIAA’s eligibility standards. The eligibility question had been placed in the Chat, but was not noticed until after the assembly had elected the candidate. During the confusing process and discussion that followed the announcement, the person who was elected Finance Chairperson announced her withdrawal. It was made clear OIAA’s Chair need a document that outlines the decision-making process and that same document is made available to all assembly participants.

Progressing Toward a Format for Conducting Assembly Business: At the time of the Election Assembly, there were three members of the Guidelines Ad Hoc Committee already in the process of converting OIAA’s current guidelines on conducting email meetings into a list of the specific instructions for conducting real-time business meetings.

It is important to note the Guidelines Ad Hoc Committee has not yet confirmed the list as their recommendation for OIAA’s revised guidelines. The committee is doing extensive research on a variety of decision making options. Until the committee presents its formal recommendation to the Board, OIAA’sChair will use the real-time version of OIAA’s current guidelines. A copy of the decision-making procedures are in a table at the end of this report.

The Guidelines Ad Hoc Committee, which has been meeting weekly since September 2022, made a step-by-step review of the confusion that followed the election of the Finance Chairperson at the assembly. The purpose of the review was to ensure there is a written understanding of the decision-making process to avoid similar errors in the future. 

Here’s a summary of the Guidelines Ad Hoc Committee’s discussion:

Point of Order: The question on the eligibility for the Finance Chairperson candidate the OIAA Chair found in the Chat was actually a Point of Order. A Point of Order is a question on whether or not an appropriate procedure is being followed. Points of Order need to be recognized immediately and prior to the assembly’s decision. To interrupt the election, the Point of Order would have needed to be recognized prior to the assembly’s vote. Once the assembly had voted, the election was made. In the case of the Election Assembly, the Chair was understandably not on the lookout for Points of Order in the Chat and no one had been assigned the task.

For the future, the committee proposed that a Point of Order Person be a regular part of conducting the assembly. A Point of Order Person can be identified to the members at the start of each assembly for the purpose of sending him/her a message in the Chat when and if there is a procedural question. The Point of Order Person can then immediately interrupt the proceedings to ask the Chair to recognize and address the issue. There may be times the Chair will ask the person who made the Point of Order to state his/her specific concern.

Another note that was made for future Election Assembly scripts is that the eligibility requirement must be formally stated for the election of each position. While the eligibility requirement was listed in the written description of each position, it was not consistently presented.

There was a series of ideas and actual motions that were presented after the election of the Finance Chairperson. One motion was that the assembly vote to set aside the eligibility requirement. That motion did receive a Second, and a discussion ensued. The motion to set aside the guideline actually was deserving of a Point of Order as the election had already been made. During the unnecessary discussion of the motion to set aside the eligibility standard, a statement alluding to the idea to Table the motion on the floor was misunderstood by the members of the assembly and received a Second. Due to the highly confusing discussion that followed, the candidate withdrew her availability because of the perceived controversy. So, all this brings us up to date for OIAA’s third assembly on March 18, 2023.

Third Assembly: Progress Report on Forming OIAA’s Operations: The Guidelines Ad Hoc Committee has supplied OIAA’s Chair a working copy of the instructions that were converted from OIAA’s email meeting format into instructions to real-time meetings. The March 18, 2023 Assembly has been designed to give us an update on OIAA’s collective operational development.

The agenda highlights progress reports from OIAA’s Treasurer and Technology Chairperson. Each presentation will be followed with a Q&A session. You will be asked to confine the questions to the material presented by either the Treasurer and the Technology Chairperson. Of course, you are welcome to insert any questions into the Chat.

OIAA’s Board is working hard to develop foundational operations that serves the groups. IGRs, this assembly will provide you with updated information on innovative tools that are enhancing OIAA’s services to its groups.

Assembly Agenda

https://aa-intergroup.org/documents/assembly-agenda-march-2023/

I gave OIAA’s history to explain why OIAA is just now moving to where it can begin an audit of all meetings in its directory. It will become a regular part of the process to know if each listed meeting is still active. As an international intergroup, OIAA doesn’t need to know the specific geographic information about the meetings. Meetings are autonomous in declaring or not declaring a geographic location. What OIAA does need to know in order to best serve the needs of its groups are: the languages other than English in which the meeting is conducted; and if the time zone location of their group’s representative presents any hardship to attend assemblies and other OIAA membership meetings. 

The participation in the online directory of meetings is similar to what is being experienced in the directories for in-person meetings. Whether online or in-person, many groups are exercising their autonomy to not be listed in any directory. Also, many Central Offices and Intergroups are removing online groups from their directories that are not declared to be within their local, geographic reach.

Through the thick and thin of the pandemic and as we move forward into the future, OIAA has prevailed as an online intergroup in providing a directory service to its groups, and its wide array of standing committees that have continuously maintained their duties in carrying the AA message. Please see more information in the list of Volunteers needed and the Committee Reports sections below.

For those who are new to OIAA………

……OIAA has existed as an international intergroup since 1995. Prior to the pandemic, OIAA had 110 meetings in its directory. By 2022, they had over 6,000 meetings per week listed in the directory. Also prior to the pandemic, OIAA suffered financial losses when two successive Treasurers left with all the funds and its nonprofit status had lapsed for several years. The lack of funds and the loss of their nonprofit status was not a problem until the huge increase in the number of meetings began sending contributions. 

With the help of an attorney to guide them through the process, OIAA reorganized and the IRS and the State of New Jersey restored its nonprofit status in late 2022. In its December assembly, OIAA Intergroup Representatives approved a fully-funded annual budget, a reserve fund, and identified funds that may be contributed to other AA entities. Funds in the 2022 and 2023 budgets included funding to move OIAA’s antiquated group services to a Google for Nonprofits website. OIAA’s Tech Committee has been able to gather numerous volunteers who have been hard at work in the heavy lifting to provide OIAA with the tools to increase and enhance communication.

 

Committee Reports

We owe a debt of gratitude and a mention of setting a great example of A.A. leadership to all who have tirelessly devoted themselves to OIAA’s 12th Step work.

The following committees have been able to submit reports. Please keep in mind the current system conversion has interrupted the ability for several committees to make a report. OIAA’s new website tools will soon provide each committee its own page on which they can post the information they want to communicate.

Convention Committee

OIAA’s Convention Committee has restarted and is inviting volunteers to participate in the planning for the 2025 International AA Convention, which will be held in Vancouver, B.C. Canada. Here’s the link to the informational video on aa.org:

https://www.aa.org/international-convention

Historically, this committee gone dormant in the years immediately after an International AA Convention and restarted in time to prepare for the next. It is anticipated that there will be additional worldwide events that will keep this committee continuously active. One example is the partnership of the Convention Committee to OIAA’s Unity Committee to hold a Worldwide GSO A.A. Birthday Celebration.

 

Unity Committee

The Unity Committee promotes unity between the Intergroup and other AA entities such as the General Service Office (GSO), areas, districts, and intergroups. The Unity Committee Chair, who also serves as GSO Liaison, will coordinate the work of additional GSO liaison as needed to ensure a reliable communication network.

The Unity Committee is partnering with OIAA’s Convention Committee to to hold a Worldwide GSO A.A. Birthday Celebration. Volunteers are needed to serve on the Unity Committee as GSO liaisons and as creators of communication pieces suitable for use by those liaisons. We welcome new committee members who can help with the outreach project of the Unity Committee. Join us at our weekly meetings (4pm/16.00 EST on Thursdays) to learn more! To learn more, contact: unity.chair@aa-intergroup.org

The Unity Committee is preparing to send invitations to all the GSOs around the world. To mark this event, there is a plan to build a commemorative booklet. Volunteers with specialized skills are needed for this project.

Convention & Unity Committee Partnership Project: Commemorative Booklet

This project needs people who are skilled in digital publishing to build a commemorative booklet for Worldwide GSO A.A. Birthday Celebration event. The goal is to display a summary informational page on each participating GSO from around the world.

 

Convention & Unity Committee Partnership Project: Commemorative Booklet

This project needs people who are skilled in digital publishing to build a commemorative booklet for Worldwide GSO A.A. Birthday Celebration event. The goal is to display a summary informational page on each participating GSO from around the world.

 

Cooperation with the Professional Community Committee (CPC)

CPC is working on several short videos for different uses: the general public, OIAA’s Intergroup Representatives, and OIAA’s meetings.

A great example is the video on “Open vs Closed AA Meetings” that succinctly conveys the difference in the two meeting classifications. This is the first video in a series of many topics that will help newcomers

avoid missteps in their first few meetings.

This committee is also helping to educate Intergroup Representatives with short videos. Scripts have been drafted and are in review for “What is OIAA” and “What is the Role of an IGR.” Images for “What is OIAA” are being designed with AI.

Research is underway for drafting scripts on Safety and other topics that are common to both Public Information and Cooperation with the Professional Community Committees.

The committee is also developing a database of European groups.

If you have skills that can contribute to the development of these videos or would like to learn how to create them, please contact the CPC Committee Chair, Paula at cpc.chair@aa-intergroup.org.

 

Steppers Committee

We have no data to report this month as we haven’t figured out how to find or count our communications —  yet! Steppers will not have their usual detailed report until OIAA’s website migration is complete.

In spite of the confusion related to Google’s spam settings, Steppers followed the Technology Committee’s instructions to change their protocols every day or two. The great news is that for the last week or two, Steppers’ communications haven’t had any bounces or non-deliveries related to spam settings. 

Our committee members are amazing and they worked hard to ensure each call for help was answered. Through it all, we remain committed to our committee’s mission.

The Cooperation with the Professional Community Committee is also helping create orientation videos to educate those who are new on the Steppers Committee answer the inquiries from the alcoholic who still suffers. The Steppers Committee receives and answers inquiries from all around the world.

If you would like to experience making 12th Step calls, please contact steppers.chair@aa-intergroup.org.

 

Policy & Admissions Committee (PAC)

PAC has opportunities for service; to assist online groups to list their meetings on the OIAA meeting directory.  No special skills are required.

For more information about serving on PAC, please contact: pac.chair@aa-intergroup.org.

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