Area Inventory Progress Report

(Last Updated: March 9, 2016)

South Eastern New York Area of Alcoholics Anonymous conducted an inventory at the Area Assembly on November 7, 2015 that was facilitated by Immediate Past Northeast Regional Trustee, J. Gary L.  This section of our website has been created to keep members informed of progress on action items developed from the inventory.  It will outline:

- Questions from the inventory
- General responses formulated by the Area officers
- Comments provided by Area members in attendance, and
- Progress of action items from the inventory

A full transcript of the inventory minutes is available for members who want to review it via the minutes of the November 7, 2015 assembly. Not all comments warranted action.  We want to thank every single member of Area 49 who participated in this inventory and it is our hope that every action planned inside this report will help to:

- Better serve A.A. groups in South Eastern New York
- Help SENY to provide ongoing support and resources for those doing general service in Area 49
- Clarify direction SENY is going and display an ongoing effort for transparency within Area 49

..................................................................................................................

Question No. 1:  What is the purpose of the Area? Are we doing our best to fulfill it?

GENERAL RESPONSE (from SENY):

The primary purpose of SENY is to meet the needs of groups in South Eastern New York. SENY is aware that while we are a constituent part of the General Service structure in the United States & Canada, we are also about doing service work in the Area while providing tools and resources for other trusted servants at the County & District level to provide service.  Our goal will be to logistically remove barriers to service where at all possible making it easier and more meaningful to participate.

At the Area level, we are aware of declining attendance and are working on addressing it.  At the County level, we are encouraging trusted servants to better promote Area Assemblies at their meetings to their GSRs and DCMs as well. Over the coming months, we will be developing some tools to assist DCMCs to help with that which is addressed further down in this inventory report.

Comments From Members: “This assembly should be full of GSR’s.  We should be promoting assemblies better so we have a wider cross section of GSR.”

Action 1.1:

  • SENY will develop and distribute to County DCMCs a one-sheet type information piece that can be distributed to the GSRs to help the County promote the importance of attendance at Area assemblies and what the GSRs’ role is in an Area assembly.  Another way SENY is going to do a better job of connecting the various levels of the general service structure is to improve our annual efforts to themes and topics within that year’s General Service Conference, which we hope will drive trusted servant’s interest in how these themes may affect their group.
     
  • Lead: Chair / Delegate
  • Action Taken: In Progress

Action 1.2:

  • SENY will recommend to the Service Sponsorship Chair that the orientations for new DCMs & GSRs be split up so as to provide clarity on a specific position.  Additionally, SENY will be creating a suggested framework as a resource for the Service Sponsorship Chair to build upon with their personal experience and presentation style.
     
  • Lead: Chair
  • Action Taken: In Progress

Comments from Members: “How do we get GSRs from our county to our area meeting?”

Action 1.3:

  • We are re-imagining our morning workshop structure at Assemblies where we are taking it from five (5) workshops each assembly to three (3).  A “Featured Workshop” on a timely topic along with a “Newcomers to Service” workshop (chaired by a GSR) and a New GSR Orientation will streamline content and provide more unity through higher attendance at fewer workshops.

    The new workshop tracks will be:
    - “Featured Workshop” on a specific topic important to those doing service.  We will encourage all presenters for this workshop to be well versed on the topic.
    - “Newcomers to Service” to help answer many of the questions trusted servants new to their position may have.
    - Separate “GSR & DCM Orientations”
     
  • Lead: Chair
  • Action Taken: (Part 1) We started the new workshop format at the February 6, 2016 Assembly in the Bronx.  Both of the new workshops were moderated by GSRs from the host county and we will continue to ask GSRs to moderate morning workshops from host counties.  (Part 2) Our Area Chair will be working with our Service Sponsorship Chair to reformat orientations at Assemblies.

•    In an effort to provide more value to our members, we are creating informal interaction opportunities in the form of roundtables during the lunch break at each assembly where members can come together on a specific topic and discuss it over lunch.  The SENY Officers will be determining the topics for these roundtables, and welcome any suggestions.  [Lead: Chair/Alternate Delegate]

•    SENY leadership will do a better job in encouraging Counties hosting Area assemblies to choose locations closer to public transportation.  We will encourage venues for assemblies that are accessible to public transportation (and it will be strongly suggested that they be no further than a 5 minute walk from a subway/train station whenever possible).  SENY will update its Assembly Planning Toolkit document distributed to County DCMCs to include this updated information.  [Lead: Chair]

Question No. 2:  Community Representation (Who comes here?)

GENERAL RESPONSE (from SENY):

SENY is committed to doing its very best to meet and exceed the needs of all its members when and where it can.  We will constantly be open to ways in which we can modify existing processes to provide fair representation and ease of access to all our events.  We look forward to partnering with each and every entity we serve to maintain the highest standard of representation and access.

Comments from Members: “Time management at these events.  Why do we have workshops in the morning and conduct business in the afternoon?  Maybe conduct business in the morning when people are awake.  While I appreciate the work that is done here, maybe business that needs to be conducted in the morning.  We now have a lot of people attending the county meetings, but not as many come to assembly.”

Action(s):

•    We are rethinking what is being done at Area assemblies, what & how information is being reported at assemblies, as well as what are the most important reports to provide.  We will start including reporting opportunities from Area committee chairs as well as DCMCs at all assemblies.  [Lead: Chair]

•    The SENY Chair will suggest to committee chairs on what’s important to report to the body (what’s new, what actionable, etc.), consider preparing your reports prior to the event to help keep them on track as well as provide clarity. [Lead: Chair]

•    Beginning in 2016, we will be adding a service position to SENY titled “Spiritual Timekeeper” for each assembly to help address time management concerns.  This will be a new non-voting appointed position by the Area Chair and this position will work with the Chair to help keep our meeting on track.  Our Area Chair has committed to doing a better job to both communicating time needed for topics of discussion at each meeting as well as doing a better job of managing time in the event itself.  [Lead: Chair]

 

Comments from Members:  “Years ago we stated that these assemblies should be handicapped accessible.  Now we use schools that aren’t really accessible.  We need to get back to having the assemblies in places that are handicapped accessible again.”

Action(s):

•    SENY agrees with this completely and will review the Assembly Planning Toolkit to ensure it contains wording that reinforce this need.  [Lead: Chair]

Comments from Members: “Scheduling conflict can be challenging.  On the same day as this assembly, is the Hispanic Convention.  Next Saturday there are quite a few activities planned.  Can we work harder at spreading those events out?”

Action(s):

•    SENY feels scheduling is always a concern and we feel like we do a good job on scheduling our events to the best of our ability.  There will always be conflicts due the wide variety of membership and their participation in other things. The Area Chair will recommend to the Agenda Chair SENY does not list non-SENY events on its website if they fall on the same date as a SENY event. [Lead: Chair]

Comments from Members:  “I wish there was more access for people from the Spanish Speaking groups.  Maybe it is because the district is not attending the Hispanic Groups.  The community is not being informed.  Involvement of more ethnic groups, other nationalities.  There needs to be more unity and information so that more participation.”

Action(s):

•    Our Area registrar is working with Hispanic members of the Area to do a better job of translating minutes from our meetings for distribution.  We will be working to develop a strategy to do a better job of translating our email communications for our Spanish-speaking membership.  Our Registrar is also changing our database schema to incorporate language preference to better accommodate linguistics needs. [Lead: Registrar]


Question No. 3: New Members (What do we do to help them?)

GENERAL RESPONSE:

SENY is aware of the need to welcome and educate members new to general service. There are orientations for new GSRs at each area assembly and orientations for new DCMs at each area committee meeting. New trusted servants are given info packets that include the SENY handbook and related service material. 

To strengthen that process and help eliminate inconsistencies in presentations, SENY will develop an outline of what should be covered to systematize the orientations and help those new better see the role they play in the larger service structure. SENY will increase and improve service sponsorship announcements. SENY will update the area handbook and improve access to online resources. The new area registrar is implanting an easier registration process for new members.

Comments from Members: “We encourage young people in our group.  And we need to let the young people come in and do service and let the older people move aside.”

Action(s):

•    Our Alternate Delegate is SENY’s liaison to the YPAA community, and our Area Chair has attended various YPAA committee meetings and recently facilitated a group inventory for the upcoming 2016 EACYPAA Convention Host Committee.  We’re open to whatever steps can be taken to engage them in more meaningful ways.  Additionally, SENY is committed to encouraging young people to do service in the General Service structure.  This rotation has three (3) trusted servants who were appointed to Committee Chair positions who came from YPAA service. 

Question No. 4 - Membership (Do they stay, participate, pull their weight?)

GENERAL RESPONSE (from SENY):

There will always be a proportion of people that don’t “pull their weight”, no matter what we do or try. Focusing on this population – relatively small in our view – is an unconstructive distraction. In the spirit of serenely accepting the things we can’t change, and courageously changing the things we can, we believe the Area’s focus should be on fearlessly and thoroughly searching for ways to make service more accessible, meaningful, and impactful. This, in turn, will inspire greater participation, engagement, and “attraction”. To this end, there are several next-actions we can take right away, many of which are spread out throughout the other sections of this inventory. Just as importantly though, we can all benefit from persistently orienting ourselves to evaluate our Area through this lens of opportunity. In doing so, guides to our collective spiritual progress, rather than perfection, will be revealed.

Comments from Members: “Maybe there is a way to have members feel they are more participating in something active.  We are facing a problem with those who want to become GSR’s, but their group can’t afford it and they can’t afford it privately.”

Action(s):

•    Area Officers have been attending and will continue to attend various County/District events to do a better job of connecting the area to county (Share-A-Days, Breakfasts, Workshops, etc.).  One way SENY is considering to better involve GSRs more is to figure out way to engage them in execution of Area events.  Having more GSRs lead Area workshops at assemblies is one thing SENY is looking at.  SENY believes involving the GSR is vital to increased engagement and is open to any suggestions members of SENY may have.  SENY is encouraging Counties to develop transportation options that will assist in getting GSRs to Area events (carpools, buses, travel reimbursements in their budgets, etc.).  [Lead: Chair]

Comments from Members:  “We need other unity experiences to promote unity in the Area, maybe an area breakfast instead of just a convention once for the year.”

Action(s):

•    SENY is researching development of a new event with a working title of ALL COUNTY WORKSHOP that would be similar to something like “Taking SENY on the Road.”  An event of this nature would be an opportunity to cluster all Districts in a County together for a service workshop in various counties that we hope would help in engaging membership in all new ways to promote more unity and more engagement. 
[Lead: Delegate/Alternate Delegate/Chair]


Comments from Members: “10% of the people do 90% of the work.  Sponsorship is what helps us throughout.  Group Elders also help to guide newcomers.  Being told “you are going to do this.”

Action(s):

•    SENY is committed to doing a better job on highlighting the importance of service sponsorship.  The Area is looking at things like adding a visual indicator to name badges at Area Assemblies identifying those who are interested in BEING a service sponsor to help easily identify them to those NEEDING a service sponsor.  SENY is also considering developing an “Assembly Buddy” program, much like Delegates have “Conference Buddies” at the General Service Conference.  
[Lead: Chair/Service Sponsorship Chair]


Question No. 5 - The Assembly (What is our meeting all about?)

GENERAL RESPONSE:

“The purpose of our organization is to serve the needs of the AA groups within its geographical area and to function as a constituent part of the AA General Services Conference of the United States and Canada... and function within the guidelines and spirit of, the AA Twelve Concepts for World Service, the Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions of Alcoholics Anonymous…”(Service Handbook and Articles of Association and By-Laws, Pg. 43: Article II.) 

A.    To inform/update the members of the Assembly (South Eastern New York Area Committee and Assembly of Alcoholics Anonymous –SENY Area 49), GSR’s, DCM’s, MDCM’s, Standing/Ad Hog Committee Chairs/ members and Area Officers on matters/concerns of Area 49, the General Services Office, AAWS/Grapevine, and the General Services Conference.

B.    A forum for/to Facilitate and encourage the sharing/exchange of information and ideas (by GSRs, Groups, Counties and the Hispanic Districts) regarding, matters/concerns, events and activities throughout the Area.

C.    To serve as repository of general information, experience and historic information of the Area available at Assemblies to its members by its members.

Comments from Members:  “Same 4 or 5 people speak at the Assemblies and at the Committee meetings.  Sometimes that is intimidating for the newcomer.  Space needs to be created to allow the newcomer to explore and learn.  Also, are we being unifying or divisive?”

Action(s):

•    Area Officers have been attending and will continue to attend various County/District events to do a better job of connecting the area to county (Share-A-Days, Breakfasts, Workshops, etc.).  One way SENY is considering to better involve GSRs more is to figure out way to engage them in execution of Area events.  Having more GSRs lead Area workshops at assemblies is one thing SENY is looking at.  SENY believes involving the GSR is vital to increased engagement and is open to any suggestions members of SENY may have.  SENY is encouraging Counties to develop transportation options that will assist in getting GSRs to Area events (carpools, buses, travel reimbursements in their budgets, etc.).  [Lead: Chair]

Comments from Members:  “More information before hand would be helpful.  I am getting more out of this than I did out of the hour this morning on the presentation.  CONSIDERING ADDING BACK INTO THE AGENDA A GSR Q&A ON A SPECIFIC TOPIC (GENERAL SERVICE CONFERENCE RELATED, ETC.)”

Action(s):

•    Starting in 2016, SENY is going to add a component to all Area assemblies (time restraints permitting) for a “GSR Q&A Session” allowing GSR’s the opportunity to ask questions that are on their mind about any topic that will help them with their service position. [Lead: Chair]

Comments from Members:  “Muddling over Robert’s rules of Order, there should be a cheat sheet of them so that we can move forward with substantive discussion instead of process discussion.”

Action(s):

•    Area Chair has created a Robert’s Rules “Cheat Sheet” and will begin distributing it at all Area Committee meetings and Assemblies (starting 02/6/16) for membership.  [Lead: Chair]

Comments from Members: “Pay an impartial person that will keep personalities in check.  The service manual needs an overhaul.”

 

 

Action(s):

•    Our Area Chair will work on doing a better job of using Robert’s Rules POINT OF ORDER to help principles prevail over personalities.  Regarding, the Ad Hoc Publications Review will be working in 2016 to revise the SENY Service Handbook and will be presenting it to the Committee for the review/approval no later than November 2016.  [Lead: Chair/Ad Hoc Publications Review Committee Chair]

Question No. 6 - Officers (How is our leadership?)

GENERAL RESPONSE:

SENY is committed to providing the best leadership possible in accordance with Concept IX.  One of the actions it will be taking is to ensure that job descriptions and Area by laws are reflective of the current needs of the Area and its members. 

Action:  Our Area Chair will appoint a task force to include our Delegate, Alternate Delegate, and at least one other trusted servant who have experience in this area to review our leaders’ job descriptions and our bylaws to identify any changes that need to be made to better meet the needs of Area 49.  [Lead: Chair]

Comments from Members:  “I heard some great ideas.  I think the elected officials are stretched thin.  A parliamentarian would be very helpful.  More time limits might help real stuff back in.  Maybe an elected position of liaison for translation.”

Action(s):

•    See General Response – Question 2 and all actions taken under it.

Comments from Members: “I find the leadership helpful well informed and prepared. Every once in a while, time management needs to be worked on.”

Action(s):

•    See General Response – Question 2 and all actions taken under it.

Question No. 7 - Committees and Other Service Functions (What else do we do?)

GENERAL RESPONSE (from SENY):

Committee work is a strong part of the foundation to the work we do at the Area level.  Our goal is to keep our committees strong and we are always willing to look at their structure (as well as their goals and objectives) to ensure we are meeting our primary purpose of “serving groups in our geographical region.”

Comments from Members:  “Very often is that we become a committee of one.  Get GSR’s excited by having a project for them to jump on board with this.  If we spend more time focusing on the committees and what they do, GSR’s might be more enthused about the projects.”

Action(s):

•    We are rethinking what is being done at Area assemblies what & how information is being reported at assemblies, as well as who are the most important people to provide reports.  We will start including reporting opportunities from Standing Committee Chairs and DCMCs at all assemblies.  [Lead: Chair]

 

Question No. 8 - Communication (If this isn’t working…)

GENERAL RESPONSE:

SENY is aware that there are areas it can do a better job in its communications.

ACTION:  As a result of splintered efforts on this topic, the Area Chair is appointing a task force to develop an Area Communications Strategy that will cover all forms of communication SENY will use (e.g. print, email, website, etc).  This task force will include the Area Registrar, Website Chair, LINK Committee members, Ad Hoc Publications Review Committee and the Area Chair.  [Lead: Chair]


Question No. 9 - Carrying the Message (What more can we do?)

GENERAL RESPONSE:

SENY’s role is less frontlines than that of the multiple local intergroup offices spread throughout the area. There are ample opportunities for the area’s standing committees to work closely with all the local Intergroups to amplify and strengthen the work around corrections, public information, cooperation with the professional community, and treatment facilities to ensure that no Twelfth Step call goes unanswered.

SENY has begun a review of its efforts and responsibilities in these different service areas to minimize duplication of efforts and maximize service efforts with respect to the Intergroups throughout Area 49.


Comments from Members: “What can SENY do to help groups that need insurance and may have to close because of that?”

Action(s):

While SENY is not currently in a position to be able to do anything to help groups, districts or counties who are in need of insurance, this request has revealed a need for some FAQ information, which we’ll ask the Web Chair to consider incorporating into the website how they see fit.  [Lead:  Chair, Website Chair]