The Twelve Traditions of Alcoholics Anonymous make clear the principle that A.A., as such, should never be organized, that there are no bosses and no government in A.A. Yet at the same time, the Traditions recognize the need for some kind of organization to carry the message in ways that are impossible for the local groups - such as publication of uniform literature and public information resources, helping new groups get started, publishing an international magazine, and carrying the message in other languages into other countries.
The Conference structure of A.A. is the framework in which these "general services" are carried out. It is a method by which A.A.'s collective group conscience can speak forcefully and put its desires for worldwide services into effect. It is the structure that takes the place of government in A.A., ensuring that the full voice of A.A. will be heard and guaranteeing that movement-wide services will continue to function under all conditions. The story of the development of general services and Conference structure is told in the historical material that appears in the A.A. Service Manual Combined with Twelve Concepts for World Services, written by Bill W. one of the co-founders of A.A. Today, general services include all kinds of activities within the Conference structure, carried on by districts, area committees, delegates, trustees, the General Service Office and the Grapevine (A.A.'s monthly magazine). Usually, these services affect A.A. as a whole.
A.A. has been called an upside-down organization because by looking at an organizational chart the A.A. group or meeting is on top and "headquarters" is on the bottom. A.A. is comprised of groups or meetings. (Based on the Fourth Tradition of A.A. taken from the Long Form, "With respect to its own affairs, each A.A. group should be responsible to no other authority than its own conscience. But when its plans concern the welfare of neighboring groups also, those groups ought to be consulted. And no group, regional committee, or individual should ever take any action that might greatly affect A.A. as a whole without conferring with the trustees of the General Service Board. On such issues our common welfare is paramount.")
Each A.A. group or meeting may elect a general service representative (GSR) to represent the group at district and area business meetings. Groups or meetings form districts, usually on a geographic basis, and districts form areas, also usually on a geographic basis. Area 75 represents the A.A. groups meeting in the southern region of Wisconsin. Each area in the U.S. and Canada elects a delegate to attend an annual Conference where matters of importance are determined by the voting delegates. Other Conference attendees include trustees, directors of A.A. World Services and the Grapevine magazine, staff members of the General Service Office and staff of the Grapevine magazine.
(Reprinted from: the A.A. Service Manual Combined with Twelve Concepts for World Services, written by Bill W., copyright 1962, pages s15-s17, with permission of A.A. World Services, Inc.)
Area 75, Southern Wisconsin, is comprised of thirty-one (31) geographic districts and one district, District 10, which represents Spanish speaking A.A. groups in the Area. (Numerically, district numbers range from 1 to 37 due to the combining of districts over time.)
In order to conduct business, Area 75 elects officers from the membership in even numbered years. These positions include a chairperson, alternate chairperson, a delegate, an alternate delegate, a secretary, an alternate secretary, a treasurer and an alternate treasurer. The term of office is two years. In addition, the chairperson appoints service committee, also referred to as standing committee, chairpersons who also serve on a two-year basis.
The Area 75 Service Committees include: Archives, Cooperation with the Professional Community, Corrections, Grapevine, Literature, Public Information, Special Needs, and Treatment.
The Area holds several business meetings a year. To carry out the objectives of service, there will be a Winter Service Assembly, a Pre-conference Assembly, a Spring Conference Assembly, a Summer Service Assembly and a Fall Service Assembly. The business meetings are conducted using Robert's Rules of Order with some modifications.
The Area 75 Service Committees are modeled after the service committee structure of A.A. Many of the local districts also have service committees and the Area 75 chairpersons work with the district committees to help assure that communities have A.A. services available where needed. The following is a brief description of each of the committees.
Archives The archives committee maintains a repository of items concerning the history of A.A. in Area 75 including assembly minutes, service committee minutes, district meeting minutes, and any material of historical interest such as group histories, records, programs, flyers, newspaper articles and written and taped narratives.
Cooperation with the Professional Community (CPC) The purpose of this committee is to bring the A.A. message to professional groups and individuals who have contact with alcoholics furthering mutual understanding and cooperation between A.A. and these professionals. CPC also increases the awareness of members and outside groups and organizations on ways of cooperating with others without affiliating.
Corrections This committee encourages A.A. members to assume responsibility for carrying the message to alcoholics behind the walls. The corrections committee reviews all aspects of service to A.A. groups in correction facilities, and makes recommendations for changes and/or improvments. It is also concerned with clarifing what A.A. can and cannot do, with in the traditions, to help inmate alcoholics both inside and upon release.
Grapevine This committee is chaired by the immediate past delegate for Area 75 and is responsible for encouraging and supporting activities related to the distribution of the Grapevine Magazine. The Grapevine Magazine is published by AA Grapevine Inc. and is also available on a bi-monthly basis in Spanish. www.aagrapevine.org
Literature In Area 75 the Alternate Delegate serves as the Literature chairperson. This committee is responsible for maintaining a display of all A.A. Conference approved literature and audio-visual materials and making them available for members and groups.
Public Information This committee is responsible for creating greater understanding of - and prevailing misunderstandings of the A.A. program, through public and electric media, public information meetings, and speaking to community groups.
Special Needs This committee focuses on the needs of A.A. members who may need special help in order to participate in A.A. meetings, such as, transportation to meetings because of a physical or mental disability, interpreters, or special audio/visual help.
Treatment This committee coordinates the work of individual A.A. members and groups who carry the message to alcoholics in treatment facilites, This committee also sets up means of bridging the gap from treatment to A.A., and works to clarify what A.A. can and cannot do, within the A.A. traditions, to help alcoholics in treatment.
Additional Resources Regarding A.A. General Service and the Structure of A.A.
The A.A. Service Manual Combined With Twelve Concepts for World Service, by Bill W.
Inside A.A., pamphlet, explains the A.A. service structure in the U.S. and Canada, describing all elements linking member and group with the General Service Conference.
Circles of Love and Service, pamphlet, outlines the A.A. service structure in full-color diagrams.
Catalog of Conference-Approved Literature and Other Service Material.
These materials may be obtained at local central offices that sell A.A. literature or by contacting:
A.A. World Services, P.O. Box 459, Grand Central Station, New York, NY 10163, (212) 870-3400
Literature Specific to the Business Structure of Area 75
Southern Wisconsin Area 75 Assembly Actions
Southern Wisconsin Area 75 Handbook
(Both of these documents may be obtained in the Business Section of this web site)
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