Due to a central location between two intergroups, we have two local Cities with multiple meetings in each that are listed on two different intergroup websites. Also, the meetings in those Cities send representatives to both intergroups (referenced as Intergroups “A” and “B”).
A few years ago, it came up that there might be an issue with meetings having double representation, but we never made anything out of it with the individual meetings. But now, due to curiosity and concern, we are looking at it again.
Can one meeting have a representative for 2 Intergroups? For example, if the Saturday meeting in a City sends a representative to Intergroup “A”, can they also send a representative to Intergroup “B”?
Please assist us in any way possible and keeping with the spirit of our traditions. We are all interested in clarification and what we could do, should do, etc.
While there is nothing specific in the Steps, Traditions or Concepts that directly address this situation, I believe Concept Four could possibly provide some guidance. Concept Four details the “Right of Participation”. That Right is maintained by allowing members to cast one vote up to the level at which they are trusted servants. It could be argued that one meeting sending representatives to two different Intergroups might be giving the meeting an opportunity to “double” their vote.
But ultimately, I believe Tradition Four is the spiritual principle that could be most effective in making the determination on how to proceed. Since each Intergroup is autonomous, it is up to each one separately to decide if they believe it is appropriate to have voting representation of one meeting at two intergroups.
I also have some personal experience with a very similar situation. I was a member of a meeting that was located on the border of two intergroups (a county line). We wanted representation at both to get on both meeting lists, and to bring back ideas and events from both to our members. But we only voted at the intergroup of the county we were in. I was the representative who went to the intergroup of the adjacent county, and while I could speak there was no voting privilege. It was the decision of that intergroup, and we respected and honored it.
The legacy that comes to mind here is step 12, to carry the message to the addict that still suffers. If a meeting is on the borderline of 2 intergroups does that serve the addict in the locations that may be technically in the other intergroup’s area to participate in the second intergroup.
For our local situation a meeting in the Long Beach area may be closer to an addict in North Orange county than any other meeting so it would benefit them if the group was listed on the Orange county intergroup website, and for that group it might be beneficial for them to participate in both the OC and LA intergroup meetings. (Many meetings have trouble getting an intergroup rep at all – much less one that will cover 2 meetings).
The other issue I could see is that of donations to the intergroup, but I think that is a matter for each individual meeting to decide how to divide their contributions and should be left to the meeting to decide honoring our bottom up structure.
My opinions on this are as follows– Each group is autonomous, per Tradition Four, so they can send a member to whichever Intergroup they wish, and donate to whichever Intergroup they wish. However, they should only be able to vote once at the Intergroup level, and in some sense this is supported by Concept 12 which states that our “government” should operate in a “democratic” manner, thus one group having more than one vote would not be “democratic”.
Having meetings listed on two different intergroup websites is fully consistent with Tradition Five. It is our obligation to provide our message to addicts, that includes meeting lists — especially meeting lists. The more sites where we list meetings the better.
Also, cross communication between intergroups is a positive. Having members that are not voting delegates at Intergroup meetings from other groups is a good way to cultivate a broader and deeper culture. It’s an opportunity for a fertile exchange of ideas between groups and Intergroups. However, we are a democracy, which means each meeting has one delegate and one vote — at only one Intergroup.
So, each meeting has the responsibility to decide which Intergroup — and only one Intergroup — it will send its voting delegate to. But also, each meeting should be encouraged to attend multiple Intergroup meetings when possible.
Because our Intergroups, at this time, are not regionally based (that is they can overlap geographies) it is tempting for meetings to cherry pick the Intergroup that they feel best represents their needs. That sounds fine, but can lead to jumping back and forth between Intergroups and to a general amount of chaos. It is not truly democratic. One idea that is being discussed is to regionalize Intergroups rather than allow groups to pick one or another to join. This would mean that there would no longer be lone or unaffiliated meetings as well. The proposal to regionalize our service structure will be circulating over the next few years I hope. A regionalized service structure would eliminate the controversy expressed by this question.
What do you think?
The CSTCC is a group of volunteers, some of whom were ABM delegates, and others who volunteered out of interest. We do not represent a group conscience of S.L.A.A., but are committed to bringing thoughtful discussion and study of 12 Step Fellowship literature and experience to the questions that are brought to us. We offer this summary as the results of our discussions. We present the major points of concern in the hopes that wider discussion in the Fellowship will help us evolve our customs and practice of the S.L.A.A. program of recovery to better represent the loving guidance of a Higher Power. Always, we affirm the autonomy of each group and the need for each individual to follow her/his own conscience. No decision of this group, or any other, is ever forced upon another, even when we believe a practice is clearly in conflict with the Steps, Traditions, or Concepts.