May 26-28, 2017 Orlando, Florida
I had the pleasure of attending the SAA convention this year as a delegate. It was an amazing opportunity to connect with the SAA fellowship on a personal and service level. This is my sixth straight conference/convention that I’ve attended and it’s been an extraordinary journey. I’m very grateful to SAA Vancouver for sponsoring me to go to the convention.
This year’s conference was lighter in terms of business motions than previous conferences. The overarching business of the conference continues to be moving to the new Area structure where SAA Regions of the world will be rearranged into newly-formed Areas, with one conference Delegates coming from each Area. At next year’s 2018/2019 conference, a draft of the new Areas will be presented to the conference. However, the ISO is urging member groups to take the initiative to propose their own Areas. They stressed that this plan will move forward, and groups really need to get on board with the plan. This year’s Delegates should act as Area Advocates and start to get the ball rolling in their groups and start talking about forming Areas. It’s still not certain, but it’s likely the Vancouver Intergroup could also function as an Area Assembly. In that case, it may have to hold at least one annual telemeeting to include GSRs who can’t attend in person (Victoria etc).
For the first time, next year’s conference will be separate from the convention and will take place in Houston from Oct 12-13. This was decided by the ISO staff. There was a motion to move the deadline for conference motions submissions to June 30. This will give the committees 3.5 months to review motions before the conference, up from the 2 months they have now. This motion passed nearly unanimously. There were 2 other motions to rescind conference approval for 2 pieces of literature: A Guide to Working the First Step and Abstinence and Boundaries. That is because the Literature Committee would like to edit and change them based on some feedback they have got from the membership. There was some feeling at the conference that Abstinence and Boundaries is not a good book and should not be sold anymore. The Literature Committee can edit literature, but it’s the ISO staff who decide on whether literature continues to be printed or not.
Because the conference is changing to a new Area structure, they are also changing the way committees are populated. Slowly, they are shifting to Committees being elected from a slate of candidates from the membership at large, rather than from the current Regions. In line with that there was a motion to fill positions on the Conference Steering Committee (CSC) by a new process voting at the conference, and from a slate of candidates. Currently CSC candidates are selected in Regional meetings. The new number of candidates would be 9-12. Many members argued against this motion, not because of the process of electing, but because they thought 12 was too many. In the future, there would only be 80 or so delegates and they thought 12 was too many for a committee that would make decisions about how the conference runs. The vote was a majority ‘yes’, but less than 2/3, so it went to a second round of discussion and voting, and was voted down 53-64.
There may be some misunderstanding by the membership at large about what the CSC actually does and why they need a large committee. Currently the CSC has 11 members and last year their subcommittees took on a broad scope of work including working on Policies and Procedures and the Twelve Concepts of SAA. All the CSC members themselves thought 12 was an OK number of committee members. Ian B. from Vancouver continues to be on that committee.
There was extra time at the conference after the business motions were finished. The chair decided to have “Open Mike” and hear from the fellowship, which turned out to be a very successful exercise. I gave a brief report on the success of our 2016 Outreach Project using newspaper ads and how it attracted a large number of volunteers. Ian spoke as well and brought up the fact that this year’s international conference didn’t have any international representation, unlike in previous years. Only Ian and I were delegates from outside the US.
The conference has an Intergroup Communications Committee with a goal of linking up Intergroups and sharing best practices and participating in a blog, among other things. The ISO also has an Author’s Group which writes literature, and a very active Literature Committee which edits and vets Literature. There are also a wealth of other Committees which are doing fantastic work for the fellowship.
The convention portion was fantastic as always. There were many useful workshops and speakers. I attended 12-Step Yoga, an SAA Sponsorship Workshop, and a workshop on how to Experience True Healing in Recovery. I highly recommend going to the SAA convention. Connecting with others in recovery and getting so much inspiration from others who are succeeding was a huge boost for me. I’m looking forward to attending the convention next year in San Francisco in May.
“There’s a crazy person in my house. I’ve got to get out of here now! The crazy person is me.”
-Quote from SAA Convention in Orlando