[Extracted from the monthly ECO NEWS - October 2019]
It’s my wish to present Page S16 of the AA Service Manual in the form of a tree. For years I’ve heard the home group members of Alcoholics Anonymous are at the top of our AA service structure – they have the power. I liked that. It kept me coming back to meetings. Then I got elected as delegate of our area. I was confused. How is the delegate really and truly connected to the power – the top of the structure – while operating at the bottom?
The picture of a tree helped me get it, as I read through the Service Manual and AA Comes of Age, it all made sense. So I offer my tree to perhaps help others see the big picture. Page S16 is divided into thirds, to better explain the tree.
I love our upside down triangle. It represents not only our 3 legacies of Recovery, Service and Unity, it also shows that the AA service structure is more of a Lowerarchy than a Hierarchy.
The top third contain the leaves; they represent AA members and AA home groups. A home group is important if you want to have a vote and a voice in how things get done. The bright green leaves are the newer groups, the medium green are healthy, well established groups, and the darker leaves are not as strong, and dying out.
All the leaves provide strength and nutrients to the rest of the tree. Through connecting with the Sunlight of the Spirit (photosynthesis) the voice and ideas from home group members are sent down the rest of the tree. This is done by motions, through the district branches. Your home group lives in a district. It’s like a neighbourhood. Motions move through the trunk at Assemblies, and if passed by the fellowship, on to the delegate or root ball. The delegate takes those motions to the General Service Conference.
The delegate position was an idea from Bill and Bob back in the late 1940s, when they realized they weren’t going to live forever and had to devise a system to keep AA operating without them. After traveling outside North America, Bill realized how important AA could be for the whole world. That’s when he asked the membership in the US and Canada to “elect a delegate” who could attend an Annual General Service Conference. That way, all voices of AA in North America could be heard at one meeting.
So back to Page S16: You’ll notice the top two sections of the triangle are represented by the leaves of the tree. The bottom third represents the delegate, the General Service Conference and AA World Services. The middle third (or the trunk) is how they all come together.
About the trunk: One author describes the outside of the trunk as “…resilient, hard, firm and unchanging. The inside of the trunk is quite busy, mostly fluid and always in motion.” This well describes any of the positions of the Committee Officers in an Area (there are 93 Areas in North America). Every person holding a position in the trunk is working to serve the leaves and the root ball. They connect these two sections by ensuring communication flows up and down the tree. The trunk makes sure that all parts are connected with all the other parts, so the whole tree will be healthy. In a word: the trunk is Unity.
The bottom of page S16 are presented as two aquifers. The first is the General Service Conference, where all 93 delegates meet to receive information, enthusiasm and nutrients to take back to their Area’s service structure/tree.
The Final Conference Report is the fish food of the General Service Conference aquifer. It’s offered after every General Service Conference at the September Assembly. The delegate’s verbal report conveys some highlights from the Conference Week. It is a huge amount to absorb. That’s why the Final Conference Report is so important; it contains more detail of information received by delegates.
The last aquifer represents the AA World Service Board. Their scope is huge. Their main function is to help other countries get AA meetings happening for their still suffering alcoholics. As Tradition 5 tells us, it’s all about spreading the word. The tree needs all of its parts to function – we need all of you, and for that I am so thankful that you are all here.
Thank you all for my sobriety
Area 78 Delegate,
Alberta, NWT, W. Nunavut