In recent years, Area Delegates (ADs), Regional Trustees (RTs), and the World Service Office (WSO) have received an increasing number of inquiries regarding group representation. This surge in questions is understandable given the significant shift from in-person meetings to phone and online platforms recently. This item has complex and far-reaching considerations that may require more than one annual WSC cycle to fully resolve. In preparation for the 2024 WSC, we aim to examine how representation is currently structured within the S-Anon fellowship and to assess the roles and responsibilities of the WSO and groups in maintaining and honoring the evolving S-Anon Service Structure.
S-Anon Twelve Concepts of Service
Representation in the S-Anon fellowship is guided by the Twelve Concepts of Service, one of S-Anon’s Three Legacies. The Twelve Concepts of Service ensure that S-Anon remains democratic in thought and action by giving groups ultimate responsibility for the fellowship through delegated authority. Two ways delegated authority is exercised is through ADs who represent groups at the WSC (the Traditional Service Structure), and through RTs who serve the fellowship in their Regions as members of the BOT (the Legal Service Structure).
Areas and ADs: The Traditional Service Structure
There are presently 66 Areas covering each one of the 50 states (except California, which has two Areas–North and South), 13 Canadian provinces, Phone Meetings, and the Online Platform Meetings. For all Areas where a group is located, an AD can be elected or selected by the Area groups to represent their voices at the WSC where decisions affecting S-Anon as a whole are made. The AD also plays an important role by providing year-round support to groups and encouraging service engagement. As of today, only 18 of the 66 AD positions are filled.
Regions and RTs: The Legal Service Structure
The eight Regions are composed of all the geographic Areas across the United States and Canada. Elected to the BOT by the groups within the Regions they serve, RTs help to ensure that our BOT is as responsive as possible to the needs and desires of groups. The RT’s primary goal is to grow and strengthen the S-Anon fellowship in their Region, and to provide a voice for groups in Areas of Regions that do not have an elected AD. While RTs do not represent ADs in the Areas of their Region, they do provide support to ADs in their service role. As of today, two of the eight RT positions are filled.
Assigning Areas and Regions to Groups
When a group registers with the WSO, they are assigned an Area and Region in the Group Database depending on where and how the group gathers:
· If a group registers under a city and state/province, regardless of whether they meet in-person, via phone, online, or a hybrid format, the WSO assigns the corresponding geographic Area and Region.
· If a group that meets by phone or online registers without a geographic location, the WSO assigns them to the Phone or Online Platform Area but, because Regions are only geographic, these groups are not assigned a Region.
Can a Group change their default Area and Region assigned by the WSO?
The WSO does not have authority in matters of group representation and acts solely in accordance with decisions made by the WSC. The WSC has defined the 66 Areas and 8 Regions in which groups may be registered. According to the authority delegated to the WSO to achieve this, the WSO has developed a procedure to best fulfill the WSC’s wishes.
It is within every group’s autonomy to decide how, when, and where they meet. Based on those group details, the WSO determines how to assign an Area and Region that best characterizes the group. If a group wants to be part of a different Area and Region than what the WSO has assigned, the WSO would first seek to understand the needs of the group and reasoning for being reassigned. In doing so, we can ensure the service structure is fulfilling its intended purpose related to that group and the fellowship as a whole.
Any group who has a question about their assigned Area and Region may reach out to the WSO. The WSO is here to work with the groups, ADs, and RTs to achieve our common goal of serving the fellowship.
If Regions are only geographic, how do Phone and Online Platform Groups receive representation by an RT within the Legal Service Structure?
Great question! As of right now, the answer is that they do not, and figuring out the solution to this is the responsibility of the WSC. In 2022, the BOT created an Ad Hoc Representation Committee to study this question, among others, and to provide recommendations to help identify actions needed to bring this to the WSC for discussion and decision.
Motions for the 2024 WSC are due February 1. Many trusted servants are working behind the scenes to help bring this item to the 2024 WSC, but we will not know until May 1, 2024, what motions will be on the 2024 WSC agenda. If the WSC does not resolve this matter in 2024, the method of representation and support for Phone and Online Platform Groups will continue to be considered.
Does a Group’s assigned Area have to be within the corresponding geographic RT Region?
RTs work closely with the ADs within their Region and thus these service positions are interconnected. They collaborate to achieve the purposes of supporting local groups, promoting growth of S-Anon in a particular area, and encouraging members to serve. By working together, these trusted servants can have a great impact on the S-Anon fellowship.
As previously stated, a large part of an RT’s role is to represent groups and grow and strengthen the S-Anon fellowship in their Region, as well as provide a voice for registered groups in Areas in other the Regions that do not have an elected AD. The RT accomplishes these objectives by working with the groups, ADs, and Alternate Area Delegates in their Region. RTs also work to assist groups in finding qualified members to serve as Area Delegates within their Regions.
As an example, the desire for a group to have RT representation in an Area not within their corresponding Region may be motivated by a situation in which representation positions for an Area or Region are vacant, so a group gravitates toward an Area or Region where the position is filled. In these circumstances, we encourage groups to consider putting efforts toward electing local trusted servants within their Areas or Regions to achieve representation, honoring the S-Anon Service Structure as defined by the WSC.
The S-Anon Twelve Concepts of Service give the WSC, not individual groups, meetings, or Intergroups, the delegated authority to address matters of representation. Instead of attempting to achieve representation by changing Areas or Regions, we suggest groups communicate their needs to the ADs or RTs to begin searching for solutions and give the WSC time to solidify these solutions. The question of the appropriate regional assignment for these groups is an issue that affects S-Anon as a whole and needs to be discussed and decided by the WSC.
How do I find out if our Area or Region has an AD or RT?
The WSO maintains a map of representation for ADs and RTs on the S-Anon Member Site, member.sanon.org.
ADs are displayed as a circle icon with either a check mark noting that the position is filled or an X noting that a position is vacant. The Phone and Online Platform Areas are displayed off the west coast of the United States since there is no geographic connection for them.
RTs are marked with a pin drop, and information about vacancies can be found by clicking the individual pins.
To receive AD representation at the 2024 WSC, when must my area identify a trusted servant for this position?
All ADs who plan to attend the 2024 in-person WSC in Los Angeles, CA, on July 14, with a voice and a vote, must first be elected or selected by their Area and then register with the WSO by May 1. On May 1, all motions for consideration by the fellowship will be delivered to the ADs to circulate among the groups they represent. It is important that there is enough time for the ADs to communicate with and collect responses from local groups, as the AD considers the motions in light of the S-Anon Twelve Steps, Twelve Traditions, and Twelve Concepts of Service along with input from the groups in their Area.
In accordance with Tradition Seven, Areas are responsible for paying expenses incurred by their Area Delegates to attend the World Service Conference. The World Service Office may reimburse up to half of the standing Area Delegate expenses, or the Alternate Delegate, if the elected Area Delegate cannot attend.
If my Area is unable to elect or select an AD in time, how will our group know what motions will be discussed and to whom can we communicate our thoughts?
In addition to the ADs circulating motions for consideration within their Area, the WSO publishes them on the Member Site. In mid-May, the WSO Update newsletter will also send out the motions. Groups are encouraged to schedule group conscience meetings and discuss the motions as a group. If the group does not have an AD, they can share their thoughts with their RT, and if there is not a RT, they can reach out to an RT outside their area. Email the WSO, [email protected], for help connecting with an RT.
Members of the WSC vote their conscience based on all input, so a tally of votes from groups is not collected. These trusted servants do, however, consider the groups’ input and may share them at the WSC to ensure all thoughts and considerations are heard.
If my Area is without an AD, to whom do I submit motions for consideration at the 2024 WSC?
The BOT and the WSC Committee (WSCC) invite and receive policy, procedural, and administrative motions from individual members and groups through their AD or RT, or another BOT member if their region is not represented by a Delegate or RT. If an Area does not have an AD, we suggest that the local registered groups attempt to organize to elect a Delegate and submit the motion through that elected AD by February 1, 2024.
If an Area that is not represented by an AD is unable to elect and send a Delegate, a motion may be submitted to the WSO for routing to the appropriate RT. Motions from individuals and groups are accepted when submitted through the RT only if the unorganized Area is unable to elect and send a Delegate. If neither a Delegate nor an RT represents an Area, the WSO will request that another BOT member submit the motion on the submitter’s behalf. Motions can be emailed to the WSO at [email protected].