What to do when group conscience refuses to follow tradition

The 12 Traditions of Alcoholics Anonymous, the principles that hold our groups and society together.

What to do when group conscience refuses to follow tradition

Postby savourc » Sat Aug 19, 2017 6:42 pm

I have been in the rooms for over 18 years and have been involved in service work at all levels. I am a staunch advocate of our traditions! Our group rents from a non-profit community clubhouse and recently brought up purchasing new tables for the hall. Since this would involve discarding the old ones (and we have been renting the hall for many, many years) our group discussed donating the new tables to the hall. I brought up traditions 5 and 6; that our primary purpose is to help the suffering alcoholic and that we do not financially support outside enterprises. I also brought up that our local Central Office's contributions are down by 50% since last year. The group conscience narrowly voted to make the donation anyway.

I know I can always move on to another home group. I also know I could withhold my contributions from the group in protest. I am just finding myself a little perplexed because I love my home group, but hate that they are violating our beloved traditions. Any input is welcome!
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Re: What to do when group conscience refuses to follow tradi

Postby D'oh » Sun Aug 20, 2017 4:59 am

Ask the Hall for a Dollar off of the Rent for the tables.

I wouldn't change Home Groups over it.

I run into a similar thing a couple of years back. The AA Round Up Committee had left over pops from the Round Up. The local NA Group was holding a Potluck Party and was offered the left over pops.

Glaring 7th Tradition problem that I wasn't comfortable with.

We wound up offering the pop at the NA party with a 7th Tradition Basket for the AA Group.

I mean, it is just tables or pop. AA will survive the decision made by the Group Conscience. Well after the 2-3 hour debate about it.
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Re: What to do when group conscience refuses to follow tradi

Postby Brock » Sun Aug 20, 2017 6:01 am

Welcome here, and also it's nice to see folks who speak about traditions and service, which seem to be not popular subjects these days.

From what I see the discarding the old tables is not the question, it's giving the new ones to the hall, supporting outside enterprise. But on the other hand, if the group kept ownership of the tables, we run into the warning in 6, where problems of property divert from the primary spiritual aim. Kind of a lose lose situation, and one or the other tradition guideline has to be 'bent.' In this case, once I was satisfied that the hall was really non-profit, (so not really a financial enterprise), and that the groups continued use was secure for the future, I would agree to what was decided, bend the donating guideline in favor of possible problems from owning as outlined in 6. I have seen a couple of problems with group ownership of items, and so my opinion is maybe a bit biased.

I see the point of the 50% shortfall to central office, but if the new tables are really necessary, or more importantly if I thought the value added for alcoholics sitting in my home group at new tables, was of more value than what the office might do if they had our money, then for this year I would say hard luck central office, maybe next year we will afford our usual contribution.
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Re: What to do when group conscience refuses to follow tradi

Postby savourc » Sun Aug 20, 2017 9:46 am

Discarding the tables only came into the discussion because the current tables belong to the hall. There is no place to store them, so if the group buys new ones the old ones would have to be discarded. Unlike the popsicle comparison, we are talking about nearly $600 we are contributing to an outside enterprise. The tradition states, “An A.A. group ought never endorse, finance or lend the A.A. name to any related facility or outside enterprise, lest problems of money, property and prestige divert us from our primary purpose." ~ so we "ought never finance an outside enterprise" . . . which is exactly what our group is doing. The tables aren't in such disrepair that we can't stand another day with them and the hall is trying to get things together. They are only asking for patience.

Still disturbed . . .
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Re: What to do when group conscience refuses to follow tradi

Postby D'oh » Sun Aug 20, 2017 10:17 am

Give the Tables to the Hall, for a $25 discount on the rent for a term of 2 years.
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Re: What to do when group conscience refuses to follow tradi

Postby Brock » Sun Aug 20, 2017 11:46 am

I can understand a little why you say “still disturbed,” and the additional knowledge that the tables could have worked a while longer, and the club if given a little patience on everyone's part would have eventually replaced them, so if I were a member I would have voted with you and not bought the tables. I had the feeling it was more like if the group didn't buy them it would be crappy tables for ever.

But I still feel looking as quoted - “An A.A. group ought never endorse, finance or lend the A.A. name to any related facility or outside enterprise, lest problems of money, property and prestige divert us from our primary purpose." Then saying - “so we "ought never finance an outside enterprise" . . . which is exactly what our group is doing.” My feeling is the second part about financing can't be separated from rest of the quote, they are saying without full periods in between “endorse, finance or lend the AA name,” or else these problems may arise. If AA was stamped on the tables, that is financing, lending the name, and by extension endorsing the hall, and $600 in tables is hardly financing a hall. And then “lest problems of money, property and prestige divert us from our primary purpose." Well the money is available no problem there, the property is not the groups, and unless some feel having donated the tables gives some sort of prestige, then no problem there either.

The idea by D'oh is novel and would recoup the money, but then the hall may not go for it, and to my mind that would be a greater “financing” than a gift, it would be bankrolling a loan.

So I have enjoyed the opportunity to think about these traditions this Sunday, and as stated would have voted as you did, but really don't see it as that big a deal, and I hope you come around to thinking the same way. We need good service folks to be satisfied with the decisions the group makes, or at least accept that the majority has spoken, best of luck.
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Re: What to do when group conscience refuses to follow tradi

Postby Blue Moon » Sun Aug 20, 2017 4:06 pm

Some groups donate tables and chairs in lieu of rent. The facilities won't accept rent because it must be declared as income and can affect their tax status.

So ... how much rent does the group pay? How much rent would be "fair" to pay in the current market? If the group is paying less than market-price, they are de facto breaking with Tradition 7 as they are accepting "in-kind" support from an outside entity. So yes, most AA Groups do not fully adhere to the strict letter of Tradition 7.

Bottom line : it's probably not as clear-cut as you.may imagine. Beware of the ego making a big deal of trivia. ISTM the real problem here is that others didn't buy into your POV.

Regarding central office, the only real solution for that is one or more of 1. members get out of the habit of paying 1 currency-unit per meeting, 2. groups grow their membership, or 3. central office to get with the times and save on unnecessary expenditure.
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Re: What to do when group conscience refuses to follow tradi

Postby Blue Moon » Sun Aug 20, 2017 4:17 pm

savourc wrote: so we ought never finance an outside enterprise" . . . which is exactly what our group is doing.

I assume AA's name or logo is not being put on the property? I also assume ownership is passing to the hall with no expectation of commitment in-kind? If so, the group is categorically *not* breaking Tradition 6.

How would the group feel if the venue terminates the agreement to host the meetings a week after throwing out old tables and installing new ones? If the group would expect them back, it needs to reconsider its position. For example, maybe it needs to think about simply paying a fair rent so the venue can afford to buy new tables.

But if the group has no problem with paying for tables it may never use, as a prudent use of AA's money, that's up to them.
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Re: What to do when group conscience refuses to follow tradi

Postby savourc » Mon Aug 21, 2017 5:30 pm

Maybe this tradition is incredibly misunderstood. “An A.A. group ought never endorse, finance or lend the A.A. name to any related facility or outside enterprise, lest problems of money, property and prestige divert us from our primary purpose."

AA Groups ought never endorse any related facility or outside enterprises.

AA Groups ought never finance any related facility or outside enterprises.

AA Groups ought never lend the A.A. name to any related facility or outside enterprises.

This is what I believe this tradition says.
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Re: What to do when group conscience refuses to follow tradi

Postby Blue Moon » Mon Aug 21, 2017 6:35 pm

savourc wrote:Maybe this tradition is incredibly misunderstood. “An A.A. group ought never endorse, finance or lend the A.A. name to any related facility or outside enterprise, lest problems of money, property and prestige divert us from our primary purpose."

AA Groups ought never endorse any related facility or outside enterprises.

AA Groups ought never finance any related facility or outside enterprises.

AA Groups ought never lend the A.A. name to any related facility or outside enterprises.

This is what I believe this tradition says.

Yes. Or maybe you're misunderstanding how the Tradition should be being applied.

Is the group publicising the facility in AA literature, making announcements about non-AA events the venue hosts etc? If not, it's probably not endorsing.

Is the group loaning AA's money to the facility, with a repayment plan, interest charge, late-fees etc? If not, it's probably not financing.

Is the group allowing the facility to put "AA" in a big neon sign above the door? If not, it's perhaps not lending the AA name.

So .... what's really the problem?
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Re: What to do when group conscience refuses to follow tradi

Postby Brock » Mon Aug 21, 2017 6:48 pm

I respect your sticking to your guns in this, however I suspect at the time of writing the traditions, renting space in halls was not common, churches offering their basements free, or members opening their homes to meetings was more the standard. We can't rewrite them to suit our times, so we must bend them a little, all in the spirit of lets keep it simple.

So if we really wanted to get technical, we might say you pay a monthly rent to a hall, call it a contribution or whatever, but pay it or get kicked out. The hall survives at least in part from our finance, we are financing them, an outside enterprise, donating the tables just means we are financing them more.
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Re: What to do when group conscience refuses to follow tradi

Postby D'oh » Tue Aug 22, 2017 12:21 am

Yes. Or maybe you're misunderstanding how the Tradition should be being applied.

Is the group publicising the facility in AA literature, making announcements about non-AA events the venue hosts etc? If not, it's probably not endorsing.

Is the group loaning AA's money to the facility, with a repayment plan, interest charge, late-fees etc? If not, it's probably not financing.

Is the group allowing the facility to put "AA" in a big neon sign above the door? If not, it's perhaps not lending the AA name.

So .... what's really the problem?
Exactly.

The longest standing Group in my town,(almost 60 years) has the same name as the Establishment, in where it is held still today.

So is that "Breaking Tradition 6?" No, because that Establishment doesn't and didn't demand that the Group name it's self that name. Didn't reduce any Rent Payments because of use of that name, and the Establishment does not use the AA name in any way, shape, form.

It is just a name and way to describe the Meeting Address, and Group Conscience named it that way.

There is also a Meeting named for the Organization of where the Meeting is held. The 7th Tradition at this Meeting is quite in question in regards of Rent being Paid for use of the Room. This causes questions of Where the 7th Tradition Funds go and are used. And why it can continue.

However, this place is possibly the most Important area of the 5th Tradition's need and use in our area. So bending the 6th Tradition might be at play, just for "Carrying the Message" purposes.
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Re: What to do when group conscience refuses to follow tradi

Postby Roberth » Thu Aug 31, 2017 11:12 am

Why don't you have your GSR take it to the district meeting to see if any other group have run into this problem. If you don't have a GSR you ask GSO in New York, just email them......More likely the can give you what other people/group have done.
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Re: What to do when group conscience refuses to follow tradi

Postby tomsteve » Thu Aug 31, 2017 11:24 am

savourc wrote:
I know I can always move on to another home group. I also know I could withhold my contributions from the group in protest. I am just finding myself a little perplexed because I love my home group, but hate that they are violating our beloved traditions. Any input is welcome!


hhhhmmm, staunch on traditions, yet going to withhold contributions in protest.
and what principle of the program does that fall under???

running away from something i dont like in a hissy fit pity party only hurts me.

. For our group purpose there is but one ultimate authority -not ME.

Then, one day in A.A., I was told that I had the
lenses in my glasses backwards; “the courage to
change” in the Serenity Prayer meant not that I
should change my marriage, but rather that I should
change myself and learn to accept my spouse as she
was. A.A. has given me a new pair of glasses. I can
again focus on my wife’s good qualities and watch
them grow and grow and grow.
I can do the same thing with an A.A. meeting. The
more I focus my mind on its defects—late start, long
drunkalogs, cigarette smoke—the worse the meeting
becomes. But when I try to see what I can add to the
meeting, rather than what I can get out of it, and when
I focus my mind on what’s good about it, rather than
what’s wrong with it, the meeting keeps getting better
and better. When I focus on what’s good today, I have
a good day, and when I focus on what’s bad, I have a
bad day. If I focus on a problem, the problem increases;
if I focus on the answer, the answer increases
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Re: What to do when group conscience refuses to follow tradi

Postby savourc » Thu Aug 31, 2017 11:30 am

@TomeSteve ~ I (as an individual) am not specifically governed by our traditions. If my homegrown is spending our valuable 7th tradition resources in a manner that is inconsistent with our traditions, I am left to make some decisions. Continuing to contribute to our fellowship, while removing them from the loop is an option that I (as an individual) am free to make. It is no violation to any AA writings, so far as I know. I would also be free to contribute some coffee grounds in lieu of money. That is up to me.
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