Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Meeting places


My home group meets in a moldy old church building with no toilets available. Plenty of times I've had to go out to the grave yard to water a bush or tree. The building has ceiling tiles that have fallen in to expose insulation. The heating and AC aren't working well.

Yet, there is a brand new church just across the road. Apparently, there are issues that the vestry has with whether or not the AA/Al-Anon groups should have access to the new building. A TV disappeared from the old meeting building over six months ago. The AA fellowship was blamed for the missing TV.

There are other meeting places in the area where funds were stolen. This resulted in a lot of hard feelings as this was an AA club house that had a safe in the floor. No one was ever arrested for the theft of the money.

I've also noted that meeting attendees could be more respectful and considerate of the people who share the facility with them. Cigarette butts left outside on the grounds are a major issue. People are often inconsiderate about where they park their cars.

Complacency can allow some of the things to happen that are inappropriate. One member described complacency as "live and let live" disguised. I believe that it is part of the trusted servant status to make sure that meeting places are left in the same or better state after they are used by the fellowship. It is a good idea to remove all evidence of a meeting after the meeting is over. That way no can complain about problems with the fellowship.

I'd like to hear about your experiences and thoughts about meeting places. There is a solution.

23 comments:

  1. I agree with you Syd, one should always leave there place of business, meetings, in a respectful manner, no matter how old, moldy, or new the place is. I have attended many meetings, some in many fancy hotels, some in basement of churches, old masonic halls etc. I have found at times that others do not care how they leave the meeting hall, yet when they come in for theirs they would be the first ones to BITCH if not to their liking, I loathe people that put out smokes, toss garbage, etc on grounds, when there are containers, bins, etc put there just for that. Keep our country clean, cut down on waste. Keep the pigs in the the sty.

    Is't it always a few in a crowd that makes others look bad or at fault?

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  2. I know lots of meetings that ask for volunteers to pick up cigarette butts after the meeting. My home group provides plastic gloves for the task.

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  3. Funny how we both blogged about meeting places today. I do agree with you about leaving places free of traces of the meeting, it's respectful of the trust given to the group.

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  4. Oh, don't get me started!
    Cigarette butts and waste paper, half-empty coffee cups and drink cans scattered about. I see it everday at Lambda Center (our AA/AlAnon/CMA clubhouse) and wonder where has the respect of property gone.

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  5. I've never experienced any problems in either of the sober states that I've lived in (California, West Virginia.) The groups have always been very respectful of the properties. I do remember one church having an issue with cigaretter butts, but it was remedied by having a verbal reminder at each meeting about not tossing trash out into the yard.

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  6. My home group meets in a hospital conference room. No problems ever.
    There is an AA meeting at the same time (Sunday am) and I have never seen one of them smoking on the grounds.

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  7. Unfortunately at every meeting I go to, all of the grown adults have to be asked to please dispose of the butts in the can, not the ground. Please smoke back away from the door, so the smoke does not go inside the church. Don't wander around the church, stay in the meeting hall, and yes, sometimes the group money goes bye, bye. And once a microphone came up missing. I guess once we DO know better though, we do better.

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  8. I was thinking something like what Kristin said, a verbal reminder about housekeeping...tag it with comments about gratitude for the meeting place, etc.

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  9. It is a matter of the larger culture. If people talk about their experience with cleaning up - and how it helped them to belong... and if they model the behavior, it will no longer be a problem. But if there is no real leadership in the group and this is allowed to persist, it has implications, not only for that group, but for our reputation as a whole.

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  10. The pigs always leave reminders of their presence. In LA, we used the phrase "Please cleanup the wreckage of your presence before leaving the meeting grounds." There were still pigs. Thanks for your good words this week.

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  11. we do have issues with both stealing and messy meeting attendees. Or my pet peeve someone wearing an NA or any fellowship shirt and behaving like a using addict/ alcoholic.
    The thing I do that works the best for me, is when I am leading a meeting I announce to please pick up after yourselves, refrain from excessive profanities and be respectful of others. newcomers may or may not like to hear this but we come into the rooms sometimes needing a lesson in using something other than the "F" word. so we really need to change everything and bad behaviors are what using addicts do and we have to teach each other to live different.
    we have a couple of guys who are just horrible to be around in public and a lot of people will not go to have coffee with them, they have this attitude like they can tell any horror story in front of "earthlings" and quite frankly they scare people, and that is not the picture of a recovering addict. i simply told the guy this is a family restaurant and please refrain from sharing such graphic stories or we would leave. now i don't go out with him to have coffee any more but it is embarrassing to our fellowships and we need to say so, we have to give an image that we are trying to be respectable members of society if we are going to be taken seriously by professionals so you really touched on an important topic for me. as far as stealing goes, we need to be willing to prosecute if necessary to get our 7th tradition back. the member who trusts the group to use that dollar they put into the basket to help the still suffering addict, that is whose trust you lose when you put the thief ahead of 7th tradition. we had a group who condoned stealing they had a meeting leader steal almost 1000 in donations and then said oh he will have to live with his conscious. and he is still a meeting leader!! then they went to the area and asked for money for literature because they didn't have it!! ok i will stop now, great post!!

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  12. I've been to several groups where there are similar problems and at my home group, we get into similar cycles.

    Several group inventories have pointed to specific issues of sponsorship and leadership which can then be resolved.

    I'd recommend starting with a group inventory - it has worked well for us.

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  13. I am truly stunned. I thought that the good ole US of A would have the meetings rooms down to a T. Here in England we are so lacking in our aspirations. My previous home group had mouldy walls, including one wall with water running down and another with a rain gutter on the inside. Half the building was condemmed. The carpet had food ground in to it. Chairs were uncomfortable and broken. To enter the building you had to wade through a sea of cig butts and a cloud of cig smoke. But no one would leave because they said, this was real AA and recovery isn't about your surroundings. Well BS to that, what sort of message of attraction is that to the newcomer. It's smacks more of pride and ego and self to me. Needless to say I left , I don't hold with this "We do AA the hard way " or that we should NOT look after our surroundings and the property of others.

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  14. So Cal is the recovery capital of the world. Buses drop off loads of newcomers from recovery homes at some meetings. Mostly (not all) rich kids whose parents are desperate and willing to go to any $$$ amount to get their kids sober.

    One city has banned AA from all public bldgs, another requires a special liab. insurance policy. Our meeting directory is published 2 times a year to keep up with all the meeting changes.

    Most meetings have a clean-up statement that is read, butt cans are provided at the curb, and us serious alkies stay and clean up. Helps keep us sober. Great reminder!

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  15. They keep a pretty tight ship here in SF land
    If there are issues they are brought up at meetings
    and smoking is pretty high on the monitor list here...
    geez people can't even talk loud at night on the streets in front of the meeting area. But there are problems at times and then there are changes that happen.. Good you bring it up to be dealt with at group level

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  16. dunno about meeting places, but common sense says leave them the way you found them?!?!?

    now i'm wondering, what did the girls do when nature called? or did you find them hurridly leaving after meetings, not knowing why, but this is maybe why? they needed the toilet?? heee heee heee

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  17. The solution is simple. Follow the golden rule. do unto others as you would have others do unto you.

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  18. Self supporting through our own contributions sometimes includes making an effort to raise money to assist with renovations, provide accommodations and repay for anything that may be viewed as a loss due to the group being housed in a place where harm can be done to anothers' possessions.

    The AA home group I belong to has built cabinets for the church kitchen, has paid for a door to be installed after the church experienced issues with vagrancy that made the church members feel unsafe, purchased extra chairs, painted the walls. Some of the members volunteered when the parking lot was being re-graveled.

    Mostly, regarding trash and butts (and I'm a non-smoker and always have been) but when I think, people really should clean-up after themselves I realize, God gave me two hands and it bugs 'me', so it's no sweat for me to pick up what bothers me, and I leave the world cleaner and I'm of service, I don't always do it, but when it bothers me I try to realize that I can do something about it. I have a sponsee who smokes and I suggest regularly that she do service work by making sure the smoking area in the lot is free of debris, seeing her serving that way may carry a spirit to those who don't, and she gets to be of service to the church, AA group, and community.

    I guess it all depends on how much I want to be a part of the solution, as to how much effort is put into the attempt. But I try to be conscious of the world around me and what I can do to better it.

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  19. People in general are slobs and self-entitled. Smokers at Lambda throw their butts on the ground when there is an ashtray a foot away. Trash left in meeting rooms. Parking behind people, blocking them from leaving, just because it's convenient. It's unfortunate.

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  20. I have been very fortunate as we have strong members of AA who remind us to respect and clean up after each meeting, we don't own the places we meet, we borrow them and need to return them as we found them, when we see people disrespect that I have often seen someone quietly do what is the next right thing and clean, offer assistance or a gentle reminder.

    thank you for the reminder of how lucky we are to have such great spaces to meet.

    Gabi

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  21. My home group meets in a church hall. Part of the service we do for ourselves and the church is to pick up and clean up after ourselves so the hall appears as if we'd never been there & is ready for the next group (a morning ballet class) that uses the hall. Everyone chips in and does some small task before leaving. No problem with cigarette butts because smoking in public places and restaurants is outlawed --er--against the law in
    CT. Smokers in the parking area field-strip the butts and throw filters in the trash can or in the ash tray in their cars. There's a sign in the Ladies near the light switch that cracks me up. It says We Pray you turn out the Lights.

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  22. When I used to drink in the woods I made a right mess, later about 1 year sober I went back to a place where I drank and dug a hole to bury then all.

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Let me know what you think. I like reading what you have to say.