Joy D., ISO Chair
Chairperson’s Report 2022
29th April 2022
The past year has gone well for SCA, despite the continuation of the Corona Virus pandemic and the new variants of first Delta and then Omicron. The pandemic issues have kept the majority of meetings on Zoom. However, Zoom has also created more of an influx of members from around the world, the opportunity for more meetings to develop, and some cross-pollination of meetings. For instance, many SCA members from SCA NY were able to attend the SCA LA Fellowship Weekend. So, although there will undoubtedly be a solid return to in-person meetings whenever the world gets to post-pandemic reality, the presence of Zoom meetings and in-person hybrid meetings look as though they will continue to be a vital part of SCA.
In other good news, donations to SCA are relatively steady. Although there has been a slight downturn in 7th tradition donations from 2020, the 2021 donations exceeded our budget’s expectations. A smaller revenue stream also seems to be developing from our new Recovery Book publication. It seems as though the sales of retail books more than offset the discounts given to SCA groups. The Fiduciary chair will discuss more, but SCA isn’t about to go broke. Judging by the numbers, we will likely be able to fund more new literature publications and other possible projects.
I would now like to take a moment to remind the ISO body of where SCA was at last year’s conference. Our excellent former chair, Gordon B., had pointed out the top six areas of concern that the fellowship-wide inventory pinpointed. They were:
“(1) Not enough focus on the Steps; (2) Low or shrinking attendance; (3) Fellowship not welcoming enough; (4) Not enough outreach or visibility to the public; (5) Not enough safety in the rooms; and (6) Need for better, additional, and updated literature.”
Gordon noted the first steps that he took to address these issues. The largest of these was the development of our Recovery Book. It received final approval at last year’s conference, and Fiduciary had it subsequently published.
In looking at points 1, 3, 4, and 6, our “Big Book” certainly took a big swing at addressing them. The commentaries on The Steps and Traditions and the variety of stories from various backgrounds, sexualities, and genders make SCA’s book the most up-to-date and inclusive 12- Step focused book on recovery from sexual addiction that is out there. Furthermore, having the book available in print and on various digital platforms has made the SCA take on sexual recovery more visible to the general public. Adding to that visibility is the work done by our Inreach and Outreach Committees and our Outside Director, Dr. Alexandra Katehakis. These actions around the new Big Book have made SCA more known to the addicts who still suffer and the professionals who work to treat them.
Another step Gordon initiated was the approval of our inclusivity and diversity policy, which then went out to the various Intergroups and individual meetings. That policy now has an official link on ISO’s public-facing website. Also changed is our welcoming statement. As voted on in that conference, it now says “people” instead of the gendering phrase, “men and women.”
My First Year as ISO Chair
For me, this year has been somewhat of a whirlwind. I could not have gotten through without the support of all on the executive committee, especially that of Fiduciary Committee Chair David N. and former chair Gordon B. I have had opportunities to speak with and exchange emails with some of you, and I look forward to getting to know more of the “ISO Crew” in the upcoming year.
GOALS for 2022-23
There are several issues about literature on the agenda; two items are about brand-new literature, while the rest are about our current literature.
- Getting the Big Book and other literature translated into other languages
- Updating and reprinting the yellow four-fold, so that language in it no longer contains gendered words and phrases
- Whether we want to create an audiobook of our new Big Book
- Whether the step workbook and meditation book submitted by SCA NY should be considered and then referred to literature development
- Deciding if we need to pull last year’s approved Commentaries on the Characteristics in the Big Book and have them looked at again by Literature Development.
The first four issues are things I see as being important in the ongoing need to address the concerns found in the 2019 survey. This need is because when considering the top six issues found in the survey, most of them can be addressed, directly or indirectly, by work in the area of literature. What ISO has done thus far is an excellent start, but there is still more to be done.
Whether it be our website, a book, or a pamphlet, literature can be one of the first introductions a person has to SCA. Therefore, when considering how we approach literature and literature development, it is essential to remember how and why the founders started SCA. In part, we are a program that came about because the other S-fellowships forming around the same time were not welcoming and inclusive toward those in the queer committee. Because of this history, we are the fellowship that should be making the largest attempts to be open, welcoming, and inclusive to groups of people that continue to be marginalized and excluded from “mainstream” recovery today.
Here are the ways the four new projects address those survey concerns while staying true to the founding principles of SCA.
- Having our current literature officially translated into other languages is one way of increasing our circle of inclusivity and helps to facilitate outreach to different committees and cultures worldwide.
- Updating and reprinting the yellow four-fold, so that language in it no longer contains gendered words and phrases is particularly important for the inclusion of transgender and non-binary people. When SCA was first coming into being, one sexual recovery program defined sexual sobriety as sex within marriage. At the time, there was no legalized gay marriage, so LGBTQ+ people couldn’t see themselves as being able to gain recovery. Others tried to erase their very existence. We do not want anyone coming into the program to read our literature and feel that way. The language we use matters.
- A step workbook shows SCA’s commitment to The Steps beyond just reading about them. Having our own meditation book does this also. Not only does it help with the 11th step, but at different points, it references all of The Steps, making it easier to incorporate them into a member’s daily life.
- The audiobook will expand our outreach to those who may be visually impaired or have other issues with reading. Furthermore, the audiobook can reflect our written diversity policy if approached right. Currently, we have a Big Book that has the thoughts and stories of people from different backgrounds and regions of the world and people of different genders. An audiobook that reflects this means recruiting readers – not just one or two. It needs to be a diverse group of four to six people. This diversity will allow us to have an audiobook that sounds like what is on our Big Book pages. Producing the audiobook in this way will continue to enhance the presence of SCA as a program for all people.
Future Issues to Consider
One of the ironic things about the COVID pandemic and the shutting down of in-person has been the opportunity for growth and expansion via Zoom. Gordon wrote extensively about the rise of newcomers from all over the world. These newcomers could find SCA because of our website and the Zoom meetings. As a member of other fellowships, I can note that this isn’t just happening in SCA. Most 12-Step fellowships have reported an increase in newcomers and inquiries.
With this in mind, we must begin to think of Zoom meetings not as something we make do with until the pandemic ends. They are not just “until we get back to in-person meetings.” Instead, Zoom meetings need to become a part of the regular structure of how our program works. We need to consider them as much of a meeting as those conducted in person. Perhaps, over time, we will have more hybrid meetings or even mirrored meetings where online and in-person versions are co-occurring. What’s important is that we consider them to be a permanent part of recovery.
In terms of future literature, one thing worth noting is that while ISO certainly doesn’t “commission” new literature, we can be the catalyst for having various Intergroups start thinking about developing some. There was much cross-pollination between ISO and Intergroups that led to the development of our Big Book and the possible new literature we’ll be looking at today. This dynamic is not breaking the “bottom-up” structure: it is the ISO’s reaction to the survey that says the fellowship would like new literature.
How does this work? Here’s an example. I told a fellow that it would be nice if we had a pamphlet about being trans, non-binary, or non-gender-conforming in SCA recovery. That fellow got excited about the idea and planned to start working on it to take to their intergroup. If that happens, it could eventually make its way to the ISO Literature development committee.
Having more new literature that fits with the current influx of newcomers is vital. For instance, the PoC meeting out of NYC uses SLAA’s PoC pamphlet as reading material. It would be better if we had our own pamphlet. Mentioning this at meetings that it would be great if SCA had its own PoC pamphlet might inspire someone to write one. Another possible pamphlet idea is SCA and chronic illness. From HIV to age-related illnesses to long-term Covid, a pamphlet addressing chronic illnesses while in recovery is one that would be great to have.
Making these kinds of announcements at meetings or fellowship invites new and different people to a new level of service. It is also letting them know that others see them in our program. This outreach is very much in line with our commitment to the newcomer – all of them. I will also reiterate that it falls in line with SCA’s history. We are the program founded in part because others did not give the lives of non-straight people a thought. We don’t want to be a program that does that to other groups of people who may be very different from our own backgrounds and sexualities. All that matters is making them feel welcome as they join us on the road of recovery in SCA.