Greetings Trusted Servants,
I would like to begin by thanking the body and the region for allowing me to serve in this capacity and carry what I hope was a solid conscience from the regional fellowship to the 2023 World Service Conference. A lot happened, and a lot is planned moving forward, so hopefully this report will help break some of that down for folks. Much of this report is pulled directly from the Summary of Decisions that can be found at na.org/conference. I’ve tried to excerpt some of that here for clarity without having to sift through the whole document. All files are attached and (hopefully) clearly labeled at the bottom of this post.
My experience is that the part people are most eager to hear about from the conference is the decisions made on the motions from the Conference Agenda Report, so let’s begin there. We’ve also included decisions from CAT motions, as our region did attempt to gather conscience on those motions as well. A breakdown of the voting is included in the results, you can find it all in the files titled WSC 2023 Adopted Motions and WSC 2023 Committed-Failed-Not Considered Motions and Amendments.
Some things to clarify: All motions were considered and decided on. Due to the way WSC decision making is set up, motion amendments that don’t have sufficient support are not considered, so those are included in the second document. Failing is pretty straightforward. One area where there was confusion among the delegates was the motion that was committed to the board. Committing a motion essentially says “we’re not going to decide this right now, World Board please investigate it and report back to us.” This is somewhat of a relic of the old Robert’s Rules of Order days, but it is still a valid process, and this was used to resolve a bit of a stalemate in terms of deciding on that particular motion. When the World Board does report back to us, we will report back to you.
There were multiple motions to seat new regions at the conference, which we also decided on, listed as motions 39-43 in the previously mentioned document.. Iran Region #1, Brazil Central, Nordeste Brazil, Rio Grande do Sul, and Thailand were all seated at the WSC. This was a poignant moment, as one of the Brazilian delegates burst into tears after his region was seated, emphasizing the importance of everyone having a seat at our table.
The process of voting on new literature projects was confusing to many of us. Essentially the way the process is currently working is this: CAR motions do not necessarily result in new project plans. Items are suggested (or agreed on via motion) and are added to the CAR Survey. Everyone votes on the survey, and then the conference as a body reviews the results, reviews the World Board’s recommendations, and makes the final decision as to what projects will be first on the list. This is why (for those that looked at the CAT) you saw empty “bucket” motions for new projects, those projects were determined here. In other parts of the WSC, we all agreed that this is a broken process, although it is unclear how that process is going to get fixed. Meanwhile, we did decide on some new projects for new literature, revised literature, service literature, and issue discussion topics. Those results can be found in WSC 2023 CAR Survey Results and Project Decisions.
Elections took place. We elected two new World Board members and re-elected three more, we elected two Human Resource Panel members, and we elected a new co-facilitator. For those not familiar, the co-facilitators are the folks who run the business portions of the conference, and the HRP is the group that reviews and vets nominees for world level service positions. See WSC 2023 Election Results for the details.
Much of the conference was spent discussing ways to move forward as a body and as a fellowship over the coming cycle. The New Ideas portion of the conference is a place where delegates make suggestions of things that they would like discussed. Those ideas are then polled, and the ideas getting strongest support are discussed in breakout rooms. We discussed four topics from this list, and the full descriptions can be found in WSC 2023 New Ideas. No decisions are made, but the discussion can help clarify ideas and tools to be developed in the coming cycle prior to the next CAR.
Finally we spent a day discussing “Creating Our Future,” where we tried to frame the things we would like to discuss/work on over the coming cycle in addition to items already identified. There is some overlap with the New Ideas section, but there are also some more distinct topics as well. See WSC 2023 Creating Our Future.
As previously mentioned, all of these documents referenced are pulled directly from the WSC 2023 Summary of Decisions at na.org/conference. You can find even further detail in that document if you so desire.
So what can we expect from the coming cycle? Well, there are several things that are obvious, and several more that take a little explaining. Let’s start with the delegate team. As you noticed in the decisions on CAR motions, the conference agreed to try out a full, three year conference cycle (with an interim WSC somewhere in the middle). We essentially did this over the last three years, but now we’re making it official. This means the next full WSCs will be in 2026 and 2029, at which point we’ll decide whether to keep the three year cycle or go back to two. Obviously, this screws up the rotation of our delegate team. Currently, regional positions all rotate every two years, on even years. This was done so that RSC positions lined up with the main conference cycle. At least for the next six years, this doesn’t work. The current RD/AD terms are up in 2024, which is now smack in the middle of the conference cycle. This probably needs to be fixed. The suggestions from the current delegate team, after consulting with multiple other regions to see how they were handling this, is as follows: All non delegate RSC positions continue on their current rotation. If we keep the three year cycle in 2029 we can fix this if we want to, or not since three years rather than two might make filling positions harder. Either way, worry about the bulk of the RSC later. For the delegate team there are two aspects that we think should be considered. The first is to change policy so that the RD/AD team rotates in the July following the full WSC. This would mean that regardless of a two year or three year cycle, the delegates would always rotate after the conference. This seems the simplest policy solution. But what do we do for the coming cycle when the current team rotates in 2024? We see two solutions. One is to hold elections for AD (after Jonathan moves up to RD) in 2024, and have that person come in mid cycle. The other is that the current delegate team remains as it is through the next conference, and then we begin the new rotation at that point. We are recommending (against Jacob’s better judgment) that we do the latter. There is a lot coming down the pipe this cycle (which we will discuss next), and with the new structure for the conference cycle coming in mid term would be extremely challenging. By remaining in place from 2024-2026, we feel the delegate team could get everything off to a good start and have things running smoothly for the next team. This does not need to be decided on now, but it does need to be taken into account and addressed fairly soon.
Well you want to keep doing this, what would you be doing exactly? I thought you’d never ask. One of the big focuses of the conference was something called strategic planning. Not everyone may be familiar with this concept (Jacob wasn’t), so here’s a little breakdown:
Strategic planning is the tool the World Board uses to look at the trends inside and outside of NA to focus the efforts of NA World Services for the cycle ahead. Working from a strategic plan allows the World Board to consider NA’s needs and resources collectively, and to responsibly prioritize the most important and impactful work. Healthy and effective organizations typically operate from a strategic plan.
World Services has been doing strategic planning for a long time, and we typically vote on a strategic plan in the CAT, but the planning process has never been well integrated with the rest of the conference processes or decision-making. The World Board tried to implement a more collaborative planning process following the 2018 conference, but the pandemic pretty much stopped it in its tracks. So now we’re trying to get the process started again. The goal is that this will be the most inclusive process utilized so far, with the zones helping to facilitate cooperation and coordination across regions and areas. We are going to give it a try. If it doesn’t work, we won’t do it anymore, but this delegate team and delegates from all over the world feel that this is a worthwhile effort to at least give an attempt.
This is not a new concept in NA, even if it is a new concept to NA in the US. Brazil, Africa, Russia, the EDM, and the APF have been doing some form of strategic planning for a while now, and they reported very clearly on their success at the conference. The goal here is to spread that progress even further across the globe to carry the message to the addict who still suffers.
We started at the conference with a discussion of internal and external forces that influence our ability to function and effectively carry the message. The discussions from New Ideas and Creating Our Future also helped to shape the priorities of this process for the coming year. The World Board will be disseminating tools developed from these discussions for us to use in our own local workshops. These tools will hopefully be used by RSCs and RCMs to facilitate discussion in their local communities. We also plan for the delegate team to hold several workshops around the state, some of which may be coordinated with the Carolina Region as appropriate.
In order for these efforts to bear fruit, we will need to be doing a better job of holding workshops, discussion forums, and whatever else to ensure that input from the regional fellowship can be gathered in a more fluid manner. The hope is that by focusing on specific goals, all of which were identified in the previously discussed discussions at the WSC, we can be more proactive and more responsive, rather than depending on CAR motions to move things forward. This is a definite shift from how things have been done in the past. Previously, if there wasn’t a CAR motion, it didn’t happen, and when it did happen without that motion people got mad. This has prevented us from proactively addressing some of the big issues that our fellowship faces. All discussion is still driven by input from the local fellowship, we’re just trying to make it more fluid and effective at carrying the message.
IDTs, or Issue Discussion Topics (as described previously in the results section), are another aspect of planning and development utilized by the fellowship. Our region has historically not done a very good job of facilitating discussion around these topics. Some of you may remember that the topic of DRT/MAT was workshopped as the last cycle IDT when the zone met in RDU. This is insufficient. The delegate team plans to hold several workshops around the state on these topics, and may be coordinating with the Carolina Region here as well. Tools to facilitate these discussions should also be coming down the pipe, and our hope is to provide much more concrete input on these topics than we have in the past.
While our zone (The Southeast Zone) does meet quarterly, it has not been as productive as we would like it to be. The tools and resources being developed will improve the impact of the zone and allow the SEZF to better support its member areas in all of these labors. As previously discussed at the RSC, we intend to continue to maintain a positive presence at the SEZF, with one of us attending all meetings in person and one attending virtually (to save money). We did this for the most recent zonal meeting last weekend in Charleston, and it seemed to work well.
We also continue to attend the conference participant webinars hosted by the World Board. These meet roughly every two months, and are increasingly taken up with small group discussion on the topics we’ve been talking about throughout this report. The most recent webinar, also last weekend, was centered on beginning the discussion of two of the IDTs for this cycle. Our input will be used in developing the discussion tools that we hope to start seeing soon.
Overall, and all things considered, this was an amazing conference that illustrated to us the sheer volume of members and their trusted servants who are driven by a desire to be of service to the fellowship and help carry the message. We’ve been honored to be a part of this process, and we thank you for allowing us to play a part in it on your behalf. As always, do not hesitate to reach out with questions, comments, or concerns at any time (within reason). We look forward to continuing this work with all of you moving forward. Thank you.
In Loving Service,
Jacob S, RD and Jonathan B, AD