If you are thinking of starting an SIA meeting we’d like to share some of the ideas we’ve come up with.
Some of the questions we discussed when starting meetings were:
What changes do we want to make to the format?
J More focus on steps, less focus on steps, etc. I've found that helpful structure for a meeting goes a long way towards keeping it focused and productive.
J New or changed safety guidelines?
What site can we choose that is accessible? (It usually takes some time finding a site)
J easy access from public transportation
J ideally doesn't require a key to get in (there are inevitable issues with this)
J it feels safe enough for attendees
J Is 12 Step friendly
When do we open to new members?
J We found it very helpful to run 4 or so meetings just with us "founders" to work out the kinks, etc. During that time we spent the 2nd half of the metering making changes to the format, etc. It's important that the format fit the personality of the committed founders. And once other people start attending decision making gets much more difficult.
How many meetings can the founders commit to attending?
J During the first 3 months it is critical to have as many founders as possible there every meeting, ready to start on time. This helps newcomers feel safe and the meeting has a consistent feel to it.
J I started the most successful meetings with 3 other people. This enabled each major role to be filled for the first 6 months easily and it made it much more likely that someone would be present on time for each meeting.
J I spent a month or so "recruiting" committed SIA members who wanted a local co-ed group before we started.
What will we name our meeting?
If you look at meeting lists you will see that each meeting has its own name that tells people a bit about it.
Who will be the Group Rep?
J This person represents the group with the local Intergroup, if there is one. Attends meetings, can vote for the group, etc. This person is also the one that receives mailings from the World Service Office such as the "Newsletter", etc.
J This person usually is the one that sends in the "new meeting" form to WSO and to the Intergroup.
Do we want to be listed on the siawso.org Website - or when do we?
J Some groups do, some don't. The more outreach the more likely the meeting will grow, and the more likely to have people show up you wish didn't.
At some point you may want to consider other outreach:
J How do we spread the word to other SIA groups?
J How do we appropriately spread the word to people in other 12 Step groups?
J Do we advertise in local papers, etc.?
J Do we reach out to local therapists and tell them about us?
J The 1st two approaches seem to bring in more new members than everything else I've seen combined.
Other major steps:
J Order Literature from siawso.org
J Create a notebook with all the meeting documents in it. (I.e., format, "How this meeting works", Safety Guidelines, etc. (These documents can be downloaded for free from the siawso.org website).
Good luck to you and your new meeting from the NYC Intergroup!