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About Portland Area Intergroup

Portland, Oregon Intergroup is a committee of volunteers made up of representatives from Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) groups all over the greater Portland OR area. Portland Area Intergroup encourages mutual support and cooperation between AA groups. It provides services for all groups that would be too much for the individual groups to handle by themselves. Portland Area Intergroup provides the following services for the A.A. community and the general public:

  • Central Office
  • Literature Distribution
  • Meeting Schedules
  • A.A. Hotline
  • Liaison Services for A.A. Groups
  • Liaison Services for the General Public
  • Service Committees
  • Public Information
  • Cooperation with the Professional Community
  • Cooperation with Treatment Facilities
  • Cooperation with Correctional Facilities
  • Sponsor special functions for all groups

 

A Brief History of Portland Area Intergroup

1950-2012

In 1943 Portland Oregon saw its first AA meeting come into existence. They were called “10th Street Group #1”.

As time went on, one group turned into eight! Early AA’s thought it a good idea to have a central location for AA meetings in Portland. In short order “The 10th Street Club” got its start.

Soon thereafter, the idea came to develop a Central Office. A small group of people looked into this idea and came back with a plan that has developed into the Intergroup we know today as PORTLAND AREA INTERGROUP.

Our central office actually began in the 10th street club in 1947. After about 2 years of operation, a small committee was appointed to study the actual needs and functions of an AA central office. At the completion of the study, resolutions were drawn up so that by the end of 1949 our office was official

About that time, another alano club started in NW Portland at 19th and Flanders. The central office moved into a room in that building that allowed for a separate entrance and phone line. We knew it was important to keep identities separate and this worked well to that end. As well as that arrangement worked, it was deemed prudent to secure a completely separate office space for the AA central office. November 1950, the central office moved to 519 S.W. 3rd Ave in downtown Portland. This was the infamous Dekum building where we remained for the next 40 years! The office manager during this period was “Doc” Dailey. He remained manager until 1971.

Our office has had several names over the years as we have matured. The first name and the least known was “Metropolitan Central Committee”. Soon it evolved to “Central Advisory Committee”, then as you could expect, it changed again to simply “Central Committee”. As AA grew and the greater Portland area expanded, more and more AA meetings sprang up all around rural Portland and outlying areas. In 1962, the name “Portland Area Intergroup” was adopted and continues to serve us well.

It is quite interesting to note that the troubles early groups had are very much the same today as they were then. Things such as falling attendance, lack of funds, discussions on how to improve the groups and how to increase attendance at the intergroup meeting; all of these seemingly small issues are shared by AA groups worldwide. The common thread is, we are all doing what we can to improve how we serve the still suffering alcoholic. Keeping AA available and viable is what our statement of responsibility means.

The Responsibility Statement reads:

I am Responsible. When anyone, anywhere, reaches out for help, I want the hand of A.A. always to be there. And for that: I am responsible

The monthly intergroup meetings were “sponsored” by member groups for many years. They would request a few months in advance so the word would be out in enough time for everyone to attend. Of course it was fairly simple to keep everyone informed for the first score of years. June of 1968 had 12 groups represented. January of 1980 had 17 groups. (To date (2012) we have record of over 65 groups on a regular basis and nearly 100 people in attendance.)

According to the minutes from these early meetings, our Corrections committee was most active. They were constantly looking for new volunteers and they always had something to add to the business meetings. The corrections committee continues to be a stabile source of service opportunities for the AA member looking to assist an outreach committee.

In 1959 the “Eastside” group announced their intension of opening another office and telephone service to improve 12 step work. There was a little discussion about this at that meeting but it was never mentioned again. The Eastside group did start attending and supporting the efforts of the intergroup the very next meeting however. The focus was on 12 step work and helping the still suffering alcoholic!

Speaker meetings were now on the radar and the Intergroup sponsored a quarterly speaker meeting which became tradition by the 1960’s. Marty Mann was one of the early speakers of the time. Marty was best known as the first woman in AA to stay sober for any length of time and who worked tirelessly to educate the medical profession on alcoholism and the tools AA had to offer as a treatment.

One last issue Central Office was expected to solve was dealing with “student” AA meetings. Yes those pesky kids wanted sobriety too! For a brief period “student” meetings could only attend the Intergroup business meeting by first getting approval from the board of directors. We’ve come a long way babe!

Fred Douglas was the 2nd person to serve as manager of the office and did so for the next 12 years. AA continued to grow and the office kept up with the growing pains. The office moved from a 144 sq ft room that served 8 groups, to a 1200 sq ft office that served over 200 groups. This period was from 1950 to 1983. After Fred retired, we found Chet Carlson. Chet managed the office for the next four years. (1983-1987) Chet was a well know AA member in Portland and helped start many, many meetings in the Portland Area. Chet was also very active in Oregon Area. Chet also maintained the Oregon Area Archive collection for a number of years. When Chet retired, Donald Baxter was asked to manage the office and usher in the computer era. Don also brought a level of professionalism to Central Office that served as an excellent example of “how to” be organized in a disorganized organization. Don’s work made it easy for the next manager to step in. Don retired in 1993. Garry Biggers was hired to serve as office manager after Donald Baxter retired, and currently still serves in this position.

The growth of AA has been consistent with the growth of the population in the greater Portland area. Our Intergroup currently publishes a local meeting schedule that lists over 800 meetings a week in Portland and outlying areas. We supply AA literature to the majority of the meetings and groups. Portland Area Intergroup has had a successful “Intergroup Committee” meeting monthly since its inception. We continue to strive to meet the needs of the AA community and act as a contact point for anyone inquiring about the program of Alcoholics Anonymous.

Central Offices across the country have had a weekend seminar once a year for about the last 20 years. At this seminar we discuss and share our experience strength and hope with each other as to how to better serve the still suffering alcoholic. We frequently communicate via e-mail with each other to offer advice and encouragement. We all seem to share common ailments when it comes to running Central Offices. One thing is certain, our fellowship continues to grow and daily people reach out to AA for the first time. 

 

About AA

History

By 1934 alcoholic Bill Wilson had ruined a promising Wall Street career because of his constant drunkenness. He was introduced to the idea of a spiritual cure by an old drinking buddy Ebby Thacher who had become a member of a "first century Christian movement" called the Oxford Group. Wilson was treated at Charles B. Towns hospital by Dr. William Silkworth, who promoted a disease concept of alcoholism. While in the hospital, Wilson underwent what he believed to be a spiritual experience and, convinced of the existence of a healing higher power, he was able to stop drinking.

On a 1935 business trip to Akron, Ohio, Wilson felt the urge to drink again and in an effort to stay sober, he sought another alcoholic to help. Wilson was introduced to Dr. Bob Smith. Wilson and Smith co-founded AA with a word of mouth program to help alcoholics. Smith's last drink on June 10, 1935 is considered by members to be the founding date of AA. By 1937, Wilson and Smith determined that they had helped 40 alcoholics get sober, and two years later, with the about 100 members, Wilson expanded the program by writing a book entitled Alcoholics Anonymous which the organization also adopted as its name. The book, informally referred to by members as "The Big Book," described a twelve-step program involving admission of powerlessness over alcohol, moral inventory, and asking for help from a higher power. In 1941 book sales and membership increased after radio interviews and favorable articles in national magazines, particularly by Jack Alexander in The Saturday Evening Post.

By 1946, as membership grew, confusion and disputes within groups over practices, finances, and publicity led Wilson to write the guidelines for noncoercive group management that eventually became known as the Twelve Traditions>. AA came of age at the 1955 St. Louis convention when Wilson turned over the stewardship of AA to the General Service Conference. In this era AA also began its international expansion, and by 2001 the number of members worldwide was estimated at two million.

Organization

In 2006, 1,867,212 members in 106,202 AA groups were reported worldwide. The Twelve Traditions informally guide how AA groups function, and the Twelve Concepts for World Service guide how AA is structured globally.

A member who accepts a service position or an organizing role is a "trusted servant" with terms rotating and limited, typically lasting three months to two years and determined by group vote. Each group is a self-governing entity with AA World Services acting only in an advisory capacity. AA is served entirely by alcoholics, except for seven "nonalcoholic friends of the fellowship" out of twenty-one members of the AA Board of Trustees.

AA groups are self-supporting and not charities, and they have no dues or membership fees. Groups rely on member donations, typically $1 collected per meeting in America, to pay for expenses like room rental, refreshments, and literature. No one is turned away for lack of funds.

Beyond the group level, AA may hire outside professionals for services that either require specialized expertise and/or are full time responsibilities, as of 2007 GSO in New York employees 40 or so such workers.

AA receives proceeds from books and literature which constitute more than 50% of the income for the General Service Office (GSO), which unlike individual groups is not self-supporting and maintains a small salaried staff. It also maintains service centers which coordinate activities like printing literature, responding to public inquiries, and organizing conferences. They are funded by local members and responsible to the AA groups they represent.

Meetings

Anyone, including non-alcoholics, is allowed to attend "open" AA meetings, while "closed" meetings are reserved to those who attend for their personal drinking problems. There are groups for men or women, groups angled at gay people, and groups for speakers of minority languages. Most AA meetings begin with socializing. Formats vary between meetings, for example, a beginners' meeting might include a talk by a long-time sober member about his or her personal experience of drinking, coming to AA and what was learned there about sobriety. A group discussion on topics related to alcoholism and the AA program might follow.

In a typical meeting, the chairperson starts by calling the meeting to order and offering a short prayer, meditation, and/or period of silence (practice varies by meeting). Then, a section from the book Alcoholics Anonymous may be read aloud, usually the beginning of Chapter Five, entitled "How It Works". Announcements from the chairperson and group members follow. Many groups celebrate newcomers, visitors, and sobriety anniversaries with rounds of applause. Following announcements, donations are collected, usually by passing a basket around the room. There is no requirement to make a donation. Most members contribute a small amount, often just some loose change. The making of large donations is actively discouraged in AA. Depending on the type of meeting, a talk by a speaker relating their personal experience with alcoholism and AA or a discussion session with topics chosen by the chairperson, the speaker, or the attendees follows. The "no crosstalk" suggestions, where responding to another member's comments is discouraged, is a hallmark of AA meetings. In many meetings, in order to encourage identification, members confine their comments to their alcoholic drinking and recovery, following the guidelines of "what we were like, what happened and what we are like now". This format is intended to avoid distracting the group from its primary purpose. After the discussion period, the meeting is typically ended with a prayer, usually the Serenity Prayer or often in the US, the Lord's Prayer Lord's Prayer. These ending prayers are sometimes undertaken by the entire group forming a circle and holding hands. More socializing typically follows the close of the formal meeting, and it is common for members to gather at a nearby coffee shop. Other meeting formats also exist where specific AA related topics are discussed in more detail. A common example is a Step Study meeting where one or more of the 12 steps are discussed at length.

Support PAI

Or make a donation today!

Donations to Portland Area Intergroup can be mailed to 825 NE 20th Ave., Suite 200, Portland, OR 97232. or use your credit card by calling us at 503-223-8569 during office hours (9am to 5pm M-F). We are grateful for your consideration.

Questions about Portland Area Intergroup?

Download our FAQ Sheet or get in touch:

1212@pdxaa.com
503-223-8569

Central Office
825 NE 20thAve  #200
Portland, OR
(M-F 9am-5pm)