SOBRIETY IN THE VILLE
In March of 2020, COVID-related Sheltering In Place was instituted in Santa Cruz County, California, and resident Margo L. found herself looking for a new way to attend Alcoholics Anonymous meetings. She came upon Zoom, invited some friends, asked someone to chair, and held a meeting. Before that first meeting ended, she was already arranging for a chair and inviting people to come back the next night, and so it continued for several days. Of the people attending, one person mentioned a desire for an early morning meeting, and another offered to host a mid-day meeting.
On March 20, 2020, Sobriety in The Ville was born. Working together to host Alcoholics Anonymous meetings, Margo and other members of Sobriety in The Ville (SITV or The Ville) continued to add meetings, and by May they were holding 21 AA meetings per week, scheduled daily at 7am, noon, and 7pm. On the fifth and seventh of January, 2021, Sobriety in The Ville added women’s and men’s meetings, respectively, bringing their weekly total to 23 meetings. Sobriety in The Ville has never met as an in-person AA meeting; its meetings are zoom-only, and will continue in this format regardless of issues of sheltering in place, physical (social) distancing, masking up, or the latest COVID strain or variant.
Throughout the spring and summer of 2020, people from the Pacific Northwest, the Midwest, New York, and beyond discovered and began attending AA meetings at The Ville. These folks invited friends who invited other friends, and in the fashion of one alcoholic talking to another the demographics of this grass roots group of Alcoholics Anonymous grew in terms of how many members attend our meetings, where they live, how old they are, and how much sobriety they have.
In the beginning of sheltering in place, much concern was expressed about how the newcomer would find meetings and achieve sobriety. Fortunately they found Zoom AA communities, and started attending meetings. As is encouraged at any Twelve Step meeting, on-line or in-person, newcomers are welcomed with open arms. We are grateful for every moment, day, week, month, and year of sobriety achieved. What joy we all shared as March of 2021 rolled around, and we started celebrating the one-year birthdays of our new and returning members.
On March 20, 2021 Sobriety in The Ville celebrated its own one-year birthday, and sponsored a one-day spring fling / founders day alcathon during which we had slogan-inspired topic meetings and enjoyed music performed by some of our brothers and sisters in sobriety. Not only have we celebrated the newcomers’ early milestones, but many of our members have years, decades, and more of sobriety. All of these birthdays are honored at our birthday meeting, which we hold at 7 pm, on the second Tuesday of each month.
As with life, not every step has been easy. We have had our growing pains. Some of us were more technically adept than others, some had more time on their hands, and others had more experience starting new meetings. No matter our skill levels, challenges, or areas of expertise, we were determined to make Sobriety in The Ville work. We began having business meetings, brainstorming, discussing, listening, and voting on everything through the group conscience process. We established by-laws, and in our second year developed a group inventory process and delivered an anonymous Zoom poll for our members to complete. We shared the results of the poll, determined changes to be made, will amend our by-laws if appropriate, and make any other applicable adjustments.
We have dealt with Zoom Bombers, learned ways to mitigate that offense, and focused on the positive aspects of our meetings rather than any negativity resulting from that experience. We have come together as a community; traveled across the country to meet in person, supported each other through illness, shared the joy of the birth of a first-born child, and mourned the death of beloved family members. We are living our lives connected through the cyber world. Some of us are longing for in-person meetings, others of us are relieved to know that this format will remain far in to the future. Sometime down the road we may hold an occasional hybrid or in-person activity, but Sobriety in The Ville, Your Ville, Our Ville, is a Global Ville. Always has been; always will be.