Council 2005 01

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  • Date: January 19, 2005
  • Facilitator: Shawn
  • Scribe: Martin

in attendance

Note: This list is from Pete's memory a few days after the meeting. Attendance was not recorded at the meeting.

Richard, Martin (scribe), Dave, Jeff (?) the guy w/ curly hair, Michael, Pete, some guy w/ long hair & beard, Vagrant, Shawn (facilitator), Phil, Wes, Nathan, some guy on the couch I don't know, some other guy on the couch I can't remember who, Oso

prior commitments

  • oso: africa slideshow annotation. DONE

  • martin, oso, jhasen: tantalum research. CARRYOVER
  • martin: nocat. DONE
  • oso: financial optimization docs. DONE
  • oso, nathan: carter bylaws, ammendments. DONE
  • oso, phil, peter: flexcar pickups. CARRYOVER
  • wesley: research blind/VI computing. CARRYOVER

old business

future of collab


  • nathan presents on the wiki contents.
  • Pete: what kind of projects will it take on? nonprofits coming to us and asking us to do things we already do would be the best. we would want to do outreach to try and bring in more of these types of jobs.
  • Pete: (clarification via email list) I thought that maybe the assignment of a shepherd could be the bulk of what Collab is, which distinguishes it from Grants and justifies charging money. Upon further consideration, and in light of Jeff's proposal, I change my mind. It seems that a shepherd would be beneficial to FG as well as the client, so it's better to assign one to EVERY nonprofit that comes to us for help, and not charge for it. I guess the only real concern I have is, what if having shepherds results in too much staff time.
  • jeff: how is this a separate program? grants, distro, tech support, classes.
  • oso: nonprofits want a single point of contact for receiving all of what they want.
  • shawn: consultants? not short term, but in longer term plans, maybe. we also don't really want to be stuck in the middle (with all the risk) of the contractors and the clients. resource pooling and providing lists of relevant consultants to connect them together in the first place would be sufficient.
  • vagrant: short term = grants + onsite installation + education
  • jeff: seems focused on having freegeek provide a complete set of solutions for nonprofits. what would freegeek like to do best? education, hardware, info on what works for nonprofits (software, consultants, &c.). database applications are not something we should ever do again. a coordinator may not even be needed, if we can have a well done howto for nonprofits to learn how to use freegeek's resources.
  • michael: freegeek's internal groups will need to communicate better for this to work without a coordinator.
  • Pete: short term goal of making it easier for nonprofits to interface with us. vendor lock-in prevents nonprofits from moving to open source software, which is something we could work to cure so that consultants can more easily provide services to the nonprofits.
  • Pete: (clarification via email list) It's not so much that vendor lock-in prevents NP's from adopting open source's that solutions (whether open source or not) can be designed in such a way that it's very difficult for anybody other than the original vendor to support or modify, and assistance from a technically savvy group like Free Geek might be an excellent service to offer nonprofits shopping for a database system or other software.
  • richard: short term plans aren't worried too much by jeff's critiques, but it is important to keep them in mind as this grows. also, education should be tied to tech support.
  • rick: a point of contact makes things easier from all sides.
  • jeff: coordination is important. freegeek still cannot be a contracting company.
  • martin: grants could be expanded to deal with this, with the sheparding process used to provide points of contact.
  • richard: grants takes too long.
  • jeff: play with the public face freegeek has, and how requests get put to grants.

PROPOSAL: finish this wiki page and bring it to the next meeting.

That was a DECISION to rework and bring to meeting next month.

homestreet report

should be done by the end of feburary. martin's piece is the biggest remaining piece.

outreach for board members

We're down to two active members, and we should look for more. There have been discussions of rolling board into council and electing more members from Council.

  • Oso: bylaws can be changed by amendment ad nauseum, but it's difficult to change mission.
  • Richard: (clarification via email list) Oso was talking specifically about the legal requirements involved in retaining 503(c) status.
  • Richard: there's some difficulty with membersip vs. self-selecting organization. We need to talk to an attorney.
  • Oso: situation is not that bad, but we should figure out what we want the board to be. But we're overworrying about it at the moment. Don't need to try to tweak it too much right now.
  • Richard: the board isn't going to do anything nasty, but it's not great structurally, so we should consider changing it. And the current situation might provide a good opportunity to make a change.
  • Richard: (clarification via email list) As far as changing the bylaws, it's not that it's easy or hard, it's that there's a chance to screw up the 501c3 status, so we should do it right. They have the ability to do anything, but they're not likely to do anything we don't want them to do. Board of two requires both to show up for quorum. >50%
  • Pete: (clarification via email list) There was also some discussion of "how close we want the board." To me this seemed like a good thing to discuss further. If, indeed, the board has pretty much total autonomy, it seems to me that keeping the board distant and focused on broader legal issues is the best way to preserve the democratic/collaberative nature of FG's operations. If there is an advantage to selecting board members from the council, or urging board members to participate more actively in council (as I think Oso was advocating), I didn't understand it. Also, Oso and Richard agreed they can call each other paranoid, provided that the caller acknowledges his own paranoia as well as that of the callee.

new business

meeting procedures proposal

A lot of committments are not taken care of quickly or at all. After a month or two, ask the person what they want to do pass it off; get help; cancel the committment. Council then decides which path is best.

  • Richard: never had a policy, but support Council grilling or probing (and prod) staff members about their tasks.
  • Oso: we should gently and lovingly embrace staff members.
  • Martin: will this help?
  • Richard: if committments don't get done, we'll either destroy them or pass them to someone else to do.
  • Wesley: should we set a timeline?
  • Richard: timelines are good.
  • Pete: (via email list...and in hindsight, this comment doesn't seem that necessary) This all sounds good to me, except I wonder if maybe the onus should be put on the committer? That is, when they present, if they say "it's still in progress", they should be expected to assess whether they want somebody else to take it over, or whether there is some kind of help they need, or whether they think it's no longer relevant. If this is understood to be part of the process, it might reduce the need for grilling, probing, finger-pointing, and other forms of unpleasant or kinky interaction.

vbc collaboration

village building convergence usually happen outside, and take lots of buerocracy, but for them to do something in freegeek would be quick and easy. more community involvement will happen if we start early and make a proposal for them to do something inside freegeek. we will need coordinators willing to shepard the project through. the proposal must be submitted by next week.

  • jeff: landlord permission? space use issues?
  • oso: benches outside! things that really help people.
  • shawn: too late to start doing benches, as it has to be done as a community project, with lots of community involvement.
  • wes: how does this help us?
  • phil: the environment here is oppressive and should be made more human.
  • nathan: we are a community center, and it should be livable.
  • richard: we don't need to do this immediately, even though there's a chance to do this with the vbc.
  • dave: borg cube bathrooms
  • jeff: have volunteers paint and do art.

PROPOSAL: do this next year with vbc, pay attention to the environment now with what we have.

I think that was a DECISION to not proceed with a VBC thing in a big way this year, but to start thinking longer term about Free Geek's community space and explore getting involved in a VBC thing for next year outside.

africa projects

oso presented. capetown wants a freegeek, and has funding to pay for a 3 month freegeek helper. oso has also been invited to an open source road show. he could use this to plan with the capetown freegeek.

PROPOSAL: send oso to the road show (if it's paid for).

That was a DECISION to have Oso go to Africa (if it's paid for).

how big should freegeek be

richard presents. we have lots of stuff coming up and being implemented that we should consider with respect to this question. economy of scale demands we grow some, but how much does the culture here want?

And it was strongly urged that everybody give ideas/opinions well in advance of next meeting, pref. via the wiki pages, or email.

envada isp support

they will give us money for endorsing them. how good will their tech support be compared to wiz2coho? they should talk to our tech support coordinator, find out about our machines and the support they require. we need to gather more information about them before sending our volunteers to them. can they handle us?

Pete, Shawn, Phil, Michael will get more details and bring a more concrete proposal to next council meeting.

next meeting

  • Date: feb 16th
  • Facilitator: phil
  • Scribe: pete
  • Agenda:
    • future of collab
    • homestreet report
    • What do we want the Board to do?
    • how big should freegeek be?
    • Nathan's job description


  • Oso will invite MNR and Dennis to the next meeting.
  • martin, oso, jhasen: tantalum research. CARRYOVER
  • oso, phil, peter: flexcar pickups. CARRYOVER
  • wesley: research blind/VI computing. CARRYOVER
  • everyone: work on collab future wiki
  • everyone: comment on "how big should we be" wiki
  • michael, phil, pete, shawn: figure out if envada will work for our volunteers.