Council 2005 03

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  • Date: March 16, 2005
  • Facilitator: Matteo
  • Scribe: Pete
  • Previous Meeting Minutes


Dave H (staff), Richard S (staff), Nathan (staff), Missy, Shawn (staff), Mark, Clint, Wren, Wes, Martin (staff), Matteo, Michael, Rev Phil, Pete Forsyth

Committments from Previous Meeting

  • Board of Directors
    • Oso to invite MNR and Dennis (the remaining active Free Geek board members) to this meeting, to discuss the future of the Board of Directors - CARRY OVER.
    • COMMITMENT: Martin will discuss with Oso whether this will happen at next meeting, and report back to the list.
    • Martin: Oso did meet with Mark Nieman-Ross. Neither Oso nor Mark is here this month. Mark started a wiki page about the future of the Board at Board of Directors and people should continue discussion there so we're better prepared when Board people do show up at Council meeting (hopefully next month.) **CARRYOVER
  • Tantalum research
    • Martin will make a Wiki page so that other people can help out - CARRY OVER
    • COMMITMENTS: Michael will assist with research. Martin will post to council list.
    • Martin: Michael did an excellent job. (Gives out handout with results of research.) Recycling process is 35% efficient. But it is a valuable metal. We might get $63-74 perpound for capacitors that contain tantalum.
    • At this point, not feasible as a main part of what we do. Also have not found a local buyer. (How important is this? Are shipping costs the main concern? -Pete)
    • Where to go: take black hole ppl and have them look at recycle-bound laptops, and see how feasible it would be to remove tantalum capacitors. Try to find local recyclers. Nathan's idea - heat-based removal (soldering) could explore this.
    • Clint: is it worthwhile to hot-plate an entire motherboard at once, and pick off various components?
    • Nathan: think about side effects such as fumes.
    • Michael: danger of lead poisoning.
    • Richard: let's stop talking details, and approve the proposal to have black hole folks do more research.
    • PROPOSAL APPROVED: Get black hole folks on it. Report back next month.
  • Pickups
    • Can we get Flexcar to donate use of a vehicle for occasional pickup of large hardware donations? - CARRY OVER
    • COMMITMENTS: Pete will post draft to list for any feedback, and allow 1-2 business days before it's sent out. Phil will send the letter.
    • Pete- I sent out the letter, incorporating suggestions from Wes and Martin. Clint has relevant ideas, and will check the email archive. Expect a proposal once there's been more discussion with Flexcar. (Update since meeting...I received an enthusiastic response from Steve Gutmann at Flexcar; he is supportive of an agreement in general, but had different ideas about the specifics. See FlexCar Deal -Pete)
  • Program for Blind/Visually Impaired Adopters
    • Wesley (Tallwes) was the one developing this proposal - Updats Progress is made
    • Wes: (CORRECTION: Has found two programs that work already. Couldn't make one of the programs work. TW) Now he needs help from somebody who can compile from source to play with other software. CARRYOVER
  • Envata (spelling?)
    • This ISP is interested in getting referrals from FreeGeek - CARRY OVER
    • COMMITMENT:Phil will report on $$ deal (also Michael, Pete, Shawn)
    • Consensus: tech support will make us recommend them; $$ won't
    • Phil: naked bicyclists calendar. Everybody: ????????
    • DOJ said we did not have official agreement so we didn't get credit for the one person that signed up. (Even though Phil had signed an agreement.)
    • Shawn: two questions, 1 can we get $ from them, and 2 can we recommend them. **Richard: We have established a firm contingency that IF they can provide good tech support, THEN we can recommend them. Thus, we are at a standstill/carryover on Question 2 until we hear back from Michael W. about tech support.
    • Pete: do we really need to recommend one over the other, or can we just give info out on both?
    • Richard: Wiz To Coho is really good, many ISP's have expressed interest in this sort of thing and not been that good. So we really need to wait for Michael's assessment, more discussion before that is likely just wasted breath.
    • CARRY OVER awaiting Michael Westwind's input
  • Monitors: Decision to brainstorm.
    • Monitors: Carry Over. No, die! die! unless anybody wants to make a proposal. Ok, we're letting this issue die.

Reports from Other Meetings

Front desk update

Build Report


  • Richard: pre-build is jammed up, people have to wait too long to schedule shifts, it's so far out people are forgetting their shifts.
  • Phil- can we move build ppl in Build into Adoption to keep them busy until shifts are available. Consensus: that's a good idea worthy of fleshing out.
  • Richard: Also, we're starting to make reminder calls, which should help that part of the issue.


(the current Collab project)

  • Nathan: By Friday, 99% complete. Couple little hanger-on issues.
  • Nathan status- he's busy, needs a week off! He has agreed to take on ebay stuff and black hole stuff.
  • Shawn: we will soon have a list of short- and long-term goals for Nathan.
  • Matteo: let's consider this item done, and just people can ask about what a staff member is up to.

Other reports

  • Update on Nathan's status
  • Staff- Marlin has resigned...more on staff issues below
  • Nathan- still working on Homestreet, but rollout is almost done.

PAWC report

  • Shawn: Portland Alliance of Worker Collectives. FG is a member. There is a monthly meeting. Shawn went and is reporting.
  • April 17 will be a PAWC social. We're all invited! Free drinks and stuff, yum! We gotta donate $20 (total.) Shawn will send details to Council list.

Also forming a media committee. There was an Oregonian something something.

  • End of April: Cascadia conference. How to do stuff as a collective. 4/28-5/1. $30-50 sliding scale for whole conference, or $5 per event. Scholarships available. Selling raffle tickets in store to fund scholarships! (Shawn will check on status of grand prize superfreek box.)


  • Shawn: are we doing monthly reports to council list? Should we?
  • Richard: it becomes low priority, also WHO should do it? Staff really should be doing this, even if it's a short boring report it is informative.

if facilitator wants to, then send a message to with reminders.

Old Business


  • Matteo: lots of talk on WIKI, somebody summarize?
  • Richard:
    • short term, almost nothing we're not already doing.
    • medium term, increase amount/kind of hardware/software we can provide, increase tech support. do light needs-assessment for non profits.
    • long term goals: grow on medium.
    • There's been a lot of discussion: this month we should make a decision.
  • Matteo: remind that future goals are flexible under this plan.
  • Martin: Jeff's point, he wants thought to be put into a coordinator for NAP.
  • NAP to GAP: limits on what NAP can do? or free rein with reporting back?
  • nathan: short term, stay within existing staffing.
    • one concern: at end of future proposal, the contractors list. That stuff has issues of liability etc, it's been discussed a lot, but there are still valid concerns.
  • Richard reads Mission Statement. This is important and should stay constant, even if specific activities or implementation changes over time. community-based orgs vs. nonprofit orgs. There might be a tension here.
  • NAP is primarily/originally a "public face" that we present to nonprofits.
  • Martin: (Jeff) a group will be formed of volunteers, but volunteers might decide what kind of leadership is needed.
  • Richard: short term, we can't have new staff...must be out of existing volunteers and staff.
  • Shawn: what more specifically will we add?
  • Richard: slightly expanded's in the Wiki. (apache, wiki, mailman...stuff we're familiar with, but which does not currently come on freekbox distro.) should be suggested by NAP group, needs approval from tech support. also in short term, developing ideas of what can be done longer term, without taking action yet.
  • Dave: emphasize going slow!! A committee, not an individual, should approve commitments so we don't get overcommitted.
  • Nathan: from being there, he can say anybody who was involved wants to avoid mistakes! There is a clear need in the community for this kind of service, it is an opportunity and if it falls within our mission we should serve the need, but cautiously.
  • Michael: Can't we just tell Richard to make this happen?
  • Richard: Propagation Committee should be implementing this. NAP group needs to be formed too.
  • Pete: Why does the proposal say "linux-based", shouldn't the non-profit's needs be higher priority than our devotion to linux, aren't open source products running on Windows sometimes a good option.
  • Richard: modifying proposal from "linux-based" to "open-source based".
  • Matteo: is there consensus? Nobody stands aside!! Grand Toast!!


Board of Directors

Board members are not here this month as we had hoped.

  • Pete: do we need to discuss as Council, before bigger meeting? Let's take this opportunity to get our own thoughts sorted out before talking with them
  • Richard: Mark is asking, what kind of board does FG want? He leaves out an important question: who legally controls FG? Let's make board more democratic, more answerable to the community. In other orgs, democratic process of membership selects the board. (KBOO, food coops...) FG lacks that structure (regarding the board.) Legal requirement of 2 (3?) members on board. (let's find out exactly how many.) Council should put forward a staff and a volunteer as candidates. Current board members should stand up if they want to be "re-elected." New members should be run through both Council and Board for approval.
  • Wes: can we set up checks and balances?
  • Shawn: I like what Richard said, it seems to address long standing issues. 2 things we need to discuss - one is what richard asks, the other is Mark's question. They're both important: one is philosophical, one is how-do-we-implement.
  • Pete: Richard, can you clarify the following from what you just said:
    1. if we elect them, does that mean we can un-elect/impeach them? (Answer: well probably not, but there would be regular election cycles, so incumbents might get replaced.)
    2. Is it possible such structural changes might threaten our 503(c)(3) status? (Answer: Don't think so, as long as we don't change mission statement or bylaws.)
    3. What are the legal requirements of the size of the board, and do we want to have more than the bare minumum? (Answer: martin, reading from bylaws: Not less than 3 or more than 11. Richard: we don't want to exclude people who want to serve.)
  • Richard: (general answer to Pete) No specifics yet, this is not a proposal, I'm just laying out some of the issues involved so we can all be thinking about them.
  • Phil: time concern! Let's not make this a huge big deal!!!
  • Shawn: 4 more minutes on this, then offload to email list.
  • Missy: I like Richard's ideas, in favor of taking action tonight.
  • Nathan: The board is self-appointing now. And it's not functioning. That's why this is on the table.
  • Richard: the board is Volunteers.
  • Clint: Tetris machine...I can get one, and install it
  • Everyone: (much excitement, and confusion about relevance)
  • Phil: those with Tetris high scores can serve on the board.
  • Dave and Martin commitment to deciding on the Tetris thing.

Staffing cuts

(Shawn presents.) Shawn sent an email out to council and core. Budget issues. Meeting in November to address this. Finally Financial Committee found that we had to make staffing cuts. (Staff is the huge part of our budget.) Ad hoc committee was formed and approved by all of staff to evaluate options. Recommendation was 5% wage decrease, rotating unpaid leaves of absence? Current staff salary before decrease, after taxes, 32 hrs, $1180/mont. Interns make less. Martin, Jahsen, Liane, Laurel...taking 3wk to 1 month leaves. Marlin resigned who had planned to retire soon anyway. Geiner is looking for other work so will leave soon, Michael's hours will be increased to compensate for some of Geiner's hours, net reduction is 20 hours. Rick is cutting hours as he usually does in the summer. Matthew is dropping 5 hrs for the duration of his internship. Hopefully not a second round of layoffs but that may happen; programs may be at risk if we have to do that.


How we gonna get more income.

Sales is where we might have the most possibility of getting more income. (Ask me if you have questions about this.)

  • Main thing: find missed opportunities in recycling, and find stuff that is sitting around to be evaluated but isn't getting evaluated. Restructure Receiving into two pieces to address this. (It's in the Wiki.) Testing needs to be made to work better, and testing equipment needs to get repaired when it break. Store, ebay, new: back of computer bits (ads: I want a such and such...)
  • Clint: receiving - bare copper bucket (new), let's get a copper stripper which will increase revenue.
  • Nathan: I've been evaluating receiving. There's a lot of stuff to take into account, but Richard's proposal is well thought out. It should improve income. Telephone sales for instance can be lucrative.
  • Shawn: a concern. From being in receiving for 2 days - lots of people say "hey, that's worth lots of money!" - theft issue. Should we try to address? 2. Council- our job is to assess how things affect FG's focus. This really changes it.
  • Richard: Right now, it is a "we need $$" kind of thing. But long term, it's about "what can we re-use, as opposed to recycling." This is actually an important part of FG's mission. Freekboxes is our big smashing reuse success, but there's lots of other reuse possibilities out there, and we need to get them addressed.
  • Martin: This would probably involve a lot of physical restructuring of the floor plan.
  • Richard: Yes, real soon (month or so) reduce size of testing area, and move ASS shelf into offbeat receiving. The danger of this stuff is that we put a lot of effort into restructuring, and later on find out that we only make a tiny bit more money. This is why it's important to assess very carefully, discuss ahead of time, and only do big things when we're convinced they'll really make a difference.
  • Matteo: this creates educational opportunities. Yay!
  • Nathan: We need to get to sustainability! Short term Cash flow is important, so is long term sustainability.
  • Pete: COMMITMENT: I will develop a survey to be distributed in store, with questions like "what were you looking for, did you find it..." and report back to Council. We can brainstorm content of survey on council list or Wiki. APPROVED
  • Suggestion: talk to reuse committee 9:00 friday morning.
  • Richard: temporarily put somebody with a lot of tech knowhow in receiving, then set up new testing procedure, change focus of busy bee from receiving to reuse (testing etc.)
  • Rev Phil: way back when, I brought in more $$ by giving constant tours. Let's Train receiving people to give tours, and give tours more often to get interested passers by more involved.
  • Shawn: this doesn't bear on sales income.
  • Phil: dash not slash. Should have said sales-income not sales/income.
  • Richard: basic question is, "Can staff proceed on these lines, as long as they keep reporting back to Council?" Council: "Yes." APPROVED

VBC (If there is a proposal)

  • Phil: we want ideas about how to improve the FG space. Talk to me, Shawn, Nathan.

New Business

Staffing Cuts

Thoughts on Increasing Sales Income

Future Commitments

Next Meeting

  • Facilitator: Dave
  • Scribe: Martin
  • Date and time: April 20, at 7:15 pm
  • Place: Free Geek meeting room
  • For next meeting:
hey council,
FreeGeek Space Usage
jeff's proposal to make space allocation the provision of the council was not put onto the agenda for last night's meeting, so we didn't discuss it. we should try to remember it for next time.
meow, - martin