Council 2006 04

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  • Facilitator: Rev Phil
  • Scribe: Pete
  • Minutes Checker: Richard
  • Date: April 19, 2006, 7:15 pm
  • Place: Free Geek meeting room
  • Previous Meeting

In Attendance

Tall Wes, Seamus (board), Laurel (board), Matteo, Marie (board), Liane (staff), Debi, Richard (staff), Oso (staff, board), Wren (board), Joe B (board), Kerm, Shawn P, Vagrant (temp staff), Jeff R, Pete F (a-scribin), Rick (staff), Scott 28313, Jeff S, Steve (staff), Matthew H, Dave H (staff), Rev Phil (facillin), Stacy, Bill S., Charlie, Mark B., Sophia (staff intern), Shawn (staff)

Old Commitments

  • Mark will announce a web site he's aware of about board nominations. (correction: non-profit information) CARRYOVER
  • If the Board has additional comments on what Board member qualities are desired, they will post to the Council list. DONE (see reports, coming up)
  • All will think about possible Board nominees, and refer them to New Director Agreement. CARRYOVER
  • Pete and Richard will post something to the Council list about Receiving position. DONE
  • Bobby and Pete will discuss a coupon (Lifestyles NW) for senior discount. DROP (unless Bobby wants to pursue it)
  • Marie & Phil will create a video that can go on the web, etc. (by March 3rd Thurs) DONE - will be shown tomorrow night. Will be posted on web once it's ready.
  • Martin, Wren, Clout, Wes will convene to do needs assessment for blind linux distro. Martin will send email to schedule a meeting DROP (until after martin comes back) CARRYOVER -> Martin will convene a group. (Dave (?) mentioned that the new Ubuntu has Gnopernicus installed by default, which may address the need to some degree without the need for much work.)
  • everybody give feedback on Media Kit DO IT! DONE! DO MORE IF YOU LIKE!
  • recycling and action committees will develop a plan to make sure tools are safe ONGOING EFFORTS. (Drop from commitment list.)

Reports and Business, New and Old

All new, blended for your minute-reading pleasure. (We had a large agenda, and Facil Phil masterfully prioritized all issues, in order to make sure we got to the important stuff.)

emailed reports

There were two reports emailed to the Council list, which were not presented at the meeting. Here are links to them, in the council list archive:

Grant Writing Committee:



recycling report/discussion

Written report from email list:

  • Seamus: How's the recycling committee-based approach going? (Adopted after Xen's departure as Recycling Coordinator)
  • Liane and Oso: The team approach is working well. There have been short term issues, but the committee is adjusting; that has been worked out. Space usage is way better in recycling.
  • Jeff: Income is great, but every time he's been back there it's been a bloody mess. Is there a plan to deal with that, or is it bad timing on my part...?
  • Oso: That's the nature of recycling. There will always be some bottlenecks. However it's way better than how it was 3 months ago.
  • Vagrant: Staff coverage has not been solid. Big backups, a willing volunteer, and nobody to train them. Not good.
  • Liane: the schedule has some gaps.
  • Matthew: backlog of systems to be recycled happened recently. Is that a systemic problem or jsut a one time event? What's the plan?
  • Oso: This was basically a one-time issue to get to a sustainable level.
  • Jeff S: let's send concerns to Recycling committee to be addressed in the future.
  • Jeff R: There's a fluid nature to Recycling, seeing it at any given moment does not necessarily give an accurate view of how it is. Also, we should structurally make sure there are core volunteers to cover when there is a hole in the staff sched.
  • Liane: we need more recycling volunteers

Space Usage

Jeff S. presents

Space Usage was brought up 6-8 months ago. We agreed we should figure out how to manage space. The minutes from a meeting were posted, but the issue has been dropped. A reminder to Council to readdress this issue.

Jeff S, Matteo, Steve S, Rick, Oso, Sophia, Stacy, Mark are interested, and will figure out a way to meet amongst themselves.

Uganda Report

The projector thingy ain't working. Martin reports low-tech and verbally! Photos will be shown tomorrow at movie night, and hopefully posted to the web gallery.

Martin went to Uganda; now he reports!

We sent 80 diskless terminals, etc, to Gulu University. and they were really happy to get them. Nearly all hard drives broke in transit, lots of CDs too. This was organized by Beaverton Rotary Club, funded by International Book Club (or some such.) There was some stuff we should have sent, some we didn't think of (spare parts), some we didn't have (screwdrivers, tools.) UPSs would have been really good. More networking hardware (especially long-distance, like directional wifi or fiber optic.) They already had 3 labs with Pentium IV computers just for internet access...they didn't realize they had way more than they needed in some areas. Local networking was high quality. It was all running Windows, much licensing questionable.

  • Steve: Maybe a better charitable donation would be to bring folks here to train them in system administration.
  • Jeff S: Did you manage to do some teaching?
  • Martin: Much of the stuff was cultural and structural. It wasn't understood that an individual should be striving to produce value (rather than just doing an isolated task)
  • Debi: Are you going back? Would you want to do it again?
  • Martin: That would be great if there were an opportunity, it would be possible to do more with the knowledge he has now.
  • Martin: Lots of his time there was spent teaching. Free software culture, system administration, etc. Just the basics, all concepts were new - even "how networking works."
  • Jeff: Was there anybody there who could be trained to do more teaching?
  • Martin: Yes. The teaching staff was good, the tech folks were intelligent but lacking resources and a "starting point."
  • Martin started the beginnings of change/growth.
  • It would have been nice to have had more time with functional equipment.
  • Richard: Did the time you spent before the computers arrived feel like a waste and have you talked with the Beaverton Rotary Club since your return?
  • Time not wasted. Would have like to do more of the type of the work he did before the computers arrived. Has not yet talked with Beaverton Rotary Club, but will.
  • Jeff S: Let's set up a mailing list to provide ongoing support for them.
  • Martin: We should not offer developing countries trash. This is really important. They don't have the technical knowledge to maintain or repair things, so things degrade faster. (The Diskless terminals were great, hard drives and CD Drives should be packed very carefully.)
  • They would love if we came back.
  • There will be pics tomorrow night at Thirsty Third Thurs.

Budget Report

Richard presents.

Emailed report at (There was also some discussion on list.)

In the first quarter of 2006, we spent less AND brought in more than planned. Instead of losing $3,000 as expected, we gained around $25,000.

  • Donations were up more than expected.
  • Monitor fees were 87% of what we expected.
  • Recycling income up 53%.
  • Store got $54,000 instead of $38,000 expected.
  • Expenses: monitor recycling was down, health care was down because of staff reduction.
  • "other facility" - rewiring bumped costs up. ($2700) and forklift.
  • For graphics and details, see the wiki pages: Actual Expenses Compared to Budget and Finances at a glance, Q1 2006
  • Jeff: Monitor recycling fees are far less than the $10 fee charged at the front door. What's the justification?
  • Oso: Monitors incur a large indirect cost: large amount of space, internal labor.
  • Martin: So we make some money selling some.
  • Richard: We shouldn't get into the specifics on tours. Just say they're "the most expensive thing we process here."
  • Richard: I would be against reducing the mandatory monitor fee, because some people will never donate anything but will pay a fee. We need that income stream.

board nominees

Laurel presents.

  • Approved New Director Agreement, which is important because we have a vacancy to fill.
  • Board discussed what characteristics they'd like in a new director:
    • non-profit experience
    • financial (accounting) knowledge
    • legal/nonprofit experience
    • not so important that they are deeply embedded in Free Geek, but they have to be able to philosophically "get" us - consensus process, etc.
  • There's a Board member nomination form on the wiki.
  • feel free to talk to current board members if you have questions.
  • Please get all nominations in by next month's council meeting.
  • Jeff S: can somebody talk at next council meeting about Advisory Board. This idea came up before, but has gone unaddressed.
  • Seamus: remind everybody that board meetings are open to all. It would be good to have more people attending.

gresham report

Oso presents.

Gresham really wants us to expand/replicate ourselves to meet Gresham's needs. City of G is coming up with some resources. The rush has become reduced as the city has become involved. Paul Warking will come for a tour soon. Discussions with Metro underway. Holding pattern until we figure out what resources are available. Expect 3-4 months before this is resolved. This is good, because we have some things to get in order with Trademarking/franchising. City of Gresham has been a good partner in taming enthusiasm in favor of making sure this is done right.

  • Shawn: The board just talked about this and their biggest concerns:
    1. Will it take away too many resources from Portland location?
    2. Gov't support is tough to rely on any more.
  • Oso: City of G is talking about after 2007-2008 fiscal year, based on proposed garbage fee increase. Maybe $5-25k per year? A line item in the budget is actually a fair amount of security.
  • Jeff R: The problem of e-waste is only going to increase. Free Geek is largely supported by the stuff that comes in. So, maybe FG Gresham can become self-sustaining by the time government funding might disappear.
  • Jeff S: Why are we doing this as part of Free Geek, rather than as a startup/separate entity?
  • Oso: That's not a decision that has been made. We are able to choose the best path.
  • Oso, Dave, Shawn, Richard (the C7 group) are working on this, and can answer questions.

Laptop Exploratory Internship

Martin presents

Proposal on the email list. We are currently only putting 3 hours/week into the laptop program. But laptops bring in a lot of money. Can we turn this into a paid intern position?

6 month exploratory internship proposed, with 2 reports to council and staff to recommend whether a long-term position is worth establishing.

  • Dave: This position will pay for itself, therefore this proposal is not "instead" of doing something else with the money the intern would be paid with. It is in "addition" to anything else we choose to do. There is huge untapped potential.
  • Jeff S: Can we have clarifying questions first, then criticisms.
  • Matthew: Will this person be part of Build?
  • Martin: Advanced Build, coordinating with Reuse.
  • Jeff R: The position would have a lot to do with the store and advanced receiving too. (Anywhere that laptops are.)
  • Steve: The store can sell laptop stuff, no question. The demand is there. This could support the position.
  • Shawn: How many hours?
  • Martin: 24 on up to 35.
  • Martin: Ultimately, we might or might not have enough laptops coming in to support a position. But there's more than enough to support 6 months.
  • Jeff R: It seems like the number of incoming laptops is increasing.
  • Oso: Laptops outsell desktops in the wide world, our donations of them will be increasing. We need to get ahead of the curve so we know how to deal with them.
  • Marie: The space the laptops are in is wasted if they are just being stored. We should do something with the laptops, rather than just collect them.
  • Wren: (re: adding a potential staff member?) This figures into bigger "growth" issue.
  • Dave: But this generates its own revenue, so we can do this "and" anything else that is under consideration.
  • Laurel: There is an existing list of priorities for hiring. Maybe we should step out of that, but we should recreate that subcommittee and have a more open process before moving forward.
Re-form ad-hoc hiring priority committee to advise council on priorities for upcoming hiring. (Note: revised and restated below.)
  • Richard: Let's also have that committee look at non-hiring expenses (facility development, etc.) He agrees in spirit with Martin's proposal, however he thinks we should look at all of our options side by side rather than piecemeal.
  • Rick: These things can drag on for months. Let's not lose months of laptop production.
  • Wren: Let's empower the ad-hoc committee to proceed with hiring a laptop coordinator, without having to come back to council first.
  • Vagrant: This is the second internship proposal that went on list very late before Council meeting. There should be at least a week advance email-list time.
  • Scott: I'm a volunteer who would be happy to work on laptops. Maybe we could do this on the cheap.
  • Laurel (answering Scott): This proposal is to have somebody to coordinate volunteers so they could work on laptops.
  • Oso: (response to Vagrant): This one is at worst revenue neutral, at best revenue positive. So this isn't as bad as the last "last minute proposal" thing. Like Rick said, we need to start getting money in soon, without delaying for more discussion.
Re-form ad-hoc hiring priority committee to advise council on priorities for upcoming hires. Let's also have that committee look at non-hiring expenses (facility development, etc.) In the interests of getting something going quickly, we should empower the committee to move forward on a Laptop Exploratory Internship BEFORE the next council meeting, but they should post their decision to the Council email list and allow one week for concerns to be raised before moving forward.
CONSENSUS REACHED (no blocks or stand asides)

Committee members:

Matteo (facilitator), Dave, Rick, Richard, Wren, Shawn, Mark B, Jeff, Seamus, Laurel, Jeff S.

receiving internship

Dave presents, summarizing what has been said on the list.

Paid job experience internship.

We need somebody there now. The proposal might or might not be the best way to go. There have been objections raised on the list.

Two counter-proposals have been raised:

  • counter-proposal 1: one was for an Operations Coordinator position, with some emphasis on Receiving. Full-time collective member or full-time exploratory internship.
  • counter-proposal 2: internship too long. Hire according to Staff Proposal, but for a shorter time, with the provision that this is not a permanent proposal.
  • Jeff R: How is this different from Nathan's position?
  • Matthew: 3 concerns. (1) philosophical, (2) organizational, (3) is it possible to provide a living wage for the caliber of employee we need to do this job well. The philosophical concerns are significant, but there is an immediate need. So he would support the staff proposal, but suggests we do so "without precedent" - meaning that there is a philosophical issue that remains to be addressed. (Meaning this issue does not set a precedent for future decisions.)
  • Richard: Receiving shifts are being covered by substitutes; it's not impossible to put off a decision if we need the time.
  • Oso: Staff has been covering those shifts, and they "get" how difficult a position it is. That knowledge has informed the staff proposal.
  • Jeff S: Can this be passed off to the Hiring Priorities committee? (PROPOSAL)
  • Jeff R: These issues raised are Council issues, we shouldn't pass them off to a committee.
  • Laurel: Agreed, but it's possible for a committee to come up with various scenarios, and sort through the proposals.
  • Shawn P: Not sure how much the Hiring Priorities committee would realistically be able to accomplish.
  • Stacy: Yeah, it's a big job. Another committee doing some pre-processing would be very helpful. There's a lot to discuss.
  • Oso: The cost difference between an intern and a Collective member is not great, so the committee need not worry about that cost difference much.
  • Jeff R: We might be putting too much on this committee. These are fundamentally council-level concerns; what we need to do is find a way to deal with them well in council, not look to delegate.
  • Shawn: We could make a separate ad-hoc committee.
  • Richard: It's important to have one committee looking at this, from the perspective of "where do we want to spend resources." Weighing priorities. We need to finish up tonight.
Let's continue to cover receiving as we have been, ad-hoc. Continue email list discussion, and let the ad hoc hiring priorities committee discuss overlapping issues as relevant, and defer a decision till next month's Council meeting.
  • CONSENSUS REACHED No blocks, no stand-asides.

Free Geek franchising and trademark issues


Big corporate donors of stuff (i.e. Providence)


New Commitments

  • Staff: Report on Volunteer program
  • Phil: train more tour guides on how to talk about monitors.
  • Martin: get Uganda pics posted to the web (this is a request from Pete!)
  • Jeff S. (et al): meet to resume space usage discussion.
  • ????: (scribe missed this.) Jeff S. requested that somebody speak about an Advisory Board. There was some discussion at this meeting, not sure if anybody committed to look into this further.
  • Matteo (et al): Convene to discuss hiring priorities.
  • All: discuss receiving internship on email list and elsewhere, in preparation to make a decision next month.
  • Mark will announce a web site he's aware of about board nominations. (correction: non-profit information) CARRYOVER +
  • All will think about possible Board nominees, and refer them to New Director Agreement. CARRYOVER +
  • Martin: Convene a group to discuss blind linux distro needs assessment.

next meeting

Council 2006 05
facilitator: Jeff S
scribe: Martin
location: Free Geek meeting room
Agenda Items:
  • Volunteer Program Report from Staff
  • Free Geek franchising and trademark issues
  • Big corporate donors of stuff (i.e. Providence)
  • Advisory Board, should we have one?