Council 2009 07

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When: 7:15 pm, 7/15/2009
Place: Free Geek meeting room
Facilitator: Dave
Scribe: laurel1
Attendance: Bert, Anne, Tony, Marie, Jon, Ezra, martin, laurel, Seamus, Webb, Tim, Roy, Luiz, Cliff, Kathey, Sophia, Sergio, Scott, Dave (facilitator), Debra, Tim.
Last meeting:


  • RFS - will pull together job descriptions for potential Americorps positions - DONE (will post links)


Debra had two assistants: Luiz was tall and Ian helped with printing. Spoke about evaluation; see evaluation section of On Conflict and Consensus.


  • State of the Onion
  • Kathey reports: Fundraising group has spun off from PR; has been meeting weekly to create a coherent longer-term plan, synthesizing materials from council brainstorms and General Priorities page. Next meeting time is currently up in the air; email funding@ to find out when the next meeting will be. One element of the process will be interviews. Look at the discussion page on the general priorities page.
  • RFS reports: Financial outlook we have been doing well each quarter except for 3rd Qtr last year, due largely to sales. Also, we have received our property tax exemption.


Ebay commission folks (NEW)

  • Presented by Sergio: Online Sales Contractor Proposal
  • Previous attempts to have non-staff people do online sales ran into problems where it required a lot of training and support. This proposal is to hire self-starting contractors with demonstrated technical competence who will not need much hand-holding.
  • Clarifying questions
    • What goes into online sales and how is it tested? -- Stuff that doesn't really fit in with our usual flow or is really esoteric, which would be likely to be recycled. The testing would be part of the job of the online sales person. Part of their role would be to find the stuff on the premises. The stuff would not leave the premises.
    • Is the problem perhaps that there's not enough staff time? Why isn't this a staff addition proposal? -- Specialized knowledge is what we need, and it doesn't exist on staff. Also, this position would not have the volunteer-interaction and program coordination portions of the job that a full-time employee has to have. The exploratory proposal is to have two people; there might be more in the future if the exploratory positions work out.
  • List Concerns
    • The proposal says the really really good stuff will be sold by the coordinator, not the commissioned workers. Is that fair? - It wouldn't be fair to give any one of the commissioned workers something that we already knew was juicy; they should be getting the stuff that's otherwise getting recycled or sold for supercheap. they will know this at the outset.
    • How is this different from the previous attempts to have commissioned online sales? -- There was no ability to select people then; there will be a hiring process and reviews.
    • Why create a new category of employee? Does this point to a flaw in the expectations for collective members? -- Commissions would make this a less risky proposition for Free Geek; it requires a narrowness of focus. The positions currently being proposed would be doing the dry run while the sales coordinators set up an infrastructure for more people. There's a different motivation for the kinds of people who have the expertise that this requires.
    • We can't say that commissions avoid all cost; there is always cost to setting up and managing a position.
    • If Sergio was working out well doing this, why throw out that model and try a new one?
    • The exploratory position has assessment built in at the end of the six months, where we would know more about how commissioned positions work out and will be able to reassess what sort of position it would best be.

Group reviewed some of the pros and cons of different position types: full time collective member, nother, commissioned, volunteer.

  • employee equality
  • social equality
  • trust and control
  • financial predictability
  • collective contributions to larger picture
  • FG retains commission
  • no incentive to hide knowledge
  • volunteer training
  • more expensive


  • Cheaper
  • fewer distractions
  • predictable expense
  • trust & control
  • better specializztion
  • flexible


  • no commitment to larger flow


  • follows gizmo flow
  • faster set up and shut down/"tent"
  • speculative time investment not paid
  • scalable $
  • more specialized knowledge
  • motivations


  • not in the spirit of FG


  • least expensive


  • less commitment
  • needs more training

Council lacks clarity in this and consensus was not attained. Please re-read the proposal in the light of this discussion and continue discussion on the list.

Next Meeting

  • Facilitator: Kathey
  • Scribe: laurel1
  • Minutes Checker:
  • Reporters to other meetings?
  • Date and time: 19 August
  • Place: Meeting Room
  • List of unfinished business for the next meeting:
    • Online sales commissioned position
    • Store discount policy proposal