Event:2016/06/02 Delegates Meeting

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Weekly Omni Delegates' Meeting - 2 June 2016

Last meeting's notes

Who's Here?

  • Laura, Building Bloc
  • Mary Ann, Chiapas
  • Rachel, GWS
  • Ken, CCL
  • Robb, sudo
  • Matt, sudo
  • Jenny, sudo
  • Kazoo, ABDC
  • Quentin
  • Marcus, various working groups
  • Raines, preparing a big event July 9:Progress and Poverty ("Recession Generation") - East Bay Cohousing http://www.RecessionGeneration.com/
  • Judith, FNB
  • Betsy, presentation on the commons (and East Bay Cohousing/Cohousing California)
  • Steve, BAPS delegate
  • Mary, CCL
  • Joe - Food not Bombs
  • Liz, Liberated Lens remote
  • Jabari - Liberated Lens
  • Angel - LL

Meeting Roles

  • Facilitator/s: Laura
  • Explanation of hand signals: "deaf applause", "raised hand", "point of process", "direct response"(wildcard), etc.
  • Stacktaker: Judith
  • Timekeeper: Kazoo
  • Notetaker/s: Jenny, Raines, Matt
  • Vibe Reader:
  • Next meeting's facilitator(s):


  • BAPS: Steve
  • BH: inactive
  • CCL: Ken
  • CSC: Mary Ann
  • FNB: Joe
  • GWS: Rachel
  • HNJ: inactive
  • LL: Liz remote, haaaiii
  • Sudo: Jenny
  • TIL: inactive
  • Quorum: Yes (7/7 active)


Introduce yourself: Name; Preferred Pronoun; Affiliation

  • See above


  • Matt: Here are plums from my backyard
  • Raines: Love Our Neighborhood day in northwest Oakland in Emeryville, inviting Omni Commons folks to participate with East Bay Cohousing presence: http://oaklavia.org/love-our-neighborhood-day-2016-press-release
  • Betsy: June 12th Temescal Street Fair, noon to 6, BonfireMakers play on gentrification in the ballroom that day http://temescaldistrict.org/Temescal-Street-Fair
  • Juneteenth in Berkeley, 6/19 http://www.berkeleyjuneteenth.org/
  • Matt - went to oakland planning commission meeting about Nautilus development at 51st and Telegraph; commented that only 8.4% (17 / 204) of the planned units will be offered at below market rate, the commission ignored my comment to increase the number of these units, project approved
  • robb - today demolition started of the book store on 47th & telegraph. i got video
    • Matt - they did rat abatement
  • Judith - Informal memorial circle for Matt Dodt in Disco Room on Monday at 7pm
  • Ken - David Keenan and Niki are having a wedding reception this saturday. it's a private event.
    • Jenny: Help out with cleaning up the building tomorrow and Sat, work party!


  • Joe - Marc found Sand sleeping again after many warnings and told him not to come back.
    • Also there was a confrontation last week involving Babs and Ranette. Ranette is not permitted in the building.
  • Judith - Ranette threatened Judith after that as well. Followed Judition in to the building, made phyiscal contact with her. Threatened to slap her. Juditon consideriing restraining order.
  • Steve - Lots of incidents like this, propose a think tank for long-term strategies, space to discuss and work through these issues
  • Robb - incident with Jackson. Mailman said he waas breakiing into our mailbox. When informed he could not receive mail w/o "c/o a collective" he became verbally threatening.

Working Group Report-Backs

Building & permits

Meetings: Mondays at 8pm

  • This group needs help; https://omnicommons.org/lists/listinfo/building
  • Joe: Working on the wall and the electrical. Insulation is almost finished, will take pictures of the insulation for the inspector
  • Robb: Some A/V upgrades in the ballroom


Meetings: Second and Fourth Thursdays at 7pm

  • Had a great Capoeira event last week
    • And an awesome African dance & music event the Saturday prior, and a lively Balkan dance & music event the night before that!
  • Events this past month brought in about $2500
  • Some new volunteers have joined, but we're also getting more event requests. Definitely could always use more help!


  • Jenny: Please send in updates for the June newsletter - would like to get it out by the 10th! send to comms at omnicommons dot org


Meetings: Every other Thursday at 6pm

  • Paid the rent today!
  • Had to borrow another $5K from a community member to make rent for this month :(

Buy the Building

Meetings: Mondays at 6:00pm

  • Jenny: Our 1023 (nonprofit) application is almost ready to go! This mostly dovetails with Finance currently - next steps are taxes, then loan applications to buy the building. Lots to do - we could use more heads in the game!


Proposal: Room switcheroo (Liberated Lens and Phat Beets)

Discussion from last meeting

  • Angel: We've been ready to move, can't really work up there cuz of the heat. All ready to start cleaning up and rearranging the space
  • Max: Sorry our collective doesn't participate more in the Omni, barely staying afloat. Want street access as we have elders who don't like going up and down the stairs, and we have youth who are scared of the basement. Approached by Liz re: the room switch, weren't going to propose it but were invited to. Carry a lot of stuff up and down the stairs. People often won't come to work here because they don't like the office space, though I don't mind it, thrive in these conditions.
  • Matt: [can't transcribe ...]
  • Rachel: Don't see a conflict so long as all groups can pay the rent
  • Jabari: Worried that the price was too high (what Phat Beets is paying for that room)
  • Angel: I think we can do it, everyone else is working to step it up
  • Confusion about what LibLens proposed to pay for that room $150
  • Liz: This is a simple and logistically sound proposal. It requires no special build-out to implement, doesn't raise permitting issues, and greatly benefits two existing and very active collectives in the Omni. If people won't accept the proposal because LL isn't offerring enough, then please at least consider the room upgrade for Phat Beets. LL is actively looking for new sources of income
  • Joe: to Max: Can you keep your stuff contained in the room
    • Max: Yes, we're getting rid of a lot of stuff
  • Ken: I think someone suggested they start paying utilities
  • Steve: Strongly in support of LibLens moving downstairs, so they can keep working

Straw Poll:

  • Jenny: Concerned about money, would like to see more of a committment from folks to help raise funds as Omni is barely (actually not even) making rent each month
  • AngeL: We can definitely hustle a bit more, to bring
  • Liz: Can we be given a reasonable amount of time to work up to $300/mo?
    • Jenny: that would be dope
    • Liz: We've been researching a lot of grants, and we're also beginning to plan the FTP fest again, that brings in a good bit of cash, but takes 2 months to organize
  • Ken: This proposal changes the dynamics of the basement in significant ways
  • Jenny: My only concern is that we have the ability to rent out the room by the back door (buried seeds) for $750-$1000 plus utilities, plus the $750 from Phat Beets with them in the basement.
    • Maybe there's some way to ensure that there is some dedication in the proposal for raising the funds in the gap.
  • Ken: LL is willing to make a video for raising money for kitchen in basement, including a microbrewery. LL is willing to work in on the
  • Robb: Suggest we move forward with the proposal as is, then review the LibLens $$ contribution in a few weeks.
  • Laura: Amendment to proposal to review the $$ contribution three meetings from now, July (third thursday)
  • Proposal:
    • Phat Beets $750 / mo (former buried seeds)
    • Liberated Lens $150/mo basement (former phat beets)
  • In Favor: Joe (FNB), Steve (BAPS), Mary Ann (CSC), Rachel (GWS), Ken (CCL), Liz (LibLens)
  • Abstain: Jenny (sudo)

Proposal passes :) <<<333

Proposal: ABDC

From Kazoo email to consensus May 19: The basement won't work for us until there is adequate ventilation. We are fine with using the space that was Buried Seeds if there is no way to make the main hall work, though our preference is still to be in the main hall to keep our operations more open and public. We unfortunately cannot pay 800$/month at this point. We would need to have 16 members to reach that rent rate, and it may take us a couple of months to get there. Currently we have 5 potential members ready to throw-down.

We propose to move in June 1st, and pay for the security deposit ($800), and the first 3months rent (600$) 200$/mo for the first 3 months while we build our collective and get enough people to support the regular 800$/mo rent. We will begin paying full rent in September. So our proposed move in cost will be $1400 on June 1st.

Please mention that our current space is 3 times the space of the Buried Seeds room and we pay only 400$/mo including trash and utilities. We have until January 2018 to be in the SF studio, so there is no rush for us to move out. That said, we are excited to be at Omni, and would love to move in by June 1st.

We would love to be fiscally sponsored by Omni. This would help us obtain Bay Area Community Resource grants, and other local funding. What are the details they need from us to make this happen?


Please let us know what options are on the table. It sounds like the best situation for everyone's concerns is for us to go to the "Utility Room".


  • Kazoo: We are super radical, we are really interested in being part of the Omni because it is a radical structure. Currently we have 9 members in our SF studio. The position here is that some of our members in Oakland, and some folks who want to print with us need wheelchair-accessible space, so the proposal came to the front hall or the Buried Seeds room. As soon as they said sure, a bunch of other collectives said "Hey, we want that space." It seems like at the moment there's no place for us to go. We could be mobile -- things don't have to be set. Made a proposal for how we could pack up our stuff really tightly in the front room.
  • Matt: Clarification: It's not necessarily impossible to be in the entrance hall, though there are zoning issues nothing is set in stone - it's just going to take some work. No one's talking to the Health Dept yet, for instance, and further discussions can be had w/ Planning & Zoning
  • Jabari: Member of Liberated Lens - him/he pronouns, we're proposing to move downstairs (1) we don't have a lot of room (2) we want more video editing stations (3) we have a lot of sensitive equipment, trying to get away from this heat, it can fry our equipment, (4) would be better to put all of our stuff in one location. and (5) Phat Beets needs an upgrade
  • Considered that Kazoo can move into the ticket booth.
  • Robb: Great idea for two reasons - accessible and if you're modular, can pack your stuff away and folks
  • Kazoo: That room looks good. Desire dedicated space, wouldn't be available for other folks to meet in there because we have a darkroom and need storage space. Unless we could build a darkroom outside of the room
    • Robb: Any impeding on ballroom space could reduce our capacity, and there's nowhere else to store our chairs
  • We're not too picky about the particulars, just want to be able to start silkscreening in here.
  • Judith: I believe there are probably grants available for us to be able to make more wheelchair-accessible spaces. Anyone know about that? (No)
  • Joe: We were planning on adding a new closet over by the SW corner of the ballroom floor. We canned that idea before, but we could do something like that now. I think the chair storage problem can be solved.
  • Our space is currently underutilized, but we have a couple of prospective members in the east bay who want to create a business out of printing. It's empty a lot of the time. However, this would be a different opportunity here -- if you build it they will come.
  • The equipment is about the size of a large table and a small table that cannot be broken down, though they can be moved around. So if there was an event, say an accessibility training, they could be moved out of that room for the event
  • Robb: Wanted to raise the possibility of dual use, having some activities in the basement for those who aren't in a wheelchair
    • Kazoo: That would still exclude the person in the wheelchair, we have two people in wheelchairs interested in joining the coop
  • Ken: You can be a paying member and have access, you can be a volunteer, or you can be a part-time user ($15 for 3 hours). There are several different levels of membership. Members who have 24-hour access, we can't really share that, right?
    • Kazoo: Correct, we'd have to communicate about using that room.
  • Steve: Think your project is terrific. [I am terrible at transcribing Steve, sorry] Even with all of your stuff in there there's still about as much space as the Blue Classroom, which does get used. Other secondary uses of the room still possible, especially if equipment can be temporarily moved to the ballroom
  • Laura: What do you think about times when there will be loud music and events in the ballroom?
    • Robb: Sometimes events need a green room for musicians and such... we were thinking of using that room, but now Lib Lens is discussing cleaning up space in the basement for that, and then musicians could have a backstage entrance
  • Matt: Next issue is that there's no accessible sink. Every proposal has its hitches, that emerge each time we talk about this. When will this god-awful nightmare end?
    • Lots of back and forth about the sink issues, possibility to build out plumbing, using the ADA bathroom and installing a large sink there for washing out screens, etc
  • Would like to have youth programs at some point in the future, when the space is ready for it. Several coop members are youth educators
  • Straw poll re: ticket booth room: Most in favor, some not sure, none opposed
  • Ken: Could you one more time write a formal proposal for using the ticket booth room
  • Kazoo: could have two or three people in wheelchairs if we had our stuff in the room. If we can build the darkroom outside of the room
  • Laura: thanks Kazoo for her patience through this process. this is the real work of learning to live together, meet each others needs.
  • Mary Ann: Once we buy the building this will all change, we can get funding to make the building more accessible

Application from Global Communication Services/YES Program to become a member collective of the Omni Commons

Proposed by Almaz Yihdego, 6/2/16 1. Mission statement What do you do?

  • The mission of Global Communication Services (GCS) is to provide community service for individuals, families, and community groups toward health consulting, health benefits, cultural exchange and immigrate support here in United States and international.
  • The mission of Youth Empowerment Services (YES) is to advance and support children, youth, and family on academic breakthroughs in life development, job placement and other activities focusing and envisioning a community where all young people have the opportunities and access to programs without restriction of race, cultural difference or socioeconomic status.

What happens in the world because you exist?

  • Our program serves the community by tutoring/mentoring and providing educational workshops. We also teach cultural art history, and different languages through workshops and events. Our services encompass problem solving approaches based on education and tapping into the cultural strengths and living experiences of African immigrants and Black African American youth and families. We help to uncover the individuals hidden talents and strengths which leads to healthy self esteem, individual and group self-reliance. Our program is open to all ethnic groups who choose to excel and claim their genius!

2. Origin and group history

How did you start?

  • Originally, Global Communication Services (GCS) was established in 2012 as my (Almaz’s) consulting business to provide community service for individuals, families, and community groups toward health consulting, health benefits, immigrate support. Which inculeds language interpreting and translating services. I had people working with me doing the same thing. As a part of GCS we taught cultural literacy for African immigrant youth, like cultural dance, language; as well as sports and hiking and camping trip to Yosemite National Park. After a long time personal experience working with immigrant families and being one of the reader for 13 afterschool programs at the City of Oakland in 2013. I seen the main problem children face especially around the low-income families and how new immigrant dealt within the public school system. At the end of 2014 decided to incorporate a few staff members to GCS and enhance the youth program, YES, which will focus on youth academic and life development support.


How does your group make decisions?

  • Our group makes decision collectively by majority vote if necessary to do so. So far we don’t have any conflicts or misunderstanding, each staff member contributes to the program cooperatively.

What have you done?

  • We have helped several youth with their academic work, job placement, health and wellness training. We host community based cultural events and workshops. We are a pioneer collective group with different cultural and educational backgrounds. We work collectively with community groups locally, nationally and internationally. Our staff meets at least once per month.

3. Participation in the Omni - Why are you interested in becoming a member? How does your group intend to use the space? What are your needs?

Our mission and the objectives of the Omni are aligned. We both are working diligently to improve and empower individuals and the community.

We also enjoy the location of the Omni. Hosting events at the Omni would be of great value to our team. Becoming a part of the ownership team is also a very exciting opportunity for our organization. We would like to be fiscally sponsored by the Omni.

How does your group intend to use the space?

  • We intend to use the space for workshops, classroom trainings, events, rehearsals, and collective member meetings.

What are your needs?

  • Our need is to have space at the Omni as a member collective. We will use the space to have locked storage, books, and a table for small class meetings. We will also have larger events like fundraisers, health trainings, or music and cultural programs that we would like to hold in the larger common spaces.

4. Group finances and paying rent? What does your group do to support itself financially? What is your best plan for contributing your potential share of rent to the Omni? Please include relevant financial statements, documentation of sufficient income (e.g. balance sheet, bank statement profit & loss statement).

We have about $500 from the community fundraiser events and we are planning to charge sliding scale admission for workshops, classroom trainings, and other large music events. We have been invited to apply for several government and private grants. Our anticipated largest funding source for our youth project will be coming from grants and monthly member donations.

We propose to pay $100 a month in rent plus utilities for the first three-months until we receive grants to support our program. After the first three months we will pay $200 for rent plus utilities and would like to become the stewards of the blue classroom and have priority use of that space. We do not plan to charge youth or low-income families for our services however, we do accept donations.

We do not currently have a bank account. As a fiscally sponsored project we would open a sub account under the Omni’s bank account.

5. Dedicated space - If your group would like some dedicated space at the Omni, what square footage and what features are you looking for? Which specific rooms do you feel might be suitable?

We are proposing to steward and maintain the Blue classroom and keep a locked storage cabinet there after our first three months of membership. We would have priority for our youth classes and family consulting, and would make the space available to other groups when we were not using it.

6. Other contributions to the Omni - This question should inspire some imagination. We are exploring ideas to pay rent and purchase the building in the long-term. The basic plan is for each group paying a share of rent. Potential plans include groups sharing profit from their activities, producing Omni events, and booking other events. What is the best-case scenario for using the Omni space to further support your group?

  • One of the ways that we may be able to generate funds is by hosting monthly events. At first this income may be slow yet if we continue we will look to attract sponsors and also grow our attendance of our events.
  • We also plan to produce mutually beneficial community programs for the Omni that would entail youth related film screenings, concerts & workshops…
  • We can help the Omni by participating on the working groups. Almaz has been volunteering with the Commons working group for about 2 months.
  • We hope that this project will greatly expand the scope of the Omni’s community and increase its visibility. There is a chance that funders and donors introduced to the Omni through our Program would financially support the project of the Omni. We plan to bring more African and African American community members and others who would increase the diversity of the Omni’s community in many ways, including inviting programming for and by community groups who represent our neighborhood and community.
  • Wanda Sabir of KPFA and Sophie of KPOO are also media supporters of YES. We can mention the Omni on our radio broadcast and other media collaborations.

7. Additional information?

Our collective will have diverse group members, artists, business owners, educators, musicians, authors, which all those who organize and those who participate are all considered collective members. Will also have volunteers temporary member participates from deferent community groups, which include college/university students and community educators. All participates in our program would not necessarily be considered members unless they show constant involvement at YES program.

Introduce your key collective members :

  • Almaz Yihdego - Founder and program coordinator/Tigrinya/Amharic teacher.
  • Noura Hassaini - Child Development English/French/ and Arabic teacher
  • Lawrence Brisco - Business development, entrepreneurship trainer through creative gardening and landscape design.
  • Daniel Williams - Swahili and mathematics teacher
  • Akanke Adesokan - Holistic health and culturally relevant responsive holistic empowering counselor and performing artist
  • Eden Mana - health and wellness, health eating habits and nutrition counselor
  • Fiyory Melake - chemistry and biology teacher
  • Mical - Free art and graphic-design teacher
  • Baba Kala - Music and cultural history teacher
  • Far I Shields - musician, artist and author for global transformation
  • Melvin Cowan - program fund and resource advisor
  • Yoel Haile - student academic resource and job placement coordinator

Discussion: Judith issue relevant to FNB & Omni

  • Judith: Concerned about the security of the building - incident with someone sleeping in the shower and becoming violent. Space does not feel safe to me, very anxiety-provoking. Think the shower has to stay locked, want to talk with FNB about it, part of the issue for me is the sleeping ban - people wouldn't be sneaking off to little corners of the building if it were acceptable to fall asleep in a chair here. Need to discuss it with FNB, mostly women on the FNB list were in favor of locking the shower. Do women feel safe here? Need to talk about it with the FNB collective, we couldn't come to consensus on anything last night at our meeting
  • Laura: Security comes up over and over again, we've tried lots of things... shower has come up before but not what happened to you. Talk to the users of the shower and come up with a proposal would be a good next step.
  • Matt: Think it's worth spending 15 minutes on this now [folks agree]
  • Ken: Just want to second your observations that women likely feel more threatened ... feels threatening to anyone to kick people out at 2 or 3 in the morning. Could charge for use of the shower and generate more income for Omni (except of course those who contribute to Omni). Zero tolerance policy on anyone making threats.
  • Matt: Put up a camera at the front door so you can see who's on the other side of the door without opening it (it's not recording). Get really fed up with cleaning up after people who stay here who aren't members and are irresponsible on top of it. For some reason we can't come to an agreement / implement our policy that people have to be a collective member to enter the building.
  • Judith: Would like to have a donation can, if someone wants a shower who's not a keyholder, the person lending the key ensures it's used responsibly. Proposal to have 5-6 keys.. and one on a master keyring. Whole access system has serious flaws, need to rethink what forms of rest from our guests and volunteers are acceptable, encourage a healthier culture around naps.
  • Max: One thing about locking the bathroom, some people don't want others to know that they're houseless... can be stigmatizing. Secondly, re: violence, some people with mental health needs use their language really loosely. Context is key, if someone's triggered and responds with violence, often they're responding to a different kind of violence. If someone says "I'm going to kill you," need to look at the context, what agitated them to say that in the first place.
  • Robb/Matt: Agitated about kicking people out, enforcing the non-member policy
    • Member will say someone is their guest, but then they never leave, that's one of the core issues
  • Joe: I think we should have the showers open an hour or two a week, I brought this up before and volunteered to steward it. Would be a great service to provide.
  • Matt: Two distinct issues with the shower. 1) currently a resource provided for members and their guests... if member isn't present when a guest is using the shower that's an issue


Discussion: How do we communicate with our neighbors?

  • Julio: Scuttlebutt mailing list: How is it used? Okay to delay discussion to next meeting if run out of time and others don't want to discuss.

Discussion: How to get the Communications Working Group Working

Example Discussion Item

End of Meeting