Event:2018/10/04 Delegates Meeting

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Omni Delegates' Meeting - 11/10 2018 7pm-9pm

for instructions on preparing and archiving these notes, please see the bottom

Agenda

  • Introductions, Meeting Roles, and Delegates Count [10 minutes]
  • Access Check-in [5 minutes]
  • Brief Announcements [5 minutes]
  • Bans [5 minutes]
  • Working Group Report-Backs [15 minutes]
  • Member Collective Updates (10 minutes)
  • Continued discussion from the September 20th Delegates meeting on issues raised at the Sept. 6 Delegates meeting, including two proposals.
  • Discussion on transparency

Introductions

Introduce yourself: Name; Preferred Pronoun; Affiliation; any brief announcements; say whether you're a delegate; let us know about any access needs you have†

  • yar
  • phil
  • maryanne
  • ken
  • rachel
  • steven
  • helen
  • Julian
  • tu from seattle, opening a business
  • joe (remote)
  • jenny (remote)
  • laura (remote)

Access Check In

Is everybody able to participate fully in this meeting? Do people have unmet needs or concerns?

Meeting Roles

  • Facilitator/s: Ken and Yar
  • Explanation of hand signals: "deaf applause", "raised hand", "point of process", "direct response"(wildcard), etc.
  • Stacktaker: rachel
  • Timekeeper: nobody
  • Notetaker/s: julian
  • Vibe Reader: steve
  • Next meeting's facilitator(s): TBD

Delegates

  • BAPS: steve + julian
  • CCL: ken
  • CSC: mary ann
  • FNB: helen
  • GWS: rachel
  • LL:
  • Sudo: yar will try
  • GCEA:
  • Quorum:

Brief Announcements

  • ...

New Bans

  • Phil - I believe there was a new one from SudoRoom at the last delegates assembly, but don't know the name
  • Add to list of people asked to leave

Working Group Report-Backs

Building & permits

Meetings: currently conjoined with kitchen mtgs - https://omnicommons.org/lists/listinfo/kitchen

  • ken: everything's happening by email. getting feedback on appliances. jenny's sick, laura's meeting with groups. someone gave more money?? needs confirmation of details
  • This group needs help; https://omnicommons.org/lists/listinfo/building

Commons

Meetings: Second and Fourth Mondays at 5pm

Communications

Meetings: not currently meeting

  • julian sent out newsletter, first in a long time. gets people to orientation, especially people who signed list at anarchist bookfair
  • yar will migrate omnicommons.org next week

Finance

Meetings: Currently conjoined with Fundraising, 2nd & 4th Mondays at 6pm

  • Sep income: ~$5100 from event rentals, ~$5700 from collective payments + other income = ~$11K
  • Sep expenses: ~$4400 + ~$5700 (mortgage) + $2K (loan repayments) = ~$12K
  • does spending handshake grant require consensus or does finance wg handle that?
    • I assume The grant needs to be spent as it was proposed in the application and that there is some kind of report on the use of the funds that has to be spent, but I don't know the details
      • it's an unrestricted donation, not a grant, and doesn't require reporting.. :D
      • Wow! That's unusual...
    • current finance needs are kitchen, entrance hall lighting, other requests can be made via https://omnicommons.org/budgetrequest

Fundraising

Meetings: Currently conjoined with Finance,, 2nd & 4th Mondays at 6pm

  • nobody knows

Feedback Loop

  • ad hoc working group looking into "discrimination at omni"
  • Helen - at some point we'd like to make a formal report, but for now an informal report.
  • we looked at communications records, asked around collectives. found no hard evidence or people to report it
  • indefinite proposals: transparency, rental rate schedule, grievance procedure, document problems at events
  • Mary Ann - we talked about the possibility of bringing in affirmative action, training etc in how to behave. if there's interest in it.
    • when we did "Becoming Omni" we had a training of some kind around that time.
      • "conversations around race" with a POC group and a white group
    • not necessarily a recommendation, more an idea
  • Mary Ann - the approval of new collectives comes here, but perhaps we could be more proactive about booking
  • Steve - question - in amassing this database of instances of discrimination.
    • steve is surprised that they didn't find anything from 2013 to present
      • Julian - no new reports (but of course the various reports and conversations from the past), we didn't do an extremely thorough job admittedly.
      • Helen - we were looking to see if different groups were treated differently. this is one of the things we were looking for in the Commons. implicit bias.
  • Julian - the ability to even assess concrete instances is troubled because there is very little documentation
  • Steve - what we could benefit from are the narratives
  • Phil - accusations of bias and racism emerge
  • Rachel - it would be good to have some proposals here, so that we actually document instances of conflict for instance, and have a place to bring instances of conflict. the problem is that we're mostly white and if there's a racial conflict, there's not a ton of black people to actually advocate or appear as obvious
  • Yar - Are we looking into all kinds of discribimation, or primarily white supremacy?
    • Mary Ann - I would say all kinds of oppression when I was interviewing collectives
    • Phil - as far as the "mostly white" there is some black involvement at the omni, but there are polarized positions that have emerged around conflict there
  • Laura - When do you think you will have a written/formal report ready?
    • julian intends to comb through their notes and write up the highlights for next delegates meeting
  • Mary Ann - when we do outreach for new collectives, being more deliberate about recruiting collectives would be good
    • one more thing we talked about - to have an internal process, similar to Becoming Omni, but more like "where does Omni go from here" - when we were buying the build we were all of one purpose. possibly, if we had something similar that would make us more unified and desirable.
  • Mary Ann - I received a complaint from a disabled group on the outside
  • Joe: I think Mary Ann is right on about doing this as Omni Commons. Group projects ... maybe a retreat
  • Steve - we've got two approaches - you shoudl get involved in black and brown groups; then you have white people at the Omni asking whether we want to get black and brown groups to come in here. this has been traditionally a problem - an interesting aspect of implicit bias, not just ideologically
  • Tu - that's a really profound commentt, I worked with Occupy. if you have a concern as a black community, come to us. we'd present ideas to the Occupy folx - we have a project in the Bronx. maybe a good way would be to go to various groups that speak to us and specifically support them. I personally would go to talk to any community - we have space, we have the benefit, etc. the I-Ching says we're supposed to make energetic progress in the good
  • Laura - There is a misunderstanding showing up here, I think, about what Omni COmmons is. We consist of the member collectives and a few tenants who do various programmatic work, but Omni itself is the group that own/runs the building. The main program of Omni is to maintain the space. The member collectives and tenants work with and consist of relatively diverse communities and individuals. I agree with what Yar says below.
    • Yar - I feel that maintaining the space should be anti-racist in practice
  • Rachel - a number of us work with black orgnazations, like the Haiti Action Committee

joe: I am proud of how the group of people that meet each day on our Shattuck Ave steps have been adopted by Omni members. They often help me with problems. One of the is so uplifted to have gotten a job with Phat Beets and is doing very well at it.

Member Collective Updates

What is going on with your collective? What are you working on? What have you accomplished? Any events coming up? Any difficulties you are encountering that you need help with?

BAPS

  • julian: beat aesthetic session this saturday. marx was right forum happening again. writing group continues.

CCL

  • ken: synbio panel, passageway to sudo, usual classes

CSC

  • maryanne: waffles & zapatismo classes resumed saturday morning. 3 new members

FNB

  • new state law requires to pay for permits & inspections

Nov 10-12 California FNB gathering to discuss and strategize about the new anti public feeding law.At Omni Commons

GCEA

GWS

  • rachel: poor peoples campaign meeting at omni soon

LL

Sudo

tu

  • hemp fuel to erase poverty, you can grow it in sahara
  • going to be opening several small drive-thru espresso stands. foodtrucks without the truck.
  • "5% profits go to small farms in developing world"
  • workers would be activists and artists. the goal would be low-work hours, comprative high pay.
  • the trade is to get assistance to do the project - find the right manager for each espresso stand, find the right contractor.
  • i like what folx are doing here, I want to unite several activist groups to coordinate more in this state and others.
  • Yar - if you find good project managers and contractors, let us know!
  • Helen - 1) what's your time line? 2) the profits would go into hemp production?
  • youtube reality show selling hemp soap. buy 10k to start an orphanage. towing glaciers to thirsty people
  • compete with youtube & facebook

Proposals

Example Proposal Title

  • Name of person, and/or, collective. and/or working group making this proposal; Date the proposal was sent to the consensus email list
  • Text of proposal
    • Laura - any additional feedback from collectives on the proposals from last week? 1. Member collective criteria, 2. New member collective application process, 3. Painting of dark hallways and staircases - what would people like to see in the hallways/stairs other than the hallway to the bocce court?

Discussions

painting

  • phil: part of what people brought up was wanting to
  • jnny: sudo & ccl tried out a UV light in that hallway - looks amazing: https://imgur.com/4o4R7KE Rad!
    • straw poll says people would probably be ok with painting the ballroom-basement stairwell white. but not definitive?
  • ken: most controversy is about the hallway. maybe he could spend time putting light strips in the stairwell
  • Laura - He is ok with not not painting the hallway to the bocce court

new member collective process

https://omnicommons.org/wiki/Event:2018/09/20_Delegates_Meeting#Proposal_2:_New_Member_Collective_Application_Process

  • nobody has any feedback on this
  • Are people generally in favor?
    • informal yes
  • julian would have to temporarily block it because BAPS is still discussing it - but we're still talking about this. is there any reason this has to pass tonight vs waiting another 2 weeks?
    • Laura - No consensus until next meeting. Im just getting final feedback on these proposals because i'm not there. Please give me any comments before next meeting if possible.
    • so far steve is the only person we know of who may not be ready to say yes
  • Rachel - did we establish an Omni agreement that feetdragging cannot be
    • Laura - That is part of this proposal specifically when deciding upon new collectives

existing member collective criteria

https://omnicommons.org/wiki/Event:2018/09/20_Delegates_Meeting#Proposal_1:_Criteria_to_become_and_remain_an_Omni_Commons_Member_Collective

  • Mary Ann agrees with what julian said at last meeting
  • re: working group requirement especially concerns that rigidly enforcing criteria would exclude people. no reason to operate on scarcity basis.
    • Laura: Nobody would be excluded.
    • Julian – we should treat these criteria as guidelines and not requirements, without an enforcement mechanism
    • Laura: Meaning groups would continue being in the bulding, as projects or tenants, they just wouldn't send a delegate until they met the criteria. In a way it gives groups that aren't doing well more time to focus on doing their own organizing. It is already a requirement for collectives to send 2 people to be on working groups. This proposal just keeps that,
  • Rachel - I like that direction because it's a real hardship for GWS. Robb is part of GWS-Omni, and his work at Omni could be considered GWS.
    • Yar: how would this proposal impact GWS in particular?
    • Rachel: Jane said she may be able to join a working group. We have tons of initiatives outside omni. we do lots of organizing. and i'm in SF and have difficulty coming over here.
    • Laura: then someone should make a proposal to revoke the member service on working group requirement because it already exists. I think that would be a mistake, so Im not going to propose it.
  • Julian asks which collectives would be in favor of removing Chiapas and GWS from the delegates, which this would effectively do
  • Rachel - I would like to know if every collective has people in 2 working groups.
    • Mary Ann - what even counts as a working group
  • Yar: working groups are so informal already, it seems to essentially boil down to a known omni volunteer vouching for newer people and saying "they did a thing, they helped me do a thing", which to me is not fair. so much invisible labor happens here, and trying to impose a formal structure on this just can't do justice to that without creating even more work in my personal experience. maybe that means we're dysfunctional, but lets' not make it worse
    • jnny: :D <3
    • Rachel: I think bringing huge multiracial crowds to events at omni is a big contribution even though it's not technically as "part of a working group"
    • +1000
  • Ken - many working groups participants are not members of member collectives
  • Mary Ann - my understanind of the proposal: if we don't have 2 people in a formal working group than we lose our vote. what else happens aside from that?
    • what are the consequences of losing a vote? we don't know. there's too many different situations here. it's hard to predict the consequences of this proposal, it feels wrong. undemocratic. everybody in chiapas felt that way
    • Yar agrees
  • julian: who would block a proposal that effectively removes these groups as member collectives?
    • raised hands: yar, maryanne, julian, rachel, helen. ken has to leave and is not clear
  • mary ann understands the reason, isn't adverse to the reason, which is that people need help. perhaps there's a way to require that each collective member endeavor to send... but there's another side to that, which is that those groups have to accept, if new people come in, that there may be different ways of doing things. some wgs are set in their ways. you have to go where you fit.
    • Laura: It is already OMni policy. so someone needs to make a differnt proposal
    • jnny: context: policy was passed in early 2015 via proposal from the "How We Organize" working group as a way to foster participation and relieve burden on the few individuals doing bulk of bureaucratic labor and event management. not so much an issue but some WGs have fallen to the wayside this year and we should strategize ways to funnel new volunteer energy into apropos WGs. problem is some WGs have no bottomliner at the moment - namely Fundraising, Building, and Communications. Stoked Julian is reviving orientations.
    • mary ann: the past practice here is not to enforce it. it seems to be that by renewing it, the intent is to enforce it. if i'm wrong, i would be happy. but the past practice is not to enforce it. and if we don't enforce rent, then why this? it doesn't make sense to me!
      • we do enforce rent (or we'd be fiscally irresponsible), which is why GCEA's past due invoices are still on the books (this was brought up last meeting) - GCEA never made a proposal to Delegates to waive past due invoices, which historically is what collectives have done (eg BAPS, Material Print Machine) - it's always been a very forgiving process but again, transparency and honesty is key.
      • yar doesn't like the idea of "enforcing rent" - would prefer forgiving debts whenever possible
      • Helen - as for working group particiipation, maybe we need another approach to respond to this problem
      • Mary Ann - if it were necessary, we could find a way to participate in official working groups
  • jenny-remote: wrt working group participation, agree with yar that perhaps that's too much stress on our already-overburdened member collectives. there's a real need for more outreach and a better volunteer intake process. personal action item for next meeting is to create a form on the website for folks interested in helping out, matching their skill sets and interests to our WG needs. form will go to volunteers@lists.omnicommons.org - ping me if you'd like to be added to this list or join here: https://omnicommons.org/lists/listinfo/volunteers
  • Yar: which working groups in particular need the most help right now? and what kind of help?
    • Julian : see Jenny's comment above - Fundraising, Building, Communications
    • Building and Communications need bottomliners - a good crew of folks who participate in both but no core facilitator who calls meetings/workparties and is present for them. Fundraising committee never really resurrected itself after the exhaustion of buying the building :)
      • Laura - it's just too frustrating to write grants and rarely get anything
        • jnny: concur'd. think fundraising's next incarnation should be infiltrating silicon valley billionaires :P
      • Yar - we're at the point, eg, with Building/Kitchen that simply not having a facilitor present means that people who show up for meeting don't have that meeting. we lack core volunteers.
      • Mary Ann - I was in the finance/fundraising working group, and was going to work on grants. in order to do big foundation grants we'd have to have an audit. audits would cost $10k+
        • these are among the reasons why we should have a new "Becoming Omni." we'd need a skilled facilitator.
  • Laura - this discussion has veered from what criteria, if any, we want new and or existing member collectives to meet.
    • yar: this is specifically about existing member collectives, not about the new member collective criteria
    • Laura - The proposal was for both becasue it seems unfair to require new collectives to do stuff that we dont require existing collectives to do
    • once they're existing collectives they don't have to do it anymore i guess. idk, this is difficult and i need more time to think about this
    • jnny: am most interested in organizational structure - how are decisions made in the group? is there a process for joining?
  • Mary Ann - why don't we have a Becoming Omni type conversation at a third Thursday in october in addition to one of the delegates meetings, late October
    • Laura - Becoming OMni was a weeks long multi hour process
      • this is recognized in the course of conversation -
    • Yar proposed Thursday, October 25 to continue this conversation - how to get the working groups the support they need


Discussions

Continued discussion from the September 20th Delegates meeting

  • on issues raised at the Sept. 6 Delegates meeting, including two proposals.
  • Submitted by Lynn - I won't be at this meeting due to long scheduled other meeting, but wanted to get some ideas out for discussion, which could lead to other better suggestion of course.

In addition to mediation about personal relationships, here are some structural/organizational suggestions to prevent/reduce defensiveness and suspicion and build trust.

In General: Diversity and inclusion are Omni goals. It is particularly important that groups of people of color are not treated in what appears to be disparate fashion - meaning maintaining complete openness in practice and consistency in consequences. Assumptions of good intention should guide interactions.

Delegates should commit to attending Delegate meetings. In August both meetings were canceled for lack of quorum, the 9/6 meeting had only 6 people. Delegates as spokespersons for their collectives are responsible for making Omni-wide decisions which otherwise don’t get addressed or are made by default by only a few people. Delegates meetings are the place to resolve issues with broad consensus so that they don’t linger, causing ongoing conflict. Further, the presence of peers and colleagues supports cooperative problem solving behavior.

Proposals:

1. On the specific issue of dues owed by GCEA: All delegates/members should be informed about how each collective is funded, sponsored or pays dues and the rationale for each. Records should be available to all and clear about payment status.

2. Specific issue of use of the red room by GCEA: This space is where GCEA carries out youth activities and keep their files and computer. Since this space is required for GCEA’s actual work and mission, they should have the ability to use it, store materials, keep files and computer there without concern that it will be misused by others. This space should be assigned to GCEA – with agreement that others can use it with notice and permission. The assignment and agreement should be documented.

  • Discussion: I think it is time to address the dynamic that lack of transparency at Omni Commons

is a severe detriment to our ability to function as a cooperative community. I think we need a place and a process to inform ourselves about important financial, security, member collective and other issues that can cause disharmony if swept under the rug. The best example of this is the current disharmony between Jenny and Almaz. This conflict has roots that, I am guessing, go, in some part, back to old rent issues. I think if we all had been made aware of those rent issues as they were building we would have understood the ensuing conflicts better and may have been able to offer better guidance. I hope this is a worthwhile topic for others and that it will stimulate a helpful discussion. joe

    • jenny: the rent issue was raised by almaz, not me (specifically, i merely replied to the statement "we always pay our rent on time" with the fact that such a statement is untrue). the real root of the conflict was blatant dishonesty by a delegate, initiated by the claim that the delegates had already consensed on GCEA locking the classroom, and being personally attacked for stating the fact that such a decision was never made.
    • joe: I can see from the specifics that Jenny has state above that I chose some of the key words in my"Discussion: pragraph above inappropriately.
      • What I was trying to convey was that some form of increased openness that would serve to shortcircuit the formation of anger, distrust or, at worst, factions in our community is what I seek. More facts and figures may be part of the problems that arise but a way to express feelings that are making us uncomfortable, distrustful or worried about a member or a group would be very good in creating more cohesion for the Omni.
    • jenny-remote: ah, i feel you - sorry to get defensive about the 'transparency' bit - that was principally in response to lynn's first proposal above. to your point, joe, mebbe we should consider having one of our two monthly delegates meetings be more of a heart circle than a meeting?
      • joe: Yes, yes to some regularly occuring circle.

in-person discussion

  • we're not clear what this proposal is exactly. need feedback from almaz about pursuing mediation, Laura signed up to check-in about this
  • Laura - I spoke with Almaz about mediation. She is reluctant but considering it. SHe said we would talk to Lynn and maybe Joe about how they were planning to conduct it.
  • Julian: proposal is about 1) financial transparency, 2) use of the room
  • Laura - The key issue (!) about the classroom is if GCEA can put a combination lock on the door and give the combo to people who regularly use it or need to access it.
  • Yar interprets this proposal as "they should be allowed to lock the whole room", but she didn't say that directly. no opposition to having locked cabinets
  • Julian - to my knowledge it isn't used as much of a commons area.
  • Ken does see people use it, though they don't document it
  • Jenny: I spent several afternoons these past two months working in there with Franki, doing simultaneous childcare and legal research pursuant to their eviction case. She was extremely appreciative to have a space where she could work with me while the kids played in the neighboring room. Just an anecdote.
  • in order to have time to discuss the previous meeting's proposal, we are moving on back up

Last Meeting Notes

https://omnicommons.org/wiki/Event:2018/09/20_Delegates_Meeting

End of Meeting