Event:2019/02/21 Delegates Meeting

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Omni Delegates' Meeting - 2019/02/21 7pm-9pm

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


  • 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)
  • Proposal: Delaying GCEA Decision [15 minutes]
  • Proposal: Hiring Jenny as bookkeeper [15 minutes]
  • Discussion Z: [10 minutes]


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

  • marc - sudo he/him
  • null - sudo he/him
  • dennis - liblens (delegate)
  • ken - ccl (delegate)
  • kiwi - gcea, she/her
  • almaz - gcea she/her undercover FBI
  • habiba - fnb
  • phil - fnb he/him
  • joe - fnb he/him (delegate until hellen)
  • jake - sudo -pronoun-indifferent
  • julio - sudo / commons wg
  • rachel - gws she/her
  • lynn -she/her
  • mary ann - chiapas - she/her (delegate)
  • jenny - sudo/finance/commons she/her
  • yar - sudo she/her (delegate)
  • robb - he/him needs r met, sudoroom & liberated lens
  • kwic ? - family member
  • paula voice? - volunteer, worked with fnb previously, heard about the mediation that's going on today. I'd like to understand what's going on more and be present to the situation. Not trained in mediation. Interested in learning about mediation. Interested in clarity and truth and give voice to people who know what that means.

Access Check In

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

Meeting Roles

  • Facilitator/s: yar
  • Explanation of hand signals: "deaf applause", "raised hand", "point of process", "direct response"(wildcard), etc.
  • Stacktaker: Almaz
  • Timekeeper: jenny
  • Notetaker/s: Julio, Jenny
  • Vibe Reader: Lynn
  • Next meeting's facilitator(s): phil


  • BAPS: almaz (cointelpro agent)
  • CCL: ken
  • CSC: mary ann
  • FNB: joe
  • GWS: rachel
  • LL: dennis (inactive)
  • Sudo: yar/marc
  • GCEA: kiwi
  • Quorum: yes (7/8 active collectives)

Brief Announcements

  • Lake Merrit eviction tomorrow; more bodies needed! Meet at Lakeside Park to support residents; bring heavy duty trash bags, coffee, breakfast & lunch.
    • phil where in Lake Merrit
    • jnny: by the Fairyland sign

New Bans

Working Group Report-Backs

Building & permits

Meetings: Not currently meeting

Yar: Trying our best to get bathroom finished. It's taking a long time and stay tuned. jake: motor for front door is ready to be installed by a carpenter and I'm willing to help.


Meetings: Currently ad-hoc; join the 'Commons' list

jenny: We submitted our property tax exemption on friday and met in person with the property tax assesors office. It was good but also terrifying to meet them in person. They described non-exempt events as contaminating a space and making it non-exempt. If any non-exempt event (by a non-exempt org) is held in a space then that makes the space non-exempt for the year.


  • yar: We were trying to work with an expert on floor planning and he was in a bad bike accident so that put a dampener on things.
  • ken: there is a meeting on that coming up next wednesday is that right?
    • jenny: probably either this saturday or next saturday. depends on person who was in accident.
    • jenny: there is also a mailing list for people interested in joining. i


Meetings: Not currently meeting


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


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

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?


  • (no one from BAPS is here)


  • ken: Lots of events and so forth. Had a discussion last night about the proposals that were on. and no one could come today because we have a big event at swissnex in SF and we're represented so we're not attending except for me.


  • We're actually holding a class this Saturday. It's called waffles and zapatismo. We've invited someone(?) to talk about...


  • joe: supplied some kids with food today at the teacher's strike debut
    • many: woo!


  • almaz: we are planning ? event and also we are working on a city wide summit on CSEC(sp?) domestic abuse and gun violence. at the downtown oakland museum. collaborating with a school. we have a lot of events coming up like immigrants rights (and more, note-taker couldn't capture). Working really hard to help shutdown the OMNI Commons through fraud and false accusations against people who disagree with me.


  • We are working with other women's groups to do an event with other groups at Oscar Grant Plaza. Hopefully hooking up with the teacher's strike and doing some sort of action with the strike that's still going on. Meetings happening every week. We've put together. We're doing a hearing on homelessness, mass incarcaration and the criminalization of poverty(?) on April Sixth.


  • dennis: Perhaps people are aware of the fact this year 2019 is 400 since the first african was brought to british north america and we've decided to do a series of films on the black experience. For 7 months up until August (since it was august 400 years ago that first african was brought here). Third sunday of every month at 5 pm in this room we'll have a film screening of a relevant film or documentary (with food!).


  • we can deposit solder on circuit boards, there's an xray machine, we got 2 new tables & are continuing o reorganize the space


Proposal: Addressing Structural Issues

Subject: PROPOSAL: Addressing Structural Issues

  • There have been a number of interpersonal and structural challenges at the Omni in which race played a role. Some of these conflicts have resulted in the exclusion of individuals from the Omni. Moreover, some communities of color as well as anti-racist organizers have been voluntarily avoiding the Omni community. We propose to view the present discussion concerning the GCEA collective as an opportunity to open a dialogue towards healing conflicts and finding procedures that are realistically followed, while also creating an open and diverse community, centering the perspectives and prioritizing the needs of marginalized and oppressed people - as intended by the Omni founding document.

We propose the following concrete steps: 1.) Identify a team of Omni representatives who are willing to engage in a broad dialogue about prior conflicts and present structure of the Omni Commons. 2.) Task Julio and Yar with identifying a team of facilitators by the next delegates meeting. Facilitators should have at most minimal connections to parties involved in prior conflicts at the Omni. Commit to compensating facilitators for their work financially or in other forms (eg. space access), with details to be decided at the next delegates meeting. 3.) Task facilitators with reaching out to parties in prior conflicts within and outside of the Omni, towards developing a mutually agreed upon format of dialogue within a month. 4.) Defer full discussion of the GCEA Proposal on Unpaid Rent, Lease, and Small Classroom Security until the facilitated dialogue has achieved mutual understanding of the needs that Omni and GCEA seek to satisfy in a long term agreement. In the meantime, address urgent matters by temporary measures valid for 3 months:

  • Fundraising Events: GCEA is invited to organize fundraising events at the Omni. The contracts and point person duties for such events will be the responsibility of a member of the Commons WG that is not affiliated with GCEA.
  • Small Classroom Security: During the period of this agreement, the Small Classroom will remain locked, accessible only to BAPS, GCEA, and other events booked through the Commons WG.
  • Update to above proposal

Update on our proposal: We had an in-depth conversation with Melissa Merin who was recommended to us by multiple people, and were impressed by her experience and proposed format of 3 meetings (3-4 hours each): First meeting to re-center common values, surface conflicts, and give everyone a chance to speak to their own experiences. Melissa will make sure that everyone feels heard, while maintaining an atmosphere of mutual respect. Second meeting to work through topics identified in the first meeting. Third meeting to reach agreements for continuing our work as collective, and more effectively addressing new or remaining conflicts.

Melissa charges $100-$150 per hour of meetings, so we propose to commit up to $1500 from general Omni funds.

To further refine this proposal (eg. with dates), we invite potential mediation participants to fill out this survey. We hope for the participation of at least one delegate per collective to ensure adequate report back.


  • Rachel - would like to know more about the mediator
  • Joe - it's unusual that the facilitator is so involved in the discussion/proposal

kiwi: we need a person who is a person of color who has our core values. (notetaker missed stuff) a person in touch with all humanity.

i want to share what i know about melissa: was recommended by multiple people including a friend of mine who used to do seeds mediation (a place in berkeley). we were trying to get someone from catalyst (another anti-racist org) and they recommended melissa also without knowing we'd talked to her.

  • julio: she said she had a background in critical race theory,
  • Rachel - I'm a bit concerned because there's a whole industry. They cost a lot of money and I don't know this person. I'm not obstructing, we just have to be careful that it's not just someone who was trained by the industry and is someone who is part of the movement as well.

kiwi: ? kiwi: we are also working on finding a facilitator based on what i said. we are looking for a facilitator who core value spritituality grounded with the truth not just as she was saying higher education bla bla. we are working to find someone. almaz: we looked at her website and is she a black woman? ah it doesn't matter if she's black or brown or yellow but someone who is sensitive to ... (missing notes)... almaz: maybe we can have two. kiwi: (repeating that we need someone: culturally grounded, spiritual, connected) we need a second person.

  • helen: i don't think having two facilitators not connected with each other. the conversation's going to be difficult as it is. i thought the values of the mediator were to reflect the core values of omni commons not anyone person's values
  • ken: we (ccl) believe it's a good investmen and to have some sort of process to resolve these issues when they come up. (also ken suggests that we can have another mediation with two people afterwards if the first one is not successful)
  • rachel: wouldn't support two people. shifting now toward going for the proposal. we don't have that kind of money for two facilitators.
  • kiwi: the values (spriritual, well-grounded) is not just my values but is the values of the gcea members
  • julio: we did take these things into account in picking the mediator. there is some spiritual background she has i didn't go into before. maybe there is a way for you to know her before we begin. to have catalyst (and this is what they do) and so many others recommend her so highly meant a lot to me. she has a collaborator who she could potentially bring in but we don't know how much that would cost.
    • yar: she seems like the unicorn we've been looking for, to be honest.
  • marc - i'd like to clarify the 3 month limit.
  • yar: yes to a a 3 month hard limit
  • marc: it's not clear if there's a 15 person limit, i want to make sure we are not bringing in people who are banned & we've already spent time mediating with
    • yar - not aware of anyone who's been previously banned from omni who will be involved, will notify everyone involved in the process is okay with everyone involved
      • julio: melissa also understands this, will be made aware of the circumstances that led to their being banned and for context
  • ken: also, when does it start and how long will it go?
  • yar: is there anything to indicate that melissa isn't spiritually grounded
    • kiwi: from the website it doesn't appear so - nothing to indicate she isn't
  • ken: might be a good idea to have a gather / potluck with melissa so she can see how our group works, share food - we all have that in common
  • katrina - had an indepth conversations with her that was very convincing - if others want to have a chat with her we can check with her (probably for pay). lots of pointers to choosing her. and more facilitators great'ly increases the cost
  • habiba: hearing what kiwi is saying,
  • julio: people i've spoken with who do this for a living, it's insulting to do this for free / anything less than $100. lot of prep - setting the setting, email reminders - it's a lot of work $100/hr is on the low end of the scale in the bay area
  • helen: so far only been one suggestion. perhaps we decide from a couple of options at the next meeting. this way we can stop discussing the facilitator and discuss the proposal
  • marc: can we consent to not having those who've been banned or haven't been active in an omni collective over the past year? who we've already spent too much time and energy on already
  • ken: we should have a different defined process for people who have been banned and want to come back in. not try to deal with it at the same time as this process.
  • kwic and paula introduce themselves
  • almaz: want to have people who aren't banned but are familiar with the omni, been around etc;
  • katrina: want to second the proposal to discuss the proposal. part 2 was "task yar and julio" and we've dicussed different people, maybe now get more input, identify a team of folks. paying for a valuable service will increase buy-in and follow-through
  • joe: the stated purpose: an opportunity to open a dialog, healing process, and address structural issues... redesigning the structure of omni is some real heavy lifting - it's redesigning bylaws, decision-making structure, etc; - is that what this will be about
    • not so much a healing circle as a facilitated conversation - to surface everything in the first meeting, address those issues in the second, and by the third meeting develop ways of talking with each other - and wouldn't exclude that we might want longer-term help toward healing(?)
  • marc: kwic is currently on the omni ban list
  • paula: we heard about the mediation going on and came here
  • yar: this is not a mediation. we are trying to agree to spend money on a mediation
  • the hope is that in three meetings we can get back into work teams and functional communications. also i wouldn't exclude from these three meetings that we want longer term help. but the hope is in three meetings to see what's possible and what's needed.
  • rachel: i have a questions about the last piece of the proposal: a legal question for omni. if someone is in the building and doesn't have a lease.
  • helen: who the facilitator is is not part of the proposal. we spent a long time talking about that
  • dennis: haven't been here for awhile, but one of the issues that's not clear to me is whether someone who's been banned from Omni can participate
  • katrina: identify a group of folks from omni. that's what we're asking with an rsvp. part 2 was task julio, yar to find the facilitator; part 3 would be to bring the details of the facilitator to the delegates meeting; part 4 was shelf any further discussion of other aspects of gcea's legal status etc until we've completed this process. bring rsvps forth and a specific decision that can be made at the next meeting
    • we can't decide who's going to be in the room until we know who wants to be in the room
  • katrina: want anyone who has a lot of questions to get in touch with myself, julio or yar before march 7th
  • kwic: community, unity, growing from our past mistakes.
  • yar: Straw poll: who's prepared to consent on this tonight?

Omni is willing to spend $1500 on a facilitator. Who's involved and the details can be consented on at the March 7th meeting

  • Consenso: yar/sudo, mary ann/chiapas, ken/ccl, almaz/gcea, rachel/gws, helen/fnb

Proposal: Hiring Jenny as bookkeeper

Recently, the topic of more regular and transparent financial reporting has been discussed in Omni Delegates Meetings. While this has traditionally been the domain of the Finance Working Group, said working group has usually seen fewer than 3 members in attendance, and historically has relied on one or two volunteers to uphold day-to-day financial transactions, regular reporting, annual filings (State, Federal, County, and City), loan repayments, invoicing, bank reconciliations, bill payments, check cashing and internal financing and filings. Additionally, we continue to receive requests for and accrue fiscally-sponsored projects, significantly adding to our administrative overhead. Our property tax exemption application is due February 15th, which requires detailed documentation of all entities that use the building (including one-time event rentals and small recurring group meetings). We also need to consolidate our mortgage loan within the next two years. Total number of hours spent on this labor each month has frequently trended toward that of full-time employment (with overtime).

I am now incapable of continuing to engage on this level with Omni’s bookkeeping and operations on a volunteer basis. I enjoy this work, and have been studying nonprofit bookkeeping and law generally over the past three years, obtained Quickbooks certifications, attended webinars and workshops, and have already begun doing nonprofit bookkeeping as a paid position for other clients. However, I have bills to pay and will soon need to find full-time paid employment or the equivalent - which means I won't have time to work on Omni.

This work adds up to minimally 20 hours/month and is reliant on skilled labor that has been consistently out of reach for Omni Commons since its inception. Starting March 1st, all of our community loans - totalling over $100K with monthly average repayments to the tune of $3,200 - will have been repaid! We are now in a position, financially, to afford professional bookkeeping and administrative services (see Feasibility).

Paying for skilled labor is not unprecedented: since our beginnings, we have readily paid the hourly or project-based rate for legal assistance, city permitting and inspection fees, and building and maintenance work (including electrical, plumbing, fire safety, and roof repair) - as well as supporting paid A/V for events. Traditionally, those we hire have been people aligned and familiar with Omni’s vision and structure, or recommended by comrades within our community.

Summary/Proposal: It seems to me that Omni has the following options: Hire an accountant and train them in the structure and history of Omni and its collectives (probably expensive); Hire another Omni volunteer and train them in bookkeeping, taxes, etc; (who will do the training?); Attempt to find someone else to do this work for free; Pay me to continue doing the work I've been doing for free over the past 3+ years.



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