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Latest revision as of 22:27, 30 June 2020

Omni Delegates' Meeting - 18 June 2020 7pm-9pm

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


  • Introductions [15 minutes]
    • Meeting Roles
    • Delegates Count
    • Access Check-in
  • Check-ins, Updates & Report-Backs [30 minutes]
    • Brief Announcements
    • Working Groups
    • Member Collectives
    • Conflicts, Mediation & Safe Space
  • Proposals & Discussions


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

  • WHY DO WE ASK PRONOUNS? To make space for people who are trans, nonbinary, gender noncomforming or otherwise vulnerable to being misgendered. It's not an invitation to make jokes or trivialize the idea of pronouns. If you are fine with the gender and pronouns society generally assigns to you, please just say what they are without fanfare or embellishment. Conversely, please don't pressure anybody to give their pronouns, as that can harm trans people who are closeted or questioning. The point is to prompt and normalize asking, but not to mandate or enforce. Thank you! <3 Yar
  • Jenny - she/her - sudo things, finance
  • Rachel - she/her - GWS delegate
  • John - he/him - GWS/Omni
  • Les - they/them/she? - SudoMesh delegate
  • Robb - he/him - LibLens
  • Mary Ann - she/her - Chiapas
  • Michael - he/him - CCL
  • Helen - she/her - FNB

Access Check In

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

Meeting Roles

  • Facilitator/s: Rachel
  • Explanation of hand signals: "deaf applause", "raised hand", "point of process", "direct response"(wildcard), etc.
  • Stacktaker:
  • Timekeeper:
  • Notetaker/s: Jenny
  • Vibe Reader:
  • Who will out next meeting's agenda beforehand:
  • Next meeting's facilitator(s):


  • CCL: Michael
  • CSC: Mary Ann
  • FNB: Helen
  • FYE:
  • GWS: Rachel
  • LL: Robb
  • Phat Beets: (inactive)
  • Sudo Room: Jenny
  • Sudo Mesh: Les
  • Quorum: 7/8 active collectives (yes)

Brief Announcements

  • Jenny: Eventful weekend - Port shutdown tmrw Oakland, SF Juneteenth, Saturday - Parade in celebration of Black lives and culture starting at Rockridge BART at 11 AM hosted by the folks putting together protester care kits in Omni basement
  • Rachel: Saturday Poor People's Campaign per Digital Mass Meetingease jump on
    • 7 AM Saturday morning / 3 PM Sunday

Working Group Report-Backs

Building & permits





  • Meetings: Ad hoc
  • Join! https://omnicommons.org/lists/listinfo/fundraising
  • Next meeting is Sunday - 12pm via
  • mary ann: Sent out Fundraising email - please share with your collectives' lists and social media! https://mailchi.mp/f574ab7fff44/urgent-appeal-to-support-omni-commons
    • has gotten over $1500 in donations and increased Patreon to ~$150/month
  • jenny: submitted grant app to San Francisco Foundation
  • john: proposal below for pandemic strategy grant
    • feedback? by and large support, but not everyone has read it
    • asking for $300K from a large foundation for building/operating expenses and hiring a staffer for eg operational logistics

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?


  • Monday - Global City Sampling Day, international effort to sample microbial organisms by swabbing public touch points eg BART ticket machine. The follow up to that is longitudinal microbial sampling of urban touch points for two weeks to capture more robust data points. This sampling is in conjunction with MetaSub, and international organization mapping the urban biome based in New York.
  • one person authorized to work in lab on Open Insulin, in process of approving a second person
  • the lab has been re-arranged to accommodate multiple people working at the same time at a social distance once COVID restrictions are eased.


  • Raising money and sending to indigenous communities in Chiapas and Mexico that are suffering right now
  • also been stressing the Omni fundraiser campaign among Chiapas Support on social media and personal pages. all about fundraising right now


  • Helen unable to connect


  • Not here


  • Largest event, Poor People's Campaign on Saturday - tune in!
  • Big event in Oakland last night - art build,
  • resolution to Board of Supervisors in SF re: decriminalizing and supporting sex workers - City has the right to enforce its own laws. in tune with momentum to defund the police and put those funds back into the community. relationship between sex workers and police is horrendous


  • Working on video for North Oak Restorative Justice Council, and with APTP on their livestream for BLM actions
  • No upcoming events, just coveraging actions and working on video

Phat Beets

  • Robb: Roya hasn't been here in some time.. they've been reduced to the CSA project

Sudo Room

  • Space is cleaner than ever! Can see the floor!

Sudo Mesh

  • Were in process of researching new hardware, got kind of stalled by the pandemic.
  • Jenny installing node at Fifth Ave Marina.
  • Marc Prototyping solar wifi node, has been installed at Occupy the Farm.
  • Went to protest with 4G node and 12V battery in backpack & provided wifi to whole Oscar Grant Plaza.

Conflicts, Mediation & Safe Space

  • Updates for any ongoing issues
  • Has anybody been asked to leave? asked to leave
  • Two from CCL banned because overt racism


Pandemic Strategy Grant

The Omni Commons is a revolutionary organization. When The Revolution comes, Omni Commons will be obsolete. However for purposes of our survival pending revolution we must raise funds to qualify for a loan to refinance our mortgage on the 4799 Shattuck Ave Oakland building in the amount of $900,000.00 within seventeen months. This is an extremely short timeframe for that purpose.

Donate! Join the Fundraising Working Group! Send us any donor prospects!

    • We urgently need all hands on deck in this effort. **
      • Main point to discuss and reach consensus on: We will for the first time be hiring an Omni Commons staff person. The draft job description is [Appendix 6] at the bottom. ***

Please review the draft grant proposal below and let us have your feedback. Also if you have a lead for a donor (individual or organization) that can write us the check, please let us know immediately.

We are a federally tax-exempt California non-profit corporation. We seek grant funding now, but are mindful never to become wholly dependent on grant seeking. See, The Revolution Will Not Be Funded: Beyond the Non-Profit Industrial Complex (INCITE! Women of Color Against Violence, 2017).

Omni Commons is an American utopian experiment in Oakland, California that seeks to transform society by modeling alternatives to existing social relations and economic forms.

We were born of the Occupy Oakland 2011-12 moment that frames later social justice organizing in the Bay Area. Omni Commons seeks to build up and serve the community, the peoples, and social justice organizing efforts in the East Bay of San Francisco. We have and will continue to incubate and fulfill the needs of innovative social movement projects and organizational start ups.

We are a federally tax-exempt California non-profit corporation (see Appendix I). To overcome our momentary economic challenge we ask for a $300,000 two-year Pandemic Emergency Bridge Grant for strategic planning and organizational development purposes.Organizational Description

Nine active member collectives constitute the Omni Commons. Some have existed for decades and one of our newest ones has existed for only a year. In our six-year existence, Omni Commons has become a preeminent community- and movement-building resource in the Bay Area. Appendix II includes descriptions of the nine collectives and contact persons for each.

Three years ago, Omni Commons member collectives sought and secured a mortgage loan to purchase our building. We will either pay or refinance that loan within seventeen months. Appendix III includes the loan and business insurance documents. Thus Omni Commons now collectively owns and operates a 20,000 square foot former Italian Social Club and multi-use event space in the Temescal District. Available to organizations in the Bay Area, activities have included community events and projects, art shows, concerts, meetings, film screenings and series, book and zine fairs, parties, dances, and conferences. Appendix IV lists most of the larger and public events, but excludes the by now thousands of small political organizing meetings that have occurred. We further use the building for work spaces for our nine member collective-owners.

We recognize that we have become in effect a small business. Our unconventional form, however, renders us ineligible for Small Business Administration loans or grants. Conventional mortgage lenders also have difficulties with unconventional corporate forms like ours.

Like other small businesses, we face a challenge in the pandemic and the related economic downturn. Specifically, we began losing over 60% of our monthly income since the public health Shelter-In-Place order went into effect. We have negotiated a six month forbearance on our mortgage from our lender. This breather gives us time to clarify our vision for our future as a radical Bay Area community institution. Omni Commons has been entirely volunteer-run to date in line with the aspirations articulated in our founding documents. Appendix V is our mission statement. Now we hope for the first time to hire a paid staffer to help us manage the business, our activities, and to better coordinate our organization’s hundreds of volunteers. Appendix VI is a skeleton job description for that new role. Investment Need The primary purpose of our $300,000 grant request is to ensure that Omni Commons survives the pandemic moment not just healthy, but stronger. During the grant period, we will (1) re-articulate a clear collective vision for ourselves in the community, and (2) develop thorough plans for our next five years and beyond of Omni Commons work. Given the surrounding social relations, our survival for six years is in itself a major accomplishment. This grant at this time will help us go from surviving to in the future thriving brilliantly by serving the people of the East Bay and beyond. DeliverablesStrategic Plan

During the first year we will work with all member collectives to build a shared vision of our collective future as Omni Commons for the next two, five and twenty five years.Development Plan

Omni Commons has been primarily focused on meeting operating costs and building maintenance to make the space immediately usable for our community in line with our mission. Thus we only have operating budget related financial documentation. We have some capital projects we wish to undertake. This includes but is not not limited to building a commercial kitchen to support both our continuing food aid (led by member collectives Food Not Bombs and Phat Beets Produce) to Oakland’s unhoused, and future revenue-generating events in our event spaces. Approaching nearly 100 years old, the building’s roof needs replacing or serious remediation. Finally, although we are in a historic building we seek to renovate it to reach best practices for meeting access needs of community members. We are therefore cultivating a development plan and budgeting for these three capital projects. By the end of the grant term we will provide completed or working drafts of these three documents and a development plan.Business Plans

In Year One of the grant we will develop a two-year business plan for Omni Commons. Like other small businesses, we face uncertainty because the schedule for opening up the economy fully remains opaque. At the end of the second year we will have our draft five year plan.

Omni Commons seeks to thrive, build, and continue to serve the community, the peoples, and social movements in the East Bay. We are especially interested in continuing helping incubate and serve the needs of start-up Bay Area social justice movement organizations.Conclusion

This grant is exactly what Omni Commons needs to survive the pandemic moment and the economic downturn. We aspire to still be serving Bay Area communities, organizations, and social justice startups and movements for many years. We ask your support for our survival pending revolution with a two year $300,000 Pandemic Emergency Bridge and Strategic Planning Grant.

Thank you for your consideration of our request. We look forward to hearing from you. Appendices Appendix I: Federal and State Nonprofit Exemption Letters Appendix II: Current Member Collectives Appendix III: Mortgage Loan and Insurance Documents Appendix IV: Past Events of Note Appendix V: Mission Statement - Omni Commons envisions a more equitable commoning of resources and meeting of human needs over private interests or corporate profit. Our mission is to own and operate property for the purposes of educating the public, carrying on scientific research, combating community deterioration, and defending human rights in Oakland, as an integral place within the San Francisco Bay area. Appendix VI: Omni Commons Administrative Coordinator Job Description (__% time base)- The administrative coordinator works with working groups, member collectives, the delegates assembly, and the board to help ensure the smooth functioning of the workflow and of such groups. They focus us on (1) ensuring finances, and fund development are high-functioning, (2), helping the building committee maximize use and revenue from space rentals, and (3) to help all the Omni Commons Collectives to collaborate towards a renewed collective vision and strategic plan. Appendix VII: Grant Budget Appendix VIII: Financial Statements


  • John: have convo / possible funder - would like to receive feedback and finalize the language by next Thursday
  • Robb (reporting for Helen) - Helen worked with a flea market that did a similar thing - hired 2 people in similar situations, and it did not work out very well
  • Les: Can they be two proposals - one re: hiring a person, the other for the funding language itself?
  • Have had this conversation twice now - once w/ Matt and now with John's proposal - no consensus achieved in previous delegate's meetings.
  • mary ann: very few people and orgs that would be interested in turning over $300K if there's no specific person responsible for that, someone on staff. what that looks like, to funders, is stability. something well-organized and managed - an illusion in some cases, in others a reality. given the situation we're facing - including the mortgage refinance- more stability and permanence will enable us to obtain / maintain / prevent - assuming we have the right person and we're all in agreement re: what that person does
    • jenny: really appreciate this perspective and think it's well time Omni grew up a bit - so much work, really - it would really benefit Omni to pay someone (ideally a black woman or other underrepresented) to coordinate operational logistics, be there in the day-to-day to serve as a reliable, competent point of contact, etc. others have been involved in radical collectives much longer - are we adolescents? or just entering adolescence, as an org? :)
    • mary ann: very common for orgs like ours to start out all-volunteer - but at some point as org grows, all the bureaucracy - people burn out. if you have someone whose job is to do that, it helps everyone. don't want to see someone else burn out like laura did - i really dont want to that happen
  • John: the role is to support all of the committees' work, including the Commons
    • Jenny (reads Appendix VI from above on Administrative Coordinator role)


Groups Not Paying Rent

  • Policy does include having the group at the Delegate's to discuss financial strife
    • general vibe: not desiring to kick anyone out, but need to hold groups accountable. we're all in this together
    • groups that are currently using the building the most are not contributing financially
  • Phat Beets currently owes $5,939.25 including July rent due 6/25, last payment in Nov 2019 covered October rent (monthly is $643). they have diminished operations to just the CSA but can still afford to pay people and have been pulling in donations, so accountability there would be great.
    • Jenny has been in email convo with Bria & Max, Offered several possible options for repayment plan at 3, 6, 9, 12 months but has not heard back since May 15th. Will follow up cc'ing Finance WG
  • FYE currently owes $2,275 including July rent due 7/15, last payment was $175 on Jan 16th (covering 1/2 of Jan 2020 rent, monthly is $350)
    • also problematic that this is also AB's monthly rent, since he's living in the basement and running his for-profit personal business out of media lab. definitely pulling in donations for events and workshops and such.
      • michael: isn't that.. not allowed at omni?
        • robb: i would like to not be the one to deal with it, as every time i confront a POC i get called a racist
          • best to have a transparent and frank discussion among delegates, as Helen's prior proposal had outlined. delegates to request presence at next meeting
  • robb: the proposal we passed said something about payment plan within 90 days broughtto the Finance WG, responsibility is onus of the member collective (MC). otherwise after that time, group is no longer MC and could be removed. not in favor ofkicking anyone out, just clarifying the onus is on the MC to make arrangements with finance committee - or automatically not an MC anymore
    • Mary Ann: need to find and re-circulate Helen's proposal we passed last year, and get those collectives to attend a delegate's meeting to discuss
  • jenny: sudo room is also struggling - behind one month, and not enough $ in the bank (currently $937.69) to pay last month in full ($2,000/month - June rent was due 5/25). [post-meeting note: also we are selling some things which could bring in a few thousand - space has also been largely unused, so if unable to fundraise may request a temporary rent reduction]

Last Meeting Notes


End of Meeting