Event:2021/02/25 Delegates

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Omni Delegates' Meeting - February 25, 2021 7pm-9pm

1. Joining info:

2. URL of these notes: https://omnicommons.org/notes

3. Please add items to the agenda below and send any proposals to consensus@lists.omnicommons.org prior to the meeting

4. For instructions on preparing and archiving these notes, please see the bottom.

Agenda

  • 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

Introductions

juuu 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
  • vicky they/them noma
  • jane she/her gws
  • maryann csc fin/fun
  • arnoldo (or A.G. if you can't roll your r's)
  • rachel gws she/her - can't look at screen, sorry
  • yar she/her sudoroom
  • john he/they gws
  • robb fnb commons fin/fun
  • patrik

Access Check In

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

Meeting Roles

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

Delegates

  • ANV: inactive, nobody here
  • CCL: patrik
  • CSC: Arnoldo
  • FNB: active but nobody here yet
  • FYE: active but nobody here yet
  • GWS: Rachel
  • LL: inactive, nobody here
  • Sudo Room: yar
  • Sudo Mesh: inactive, nobody here
  • Quorum: yes

Working Group Report-Backs

Building & permits

Commons

Communications

Finance & Fundraising

  • Meetings: Tuesdays 2:00 - 3:00 pm
  • Join! https://omnicommons.org/lists/listinfo/finance
  • Join! https://omnicommons.org/lists/listinfo/fundraising
  • john is grateful to fin/fun for moving meetings to tuesdays noon-1pm, will be able to participate going forward
  • robb:omni lost its state tax exempt status with california (not federal), now in process of reapplying and getting them some of the correct info they were lacking in our previous filings. we've sent in everything they've asked for, and working on reapplication. more in discussion topic. "registry of charitable trusts" is the new wing, you have to report to that AND the franchise tax board.
    • patrik: every year there's 4 entities you need to contact. office of attorney general, FTB, IRS, & secretary of state. we're also listed as delinquent in secretary of state website. CCL is in the same boat, we have no clue why.
    • robb: they sent us a letter wanting our statement of information, but we requested yet
    • robb: secretary of state is the RF1. that's the one with the $50 fee. sarah looked over it, found an omission, filled it from info from our federal filing. we corrected that and sent it in. but refiling is more arduous than when you just start, because there's an operation history.
    • maryann: it appears they're all coordinating
  • also working on loan application
    • maryann: there are 6 specific questions which comprise the "business plan". each of us working on different sections. one key issue is our plans for expansion. we're gonna have to expand/increase our income in order to pay a higher monthly mortgage, and there are elements in the business plan that the delegates need to approve, we need ideas/rejection. to know where you are with it before we include it. we could write a narrative, but it's the outline of that narrative and what it includes. consensus on ideas, if not language.
  • this group needs help as a lot of things administrative are falling on it
  • knowing what's going on having confidence about the paperwork and other issues,
  • vicky: do you want feelers to be put out in our networks?
    • yar: it's a cry for help with no particular solution in mind
    • maryann: you need to have knowledge of omni, i would not want outside help. our history with purchase of the building is somewhat complicated. it affects all the documents we send in, understanding what exists. if there's people at omni now who have that experience, we'd definitely welcome you to join us. but i don't think we'd really want people from the outside
    • rachel: agreed
    • vicky: some people in noma are familiar with that world. i'd happily connect, but if you think it'd be too much energy translating i totally understand
  • where are the bylaws, MaryAnn has a copy in front of her
    • lots of confusion about where they are
  • rachel: since the last meeting we really kind of pinned down the business plan more, and divided it up. it didn't feel as huge & unwieldy. once we have that nailed down... the biggest thing is the refinance. that's the huge thing we're facing. once we get through that and have a draft, we'll be in a different place i think. that's what the whole existence of omni hangs on right now.
    • maryann: and the insurance
    • yar, insurance policy from nationwide expires in 9 days, broker has been working on it with MaryAnn yar will call tomorrow
    • frustrations from managing spinning plates of non-profit management
    • yar misses laura and jenny's superhero energy

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?

ANV

  • not present

CCL

  • no updates

CSC

  • no update

FNB

  • nothing to report. meeting coming up next week

FYE

  • not present

GWS

  • our group is doing a lot of work with india farmers strike. not getting lots of publicity. massive mobilization of millions of people fighting to save land from big agribusiness, that modi wants to impose on farmworkers. a lot of women are occupying delhi. if they lose that fight, africa and other places are gonna be facing similar things of just turning over land to the corporations. lots of indian-americans joining in. people all over the world. sikh youth in the bay area wrote an amazing statement in support.
  • still pushing congress with child tax credit bill, congress voting on it tomorrow

LL

  • not present

Sudo Room

  • pass

Sudo Mesh

  • inactive

Conflicts, Mediation & Safe Space

  • Updates for any ongoing issues
  • Has anybody been asked to leave? asked to leave
  • uptick in people sleeping at omni, more
    • toan has been dealing with it mostly, since robb agreed not to
    • adding discussion topic

Other Brief Announcements

Proposals & Discussions

== executive director proposal == 10 mins

    • maryann started changing it based on suggestions from last meeting. it hasn't gone through fin/fun yet. it's an addition of a few words from last time. real issue is whether we agree on having this position. do we support hiring an "executive director" or "general manager"? the title is not important to the issue. do we consider bringing in a professional person to "manage the building"? all the stuff we're trying to deal with in fin/fun, i don't think anybody wants to continue doing all that. it's hard. that's for each collective to talk over with their collective and see if people are ready to move from an all-volunteer management to a professional staff management. that's the underlying issue that people have to decide.
    • robb: and maybe can we afford it. we're already looking at scrambling to get $1-2k to our mortgage. $50k/year would add another $4k/month to break even
    • jane: but if people don't step up to do that work, we're gonna totally burn out, and lose omni. how much time can we give it to see if we're able to pull together
    • maryann: the question of money is why the job description is about someone who can increase the money we get through event rentals, particularly in the ballroom, and that's why we have in there the requirement that someone has experience with doing that. that's how they'd pay for their salary. if they can't do that they obviously won't have a job for very long
    • patrik: they should also be applying to grants. omni should be able to get $100k/year but that takes effort
    • rachel: i don't see it as a professional position. in gws, we're grassroots people, we run our womens center in london. we have someone who's responsible for keeping a view of everything - bills, etc. i see it as a very good organizer who's good at keeping track of things, holding the strings on all the different pieces. i don't see it as this professional person who writes grants and stuff.
    • patrik: that's no more professional than bringing in events to ballroom. just a different kind of job.
    • rachel: i see that as the commons wg doing some of the work. keeping an overview of requests and making sure they're following up
    • maryann: when i say professional, i mean someone with experience doing it. they've had a paid job that involve doing what we ask for. doesn't mean they have degrees. i don't agree that much with the grant thing because 1) when CSC joined omni and i saw the operation of events, i invited paul chin (former ED of la pena) to meet with me, jenny, robb, lynn, and he cautioned against becoming dependent on grants. when the mortgage meltdown happened and money decreased, they lost a bunch of grants and had to raise their prices for rentals, which outpriced a lot of small collectives, including CSC. plus i had a more or less in-depth conversation with one of the directors of EBCF and he said, we (omni) don't fit into categories that foundations place on their money. we'd have to get access to pepole in back of those grants. the discretionary money they don't talk about on their website or anywhere else. i'm not so sure that's really gonna bring in the results we want. it'd be. . i'd say rather than grantwriting, experience with fundraising would be great. that would include some grants, but also building a donor base from people who either use omni or just like it.
  • yar: what's our timeline here?
    • maryann: the idea is to hire someone once we're ready to reopen. if it looks like restrictions are being lifted and we can reopen soon, that's when we announce the position. i don't see how we can hire someone until we can open for events.
  • arnoldo: sounds like there's still what needs to be developed is a job description, then work our way from that. do we want ED to manage omni, or to be someone that holds us as well together in terms of the way we want to structure accountability. i used to belong to an immigrants rights network, we decided to hire an ED, part of the board with the network members. everybody does their thing, then comes together to do something. i think it'd include fundraising.
    • maryann: there is a job description, it's being added to as people give suggestions
  • patrik: i expect alameda county may be in yellow status within a month if everything goes really well. not necessarily good time to have events at omni though. that could last until hopefully end of summer or something like that
  • robb: i think yellow means we can have 25%, that's 67 people in the ballroom. only other pressure for ED is it might look better on paper for our loan application if we have that spelled out, that level of accountability or organization would look good
    • patrik: or if we can say we have a candidate that would topics

== business plan == 7 mins

  • rachel: maybe next meeting we'll have it more together
  • Questions from Self Help’s application that require a narrative answer:
  1. Describe the service/product you will offer. Provide as much detail as possible.
  2. Describe the qualifications and experience of management and other employees, and any outside professional services (accountants, attorneys, etc.)
  3. Describe the market area, market trends, and customers you will service. Describe your advertising, promotions, pricing and customer service.
  4. Who is your competition? Be specific. What are the advantages of your product or service?
  5. What are your plans for growth or expansion? How does this relate to working capital, equipment and/or your building (location, size, zoning,. Condition?)?
  6. What is your financing plan? Please specify how much money you can put towards the project and how much money you need to borrow.
  • maryann: as i said before, fin/fun divided it into 6 questions. they wanna know how we're gonna pay this loan. they want to know what our plans are for the future and for expansion. if we all agree (which i think maybe we do?) that the most likely way to bring in money is upgrading events in the ballroom, there's issues like, do we want to get a beer & wine license? how much do we want to think about expanding? clearly, all of that depends on how many of the things we're doing right now turn out. assuming we can correct the problems that we have. we plan on asking for a loan that's $1.1M which we only owe $925, and with that, the idea is to replace the roof, and also upgrade electrical wiring, and maybe sprinkler system. those are the kinds of major upgrades to the building that we're considering. i don't think there's any dispute that #1 priority is the roof. yar just got an inspection required for insurance, and it wasn't a plus
    • yar: $16,000 estimate for most important work of updating a dozen electrical panels, Federal Electric
    • maryann: might be controversy over beer & wine license. some concerns would be around internal policies around having that in the building. we haven't been super good about following rules in the building. these are all possibilities.
  • robb: i personally would like to see a beer & wine license in our business plan, it'd cost ~$15k. may be early. but should include something with employees - it'll take more than just 1 ED. you need security people legally, lots of legal requirements, people confident in their jobs and we can trust. but would look good on paper.
    • maryann: we could put it as part of a 5 year plan. maybe something we want to do in a 2nd year. agree, shouldn't be rushed, lots of technicalities, offshoots of doing that in terms of legal requirements. but if it's something people are willing to consider in the future, we could write it that way.
  • feedback please!

== tax exemption reapplication == 7 mins

  • robb: as you know, california revoked omni's tax exempt status. talking to jesse & sarah. for form 3500, we need a general description of all the projects that have happened at omni and what's currently happening. i was expecting some of the fiscally sponsored projects, but i guess it's just GWS & SR. we'll need a few sentences of general description of your charitable activities. or maybe for everyone? in order to submit 3500 it also asks for our 2020 info, we'll need that. waiting until sarah finishes our 2020 taxes, and waiting for state to finalize some of their forms. they're not really due til april. hopefully will file 2020 taxes early, next week, so that will help our 3500. and then a list of board members for omni commons.
  • jane: sounds like everything's in the bylaws for that
    • maryann: no. this is the request we had to put on the agendas. i assume that when we reapply for nonprofit status, we'll need to send in omni bylaws. they need to be updated. they state specifically who is on the executive board and who's eligible to vote and how they're selected. they are designated by the collectives who are listed under "executive board". we have old bylaws that include people/collectives like BAPS, TIL, Art Bison, GCEA. we have to delete those and add the people who came in after november 2016. fye, sudomesh, anv. we might be able to do that now.
  • proposal to remove BAPS, GCEA, TIL, Art Bison from bylaws as member collectives, and add FYE, Sudomesh & ANV as new members
    • no objections. we have consensus.
  • yar: if somebody sends the new bylaws to a mailing list, i will update the wiki

== officer election == 7 mins

  • maryann: it doesn't have to be done exactly the same, if people are overwhelmed with all the things going on. we need to have "an annual meeting at which time we elect new officers"
  • robb: maybe the best time to address who are the official on-paper delegates (or board members as the state calls them)
  • maryann: yes, each collective needs to state who their delegate is at the annual meeting. if anyone's making a proposal to do it, you need to propose a date for the annual meeting
  • need to ascertain if there are any prospective candidates for officer
  • yar: i think the most important thing right now is to let everybody start thinking about whether they want to be a candidate, whether you know anybody who might want to be a candidate, for omni's president, treasurer, or secretary
  • robb: i need to tell jesse who our board members are, we haven't updated that in years. need it next week.
  • MaryAnn please contact groups each collectives delegate name
  • last time we dealt with this was 2019
  • maybe let's prepare to do this next week 3/4? call it a special meeting, will have a paper trail
  • yar will reach out to ANV, Sudo Mesh, liberated lens. John will reach out to FYE

== process for addressing white supremacy == 10 mins

  • vicky: i have seen several different orgs undergo a similar process, have some experience seeing what seems to work & not work. also want to restate that i was hired into a similar position that it seems like you all are looking to hire for ED. and it was a similar element of needing to raise funds and build a donor base and repair a reputation in the community. at the beginning i pointed out that part of the reputation issue was internalized white supremacy, and because they didn't want to address it actively, they lost their building after 40 years. i think it's awesome that we're talking about this now. it's parallel with pushing omni forward and securing the future of omni.
  • jane: I personally sort of accept that racism, ageism, sexism, all the nasty things in this society, have soaked into all of us. and we keep an eye on ourselves and try and be open to feedback on how we are acting, treating each other, yknow, i feel like we're all guilty of all of that because we swim in this sea of capitalism. we keep an eye on ourselves as best we can. that's how i experience people here at omni. i don't really have solutions apart from that. if we're not willing to keep an eye on ourselves and notice when we're looking at things/people in a racist/sexist way, we're not doing the work. we're just letting it happen. i haven't worked around anybody who seems to be doing that here. that's all.
  • maryann: i think i kinda said this at the beginning of the meeting, but you basically have 4 delegates here who are able to vote on issues. i'm not sure how many total pepole are members of collectives, but this is a very small representation and to me, that's a problem. having such a small number of people making such big decisions. for an org to be self-governing it requires participation. i think one of the biggest problems is participation in general, and that obviously includes people of color. so idk how to solve the problem, i don't really have any suggestions other than thinking about maybe expanding the board to include more people. that'd require a whole lot of thought & discussion, but i do hope that we can find a way to increase the number of people making decisions. that'd be the best thing that i can think of.
  • rachel: i think iv'e said this before, but i can only speak for working in a multiracial womens org (gws), we've had lots of dealings with racism/sexism/homophobia, all of it, the way we've done it is not to do trainings, have people talk to us about it, but it's day to day, deal with is. i think that's what omni's not very good at. when things happen, they don't get addressed. we don't know about it. some people know about it, but not everybody, and it's not seen as a communal problem that we all []. there has to be a way we get in the practice. when incidents happen they have to be addressed. how we do it, idk if we have a couple people the person feels comfortable iwth. but deal when they come up. they fester & fester, and we talk about white supremacy but i'm talking about all the isms. they come up all the time. i know it's hard to go up to the person and say what's offensive that's being said or done, but we have to have some kind of mechanism where people can feel they can just tell a person, have a group sort it out, then move on. that's the way we do it in my org. it's worked. if someone says something racist, you get two people together, hear both sides of the story, and the person has to face it. people will tell them no, that's not appropriate, you're not gonna tolerate that. it just has to be dealt with. that's what i see form the outside since i'm not there right now. i also worked at rainbow coop. it had so many problems - racism, people not getting along. you'd think it was the ideal place to work, you're all owners, but people have a really hard time working together. all of the divisions among us. i'm not being very practical but i want to find a way to appreciate each other, our problems, we're all trying to work on them. that's the only way i see how to deal with it.
  • vicky: i suggest start with the group coming to a set of agreements and shared language so that we can move forward from the same... agreement. we agree there are issues of institutional white supremacy at omni, and we agree to move forward with figuring this out together. part of that cna be having shared language. to me this isn't really individual acts of racism/sexism. ti's the consequence of being socialized into a ws society, or inviting more diversity. i actually think that if we just invite people in without addressing these issues we're just gonna cause more harm. to create a shared understanding of the problem, what it is, agreement that we want to continue working on it. that can be something written down and a plcae to work from. that's a practical suggestion i have to start off with
  • robb: i'd just like to riff on what rachel said about dealling with problems as they arise. the most recent mediated conflict (silver & i) never went through omni's mediation process. like we have a specific process, and now we're spending a bunch of money. it was not very dissimilar from our own process. we're just paying a lot of money for someone else to do our own process that we never attempted. i feel like i don't wanna yoke arnoldo for dealing with is, but i'd really love all of us to review that process and recommit to it. it's not a bad process, it just never gets followed through with. i'm sure it could use improvements. that's one of our most glaring problems. if we do, maybe it's flawed and we can improve it.
  • rachel: you said to write something down?
    • vicky: to begin with a shared agreement around the concepts and language. like "we agree there's an issue of institutional ws, and this is what we mean when we talk about ws". something that unifies us.
  • arnoldo: i'm mainly listening, trying to understand what's happened, i have my own experience with omni. omni has a lot of agreements. we did a google search, it has a lot of values, radical inclusion, all these... part of what vicky's describing is what i'd also adhere to. maybe not begin with syaing we have instutionalized ws. maybe some racialization, some racist stuff going on, but we'd have to have a discussion so we have a shared definition of the problem. without that, our solutions will clash. if we have it, our solutions will work together. given where omni is, it requires that we have certain ways we carry ourselves in public & in private. i didn't realize we had a mediation process. i could see political differences would be a part of it. we need to have an organized meeting. maybe with all these business plan, ed, bylaws, fundraising things coming up - those are all values issues that we may not all agree on. so this is an opportunity. if we're hiring an ED we need a clear meaning. it's gonna take more than 10 minutes at a meeting. if we're gonna expand, for oakland, this is a struggle. we need to figure out how we work together on this

== sleeping == 5 mins

  • how many? how frequently?
    • robb: i don't see it every night. people might wait til i leave. but the pattern seems to be that shortly after i leave, 1-3 people sleep there. toan has dealt with it, so has tony to some degree. they left their sleeping bags and just left them out as if to just use them again. tony dealt with that but he's not here at night, just in the morning. tony deals with it in the morning, toan at night. idk if people are just... it appears they leave when told but they're coming back the next night.
    • apparently they have swipey keys, not hard keys. can we figure out whose card it is?
    • yar found a card that swipes in early mornings, which belongs to a ccl member who patrik says shouldn't have a card right now. yar has deactivated this card.

== healing circles == 10 mins

  • yar: people said they liked the 1/28 meeting, and i know there is need for more folks to be heard, but it was hard to get people to show up for the 2/11 meeting, and now people are complaining about too many meetings overall. so i don't know how to proceed.
  • rachel liked the becoming omni process in fall 2015

Last Meeting Notes

https://omnicommons.org/wiki/Event:2021/02/18_Delegates

End of Meeting