Omni Delegates' Meeting - March 11th 2021 7pm-9pm
- Talk at https://meet.google.com/diw-hszw-msr or 515-428-1108 (PIN: 465814905)
- Type at https://omnicommons.org/notes
- Send proposals to email@example.com prior to the meeting
- Name, pronoun, affiliation, if you're a delegate, access needs
- Facilitator/s: Robb
- Notetaker/s: Yar, Patrik and Jan
- Next meeting's facilitator(s):
- ANV: nobody here
- CCL: Patrik
- CSC: Roberto
- FNB: Joe
- Sudo Room: yar (but Sudo has not been meeting)
- Sudo Mesh: nobody here
- Quorum (2/3 of active groups):
Working Group Report-Backs
Building & permits
- no regular meetings right now
- no regular meetings right now
- Meetings: Tuesdays 6pm
Finance & Fundraising
- Meetings: Tuesdays 12:00 - 1:00 pm
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?
Conflicts, Mediation & Safe Space
- Updates for any ongoing issues
- Has anybody been asked to leave? asked to leave
Other Brief Announcements
Proposals & Discussions
- maryann: there was a lot of confusion last meeting about when we're gonna hire someone. we don't have the money to hire anybody right now. we need to refinance first and then open for events. there's no urgent need right now for more admin labor. we're fine for now. until we reopen. much of what's referred to as "paperwork" involves finance. we hired a very competent experienced bookkeeper (sarah) who's doing all of that. biggest part of it has to do with the leases, which basically anybody can do. robb did it for ANV. it's just a question of renewing them when someboyd has time to do it. they automatically renew themselves month to month (we think) and all that is automated on quickbooks. the other admin work laura did has to do with event rentals and sending the nonprofit status documents to the tax assessor for purposes of property tax. idk if that will start again - it depends what kind of work jesse's able to do between now and then. so there's very little admin paperwork left to do. there's some but very little. the big job, as i see it, and what i heard from people last time, was working with the working groups. and i did two things in rewriting this: 1) marc made the proposal that we have an internal and external name for the position. externally, when that person's dealing with a govt agency or lender or maybe foundation, their title is ED. that tells the people they're dealing with that they have authority to do this. internally, marc suggested that we have a different title. people suggested "operations coordinator" which is exacctly what the position is. working with wgs to help them do their job and make improvements in their job, and coordinate between those groups to make sure they're all in sync. that's how i rewrote it based on what i thought i heard last time. i think that what i put in there does that. i think it reflects the two main concerns that i heard at the last meeting. i'm pretty comfortable with it as a good job description that a perso
n can look at, and decide if they want to take it on. the only thing i neglected to put in is, something about skills & experience, right now says "ability to work well with people is a must", i would put "a commitment to social justice and an ability to work well with people is a must".
- no objections to this
- maryann: i want an up or down vote on marc's proposal, to have an internal and external title, or not. this is minor compared to the business plan. we hope to send the whole thing in on april 1.
- robb: we already do this ... in our application to the state to get our tax exempt status, we don't have delegates. we have president treasurer secretary & board of directors. but we don't call them that. if we tried to force that language on the state in our application they probably wouldn't take us that seriously. it'd diminish our standing. not that we exist to please the state. but in some contexts it benefits us to look like we have our shit together, like wer'e a normal nonprofit org. we're already doing the dual title with delegates.
- maryann: our bylaws do refer to delegates. jesse did the best he was able to do based on state requirements, which require board of directors, president, treasurer, secretary
- robb: also i think it should be chaos coordinator. alameda county food bank has that.
- rachel: i agree with you. i think we know what omni is and what we want. we're not gonna have somebody come in and direct us and take over. none of us are gonna put up with that. we're the workers who have the say. it's semantics to worry about it. just what we have to do. i'd even put board of directors instead of directors in that... well it doesn't matter so much because it's a job description. but this is just for the loan application.
- maryann: there's also what are we doing with foundations and grants... we have to be careful what language we use. the people we're applying to are kind of into that stuff
- roberto: who's keeping stack? something we do at CSC is to go in a circle and have opportunity to say something or pass. allows everyone to speak.
- jane reads raised hands
- arnoldo: the "social justice and work with people" edit - that's still an internal description that's not going out anytime soon, right?
- maryann: yes, right
- arnoldo: i'm asking for precision on the conversations people are wanting to have. also that it reflects the mission statements of omni.
- yar: maryann's draft does say "must agree with statement of solidarity" https://omnicommons.org/wiki/Founding_Document
- arnoldo: to me it's a leadership position everyone has to work with... that we don't run into a clash/contradiction in structure. really clearly define what the relationship is. we could call it anything. what the state understands isn't what we understand. also, what roberto raises, culture just means "the way we do business aruond here". we're a small enough group we could go in a circle order. usually when things get hot, everybody wants to talk. shift from listening to speaking.
- joe: i like your idea arnoldo. it's the first time i've ever heard of establishing a set order, to create a circle on zoom. so that means after you call on people the first time they remember who came before & after them. in terms of the most recent discussion about dual titles... i'm not so much in favor of that. i think it opens the door for confusion in peoples' minds, and that same door can be used to sort of claim power. i like operations coordinator, and if there's no reason the people we're applying to this loan for need a more common or prestigious title, i'd like to keep executive out of it. especially after "executive power" has been so corrupted in the last few years.
- roberto: thank you maryann, this reflects concerns i had about making it clear that the wgs are doing the work of omni, and this new position will be there to help these wgs in whatever work they need, and also communicate between wgs and delegates. the additions yar made i think are important in terms of describing what wgs do more clearly. when we say we're gonna use ED externally, what does that mean? is it just in the documents and correspondence with govt and using something else in the job description? because that's going out to the community, so it should have the different title, right? it's external but it's going to the community. words matter, they reflect our collective visions. it's important to be intentional in our wording, especially when talking to the community at large. we want that langauge to reflect what we believe.
- vicky: i'm taking a deep listening role here, as a newer member who also is not a delegate or has any decisionmaking power.
- rachel: i hear what people are saying. i was thinking, how about calling it an operations director? idk if people have trouble with director. just have that for the loan, because that sounds pretty official, and operations director? i understand not wanting the executive word, but i'd think for a grant or loan application to have an operations director is a more efficient title. but maryann has more experience than me.
- maryann: i have no problem with that title. i'm not hung up on any title. this is just hte 3rd meeting where we've tried to get a title, and the only feeling i have is that it needs to be decided and over & done with. i really need to move on to other stuff.
- jane wants to take a vote on "operations director" but we're still doing the circle
- Patrik: Looking at some other official looking titles: Director of Operations or Chief Operating Officer, also I do think that I would really like more focus on grant writing. Paid position would be be more in charge of bringing money in. Like Chief Operating Officer. Appointed by our Delegates essentially.
- robb: re title, i like what roberto said. not stuck on what officious title we should use. i do think what we project... this is gonna go out to our community. in the job description, so the person doesn't get the wrong idea in their head, maybe we should just leave the official/state-facing title out of the job description and tell them on paper and in your resumes you can use this title, but internally we refer to it as "__". not stuck on any of them. roberto struck a chord with me - even for the person applying, it can be confusing. maybe describe how we'll deal with it day to day. on paper, dealing with grants, it can be some other title.
- joe: i still like one title, operations coordinator. i think it doesn't say to anybody that's in the community that we are anything but a horizontally organized non-hierarchical organization. it's friendly, and nothing could be better than to have the many things, administrative, that we need to do, coordinated. i think it's also fine and probably very efficacious to leave the event part of it, searching for people to rent, out of the requirements of the description. it could be something that's an accessory.
- yar thinks we should converge on Operations Coordinator
- jane: i like operations coordinator, but i think whatever is gonna be heard to get a loan is my primary concern. because we're not going to be molded by whatever title we give this person.
- roberto: i agree as well. i like operations coordinator as well. i'm ok with that. when do we use what title vs others? all that matters is what we communicate to our community, to ourselves. language matters. would this person have decisionmaking power? would they have a vote within our assembly, and if so, that might be a topic of debate, if we give them that power or not.
- Does anyone want to block on "Operations Coordinator" - no blocks
- Does anyone want to block having two titles? - Yar blocks
- Consensus: change all mentions of "Executive Director" to "Operations Coordinator"
- Maryann: as far as voting goes, ED is our employee and has no right to vote. and only 4 people here have the right to vote. 1 delegate from CCL, CSC, GWS, FNB. idk who the delegate is from groups that have more than 1 person here, but there are 4 colelctives that are present...
- patrick: and if those ...
- robb: i see CSC, GWS, Sudo, CCL, FNB
- joe: when delegates declare an official meeting it's thus so? i think it needs to be announced so that delegates have opportunity to show up.
- patrick: i'd have to check bylaws. typically for regular meetings whenever there's a quorum delegates can say we're having a meeting.
- looking at bylaws
- patrik: what level of autonomy would this person have? would they be able to make decisions on their own? that would have to be in the job description.
- MaryAnn: They need to report to us. If they are doing something we don't like it will be up to us to tell them to stop and what we would like. You cannot list everything they can and cannot do.
Patrik: We need to be clear about what our authorities are. Not more than two sentences.
MaryAnn: You need to give them to me.
Robb: They are not making any decision that are not our instructions from consensus.
MaryAnn: Routine duties. When letters come in that are serious, these should be sent to Jesse. Grant stuff. If a notorious right wing group is offering money, we have the right to say we don't want it. "All decision making authority rests with the assembly."
Arnoldo: Board sets policy, Coordinator acts on it. Leadership is working with the collectives. Name the relationship. Horizontal relationship. Slower and deeper. Operations Coordinator will be different than the labels we us. "These are our yearly goals." We approve the work plan.
Rachel: Are we in agreement with the thrust of this? We have to make our case so that we can get the loan. An extra $7,000/month.
Joe in chat: We tell this Op Coord that they will be serving at the pleasure of the Board and that if they ever are in any doubt whether something they are about to do is alligned with our mission and goals then they are to ask the Board for directions
Robb: What will their authority be. We could leave it out or add "carry out the decisions of the working groups and the board. No other power. Make it clear that they don't have decision making authority.
Yar: We make decisions at Omni as individuals. The hired person wouldn't set policy.
Roberto: Confusion is having an idea but not how to implement. How are we governing each other? We have started to have these discussions informally. Who has the 'power' to make policy, to vote. Focus on how we stand on these things.
MaryAnn: I think it is definitely worth looking at that. I tried to bring this up a few weeks ago. Too small a group making the decisions. Delegrates group should be larger. Small decisions, but no policy setting work done. But that is our responsibility. Worth having the discussion of having more representation. Even an elected Chair for the Delegates Assembly.
Yar: I strongly agree.
Robb: My understanding of how working groups were formed and operate. Authority given to the working groups. Delegates could override those decisions. Delegates have decision about use of common space, but with limited working group decisions.
Silver: most welcoming are the working groups, but when it comes to the actual collective, they have the power, but policy changes all the time. I'm down to do that work. I don't feel that I have any power.
Yar: I'm glad that we're talking about how we make our decisions. I would love to keep having that conversation. Communications working group is working on this. We are working on a survey about who is in Omni.
Patrik: Do we need to continue discussion of the Job Description, or can we move on to other topics such as the Business Plan.
Robb: We are now spending $1300 more on insurance/month and $1500-$2000 more/month plus $4,000/month for the new hire. Property tax could be $250,000. We can fight it but it could be that. All the money we get on the loan could have to go to these things. Job should have some grant writing involved.
MaryAnn: Very little grant writing left to do. My impression is that Omni is an umbrella org. We provide the infrastructure. Not much money for this. I would like to apply for a grant that Arnoldo told me about. I will put that in. It is not a miracle cure. We will have problems because of our State charitable status being revolked.
Yar: Comms Working Group needs more structure and to be more organized. Working Cooperative that is paid for doing the work. Anybody who is doing that work needs to be more serious. Clearly defined roles and money flow. Skills needed to be part of that team. Venue package offered. We can do that. New person can help with that but won't do that by themselves.
Robb: Our big events are only on Saturdays in the past. We didn't even book even every Saturday.
Silver: A lot of people are too scared to go to Omni. We are paying $1500 for mediation.
Yar: What do we want to spend the last few minutes on? Other stuff?
Silver: I feel frustrated. I want to share the work but not feel disposable.
Rachel: Useful to discuss all this, but we have deadline to keep Omni alive. All needs to be worked out. Comms were having a hard time back then. How are we going to do it. There are enough of us here. Consult with each other to make a well working organism. If we do hire a person we should all be consulting with each other.
MaryAnn: Agree with Rachel Patrik: Pass Arnoldo: Still have a lot of Questions Robb: How will we pay for this position. I have faith that we will find a way. Concerned that it will be challenging. Joe: Biggest ballroom in the east bay. Very desireable location. Have 5 months. Book some events for then. We are up against the wall. I had hopes that we would do something as Omni. Silver: Closing thoughts? Family, I want to be part of everyone here. I'm not pretending we are there. Our relationship with each other. Yar: Glad the we settled on a single title. Something that everyone at Omni will be ok with. Make peace with the level of structure. Thanks Jane:
Roberto: Grateful for the time and space that we have created. The occasion to decide this small thing. Language is powerful. How we communicate our perception. Reflects our collectivity. Reinforces the collective will. Need to build and expand, reinforce that. Long process. Financial problems. A lot more needs to be done. Silver is pointing out accessibility. Thank you everyone.
Next meeting next Thursday March 18th
talking order: roberto, Vicky, Rachel, MaryAnn, Patrick, arnoldo, Rob, Joe, Yar, Jane, Roberto
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