Omni Delegates' Meeting - April 1, 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, what you're looking forward to
- vicky they/them NOMA/comms, chickens
- john he/them GWS, rest
- maryann CSC she/her fin/fun, loan app
- arnoldo he/him CSC
- patrik he/him CCL, opening
- roberto he/him CSC
- yar she/her sudo
- rachel gws she/her fin/fun
- jenny she/her sudomesh.. dopamine?
- silver they/them
- Facilitator/s: Vicky
- Stacktaker: Vicky
- Timekeeper: rachel
- Notetaker/s: yar, Patrik
- Next meeting's facilitator(s): Arnoldo, April 15th
- ANV: inactive, nobody here
- CCL: Patrik
- CSC: Arnoldo, Roberto
- FNB: active but nobody here
- FYE: inactive, nobody here
- GWS: Rachel
- LL: inactive, nobody here
- Sudo Room: yar
- Sudo Mesh: jenny (remote) - I believe still inactive until after this meeting?
- Quorum (2/3 of active groups): yes
Working Group Report-Backs
Building & permits
- no regular meetings right now
- Yar reports meetings with roofers, due diligence re roofing quotes for refinance, etc.
- having meetings again!
- Roberto: met twice in two weeks, realizing we are in orange tier, time to get ready, reactivate the space, figure how to do it safely, etc.
- made a list of action items and discussion items, working through them all slowly & steadily
- patrik: have you figured out what type of events you might start allowing?
- not yet, still in initial conversations. talking about virtual events
- how we position ourselves both as a business and as a movement, useful conversation +1
- also clearing out entryway https://omnicommons.org/wiki/Clutter check out the need input section especially
- Meetings: Tuesdays 6pm
- Stalled a bit, have some items working through, looking at website
- still working on the survey, almost there
- newsletter also getting close, got updates from most collectives
Finance & Fundraising
- Meetings: Tuesdays 12:00 - 1:00 pm
- Mary Ann: we're getting the refinance application together, Robb's working on financials, Mary Ann working on narrative, some already brought to delegates, brought to weekly Fin/Fun then often presented to delegates for feedback
- very close to finished! Last item: what are we asking for? $1.1M at 5% - would raise monthly payment almost $2000. Includes $175K to fix roof and replace electrical panels, plus some for hiring coordinator, plus possibly emergency reserve. Need to collect estimates
- jnny: have we discussed extending through existing lender?
- Will need to start paying Mulberry regular amount as of May 1st
- yar: we did ask them to delay the balloon payment and they only gave us an extra year. seems like they're not interested in continuing long term
- jnny: we only asked for a forgiveness extension iirc (aka not paying for another while), did not see any indication they weren't interested in continuing relationship- relay was via our lawyers and thus little affect. just thought I'd ask..
- jnny: have we discussed extending through existing lender?
- Other grant applications possible, but were all coming due same time.
- extra $100k only adds ~$200 to the monthly +1
- rachel: we talked about the business plan we'll give the bank. it'll be flexible. but that'll be for us to decide as we move forward
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?
- want to reopen asap, 6 at a time with assigned locations, hepa filter running, covid training, members only, no group events, no visitors, keeping track of all people coming & going to enable contact tracing
- vicky: commons wg was talking about writing covid protocols for building. could use help
- patrik: enforcability is the hard part. Would love to collaborate on Omni-wide policies. considered hiring janitorial service to clean surfaces. makes it easier to record what happened. still working on getting electronic lock on door to sudo/ccl.
- high priority projects like open insulin, some people have been there regularly all along
- cat-herding is recommended :-)
- meet regularly, thinking of online events, small on street events, also thinking of a newsletter, Mary Ann shaped and her model to be fellowed, there was a retreat and there are several ideas percolating, Zapatista coffee sales project is ongoing.
- rachel working on support letter to CA legislature to repeal loitering law
- rebooting, fixing infrastructure, having meetings again..
- working on proposal for open source satellite file-sharing to assist censored countries
- "hi jenny" - meeting
Conflicts, Mediation & Safe Space
- Updates for any ongoing issues
- Has anybody been asked to leave? asked to leave
- silver: mediation with robb took a pause. waiting to hear back from mediator & robb. they've been talking back and forth for a while. been 2 weeks since i heard a response.
Proposals & Discussions
free store proposal
- "I propose that the Free Store take up permanent residence in a portion of the entryway
of Omni, and be open from 3:00-6:00pm Wednesday through Saturday (with potential to expand hours in the future). I propose that we clean and rearrange the entrance so that the store can move out of the ballroom and can be displayed alongside part of the 48th St wall of the entrance. The Free Store will act as a consistent donation windows for both Free Store donations, NOMA-related donation, and potential Town Fridge-related donations, staffed with at least 1 shift coordinator and 1-2 volunteers. It would be a collaborative effort that connects multiple groups, but it would be organized as an Omni Commons project of volunteers."
- vicky: clean up the entryway, move the free store to be along the 48th st wall, and be open regularly, a couple days a week, starting from wed-sat 4-6pm (negotiated with ANV), it'd be staffed as a collaborative effort between commons wg and noma. similar to how the town fridge runs. 2 people clean and stock it every day. 1 person being a shift bottom-liner, and 1 or 2 volunteers from noma's scheduling system. overall idea is to use space to provide a resource for the community. a place to present excess goods, and to direct NOMA's massive volunteer energy towards omni to revitalize working groups and long-term participation. it's a moneyless project, but if we want money to be involved, omni could do a fundraiser. i'm not proposing to pay rent.
- silver: i love that proposal
- not everybody's familiar with free store as it currently exists
- vicky: when covid hit, NOMA started receiving donations at omni. people were giving NOMA everything - cleaning out their closets & houses, we didn't know how to say no, accumulated a giant pile in the ballroom. we organized the stuff, talked about distributing it, decided to present it as a store, a free sidewalk sale, to prioritize self-determination and agency for people. 1st was in sept/oct. got industrial clothing racks & shelving, set up along shattuck. "omni block bazaar" with FYE - big success. we wanted to do it once a week but decided on once/month until we could figure out how to have it more oftne. been 1st sunday every month. make things really presentable so it looks like a store, rather than just a free pile on the ground.
- patrik: ever been any complaints from neighbors or the city?
- vicky: not that i konw of, it's been well received in the community
- maryann: why are you proposing to change it from noma to an omni project? what thinking went into that?
- vicky: as i got involved with omni, i realized it would help... i wanted to decentralize NOMA a little bit. i was taken by the idea of having a channel for volunteers to be involved in the physical omni-ness and the commons. me and yar had this one conversation about the way collectives take space. hedging? rather than thinking about the free store as a collective taking up space, i thought, can this be a collaborative way to collectivize using that entryway? there's something that can be just omni about the free store, it's so physically there. noma gets donations and organizes them and sends them out into the world. but free store is at omni, associated with omni.
- rachel: i like the idea of having it at omni. just wondering about the entrance hall being the place, because idk how much space, can't quite envision how it looks. if somebody wanted to rent that space - it's also a good place to have events - i heard you say 3-6 wed-sat - that would mean saturday afternoon nobody could use that space. that's a prime event time. what about the possibility of doing it in the basement so it doesn't take that front space, where people might want to check omni out to rent space? would it look like a jumble sale, garage sale?
- vicky: it looks like a regular store.
- silver: ANV uses entrance hall those same times wed & sat
- vicky: that was part of the thinking. team up with ANV on using entryway during that time. the racks are from out-of-business store. i envision it along the wall, which leaves a large amount of space. that whole area has been completely cluttered, prime space unusable. the idea is to rearrange that area and make it usable. i can't imagine that an event couldn't happen at the same time the store is open, if that makes sense.
- rachel: i think that'd be hard. what about the basement?
- vicky: we need to find space in the basement for NOMA, that's gonna be rearranging/cleaning stuff. basement has less ventilation, less access in general. idea for free store is to be a welcoming hello to our neighbors. i think that'd be challenging to get from the basement. and no wheelchair access.
- robb: i'd like to point out, as we open we're gonna need to make more money every month than previously. it was always in my mind that we'd make the entrance hall nicer which would therefore attract people that maybe had more money or were willing to pay more money. the last year it's been pretty junky but before that, it was pretty much just the dinosaur was the only thing there, other than the stage. we'd gotten it to the point where it looked pretty good. we still need to fix the floor. i'm all for pop-up, bringing things up from the basement, wouldn't be too hard to store stuff in the basement and bring it up during open hours. but i think if we have it permanently there, when we show it to clients looking to rent it, and they see a bunch of used clothing & materials, i think it's gonna devalue the entrance hall. i don't think, i never thought "wow i'd love to have this event in a thrift store". doesn't seem as appealing as just an empty space. we're gonna be on the hook for money assuming we get our loan. if we handicap ourselves by having a thrift store in the entrance hall permanently, i think we're gonna be in a zone where the most we can expect to get out of the entrance hall is gonna be like $12.50/hour cuz they're not really gonna get the whole entrance hall. if we fix it up, it can be a real destination, look nice. if we can fix the lighting. but if it's like, "i'm gonna be renting this space, it's gonna be like a warehouse" we're gonna get $12.50/h instead of $50/h. if you have 100 volunteers i don't see why you can't just put it on racks and carry it up.
- jnny: hello, please acknowledge that a) we are a nonprofit, anticapitalist org (with shared values, i think? or at least we did..??) b) at risk of property taxes for "renting out" our space in traditional landlordian fashion, and c) NOMA has momentum bringing in volunteers to do the *real work* of mutual aid with grants and donations pouring in well above what we would make charging $50/hr for 5-6 hours of meetings/ small events/week. sorry, i can't listen to robb another minute.
- Patrik: If we invite public into Omni, we will also have to really tighten down our Covid preparedness. I think ANV was only supposed to be *in* the doorway, so public doesn't actually enter.
- Patrik: Could use the white partitions from ballroom to hide free store when not operational?
- john: Entrance hall does have best ventilation - would be best location to start doing first events; much safer than ballroom.
- robb: ballroom has only active ventilation for events
- john: it's my understanding that the free store won't be there permanently, but only during times ANV is in the doorway. periodic popup, not permanent?
- vicky: my proposal is that the store stay, not get wheeled in & out very much. stays in a specific area. commons wg is talking about other ways to make money. we do acknowledge that we have to make money. i feel concerned about this framing of prioritizing how we can make entryway look nice for our bougie renters, makes me concerned for what we're doing with this building
- roberto: i think it's a great proposal/concept, primarily because it fits with what i think omni represents, which is rethinking how we relate to each other, to the things we have. in the end we're trying to create something different than this transactional relationship we live in. it's beautiful. i do wanna highlight/reiterate what vicky was saying in response to robb's critique. we do need to make money, true, but we also need to be true to our values. we are who we are, or else why be omni commons? we should probably be something else. the entrance hall has never been activated fully. for some reason it's a junk magnet, always has been because it's never been activated. i think activating through a free store is perfect. i don't see how it could not be presentable. idk. presentable to whom? it's there, we can make it nice, doesn't have to be junky. it isn't. have to be intentional relating to each other, to the community, what we're trying to tell the community. i don't think we're about being capitalist.
- <3 jnny
- yar thinks the entrance hall is big enough for all these things, just needs to be organized creatively, need a comprehensive floor plan for the entrance hall
- rachel: maybe a trial basis? we can be flexible for now. i don't think it's a great idea but there's strong support. entrance hall is a pretty big space. you can show a video, have lots of chairs there, have a decent event there. i can't quite see how you could have a whole free store going on at the same time, that part i have trouble with. maybe just a trial basis? and all agree, if we think it doesn't work, we can look for another thing. we can just go around and around. idk if we'll agree. that's my suggestion, try it out and if it's just not working we should be able to say no, it needs to go somewhere else.
silver: In the years of being part of Omni the entrance hall was rented maybe 3 times to my understanding. Like the martial arts group/ which was free lol
- maryann: i just want to clarify stuff i'm reading in the chat. seems like john thinks it's only there for certain hours, but it'd be there all the time, and only open - the merchandise would be there all the time
- vicky: that's correct. i've thought about closing it with those white canvas dividers to close it off
- maryann: that entrance hall has been used for the anarchist bookfair, a big CSC event 1 year before the zapata cultural community event. a capoeira group used it for a long time, made a lot of noise. it is used. GWS did the haiti action event. it's a good event space. idk how we can do a trial until we've actually opened up, because one of the problems in designing/envisioning/imagining this, is that NOMA hasn't been here when we were fully open. until we're fully open we're not gonna have any idea of how much we can improve the number of events that we actually host, and the number of people who rent. i think it's really hard to even come up with a trial until we're open for events. if we say "oh let's have a 6 month trial period now" we might not even be open for events. i can see doing that once we're open, but i can't see that being a remedy for the immediate future. i like the idea of the free store, i think everyone is happy to do that, i think the question is how do we accomodate that to our source of revenue, which is rental, in addition to collectives. we have to find a comfortable accomodation between the use of space and the need for money. that isn't always easy. i don't think any of us even imagine when we bought the building, some of the complications we'd run into. i just see it as a question of how do we accomodate the 2 things we want to happen - to maximize event rentals and also continue to have a free store. because it's a good thing.
- Patrik: I'm with Mary Ann and Yar. I think we can do both, but it will require planning, creative use of space, and making sure that the store gets hidden well enough when not in use to not impact rental income. Let's start with a floorplan, so we know how much space we're talking about. I think the anarchists should be quite tolerant of a free store ;-) Still not sure why to move it from being a NOMA activity to an Omni activity, but that's mostly just semantics. And even if fiscal sponsorship is not in place yet, NOMA is of course welcome to start donate that amount to Omni starting May 1
- jenny: a gratitude cafe! well if NOMA becomes fiscally sponsored by Omni, there's no 'technical/formal difference ;) happy to forward our boilerplate, vicky
- arnoldo: i support the idea too, i'd want to see how's it envisioned, different parts of omni supporting each other, how we envision the space both for our community and also for renting. i don't think we should rent just to anybody ... there hsa to be some kind of mesh between our values and who uses the space. that's been an issue. i'd want to see some plan about how these things would work together.
- robb: the agreement with ANV, although they use entrance hall on wed & sat, when they signed lease they agreed that we could still book entrance hall during those times and they'd move to basement. so omni still had priority. this would create a permanent reservation wed-sat. sat's when we get most rentals. i think this would be infringing a significant amount on the commons wg. book fair needed wall to wall, everything needed to be out of there. entrance hall is one of our only two wheelchair accessible event spaces. i think things could just live in the basement and get carried up during open hours. but a trial period seems reasonable for now. but if it comes to a point where we need money and it's tying our hands...
- jenny: i don't think we've ever made that much via entrance hall rentals. even when we have, it's been a huge hassle, disrupting other events, blocking pathways etc. originally it was designated to be a bookstore/cafe, we had many large events even with bookstore shelves and an active cafe back in 2015. i don't think the space usage or the money thing are issues. i could do calculations but i don't think we've ever made nearly as much in the EH than we could make through grants and donations for doing good work in the community, which is by and large the point of this project. omni's been in stressful places, i understand the concern, but i think working with people who are actively engaged for the greater good of this project/vision, it'll come much more naturally than say renting out to the capoeira group that never really engaged with us at all and kept pushing the pathway of accessibility we tried to make with tape. working with people in our community who are alreayd on the same mission/vision, ok so we have the anarchist bookfair and we agree to move things out for that weekend. we've done way more movement of way more shit out of that room for such events previously. so i guess my primary points are yeah, build it for mobility and flexibility as everything in omni should be. recognize that charitable income coming from donations is more in our best interest. working with pepole who are our people, working together, enables flexibility rather than creating false divisions. and part of that is the false division of landlord vs tenant.
- vicky: i was gonna say the same thing. i like you highlighted that grants are a viable donation. part of this for me is i see the participation problem and the general fear about needing to do outreach and getting people to rent. for me the free store is a way to bridge connection with the community, get more participation, and more charitable purpose. i'm concerned about omni being just a rental venue. and i like the idea of a flexible trial run.
- patrik: If we invite public into Omni, we will also have to really tighten down our Covid preparedness. I think ANV was only supposed to be *in* the doorway, so public doesn't actually enter.
- roberto: money's real but we also need community, people, energies, we need ourselves. money's not gonna save us alone. we're gonna save us, we're gonna save each other through community. that's what i see this proposal being - directing some of that energy brought by noma, into omni. entrance hall is a perfect place. that's where you get welcomed to. perhaps the free store is an initial project, but whatever comes from it, the conversations that get built, can become more, a gathering place, just a much more welcoming place because it's activated with community. this could be more, if we put our minds to it, if we activate the entrance hall to be a space of welcoming/community.
- vicky: the proposal is for this to be through commons wg
- robb: so commons wg would be responsible for staffing it? i don't see how this would fit into that model
- vicky: there'd be a liaison that schedules, in the same way that we do with noma now
- patrik: i was thinking you could try just leaving stuff where you'd normally put it, have it in that position, maybe covered with a partition so people could see what it looks like. no need to get the delegates involved.
The Finance/Fundraising group met on March 23, 2021 and agreed to make the following proposal to the next Delegates Assembly scheduled for April 1, 2021:
Because the Omni Commons must resume monthly loan payments on May 1, 2021, the finance/fundraising working group proposes to start charging North Oakland Mutual Aid (NOMA) rent in the amount of $1,000.00 per month effective May 1, 2021. This change is proposed to coincide with NOMA’s move into the basement of the Omni Commons building and to be coordinated with the Commons working group.
- john: my understanding is commons & fin/fun were talking about this. the conversation was already had before. where is noma right now, for those empowered to speak for noma? is noma good with it? we were in a process of noma deciding what their formal structure is, becoming an omni collective. that pot is still boiling aiui. is that fair?
- vicky: we were in the process of finalizing fiscal sponsorship with a different org, that had hiccups and we decided to walk away from that. we decided last night to have a meeting with noma's finance team & omni's, so we can finally move forward with this collective app.
- yar: noma folks seemed afraid of the unknown but are moving towards being omni collective with fiscal sponsorship, once they realized it didn't have to be permanent. seemed like they were picturing drafting a contract in writing with omni's finance wg, and then bringing that to noma to decide on.
- rachel: my question was about paying for the use of the space. you just said it, paying may 1 would work?
- vicky nods
- jenny is happy to forward a boilerplace, if you could look at that and adapt it and get it to fin/fun that'd be great
- NORJC is a project sponsored by the umbrella OCUEJ. NORJC is supportive of us finding a different nonprofit sponsor.
- 1 ago:
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