Omni Delegates' Meeting - Thursday September 16, 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 firstname.lastname@example.org prior to the meeting
- Facilitator/s: Sarah
- Notetaker/s: Patrik
- Next meeting's facilitator(s):
- ANV: inactive Silver (will be active if they attend next meeting)
- CCL: Patrik
- CSC: Roberto
- FNB: Joe (Helen also attended)
- GWS: Rachel / Jane (both here)
- LL: inactive
- Sudo Room: David
- Sudo Mesh: juul (but came half way in)
- Quorum (2/3 of active groups):
- We are front-loading most of the meeting into these intros! Now is the time to put forward any of the following things, many of which used to have their own meeting sections
- introduce yourself: name, pronoun, affiliation, if you're a delegate
- do you have any unmet access needs at this meeting?
- what meeting roles you'd like to help with
- discussion topics or proposals you'd like to put on tonight's agenda
- report-backs from any of your working groups
- updates from your collective
- any brief announcements
- updates on any conflict mediation
- if you've asked anybody to leave the building due to safe space issues
- please be BRIEF! Less than 4 minutes per person! Anything that might take longer must be put on the agenda as a discussion item
- Sarah: bookkeeper, building & finance WG. SaferDIY. Got fire permit - yay! Exit signs should be delivered soon. Finance approved buying compostable trash bags. Transferred $ from stock donation to Omni fund; recently received another stock donation
- Rachel, GWS: Need better way to organize agenda. Not much from GWS
- Joe: FNB, People's Park, Booking WG
- Roberto, CSC delegate. No announcements
- Silver they/them, ANV delegate. Anyone want food grown by local BIPOC farmers, hit them up. Helped move library.
- Maryann: retired CSC; finance WG
- Marcus: "member of various groups that no longer exist". (Welcome back!). Looking forward to seeing energy return at Omni.
- David: delegate Sudo Room. Working on satisfying insurance requirements - still some HVAC and electrical issues. Needs insurance docs from collectives. Wants inclusive process to redesign safer space / conflict resolution
- Jane: GWS, fundraising WG. Working on Safer Space redoing.
- Helen: FNB. Delighted to get assembly permit, and to see Marcus back
Safe Space Policy Discussion Group (David/SL/Helen)
- David sent emails to all the member collectives and wants discussions to workshop an inclusive process where we hear from everyone, especially people who don't come to delegates meetings
Mary Ann's Proposal Proposal to amend the Safer Space Policy 1. Divide the current policy into 2 sections so that the current policy continues to apply in the 1 st section to behavior such as, but not limited to: violence, criminal behavior, theft and stalking. 2. The 2nd section would address verbal conflicts arising from personality conflicts, romantic relationships and/or differences of opinion regarding policy or political beliefs. 3. Change the name of the CDC to the Grievance Committee or the Conflict Resolution Committee, which would be composed of 3 people from the collectives, appointed by the Delegates Assembly. Its role would be to interview those involved in the conflict, gather facts and then either attempt to resolve the conflict at the Committee level or convene a restorative justice circle to address the conflict. (An experienced restorative justice practitioner will articulate the process here.) The Committee can determine if complaints involving threats of violence belong in Section 1 or 2.
- DK: When we first designed our safe space policy, it was very difficult - lots of different opinions involved. Needs very inclusive process. Don't want to see series of proposals from 12 people, for building that serves many more than that.
- Rachel: Very undemocratic policy that you can just ask for a ban. Needs to be revised. Lot of it is good, but just being able to say " I feel unsafe" causing a ban - that part needs to be gone. Doesn't need to be complicated
- Patrik: When we first discueed these policies - at great length! - we had very good reasons to allow people to ask for an immediate request to get people to temporarily stay away from Omni while conflict is being resolved.
- Joe: important to recognize overarching effect. Modifications mostly seen in respect to what happenend w Rob. Agree that we need broad input. Need more racial inclusion before we touch safe space policy.
- Sarah: Mary Ann's proposal was something to be discussed, not voted on today
- MaryAnn: that is how proposals are supposed to work: take back to collective, vote next mtg at earliest. Not all collectives are participating though. Expectation is that proposal goes back to all collectives. Several aspects of current policy don't work, especially automatic nature of it. Especially for verbal issues. Committee that is supposed to handle these issues - CDC - not in place. Should really change that name. For verbal issues, needs to be addressed right away in house. Restorative justice expert at Omni strongly advocated RJ before sending it off to mediation. Putting issues off for 11 mo is no justice at all. Need people on committee with experience in RJ, and train more of us. At end of mediation session us observers were told to bring back idea that bans are bad - not the way to handle conflict. Exception for issues w violence - immediate ban as alternative to calling police. Substitute RJ for mediation, change name of committee and recruit people so they can address issues
- Sarah: object to diminishing "verbal" conflicts. Distinction between banning vs asking ppl to avoid mutual shared spaces - that's what we are doing w current conflict. Agree that conflicts need to be addressed sooner.
- David: I'm speaking to everyone here including myself. There are wide goals of understanding around what an acceptable policy would be. It's all well and good to sit there and say that this is obviously wrong and not democratic and criminal actions should be obviously dealt with. That's all well and and good. No topic has had wider views or more distant views than this topic. If the idea is that we're gonna put forward a bunch of competing proposals we will not have consensus and we'll have to fall back on majority rule and break the consensus process. If you instead get all the proposals up on a whiteboard for people to discuss an acceptable policy... There's a deep understanding about restorative justice and every discussion about our policies have been informed by restorative justice.
Mediation and restorative justice. Mediations have been informed by restorative justice. If we can't identify points of agreement then we can't have collectivity. This is something that needs to be workshopped. We are literally repeating the process of the past. Let's have an inclusive process that includes people of color and people's who's viewpoints we don't often here. Let's have an inclusive process.
- Joe: Agree with what DK said. Let's stop thinking of these policies in the light of the current conflict. Need better information gathering process. Do it as a workshop, do everything we can to let recent ugliness pass from our souls
- Helen: Present system is not a good one - something needs to change. Distinctions: verbal disputes vs criminality. Serious disputes that affect our community, but won't send somebody to ER. RJ vs mediation different things. Mediation can be infused with RJ concepts. Mediation focused on personal conflicts
and restorative justice can be a very different process The idea we talked about when we talked about Restorative justice is the idea that a group comes together and deals with a group problem and that's not the same as mediation. The onyl tool we have is for disputes between individuals or harm that was done to one individual by another. We don't have a tool for when an individual harms a group.
- Mary Ann: good is some people at Omni were trained in RJ process, so not always same ppl on committee, community can participate. Disagree w just 2 ppl involved in conflict resolution - not adequate
- Patrik: can we pick a new name for CDC committee
- Restorative justice & conflict reslution?
- DK: confict resolution committee
- DK: many ppl would strongly disagree with getting rid of "Challenging Dominant Cultures"
- Roberto: agrees. There are some truths to that term. What is considered violence or not violence, urgent or not urgent depends on what community you are from. Beyond that. what david was getting at it's not up this assembly to decide on this. The omni operates different. We are coalescing a bunch of power in this meeting that we shouldn't. There used to be a group that had discussions and made proposals. A bunch of our working groups haven't been functioning but we have to get back to that. Not have us as a delegates assembly change things and that includes the name.
- Patrik: I just wanted to quote yar from the email thread:"If we can't ban nazis on sight then I'm gone". Challenging dominant cultures is a good idea. It doesn't have to be the same group as the conflict resolution group. Meanwhile I think we need a conflict resolutions committee as well.
- David: A while ago I wrote that a big probleme is a lack of institutional memory at Omni. No-one is asking themselves why CDC was the first WG ever formed at Omni. (btw there is one person in it, which is yar). One of the reasons we wanna workshop this is that we don't want to just repeat the same problems. We want to make something that's better. I would hope that whatever this group, whatever we wanna call it, would use restorative justice to ensure we are all heard, and not just be a group that negotiates conflicts. I think we really need to have a workshop process as part of this committee.
- MA: I think what David is assuming is that the delegates don't go back and have a discussion about this with their collectives. That's what's supposed to happen. Delegates take ideas back to their collectives and come back to the delegates meeting and make decisions on it.
Sarah: One of the things that David and I talked about: There are people who are members of Omni who are not members of collectives who are just as valid members as the collective members. Could also be issues in terms of the dynamic of that. It's more of a yes-and sitution. It's not that our current process doesn't happen. What might happen and what it feels like from this meeting is that there are people or groups of people who have very different perspectives on this. Those people should be able to discuss and workshop this together, including not collectively affiliated people.
- David: MA makes a good point. As someone who helped constitute the delegates process in the first place I'm certainly not against or trying to do away with it or end-running it. There's been numerous workshops. There's been all kinds of decisions made like MA through working groups. My concern around this specific thing is around competing proposals. You're going to go into a more competitive thing than a collaborative. That's what our institutional experience learned. Instead of saying "my proposal is the way things should be" or "mine is the way it should be". There's such a wide spread that a workshop is actually the most efficient way. We need to make safe space for people to feel extra comfortable. Just because I think it's the most efficient.
- Rachel: brings up letter in support of Rob that was sent to Consensus list right before meeting.
- DK: Respect the spirit in which this letter was written. As support for a comrade. Also haven't seen this before and also sad because the unspoken other path of this. you're just gonna have another letter that's gonna come talking about the person who has been a good comrade and done a bunch of good things has also done a bunch of bad things that have done harm to the community. It's just gonna escalate. We want to de-escalate. I'm sad because even though it was written in a gesture of compassion and good will and wanting to do the right thing. I think it's just a step toward the path of escalation. I wish this kind of discussion could happen not on a list like this. That's why we have to internalize these
- Roberto: I'm wondering if this is a proposal? Is this a letter stating the sentiments and positions of different individuals. If this is a proposal are the delegates voting to re-instate Robb. Is the right thing for the delegates to do. I'm confused by this letter.
- MA: I think the purpose of the letter is to start the process of discussing how to re-instate a person. The purpose of the letter is to start discussion about that. A ban isn't forever and we don't know how the ban is. My understanding is that if Robb has complteed one mediation and also is in another mediation. I mean this has already gone on for more than a month. I think we need to start thinking about what it would look like (for Robb to come back). There's been a lot of people who have talked about this. It's time to start a dicussion. What would it take to bring him back and when.
- Sarah: Can I speak as someone who have a conlfict with him. I haven't seen him at Omni for more than a week. The fact that he was asked to stay away from mutual spaces, and didn't respect that, until he was willing to observe a time out, I wasn't willing to engage in anything. He needs to understand and acknowledge his behavior. How his behavior is problematic. I can't speak for yar who's also involved in this, I don't know if it's something where it would be effective for the three of us or include jenny and have all of this be one process rather than go through individual ones. Also I want to note that it is after 9 oclock. Do people want to continue?
- Patrik: Point of order. Conflict steward reports out on how the process is going. So I would love to hear a quick report on what the status is.
- DK: As someone who has tried to get these conflicts resolved I have put in a lot of effort to get these things going and I am in contact with Toan and he is dilligently working with these conflicts. To talk about these conflicts without the people present who are affected doesn't feel fair.
- Silver: I did have a mediation with Robb. After mediation I did not feel heard by Robb. We set boundaries not to interact.
HVAC (repair heater/furnace)
- Furnace for Disco room keeps blowing a fuse. Full replacement may need ~$2500, repair likely <$1000. Needs to be fixed for insurance purposes.
- Sarah: Finance felt delegates should have a say if > $500
- Patrik: should pay back in Disco rentals, lower insurance
- David explains in detail why the furnace in the CCL/Disco area doesn't work; the heater in CCL is another issue
- Rachel: concerned about chipping away at our savings
- DK: Need to replace our insurance policy - could be $1000/mo lower than now. Will also help qualify for refinance. Insurance will want to know that core infrastructure like electrical and furnaces are in working order. Heater also needed for renting Disco rm in winter.
- Marcus: what fraction of our bank account would this cover?
- Sarah: We have plenty in the bank. We have $20K in one investment account.
Approve: Joe, Patrik, Roberto, Rache/Jane Opposed: nobody
WE HAVE CONSENSUS
- Jane: rain predicted this Sunday - preventative roof maintenance?
- DK: make sure someone is in the building during rain to mark where leaks are
== Booking prospects ==(Joe waived discussing this topic to make space for continued discussion of revising Safe Space policy -- bring up next meeting)
-- Fire Assembly Permit discussion --
- fire permit only lists ballroom - why?
- DK: mixed use building, area of primary assembly is ballroom. Occupant density in other spaces depends on how space is used. >50 needs more than one exit. Disco Rm and Entrance could potentially have >50 (e.g. event w standing room only). Max ballroom currently 275. Could put up max occupancy sign in entrance hall.
- Patrik: we had decided to do 50% occupancy, so up to 138 ppl in ballroom for events
- DK: having an interconnected alarm system would increase our max occupancy for ballroom - could theoretically go up to 700+
Omni-wide fridge hygiene proposal
DK: During inspection prep, we came across fridges / freezers with significant rotting food / liquids once intended for human consumption.
To reduce the incidence of these discoveries, and as a space that also serves the public, I propose omni adopt the following protocol broadly in use by workplaces, commissary kitchens, places of group housing, and other sites with shared fridges:
1. A sharpie and a roll of painters’ tape (or masking tape) shall be tethered to or otherwise kept nearby each fridge with food / drink.
2. With the sharpie, folks shall write the date and (optionally) the items owner, upon anything placed in the fridge.
3. Once a week - say every Monday - any omninom is empowered to sort through the fridge and throw out:
- Anything without a sharpied date or a preprinted date of expiration on it
- Anything older than 2 weeks from the date of inspection of the fridge, or anything shown as already expired.
4. For edible/drinkable items in the freezer portion: anything without a date, and anything with a date older than three months, is game to be thrown out at the discretion of the person assessing it.
5. Items that do not lend themselves to labeling - such as produce not in a labeled / dated bag - can be thrown out at the discretion of the person assessing the fridge / freezer.
6. Notices to this effect shall be permanently affixed to all fridges with food/drink.
7. The non-shared fridges of FNB & CCL, that are either regularly assessed (FNB) and/or do not typically contain food (CCL) are exempt from this protocol, though the voluntary labeling of any food / drink according to the above protocols is respectfully encouraged to be considered. (If ANV stores food in a fridge on-site like FNB, they would also be exempt per above.)
8. Town fridge: While the town fridge (stored outside) is regularly assessed, due to its exposed condition it would still be subject to this rule with the caveat that:
- the town fridge organizers are to be immediately notified in the event that any omninom not associated with the town fridge has deemed something spoiled and thrown out, specifically from this fridge.
- photographs are passed on to at least one town fridge organizer to this effect.
9. Unless otherwise noted above, all fridges throughout omni, including in members’ spaces, would be subject to this common fridge hygiene protocol.
NOBODY OPPOSED - CONSENSUS
Omni-wide Trash receptacle proposal
DK: After facilitating the taking out of a lot of trash last month, and in an effort to gradually engender better standards of hygiene at omni, I would like to propose that omni standardize its trash bins and trash emptying protocols around the building — not the big municipal bins taken to the curb for pickup, but for the day-to-day bins that are staged throughout:
1. All day-to-day trash bins within omni shall be of a kind outfitted with functional integral lids. All bins without lids (or bins with inoperable or ill-fitting lids) shall be removed from omni. This is to reduce the diversity of odors / fruit flies etc.
2. All such trash bins shall be semi-standardized to a maximum of 13 gal in size, but no bigger, so that it will be easy to keep quantities of adequate-capacity bags to hand (ie standardize to a single size).
3. Trash bin liners (trash bags) shall be placed in bins still-connected to (unperforated from) a roll of additional fresh bags - such that when a full bag is pulled out of a bin in order to empty it, that action immediately pulls up a fresh bag for immediate perforation and re-lining of the bin, without having to search for replacement bags or make a return trip.
4. All bags used shall be of the compostable type, even for non-compost bins (no plastic trash bags.)
5. The number of trash bins throughout the building would be reduced as necessary such that no given area or room (except the ballroom during events) has more than one each of recycling, general waste, and compost bins respectively. Bins exceeding this number in a given area in omni, would be removed. This is to encourage a more routine emptying of bins, rather than just looking for another bin with space to throw stuff into.
6. All bins throughout omni will have liners (bags), even recylcling bins.
7. To empty, Recycling bins specifically shall be physically carried into the trash room and contents emptied directly into one of the bigger municipal bins (without tying off the bag). The recycling bins’ used compostable liner will then be removed and placed in a compost bin.
(This would not be required for general waste or compost bins, wherein full bags - rather than the bin itself - can be carried into the trash room).
8. Terse instructions / iconography to this effect shall be placed as a simple pre-printed label on all bins.
9. The above would also apply within member groups’ spaces, not just within common areas.
NOBODY OPPOSED - CONSENSUS
End of Meeting
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