Governance/Proposal

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Revision as of 19:45, 3 June 2014 by Mattsenate (talk | contribs) (updates formatting, grammar, intended to hone precision (not change underlying meaning), happy for feedback and changes to correct any mistakes)
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Changelog

This is a proposal to replace our original Founding Document as put forth by David Brazil (Bay Area Public School) on 11/29/2013 and revised for Omni Oakland Collective on 4/2/2013.

Mission

The Omni Oakland Collective [OOC] is a group established to acquire and administer a collective property. We are presently pursuing a property known as The Omni, at 4799 Shattuck Avenue.

The OOC is a "people's organization" in that:

the people who use it also own it and run it

To this end, the OOC strives to run entirely by consensus and do-ocracy. The point of the OMNI Oakland Collective is NOT to function as any sort of governing body for the groups involved in any general sense. There are no senators. Its only and sole purpose is to administer the space, pay expenses, make group decisions about shared space, resolve any conflicts between groups within the collective, interface with the state, banks, authorities. Tasks and responsibilities are distributed among collectives and working groups that anyone may join.

The Delegate Council detailed below exists for making Decisions about the building's maintenance and shared space; voting in or out of member-groups, projects, or business partners; paying bills and managing finances; and as a rare alternative when consensus cannot be reached at a general meeting. It's designed to uphold the values of building and maintaining commons, reflecting a political vision that privileges a more equitable commoning of resources and meeting of human needs over private interests or corporate profit.

Meetings

Bi-weekly meetings of the OOC are open to all.

All collective meetings will be facilitated by a rotating facilitator, and should require a time-keeper and note-taker selected from among the participants present.

Meetings will begin laying out an agenda to which anyone may add. Required agenda items include introductions, report-backs from working groups, new member proposals, consensus decisions, and an update on finances. Proposals may be presented at any time in the course of the meeting. All decisions of this group will be made by modified consensus. When consensus cannot be reached, a vote is taken among delegates with voting privileges.

New Groups

If other organizations propose to become a member-group, project, or business partner of the Omni Oakland Collective, a consensus vote of the Delegate Council is required. This vote will be taken at the next general meeting after application. The applicant must not be present for the portion of this meeting in which the weight of this group's application is discussed. If such a vote passes successfully, the new group will select a delegate for the Delegate Council by the next general meeting.

If a vote is called, any delegate may move to table that vote for one week in order to bring the matter in question back to their group, and may request more information from the proposed group. Admission of new groups to the OMNI collective must always be referred back to the individual groups.

Entities

The entities which comprise the OOC consist of member-groups, fiscally-sponsored projects, and business partners. Member-groups select a delegate, according to the decision­-making processes of each group. These delegates form the Omni Oakland Collective's Delegate Council, which will be entrusted with making binding decisions on behalf of the groups they represent. Decision-making by this Delegate Council will be by consensus among delegates, though voting is reserved only for occasions when consensus is unable to be reached at any given meeting of the OOC.

These delegates will be fully accountable to the groups they represent, and subject to recall by that group, according to the decision­-making processes of that group.

Any entity may apply to become a member-group, project or business partner, provided that it meets the qualifications detailed below:

Member-Groups

Member-groups of the OOC shall each have one voting delegate. These delegates comprise the representative voting body of the OOC. It's proposed that member-groups meet the following basic requirements pursuant to upholding the values of the OOC:

  • Non-profit in nature
  • Provides public benefit through sharing of space, resources and/or services with the Omni Commons
  • Open membership model

1. Member-groups (full voting privileges, meet qualifications)

  • Bay Area Public School [1]
  • Counter Culture Labs
  • Food Not Bombs
  • OMNIdance
  • Sudo Room

2. PROSPECTIVE MEMBERS (no voting privileges yet, determining qualifications, applying to join)

Projects

Projects of the OOC do not have a voting delegate, but rather, function as autonomous sub-projects of the OOC. Projects must be non-profit in nature in order to contribute to tax-exempt income of the OOC. Upon receipt of 501c3 status, 7-10% of all donations to any single Project are donated in turn to the OOC.

1. Fiscally-sponsored Projects (half voting privileges (?), meet special qualifications for project-based membership)

2. PROSPECTIVE PROJECTS (no voting privileges, determining qualifications, and/or applying to join)

  • Oakland Nights Live
  • As-yet-unnamed Celluloid Film Collective
  • Contemporary Art Museum of Oakland
  • Creative Empowerment Project

Business Partners

Business partners of the OOC do not have a voting delegate, but rather, function as autonomous business partners of the OOC. Businesses must be worker-owned cooperatives (?) to fit within the values of the OOC. Total contributions must not exceed more than 30% of the OOC's income in order to maintain our non-profit status [2].

3. Business Partners (no voting privileges, meet qualifications for business sub-lease, fit within 30% of OOC income [3])

  • Backspace
  • La Commune Cafe and Bookstore
  • Peak Agency
  • Timeless, Infinite Light

[1] As BAPS is officially an unincorporated association, it is up to us to determine its non-profit nature, or put it in the category of Project.

[2] Uncertain about this requirement, since sub-leasing space to aligned groups is part of OOC's mission as articulated in our Articles of Incorporation.

[3] Going with a Mutual Benefit non-profit model (rather than Public Benefit) would waive this requirement.

Expulsion of Entities

If it is necessary to expel a group, the group in question will be given the opportunity to present their case at a general meeting. After this meeting, the Delegate Council may decide to expel this group by a full consensus vote, in a discussion that does not include the group in question.

The Delegate Council is empowered to amend the terms of its own existence, as outlined in this proposal, by consensus vote. We further state a continuous process of critical self-reflection is essential to the health of this project, and ask all members and groups to actively engage in this ongoing task.

Feedback

Sudo Room

  • Should also articulate assurances, lease agreements etc for Business Partners
  • Another possibility is proportional representation
  • Strive to make decisions based on consensus of everyone present at meetings and on the mailing list; voting is a last resort
  • "Don't do anything that requires us to make a new rule." - Labitat's rule

OMNIdance

  • How to make space for your very real concerns about representing a Big Fat organization like Sudo Room, say, in relation to La Commune and Peak Agency? When all are equally dedicated to the project?
  • Is there a way for these groups who are very important to have some voting rights? some percentage, or some other format?
  • Or might their be tiers of involvement, as you mentioned? We are going through these very questions with OMNIdance, as well, as we are making its structure. this will be very interesting to work out, and feels important that people who are deeply dedicated to the project can be involved on a governance level, even if they do not appear to be "radical" or "collective"when seen in clear terms -- However, these categories are often more nuanced than how many are in the membership, while at the same time the membership # and individual mission MATTERS.
  • Sometimes the most radical thing is not the most obvious, and to be a Commons might actually mean to allow representation for the whole spectrum -- i know this is potentially very Obama-ish of me, but an ideal I am interested in experimenting with - how to have room for all visions? I think there will be a way - a list of criterion? that a group can circle (self determine) which ones apply?
  • I think it would be very important to have representation from all the groups somehow....I think the core values of the OMNI are being defined, and until we really deeply create our mission and core values, it is hard to make such a blanket statement about who upholds the core values.....How is this defined and who determines this except the group already

Niki

  • I understand the desire to protect the collective from any conflict of interest that may arise but I think that it's important we develop ways of working together / put systems in place that ensure these do not arise rather than exclude people who are deeply committed to the Omni project from participating in the decision making process. I feel like this will create the feeling of a hierarchical power structure in which non-profit efforts are viewed as more ideologically pure / legitimate and engender feelings of mistrust / animosity as well as discourage participation in the greater organization from members of groups w/out voting power. This may also discourage for-profit entities from developing additional avenues for increasing financial contributions to the Omni Collective (i.e.: the bookstore is developing a proposal to donate 100% of profits from the sale of certain items direction to the OC.) I fear that for-profit entities may come to view themselves as subsidizing an organization that does not allow for their input or participation. I think that we should work towards creating a system in which all people are involved in the decision making process.
  • Requiring Entities to have a particular structure in order to have voting power feels like the Omni interfering with member-group decisions about how they choose to self govern. We should be open to allowing all sorts of experimentation to exist among the various groups rather than privilege one form of organization over another. I think the key should be that groups should be organized by actual *groups* and not run by independent entrepreneurs although this may get into similar territory as mentioned above so I'm not 100% sure how I feel about this. Perhaps we set up a model where the number of representative delegates a group has is proportionally relative to how many of its members are *actively* involved in the Omni Collective (this could take the form of working group participation, building upkeep, meeting facilitation, etc.) I'm sure we can learn a great deal from one another, much in the same way that BAPS has learned from SUDO, without requiring that participating member groups share the same organizational structures.