Governance/Proposal

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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 [twice a week, or every 2 weeks?] 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 should ideally be placed on the agenda no later than the Saturday before the meeting, though space will be made for guests and those unfamiliar with the OOC's processes.

1. All decisions about the building are made through consensus, except when specified.

2. When a decision needs to be made to secure the building, then a majority vote may be used to make the decision [quorum?]. The majority must be three-fourths of all voting members [3/4 of all members present? Or 3/4 of all people eligible to vote? Big difference! Patrik (talk)]. These decisions include:

 a. Paying rent, utilities, and other liabilities of the collective
 b. Submitting legal documentation
 c. Suspensions and bans

3. Each collective may choose to use a delegate or distributed delegates to count as a single vote at the main meetings. Distributed delegates allows all members of collectives to make amendments or block proposals at main meeting.

4. Consensus formed through absence of clarifying questions and blocks. This removes the necessity to identify a delegate. The member(s) of the collective needs to be present to represent the consent of the collective. Quorum is still needed to make a decision.

5. The meetings are to give priority to updates from working groups and collectives.

New Groups

If other organizations propose to become a member-group, project, or tenant 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 tenant. 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 tenant, 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:

  • Provides public benefit through sharing of space, resources and/or services with the Omni Commons
  • Open membership or worker-owned cooperative model consisting of 5 or more individuals.

1. Member-groups (proportional delegates, meet qualifications)

  • Bay Area Public School
  • Counter Culture Labs
  • Food Not Bombs
  • La Commune Cafe & Bookstore
  • OMNIdance
  • Sudo Room

2. PROSPECTIVE MEMBERS (single delegate, 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 (meet special qualifications for project-based membership)

2. PROSPECTIVE PROJECTS

  • Backspace
  • Black Hole Cinema
  • Contemporary Art Museum of Oakland
  • Oakland Nights Live
  • Peak Agency

Tenants

Tenants of the OOC do not have a voting delegate, but rather, are bound by the values and decisions of the OOC. Total contributions must not exceed more than 30% of the OOC's income in order to maintain our non-profit status [1]. Tenancy leases are month-to-month, with concerted effort made to work cooperatively in good faith

3. Tenants (single delegate, meets qualifications for business sub-lease, fit within 30% of OOC income [2])

  • Rise Above
  • Timeless, Infinite Light [3]

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

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

[3] Given that TIL is a two-person business operating out of a locked office, the group technically fits the definition of a tenant. Their inclusion in the original lease complicates this proposal, but may be offset by their expansion to incorporate a publically-accessible printing press collective.

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.

Working Groups

Working groups of the OOC are comprised of anyone interested in joining. They may be empowered to make certain kinds of decisions [eg; financial, building modifications, permit applications] on behalf of the OOC, as identified via consensus-based proposals to the group.

With the intention to support horizontal, consent-based, transparent, good-faith collaboration, the process of establishing a working group is as follows:

Start a Working Group

  • Propose the working group at an open Omni meeting. New working groups should outline mission, purpose, tasks, and bottom-liner(s) to the OOC and pass a full consensus vote.
  • Create Working Group wiki page and link to it here: http://wiki.omni-oakland.org/w/Working_Groups
    • Articulate "mission" or purpose, goals, and any tasks you already know.
  • Schedule regular meetings and add them to the Calendar: http://wiki.omni-oakland.org/w/Calendar
  • Announce upcoming meetings on the omni-announce list at least 24 hours prior to meeting: omni-announce@lists.riseup.net

Hold Working Group Meetings

  • Before the meeting begins, designate a facilitator and a scribe to take notes
  • Conclude the meeting with Outcomes or Action Items and schedule next meeting
  • Post meeting notes to the wiki on the Event page (making it discoverable through the calendar)
  • Prepare report-back for weekly Omni Collective meeting.

Join a Working Group

  • Check the Calendar and attend the next meeting of the working group.
  • Directly contact the individual(s) bottom-lining the group.
  • Show up to a meeting, or use the communication channel specified for that group to stay in touch.

Make Progress in a Working Group

  • Set goals that aspire to deliver on the working group's "mission" or purpose.
  • If necessary, outline tasks in order to reach each goal.
  • Make progress on and seek to accomplish any tasks that contribute to the working group's goals.
  • When a working group's goals require feedback, formal approval, or simply consent from the Omni Collective, create a proposal:
    • Present this proposal to the Omni Collective delegates meeting to ensure each member-group can build consent in their respective community as necessary.
  • When a working group has several divergent options or ideas and cannot come to resolution on them alone, then create proposals that represent these options and present these in some way to the whole collective:
    • Present proposals at an Omni Collective meeting for feedback
    • Ask for feedback on the omnilogistics@lists.riseup.net email list
    • Ask for feedback from other working groups, member-groups, or individuals that are not involved with your working group.
    • Rinse, repeat until you have garnered improvements to your proposal from the invaluable experiences and contributions of everyone involved with the omni collective, ultimately building consensus among the entire collective.

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

Margit

  • 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.