[hackerspaces] What form of organization does your hackerspace use?

Koen Martens gmc at sonologic.nl
Mon Oct 19 18:17:56 CEST 2009

On Mon, Oct 19, 2009 at 05:48:48PM +0200, quemener.yves at free.fr wrote:
> > I think where we'll end up is a board model with heavy membership
> > consultation.  So about halfway between board and membership, I
> > guess. That's just my feeling, though.  Hard to tell.
> I have been pondering this a bit, if the hackerspace in Grenoble ever kicks off, what about the structure ? I think most problems comes from the perceived hierarchy between board members, regular paying members and occasional members. I wonder if a system would work where you would consider the "board" (namely the management of the space, the legalities, the inventory, etc...) as a project like all the others, where people are welcome to contribute or not. 
> I tend to value more the group of people and the set of projects and consider them independent of the physical space itself. If a space fails for any reason, the projects can survive through transplantation somewhere else. 
> Maybe this opinion comes from the fact that we don't have a permanent space yet here and that we are all somehow trapped inside a medium-sized city. But I wonder... There is this kind of hierarchical feeling that the managers of the physical space are the bosses of the group, I wonder if it is unavoidable. Sure they can veto some projects happening in their facilities (no amateur pyrotechnics here !) but there is no reason to give them any power to anything not related to the physical space management.
> What do you think about this approach ?

I see the whole board-thing as a necesarry evil, but want to avoid giving the board
members any special status whatsoever. It is exactly this hierarchical thing that may
lead to what I described earlier, where the board will have more and more work and
the membership becomes an apathic bunch. In my eyes, board members are just participants
who get to do some of the more boring stuff.

There's some questions about accountability that i'm sidestepping here though, who is
responsible if you all decided you _will_ have a pyrotechnics workshop in your space
and people get hurt?? You can have members sign a waiver, but what about neighbours? If
it comes to that, they will probably look at the board and sue the board, not the members..

Anyway, all this discussion about boards and organisation forms etc might lead you to
think that it is all about that. In fact, it is not. Once set up and organised, the board
is basically only responsible for collecting membership dues and collecting the rent. And
that's it. The rest is the fun part: projects, social events, etc..!



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