[hackerspaces] what is your opinion about the closing of 3rd ward?

William Macfarlane wmacfarl at gmail.com
Mon Oct 14 01:10:45 CEST 2013

My opinion:

People/organizations make really bad decisions when they're stressed out
about money.  These decisions frequently involve treating community members
as consumers and making policy decisions that break community in an effort
to make more money.  This seldom ends well.

In particular, accusing, implicitly or explicitly, your long-time, loyal
membership of "taking advantage" of the organization is a pretty common
response to financial difficulties, which is more or less what 3rd Ward did
when they changed their membership policy (which caused a huge drop-off in
membership in Brooklyn.)

This is actually super-important for hackerspaces, which tend to be
scrappy, almost-broke community institutions that need to make some money
to function -- it's really easy, when you're strapped for cash and trying
to run this institution and keep paying the rent, to get frustrated with
the people who are just using it and enjoying it and not worrying about
money and to decide that they're not paying their share.  And maybe it's
true, but it's almost always better to ask people for help and/or discuss
the problems your space is facing than to have the "management" make a
decision in isolation.

My further opinion:

If you're going to close a space, you should refund your members.  If
you're going to close a space, you're probably going bankrupt anyway, so
it's not actually clear to me why you wouldn't endeavor to refund your
members before paying your other debts (I, at least, consider m my duty to
my community members to be of higher importance than my duty to my landlord
or bank or whatever.)  Perhaps there is some legal framework that's worth
setting up here, perhaps a refund clause in your membership contract so
that you can legitimately prioritize these refunds over other debts?  Worth
talking to a lawyer in your own particular locality about this, I expect.
 I plan on talking to one later tonight because I'm so curious.

On Sun, Oct 13, 2013 at 6:22 PM, Florencia Edwards <floev22 at gmail.com>wrote:

> for those who didn't know, here is some comments on it by membres and
> staff on reddit
> http://www.reddit.com/r/Brooklyn/comments/1o2qro/3rd_ward_may_be_closed_by_the_end_of_the_week/
> _______________________________________________
> Discuss mailing list
> Discuss at lists.hackerspaces.org
> http://lists.hackerspaces.org/mailman/listinfo/discuss

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