[hackerspaces] Governance questions

Pete Prodoehl raster at gmail.com
Wed Oct 16 23:58:20 CEST 2013

On 10/16/13 4:11 PM, Randall G. Arnold wrote:
> Sorry to be so active on the list today... but one of my recent 
> questions about operating philosophies is still an issue and I'm 
> looking for data.
> For those of you run as nonprofits, I'm hoping you can answer some 
> questions for me:

Well, technically, Milwaukee Makerspace is a non-stock corporation that 
is fiscally sponsored by the School Factory. But we tend to operate like 
a non-profit.

> 1) Is your foundation tied specifically to a space, or operating in 
> support of one or more spaces in an area?

Milwaukee Makerspace was originally created as an LLC (to get up and 
running quickly) with a President, Vice President, Secretary, etc. This 
was when the group started with about a dozen people. As we grew, we 
elected a Board of Directors and with the transition, the group that 
runs things is actually "Makerspace of Milwaukee, Inc." due to weird 
legal reasons, but for all intents and purposes, "Milwaukee Makerspace" 
is the group and "Milwaukee Makerspace" is our space. We don't operate 
more than one space.

> 2) How are your Board members elected/selected?

We have an election each October, and it's a multi-step process. Members 
are nominated by others or by themselves, and then members run for the 
named Board positions (President, Treasurer, Operations Director, 
Communications Director, and after those are selected, members run for 
three "At Large" roles without specific duties. (This allows someone who 
did not win a named position to "try again" for an At Large position.) 
We just elected the second Board this month. We're still learning the 
ins-and-outs of operating with a Board.

> 3) What are your thoughts on your connection to the 
> maker/hacker/creative/etc community-- are you a representative body?  
> Corporate-styled authority? Separate but supporting?
I'd say we are a representative body of the maker/hacker/creative/etc 
community in our area. We have a public mailing list, as well as 
accounts on all the major social networks and encourage the public (aka 
non-members) to get involved with us and our activities and just general 
"making" talk/activities. We've worked with many groups in our city 
(mainly in the arts) to help them with projects or just show some of the 
cool stuff we do. Most people think of us as "people who do cool things" 
which isn't a bad thing, I guess.

> 4) If you take a bottom-up, grassroots, community-first approach to 
> governance, have you found that to be a hindrance for sponsorships and 
> donations?
We don't really have much sponsorship, but we have got a number of sweet 
donations. A local manufacturer gave us a giant industrial robot arm 
that didn't quite work right. He knew about us and figured that if 
anyone could do something cool with it, it would be us. :)


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