[hackerspaces] [ SPAM ] Re: Maker community principles

Ben Brown ben at generik.ca
Thu Sep 26 03:53:20 CEST 2013

Comments inline.

On 9/25/2013 11:50 AM, Randall G. Arnold wrote:
> Thanks for the reply Ben.   Replies below.
> >>On September 25, 2013 at 10:29 AM Ben Brown <ben at generik.ca> wrote:
> >>We welcome members (and occasionally, the public) to sit in on board 
> meetings, but usually only a handful attend (we have about 55 members 
> including the 7 on the board). >>Openness and transparency is 
> important to us as well, so long as member's privacy isn't violated. 
> Because of that, we don't normally name members who are behind on dues 
> >>unless there's a suspension on the table (which would be announced 
> publicly anyway), for instance.
> Agreed with that.  For instance, it's my opinion that new Board 
> nominees should be temporarily excused from the meeting while the 
> Board deliberates on their eligibility.  Still trying to get that 
> going...

Your process of board elections seems to differ from ours. We typically 
elect board members yearly at the AGM (or at a special member meeting if 
a board member leaves before the end of their term). We elect two 
members that aren't board nominees to run the vote and count ballots 
from the membership as a whole. The board itself doesn't have the 
capacity by themselves to elect new board members.

> >>If your concern is members are being left out because of physical 
> space constraints, what about streaming your meetings online via 
> webcam and using IRC to conduct >>business with remote participants? 
> If there are times that meetings need to be face-to-face (depending on 
> your bylaws), limit the frequency of them and try and find a larger 
> >>space to use for those.
> We are in agreement on taking advantage of technology. We're just not 
> there yet.  My preference would be to open all Board meetings to 
> broadcast by default, but again there is some disagreement there.
> My concern is that the general community is disenfranchised by a 
> default tendency of leadership to act in private, especially without 
> followup release of proceedings.  I'm just surprised to be fought on 
> this and wondered if I'm actually in the wrong.

Followup release of proceedings.. your board meeting minutes are 
available to the membership, are they not? In Canada that's required by 
law (unless it's an in-camera meeting), not sure what's required in the 
states. If the general community is concerned about board transparency 
(or access to board meetings), you'll certainly hear about it. I don't 
understand either why other board members would have a problem with that.

> >>Chaotic meetings can be smoothed out by a powerful meeting chair. 
> However, controlling a meeting of 180+ attendees would be a massive 
> undertaking for anyone.
> Absolutely agreed, and it's frustrated me that our Board's 
> conversation keeps circling back to that when it's sheer common 
> sense.  However, I'm put in mind of stockholder meetings... is it 
> unrealistic to think a once-a-year large assembly is a good idea to 
> consider?

They should keep in mind that they're part of a board for a hackerspace, 
not a fortune 500 company. In the interest of the community (which I 
believe to be integral to a hackerspace), there shouldn't be anything in 
a board meeting that should be kept from the membership (aside from the 
previously mentioned privacy concerns when it comes to specific 
members). There are in-camera meetings for that, and those should be the 
extremely rare exception.

As for general meetings, it's not unrealistic to have a large assembly 
once or twice a year. With Kwartzlab, we have an Annual General Member 
Meeting, where we present the yearly financial report, take care of any 
new bylaws or changes to the corporation (where members need to vote 
on), and to elect the board for the next year. We do have the occasional 
member meeting during the year for special circumstances, but those 
don't happen often.

That said, any member can sit in on our board meetings, and view any 
reports (financial or otherwise) if they wish. After all, it's the only 
way we can encourage newcomers to participate in the board process for 
when the rest of us want to retire ;)


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