11/11/2012 at Noelle's House
Attending: Jessie, Noelle, Hannah, Mike, Ryan, Gatlin, Ruth, Sam, Bridget, Molly, Mike, Donny.
Gatlin: I created a committee under CHEA to create a body with legitimacy to vote on things. To bootstrap that process, I'd like to vote people into this committee and cover the membership policies. We met on Friday to come up with a meeting structure, and held off on selecting a chair.
Moved by Gatlin, seconded by Donny.
People voted in: Sam, Bridget, Molly, Mike, Jessie, McAllen, and Ryan.
Motion passes unanimously.
Discussion: better to have a rotating chair? Does this person default to always being a facilitator?
Do we need to choose this this week? Straw polls about a consistent chair roughly even. Various people comment on whether or not we need a default chairperson.
Ruth: Groups in general can have trouble moving forward
Jessie: Are we electing a committee chair, or a meeting facilitator?
Noelle: Maybe this is difficult because this is the first position we're electing
McAllen: I'd be willing to do it.
Hannah: Straw poll on whether McAllen will be the default meeting facilitator: divided, perhaps slightly higher in favor. Will vote next week if it's on the agenda.
Hannah: Status of the Gault St. property. Information is limited. A number of us went to NASCO, and Daniel exhausted himself there. We expect updates from Daniel next week. Look at the proforma spreadsheet that was sent out last week by Lincoln at NASCO.
Ruth: Lincoln came up with that from his own experience with a co-op that has expanded before.
Hannah: Question is how much money we'll have to renovate to Gault property. That money could make it a lot more livable.
Ruth: Daniel said there isn't a whole lot of money for remodeling. The NP board felt that a common space, esp. a kitchen, was crucial in forming a cohesive community. We are enshrining co-op principles in CHEA's bylaws and in community practices.
Hannah: We will get there in the next couple of months as we make decisions on these things.
Noelle: In terms of renovations, we've talked about the 4 bedroom thing, it should be scrapped. It's a trickier dynamic. If you keep it simple, we could focus on really good common space.
McAllen: One idea I remember us discussing would be having 2 common rooms, one at each end of the building. Daniel might not be aware of our plans for that.
Molly: Did we discuss how family friendly we want to be?
Hannah: We weren't proposing making all of the 4 bedrooms, maybe up to half so that there would be more options for people who are single folks who are moving in. If it comes down to money, good common spaces and good kitchen and dining room are a good first priority.
Sam: I indicate my support for family friendly dynamics – couples with children, singles with children, etc. would be a huge plus.
Ryan: One of the easiest things we can do to expand diversity (be more than just singles as is the case with lots of co-ops), would be to make sure we are willing to knock down walls.
McAllen: Talked to Kalamazoo people at NASCO from an apartment co-op. A good thing about an apartment coop in general is that people have their own special lifestyles within each unit. Based on that, it should be easy to accommodate a variaty of different lifestyles. I'm also a proponent of having parties.
Molly: I think that family friendliness might necessitate two common rooms, if we want normal co-op activities and family friendliness.
Ruth: At Institute, one of the presenters from UC Berkeley student coop who was presenting on diversity. Her presentation was about the history of diversity, and how their coop used to be diverse but had been losing diversity over time. Apartment coops are the ones that are least homogeneous. I'm open to more diversity of any kind. Also, I talked to a lot of apartment coop people about their policies, but a lot of them are limited equity rather than group equity. For example, in Kalamazoo their coop is a set of duplexes all on the same block. I will forward those to the group.
Hannah: I want to wrap up the discussion of family friendliness. Good discussion, lots of support for it. Do we want an agenda item on this? Sounds like we can have a short item on the next meetings agenda about how this affects our renovations. We have resources to ask question to in terms of other apartment coops, like “how do you create a community feeling in separate units?”
Noelle: We can't say “no” to people with families. It's not like we have a choice – we have to accept people. There's no discussion on that.
Molly: Question: do people use the common kitchen? How much? What encourages them?
Mike: Related to that would be do they have a meal plan, does everyone eat together, and do they perform kitchen labor.
Sam: There would be a common kitchen in addition the the individual? Yes.
Mike: Whether food is part of their budget matters.. as in, if the meal plan is part of their rent or not.
Jessie: How do they work the idea of a common kitchen in? Is it a separate food coop that you buy into? Also, with the absence of trees and the small courtyard, the kitchen will be crucial to establishing common space.
McAllen: Footnote: We could do like the Roman coliseum: a structure to shade the courtyard. According to what Daniel and I discovered, we can't make meal plans part of the lease for any zoning that is not MF4. It can be opted into.
Ruth: When the NP board discussed this, we couldn't require it as part of the lease, BUT it could be a requirement as part of being a member. The board also said that the community space the we build needs to be able to fit EVERY single person who lives there at once. Failing that is a problem for house functioning.
Hannah: We have a board right now, which is made up of 5 members, all of whom live at Sasona. The Steward and Treasurer are automatically on the board, then we elect a Secretary, Chair, and member at large. That won't work from now on, since it doesn't accommodate two houses. Electing someone directly into an officer position might be
Donny: two house descr
Ryan: We could weight the Gault property more due to more people.
Ruth: That is a good idea in the long term, but right now, Sasona is formed and functioning, and Gault isn't there yet. Some of the folks I talked to suggested that having community members on the board is a really good idea, and they can have a very positive impact from a coop perspective. One board has a planning comission member, another has lawyers, etc. The equal representation is a good idea initially, but bringing in a community member as a tiebreaker is good.
Ryan: Maybe after a one-year trial period, we could move on into a more representative structure.
Mike: Having officers on the board might be good. We'll have a single maintenance budget, and if the maintenance officers are already on the board, that could be worked out. Vacancies could be discussed too. This might apply more with 2 houses than 5 or 8 houses. Donny makes the Gatlin argument.
Hannah: I proposed the direct officer thing before, but I've swayed away from that. Having an elastic board structure will help for future expansions. However, having Steward (overall house officer) on the board might be good. Also, don't like a trial period with no representation for Gault. This house will be big enough for 30-40 people, and the more roles we give people in the organization, rather than (as Sasona has trouble with) having power concentrated into a few people.
Ruth: Non-Sasona people: I've been the NP rep to the NP board every year. I've refused to be a Board member at Sasona because it has so little power, and so much liability/responsibility. How things work at Sasona will change, and Gault will start working however it starts working. Being on the board is an issue for me when people are going to be evicted for not paying rent, the house has overridden the board's decision. We need to consider how to form the CHEA and Gault Street property.
Molly: Have to leave. Bye!
Sam: I don't think the buck should stop with the board. If the house overrides the board consistently, that's a major structural flaw. They have to be have a role equal or greater than the houses for executive decisions.
Ryan: Coming from ICC, we have 9 houses. I think what you'll see happen. You have the board that directs the whole company, then we have the membership running things and is served, they have the right to perform board actions by referendum. I don't think that's a flaw. Since you have to appeal to 9 houses to get a referendum, then no one ever really does it.
Hannah: Don't thing we'll decide Board policies today, but we might work on the structure. I support the referendum idea. I support giving the CHEA board more power; mostly it is reactive in that they deal with contract breaks or eviction issues, and that's mostly it. We can keep talking about responsibilities. I like the idea of a community representative plus 2 reps from each house.
*Straw poll*: general agreement of 2 (Sasona) /2 (Gault) /1 (community rep).
Passes by consensus.
Hannah motion moves to send this to the CHEA board. Seconded by Ruth.
Passed by consensus.
Hannah: questions is steward automatically part of the board. Is it necessary to live at the house.
Bridget: Is one of the reasons Steward is elected is part of the board?
Ruth: At the NP board meeting: where does CHEA policy start and stop, and where does house policy start and stop? Various house systems in the room spoke up. It seemed to be that most of them when a decision affects the long-term viability of the organization as a whole vs. when it affects just a single house.
Bridget: How will we select the community member?
Mike: It's typically someone who's lived in an ICC house (as far as ICC community reps go). I found out there was a position because I was at their GMM (general membership meeting). Kim from College Houses advertised through the Austin Coop Think Tank. Whitehall has something similar.
Hannah: I think it's good that we can leverage alumni in the community.
Ruth: Other entities have a current need or a potential future need (for example, they have consistent problems with the neighbors) they might select someone from the neighborhood association. We might elect someone with bookkeeping knowledge, etc.
Hannah: Discussion item. Very happy we made a recommendation to the CHEA board. Intra-house governance: discuss. Do we want an officer structure? A committee structure? A hybrid of the two? There will be more labor and less grounds, so there should be more labor available. Could we have a Membership Coordinator but one who is supported by a committee, for example? The education portion of this effort might be well served.
Donny: *is this missing?*
Noelle: There's a lot to figure out at Gault street. Doing as much as we can like Sasona to start might not be a bad idea. That includes with officers.
Jessie: Like the hybrid idea. At Evergreen, we had “disappearing task forces”. Committees functioning under the officer to carry out something (like water issues under Grounds). So you have an individual who's responsible, but they can create committees.
Sam: I have concerns about the committee structure – they are healthy and democratic, but not efficient. I also have concerns about the officers, and might need to do more than they actually do. I don't know what the best approach is. Sasona could use some improvement.
Ryan: If officers are already strapped, imagine when there are 30 people to manage. You're going to need the extra manpower at some level. Might need different officers…even simple things like collecting rent might be more difficult.
Hannah: The twice as many people thing is a good point. The more populist end of the spectrum is that there is no officer: there are committee members for labor hours. I'm not proposing that now. But with an officer with a committee, that can also make decision past the officer. Another end of that would be there is still an officer, and there are labor hours given to be assistants to those officers. We'll have more people and less common space, so committee members could be no-showed for not doing their labor by the officer.
Ruth: I see a potential structure as keeping responsibilities under an officer position title the same, but subdividing them among members of a committee. So they have to work together to fulfill the responsibilities. Would also allow more democratic decision making betweek members.
Ryan: You said officers would no-show people under them. One problem we've had is managing; who's responsible for no-showing people.
Jessie: As long as the ultimate responsibilities landed with the labor tsar (no showing). The responsible party might let people slack.
Donny: Meetings (scheduled) would be good.
Hannah: Might be less to talk about in each meeting to allow this.
Sam: Tangent. Issue of no-showing: possibility of using a labor system where no showing is not punitive. Could use an incentive system instead – I facilitated a discussion about this at Institute this year.
Mike: Using what Sasona has as a template might make sense as a starting point, but indeed, some things will probably have to change. At HOC, for instance, there were 2 kitchen managers, and one was responsible for coordinating with the cooks, and the other was responsible for making sure the kitchen stayed clean. The house could split officer roles into two positions. You can also just have 1 officer and people working with them or under them, with different levels of labor lumps for each position.
Hannah: Motion to round robin.