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May 12, 2013

Facilitator: McAllen
Minutes-taker: Mike

Present: Claude, Derrick, Donny, Gatlin, Hannah, Hillary, Meghan, Meghan, Mike, Molly, Nolan, Sarah

New members

Meghan, Derrick have no pets

Officer reports


Donny: Got the AC fixed in 106. Got the thermostat moved. Will be replacing the AC in 204 and the furnace and lines in 204 Tue/Wed. A labor chart was sent out. A bunch of you guys are on maintenance (McAllen, Gatlin). Would like to coordinate schedules so that people can work in pairs. Doing pretty well on the budget. 1/3 of the capital improvement budget is gone. Still have a lot left in minor maintenance to fix smaller things. Just a matter of getting time to fix them.

Greg: have 2-3 bids in for the electrical project. The third bid should be in by Wednesday. Not sure if the whole group should decide or the maintenance committee.

Donny: Doesn't necessarily need to be the whole group. Usually it's what they want us to spend time becoming experts in.

Greg: Some electrical problems in 204 and 205.

Nolan: Would it make sense to put outlets outside at the same time as the panel work?

Greg: No.

Donny: Risks our grandfathering. It's a major improvement. Don't want to cross that bridge yet.

Greg: Would need to update the line from the grid to the panel. We're maxed out at 70 amps.


McAllen: We had a little technical difficulty this week, but, starting next week, we'll print out a meeting agenda and put it on the bulletin board. Will have a Spanish translation. Will post by Saturday morning. This coming Sunday, from 3-5, we're going to tear out ornamental plants and put in a food garden. We'll have a bunch of tiny pots that kids can plant seeds in and take home.

Mike: Should we post things two days in advance for the agenda?

McAllen: Doesn't matter to me. Hannah said that that is how they do it at Sasona.

Hannah: I have an agenda item to address this.


Gatlin: I distributed some labor surveys this week, came up with tentative assignments. Will make sure everyone aware of them. We'd been talking about 2 hours of labor, so didn't want to change, but, for sake of maintenance, might want to consider 3. Also, wrote up a formal labor policy to figure out little things like fines, trading labor. Created some good pipe dreams about labor holidays.

Donny: McAllen, could we consider keeping a couple flowering plants? Some are very pretty. Get rid of the more bland ones.

McAllen: Ok.

Donny: Gatlin, thank you for the labor chart. Excited to have new minions.

Gatlin: What are you doing with the plants after you dig them up? Would look great by the wall if you find some cheap pots and potting soil.

Hannah: I think we shouldn't tear up any of the nice ones.


Hannah: Spending time with HACA, sending in leases to normalize rent rates. McAllen and Mike are going to take Luke's unit in 204. Now we have 203 that will be empty come June 1. Communicating with a lot of people about moving in there. Hopefully will have on contract well before then. Have a few people we need to call.

Called Gabe and Alexander, both accepted for membership

Gatlin: CHEA has to have a board of directors for legal reasons. Each house has to elect two people. They don't do much. A few legal matters, eviction proceedings, etc. Anybody who's a member and has signed a contract can run. Tonight I'm going to try to pass out some forms that I'll collect on Wednesday. As Labor Czar, it's my job to hold elections. All board positions ended on May 1. Election should be over by the end of the week. Please ask if you have any questions. Will put my email/phone in the common space.

(Nolan) Discussion of violence in our community.

Nolan: Sarah and I came here a couple weeks ago, and we arrived to a very violent situation. A lot of yelling and screaming, people hitting people at one point. I shut down because people yelling and screaming is really triggering behavior for me. I had problems with this at Sasona. There was a bully at Sasona who got entrenched in house culture. Had a reputation for being a bully. Nobody stood up and did anything. Ultimately I was the one who stood up, but realized later that I did have an obligation to speak up when this was happening to other people because essentially I was saying, “this person isn't telling me horrible things, but it is happening in our environment, and I don't want house members, in their capacity as officers, to tell people that.” Sarah and I brainstormed and came up with this community violence member review that we posted to the list. I'd like us as a community to discuss violence and what I posted. I don't want this to get entrenched in our culture. I'd like to say right now that we have a right to live in a community where people aren't yelling and screaming and hitting each other. I can't stand that. I hope you can't, either. Want to have a conversation about that.

Greg: Is there a motion?

Nolan: I put language for a proposal. I didn't propose anything because I wanted to have input. It could automatically evict someone. I'd like to have it vetted by the coop. I want to make sure that people are okay with that. Will put on the agenda to vote for next week.

Claude: Violence is caused by a lot of things; might be self-defense.

Hannah: I have mixed feelings. Like that there's a strong stance towards violence. I see where you're going with the automatic eviction. On the other hand, I'm leary of instituting a lot of specific policy when a broad policy can do their work. We already have a membership review mechanism. Rather than being more specific, could be applied. The difference is that this results in an automatic eviction where a membership review doesn't.

Nolan: Could you elaborate on your negative feelings?

Hannah: Could already be taken care of by a membership review.

Nolan: At Sasona, this person had been a bully, got entrenched into the culture. Called me an a* at a meeting because I voted in a way she didn't like. Didn't have a way to deal with her being verbally abusive during a meeting. Became a popularity contest at the membership review. I don't really care about whether you're sorry. I care about that you disrupted our community and the core of the coop and the democratic process by calling me names and being verbally abusive when I didn't vote the way you wanted. If we don't want violence, should be independent of whatever popularity contest a membership review brings up.

Hannah: Without a strong definition of violence, Claude brought up self-defense, could be problematic.

Donny: I read in detail what you sent. Very thoughtful. I think that we should talk about violence and keep talking about it. There are other ways to resolve conflicts. Some of what we do here is learn these other ways. I am totally against violent ways of solving conflicts. I have a similar problem with the policy. You vote on whether violence occurred. The second time, the person is kicked out. That second vote is effectively a popularity contest / membership review vote. We've voted on whether we're going to vote to kick somebody out, so will become a popularity contest. I think the member review process is broad enough to deal with something like this. I don't know that the policy you brought up will make things better, but I admire you for coming up with it.

Nolan: If we come up with a definition of violence, when people are confronted, people will ignore the fact of the situation and vote against that in the name of popularity? I had a documented instance of violence against me. This person had a history of violence. You could look back at messages to the mailing list. Would tell people to F themselves. Became a political issue. The person was violent toward me. The facts of the situation clearly indicate that this person was violent.

Donny: If I saw a clear definition of violence, which I did not in your email, then I might change my opinion.

Nolan: I was intending to define violence. Once we know what the stakes are, we can talk about what violence is. I've had a bad week and haven't had time to do that. There are probably organizations (Safe Place?) that have a definition of violence. I'd be happy to look at those and come up with an amalgamation.

Claude: Violence might be needed to survive. If someone messes with me the wrong way and that's what it's going to take, then that's what it's going to take.

Molly: I'm confused about what we mean by violence. We seem to be discussing several different kinds. Just reiterating that point.

Sarah: If we define what violence is in our community and what is intolerable, we can use the existing membership review process to say that X Y and Z behavior will not be tolerated, will be taken more seriously. I think we need to flex this out a little bit more.

Greg: I also am looking for a clear, concrete definition of violence. That will help me understand where this particular motion is going. As I see it now, I'm reluctant to vote for it because it ties our hands much like the three-strikes law and takes the judgment out of the justice process. We have a justice process already. Until I see a need to throw it out, I'd like to see a clear understanding of what constitutes violence.

Nolan: This isn't a proposal. Not interested in voting. My concern is that nobody has been discussing it. The time to hash this stuff out is not when someone feels unsafe in their home. At Sasona, I was ready to move out. Both mediators were with me. I was in tears crying. We did not have a policy in place. I want to have this discussion now. By the time somebody feels unsafe in their home, and if someone felt abused as a child and the hitting is triggering, I want to have a policy in place so that they're not sitting in the room of a mediator, crying, and being told that it's entrenched in our culture and political.

Hillary: Maybe there would be a benefit to separating physical abuse and verbal abuse in our acts of violence. I don't like that because it might let us tolerate verbal abuse more than physical abuse. I don't really want that. To me, physical abuse is more worrying than verbal abuse.

Claude: Physical and verbal violence are two different things. I learned to talk to people in certain ways. I mean business when I say something. What you call verbal violence is up to you. I don't believe in nobody putting a hand on nobody. That's a thin line to cross.

Sarah: If folks could give Nolan thoughts about what their definition of violence would be.

Molly: I think it would be useful to think about the fact that verbal violence would respond much better to mediation than things that are physical. Might be a different process for addressing things.

Nolan: If someone says “f you” and “I hate you for that,” to me, it's not a mediation issue. I'm not going to sit down and mediate with someone because they decided to be angry with me. Not my problem. At Sasona, we had another person who had a history of yelling and screaming at people. When I called this person, he said that people need to mediate with me if they have a problem with me. It's not my responsibility to mediate with you when it's your behavior management issue. Violence is not 'we have a disagreement.' Violence is meant to strike fear, intimidation, discourage certain courses of action. When someone crosses that line, if someone is communicating in a way that causes fear and the coop does not support me, I'll have no option but to call the police. Don't underestimate verbal abuse. Verbal abuse is very painful.

Gatlin: You even predicted that we'd have the question of what is violence. Also, someone who went to years of therapy for abuse, I empathize to the extent that I can empathize. If someone is aggressive, I do think, despite how it feels whenever you receive that attention, context does matter and should be brought into the fold. I like the membership review process since, if something is a systemic house issue, then the house will say so. Membership reviews can be fairly quick. I understand fully that there's a gap in the middle ground that we see at coops. There are little issues, and big issues, and we don't have a good way to resolve middle-ground things. I'd like to get together outside of a meeting and discuss what you think is violence. It's emotional, and I don't want to rush that. I've had to turn my cheek a few times, and I'm glad I did. I do think that context matters and it shouldn't be a turn-key process necessarily.

McAllen: This is a very important issue. I think “sticks and stones can break my bones but names will never hurt me” is bogus. I think we need to hash this out together. It's 7:40. Should we continue this discussion online or after the meeting?

Nolan: I'm happy to have it continue but is important and needs to be discussed. Nobody was addressing my points until tonight.

Greg: I didn't respond online because I wanted to talk about it in person.

Donny: Part of the reason I wanted to have a discussion here is that we need a wider community of people discussing this than people who get email.

Nolan: Discuss at the Wednesday meeting?

Claude: When I joined the Marine Corps, verbal violence was a fact of life.

Nolan: Not all of us are in the marine corps.

McAllen: We'll continue the discussion at Wednesday's meeting.

(Hannah) Agenda items must be added the Friday before the meeting by midnight to be voted on. Items added after this point can be discussed as new business but not voted on.

Hannah: Proposing that all agenda items be added either online or written onto a piece of paper and put on the bulletin board, and this be done by noon on Friday so that there is time to translate them, type them up, and post them on the bulletin board, and everybody has a chance to see them at least 24 hours before Sunday.

Sarah: If we get them turned in by Friday at Noon, what time would we be able to tell people that the agenda would be live?

McAllen: Saturday morning at 9.

Greg seconds.

Proposal passes.

(Hannah) Set associate membership at $60 per month, with one month's dues as deposit and $50 nonrefundable membership fee to be paid before a contract is signed. Associates may vote, run for office, and access all community resources as other members but may not sleep on the property except under occasional, extenuating circumstances or if they are the guest of another member in their unit. If the member shares their unit with another member the other member must not object to the associate sleeping in the unit.

Hannah: Set associate membership at $60/month with one month's dues as deposit and $50 non-refundable membership fee before contract assigned.

Sarah: I think $60 might be a little bit steep.

Hannah: Includes food membership. All resident members are paying $50 for food membership. $10 would be use of the space and use of the utilities. Seemed unfair to have them pay for food membership when they're getting the same access. They're less likely to eat meals, but some Sasona associates eat as much or more.

Greg: Friendly amendment to have two-tiered associate memberships, one with food and one without. $60 with food and $10 without.

Nolan: Why do associate members need to pay a deposit?

Hannah: They're still on the property.

Molly: Food is $50/member, not per apartment?

Hannah: Yes.

Sarah: With regards to Greg's amendment, could somebody buy in at $10/month and opt in on food month-to-month depending on finances?

Hannah: They typically work month-to-month at Sasona. We'd be selling ourselves pretty cheap at $10/month. I'd say $20-25.

Sarah: Not sure I could afford $60/month. Some months I could, some months I couldn't.

Gatlin: I just signed an associate membership at another coop. Associates re-apply every month. Can sign multi-month if you want to but no matter what you have to re-apply. It doesn't take very long if there's no problem. If there is, that's why they do it. I would like to make that part of the proposal. Might be good to force us to have a conversation with people about their associateship.

Hannah: We'll forego voting until next week. I should write up something more formal if we're going to have a two-tier membership. I don't want to have them re-apply every month. I think we'll lose people who would otherwise be great members. It's an extra thing for me to keep up with that I don't think is totally necessary.

- (McAllen) - Print La Reunion business cards that our house would pay for. Cards would include our contact info, website, and schedule of weekly meetings & potlucks. Any coop member could hand them out. McAllen: I want to create an email address for the outreach committee. If we tell people about public events that we have, like our gardening event, and they want to donate plants or ask us questions, they could contact us via the email address.

Hannah: Does this have to be a motion? Can't we just do it?

McAllen: I wanted to err on the side of doing it the right way.

Gatlin: If the house is paying for business cards, then that should be a motion.

McAllen: I'd like to make some La Reunion business cards and have the house pay for them. Would include our name, address, web site, membership coordinator's email address, outreach email address. I think it would be a great way to publicize our coop. Would be something that anybody could participate in. Feel free to go into the commons and grab a business card and hand it out.

Nolan: How much did you price these at?

McAllen: Haven't thought about how many I want to make.

Gatlin: I'm more comfortable voting to disperse funds when there's an amount.

McAllen: Motion for the house to allocate a maximum of $30 for business cards.

Greg: I don't think this is a motionable item. You're the officer. Part of your purview.

Hannah: He doesn't have a budget. Maintenance is the only officer with funds at their disposal.

Hannah: I'd like to see what you're thinking of ordering before you order it. Email out a prototype of the design?

Motion passes 9-0.

(Gatlin) Adopt food plan proposal

Gatlin: I took what Jesse came up with and typed it out. The other was a labor policy proposal.

Nolan: Do we have any verbiage for working with people on an individual basis around paying for the food plan?

Gatlin: At the moment I adopted what was already there. Wasn't meant to supersede anything we'd already discussed. I'm okay with amending.

Hannah: Needs some specific wording for us to vote on. If you want to amend it later on, can bring it up next meeting, or Jesse could bring it up. It can always be added on. I don't think we should try to wordsmith here in the meeting.

Nolan: Might affect people signing contracts this week.

Gatlin: I'd like to talk about and amend this this week. We can change things retroactively.

Donny: This is what we passed last week with a couple things changed so that we have a coherent set of rules.

Proposal passes 9-0.

Food plan proposal

1. Membership

  a. Qualifications - Except as specified elsewhere, all members of La Reunion Cooperative must join the food program.
  b. Requirements - Members of the food program are responsible for labor concerning the maintenance of the kitchen, the amount of which and the kinds being determined by the La Reunion Labor Czar. Such members may also have monthly financial obligations to be determined by the membership of La Reunion.
  c. Removal - If a member of the food program fails to meet the ongoing requirements of membership, they may be removed from the food program by the normal voting procedures of the La Reunion membership.
  d. Exceptions to mandatory enrollment - any resident who has lived at 7910 Gault St before 20 April 2013 is not required to participate in the food program.

2. Meals

  a. Number - The number of meals produced per week by the food program is to be decided by the membership of La Reunion.
  b. Dietary restrictions - As much as possible, the food program will in good faith attempt to produce meals which meet the dietary requirements of the food program members.
  c. Bulk and uncooked foods - The food program will make available raw and bulk food items for indiscriminate consumption by food program members.

3. Officers

  a. There will be officers of the food program elected by the membership of La Reunion.
  b. Enumeration and descriptions
      i. Kitchen Coordinator  -  responsible for compliance with all legal requirements for food collective activities, responsible for the maintenance of a common kitchen and the tools necessary for food preparation, responsible for the coordination of primary cooks and cooking crews, represents the food collective at the house spoke, responsible for hub activities for food collective spoke.
      ii. Food Procurer  -  responsible for all fiduciary records of food collective activities, responsible for food purchases of the food collective and any member purchasing collectives, communicates with food producers and wholesalers, maintains bulk foods, spices, and condiments and other items for member use, responsible for overseeing csa exchange and gardening activities, represents the food collective at resources spoke.
      iii. Menu Planner  -  responsible for weekly menus and food purchase requests necessary to prepare meals, responsible for providing cooking crew preparation instruction for meals, communicates with membership about food collective activities and member food concerns, oversees any additional food preparation and fermentation required, represents food collective at membership spoke.
  c. Election - The membership of La Reunion shall elect each officer in a secret ballot election coordinated by the Labor Czar and counted in accordance with any and all election procedures voted on by the house.
  d. Term of office - Each officer shall hold their post for a term of 6 months, starting immediately following their election.

(Gatlin) Adopt the Labor Proposal

Gatlin: Labor can create fines. I don't want it to go badly. At Sasona, people can purchase or trade labor. If you do extra labor, you can get a rebate for $10/hour. Hannah had a good point that I'd like to add as a friendly amendment that there will be one public place that the Czar maintains for members to post faux pas publicly. It's already the Labor Czar's job to ensure that everybody has access to this information.

Proposal passes 9-0.

Labor proposal

1. Definitions

Labor : Services or tasks performed by individual members of the cooperative for mutual collective benefit.

Faux pas : a statement by one member that another member does not deserve credit for some specific labor.

Labor trade : when two members agree to perform each others' assignments on a temporary basis.

Labor sale : when one member compensates another to do their labor for them by a means other than a trade, that member is said to be “buying” labor while the other member is said to be “selling” it.

2. Members

  a. All members of La Reunion cooperative are expected to perform two hours of labor per week, the nature of which is negotiated with the Labor Czar.
  b. A member may be temporarily excused from labor obligations for a given week as long as that member gives the Labor Czar advance notice; the member is still responsible for making up the obligation in a timely fashion.
  c. If a member fails to perform a given labor assignment, or performs the assignment inadequately, the member may be liable for a fine or increased labor obligations to compensate the house.

3. Fines and Rebates

  a. If a member receives one or more faux pas' then a fine will be added to the members' dues for the next month.
  b. If a member receives one or more faux pas' and moves out they are still liable for the fines they received.
  c. When assessing fines or rebates, each hour of labor not performed will be worth $10.
  d. A member may earn dues rebates by performing extra labor; earning a rebate for "sold" labor is not allowed.
  e. Extra labor tasks proposed for a rebate must be approved by the Labor Czar in advance, or accepted by a majority vote at a house meeting.
  f. A member may not earn more than $200 of rebates in a given month.

4. Trades and Sales

  a. If two members trade labor they will not be liable for their usual assignments but instead for the labor they received in the trade provided they give advance notice to the Labor Czar.
  b. If a member (Purchaser) "buys" labor from another member (Seller), the Purchaser is still liable for the labor and may receive a faux pas if the labor is not performed adequately.
  c. A member can only "buy" an amount of labor equal to that which they are assigned by the labor czar.
  d. The terms of a labor sale are solely the discretion of the two parties involved. Applicable city, state, and federal laws may apply.

5. Faux Pas

  a. A member may issue a *faux pas* to another member for not performing an assigned task or for performing it inadequately.
  b. A faux pas must be communicated to the Labor Czar and it is the Labor Czar's responsibility to ensure the house is informed.
  c. If the defendant disputes the faux pas, they may discuss this with the Czar; the Labor Czar will then decide the validity of the faux pas.
  d. If any member disputes a faux pas, they may bring it to a house meeting with an automatic motion to annul the faux pas with a majority vote.

6. The kinds of labor to be performed as well as the required amount of labor to be performed by members is at the discretion of the Labor Czar.

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