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September 15, 2013

Present: Z, Beth, Donny, Elaine, Frank, Gatlin, Honey, Jess, Leslie, Meghan, Mike, Molly, Romon, Ryan, Seneca, Sheila, Travis, Victor

Meet and greet

Frank: I've come over and did some work for you. Proposing a plan that will save you all some money and will help me out, too.

Romon: First meeting. May be interested in living here. I've been curious about coops, read about them, been to some around the campus, had some friends who were starting one in another place. Single room. Allergic to dogs and cats.

(Victor) Pros and Cons of having a maintenance contract for plumbing

Victor: Frank, how much have we paid you so far this year?

Frank: $1,801.

Victor: We've got a lot more stuff around here. There have been times I've tried to do things and had to call Frank in afterwards because I couldn't. We truly need a plumber out here, and plumbers are not cheap.

Frank: Average service call costs $200, plus material, plus the person's labor rate. I've been charging you $85/hour, sometimes less. A contract will handle any little hardware that I need to replace. If I replace all the shower valves, would cost $1,700. A lot of things you can do yourselves, I can teach you how to do. We had an issue in 207 where code compliance came in. They go by the book. The heating units have to have hard pipe coming out of them. The stops on here are obsolete, been out of date since 1988. Code compliance can come out here any time. If one festers, it goes through the whole unit. You have dripping p-traps, a leak in the laundry room. The drain is clogged–I think it's covered up. The old water heater is a time bomb. You're going to have to re-route gas. I'd suggest putting a tankless water heater in. The heat from it is not vented properly. It's not operating properly. It's been there a long time. It's outdated. A permit will have to be pulled. There are things that you could already get done by getting them done early. This whole gas system has not been tested. I've soaked several fittings, and there is no leak that I've found so far. Some of the valves that I've taken off had leaks. It's preventative maintenance, things like angle stops, gas valves, shower valves. I've been figuring I'd do it for $2500-$3000/year. Anything I can teach, I can do within this figure. My time is evenings, Saturdays, and Sundays. I'm supplying any of the hardware that you need. I'll take care of the angle stops, flex connectors.

Ryan: Our water use has been pretty constant, but I've noticed that we had an increase of 50% one month, and we have a shared water cost. Would it be possible to meter everyone's water use?

Frank: Would need to re-plumb each of the apartments. Really there's no way to do it.

Romon: How much was the average water bill?

Ryan: Normally $400/month. Went up $200 one month. Our CoA utilities are about $1100-1300.

Gatlin: A lot of peoples' water bills went up because of a scarcity issue.

Frank: A lot of the toilets are 3.5-gallon, flushing a lot of water. Any time someone pulls a permit with the city, that's a target for the tax office.

Victor: A written contract will come.

Hannah: When does our fiscal year start?

Ryan: April.

Hannah: Sounds like something we can do next year.

Ryan: We can hire on a per-issue basis.

Victor: He has given different prices for different things. Talked about $2-3,000 for a whole year.

Officer reports


Hannah: Martina and Silvino signed starting 11/1 for a year. Andy Pedersen(sp?) signed; will be moving with Nolan in 108 at the end of the month. Gina discontinuing associate membership. Need to sign with Sam and Delia. Don and I signed but there are non-traditional aspects I'll have to go back and fix. Going to court tomorrow. Gatlin is staying.

Food buyer

Z: Eat the fruit. We have a keg coming for the party. Thank hannah for getting us connected with Keep Austin Fed for donations. Want to get tupperware but waiting. Having a tomatillo verde sauce on Monday. Doing a veggie stirfry on Wednesday. If you have dietary restrictions that I don't know about, please see me.


Victor: We did get cited for municipal violations in 207. We got everything repaired except the gas drip leg. I was able to get in on Thursday and discovered that that one has a legal gas valve on it, so we should be fine. Every two weeks, I have to ask for an extension until it's done.

(Leslie) Food program visioning/restructuring discussion

Leslie: Travis and I and a lot of peoples' input went into this. Currently, we have a program, but it only serves 40% of the people who live in this coop. There are no members with children in the food program. We can understand why that might be. Lots of other difficulties with it. Many of us lived in student housing coops or coops centered in one big kitchen. I feel like we're outgrowing this structure. Being menu planner has been really difficult. The current model completely ignores the fact that we all have kitchens. Lots of people expressed the concern that they want to cook in their own kitchens. About half of the people aren't attending meals regularly and need save plates. The high levels of communication required can require 10-15 hours of work per week. I tried to back off and see if the system would run itself, and it won't. It's been difficult to find cooks to fit our meal schedule.

Travis: Two tiers. You can join just for bulk sharing, or for the meal plan as well. Members joining for bulk sharing pay $25/month. Members joining for the meal plan pay $50/month. If we can't fit sondries into our budget, then we might talk about increasing it. Three potluck meals provided: Sunday, Monday, and Wednesday. 2-3 people on each meal. Each person cooks one dish. They have to work amongst themselves who cooks what. It's up to the cooks to figure that out. No menu planner doing any centralized planning. Will get 1 labor hour of credit per day. Cooks are encouraged to use their own kitchens. Cooked dinner is at 6:00 on Sundays and 7:30 on Mondays and Wednesdays, to accommodate the meeting schedule. Each meal needs to offer a main dish vegetarian option. Left-overs are expected to be there so that saved plates will not be required–save plates have taken a significant amount of labor.

Romon: I always work until 8:00 on Mondays and Wednesdays. Was going to suggest switching the nights sometimes.

Leslie: That's a good point. I think it could work with this system.

Leslie: I don't think it's a perfect system.

Gatlin: Long ago, before we bought the property, I'd suggested a bulk food plan. I like almost all the proposal as-is. I didn't join because it would've been $50/month, and, based on my hectic schedule, it wouldn't have provided me $50 worth of value. If there were a lower amount where I could just use staples, would be fantastic. I think a structured potluck defeats the purpose of a potluck. I wonder if you have to coerce people to cook and eat together. Might be subsets of people who will set up their own thing. There are enough people with scheduling issues, seems like it would save people a lot of trouble. I would definitely join the bulk food plan.

Travis: People are going to be paying for this; will be expecting that there's food available. If we leave it up to fate, then sometimes people will all bring desserts.

Leslie: I see what you're saying. Z suggested it, too. We said at the onset that we wanted to come together purposely. I think we can try this structure. If it doesn't work, we can try the no-meal thing. People are alone at dinner time and come consistently.

Seneca: The meal participation only provides value if you're able to make it, but the bulk is valuable to anyone who has access to the food. I don't see why the lower level shouldn't be as mandatory as the meal plan. The level of participation increases the value to each person. You're not just buying food in bulk. If there's overflow, allows for kitchen improvement. If you buy special-purpose equipment, then you might buy things that a bachelor or someone at a lower level of income wouldn't be able to afford. If there start to be bulk meat purposes, a deep freeze and vacuum seal bags.

Honey: If it goes one way, there will be so much food bought to have a vegetarian main dish and a meat dish, and, if it goes the other way, then there will be rice and pasta. People might not want to be together but be obligated because of their labor.

Leslie: I think people enjoy cooking but the hours don't work. Some people don't know how to work around peoples' dietary restrictions. The potluck coordinator can help be a mediator.

Honey: If you receive SNAP, will somebody speak to you about how you can participate?

Leslie: We already have someone in that situation now. We can make that work.

Ryan: I'd like to make it an out-out system and only allow people to opt out of the meal program. I think that requiring it will be good for people even if they think it's not. If you have everyone opt in automatically and make people opt out, then you'll see higher levels of participation. When signing a lease, it will say that both are included, but people can opt out of the meal part.

Travis: Going to table the vote until next week, so that we can get the wording worked out for amendments.

Beth: We'll have the potential to have more cooks. People only have to make one meal and can make it whenever they want. We'll be gaining at least four labor hours; possibly more. To start, the labor hours can be dedicated to various types of prepared snacks. We can have a glutin-free snack-maker and a vegan snack-maker. When we get more labor, we can implement a Saturday morning breakfast, and things that will be easy to add in. I think that we'll have more prepared food as well as more unprepared food.

Z: I love to do the bulk. I'm happy to buy it. We don't have any place to store it right now. Until we have shelves and I get some sort of tupperware that will work, I'm in the process of looking for it. If anyone is interested in helping, talk to me after the meeting. Why 30 days? I think it's best to opt in and out on the first of the month.

Leslie: That's fine. We picked arbitrarily.

Z: i don't think we have the money to be buying things like soap for use of the membership. Down the line, having a corner store that we were running out of the commons would be really cool. I don't like scrounger as a name. Would prefer quartermaster or purveyer. Scrounge doesn't bring the level of dignity and professionalism that I like to use when dealing with the coop.

Travis: The scrounger idea was Molly's idea.

Molly: It's from a movie.

Travis: Let's hold off on talking about names. We're not going to vote tonight.

Z: I'd like to see part of the maintenance buy be part of the quartermaster role. It's easy for me to swing by when I'm out.

Travis: The official policy is very broad. There's a lot of opportunity for flexibility.

Hannah: If it's going to be on the lease, it should be standard with any other contract or break or change, ie, 30 days from the day any notice is given.

Meghan: We've been really good on our spending. We have savings to start the bulk out with. We have money to buy storage. I want to keep the hours at 2 even if you're only doing the bulk, because we need the labor.

Ryan: Everyone should do four hours of labor then, period.

Molly: Has there been any discussion of how to determine what items to purchase?

Travis: I think we should decide on who our buyer is going to be.

Z: The position isn't up until January.

Travis: We need to do elections again.

Z: Why? It's fundamentally the same purpose. Seems like a waste of time.

Travis: We have to elect a potluck coordinator, so I figured we'd do both at the same time.

??: If it's a smaller subset of people, then individual preferences are a bigger deal in the budget.

Victor: Greg is interested in making shelves.

Z: We've been going through basic recipes that we've been using a lot to generate a list. I was going to send it out to everybody to see what should be added. We're going through sugar way faster than I was expecting us to. The major stopgap right now is that I don't have storage.

Molly: Will the bulker be encouraged to seek specific contracts with bulk supplies, such as Segovia?

Leslie: It's the eventual dream.

Ryan motions to close the stack. Donny seconds.

(Hannah) Waive contract break fee for associates, except when house vote determines otherwise

Hannah: They're kind of gravy. Gina wants to break her contract which ends in December. I was thinking of making all associate contracts month-to-month. I don't think it's fair to charge Gina a $100 contract break fee. I'd like to standardize everything so that notice is effective on the last day of the month on which it's given. It gives us a little bit of extra wiggle room. But, with there being no policy, I would like to let Gina out of her contract at the end of September.

Propose to waive contract break fee completely for associate members and to end Gina's contract at the end of the month.

Victor seconds.

Donny: Gina is starting school and clinicals and her job; doesn't have time to be an associate.

Unanimous with one abstention.

(Honey) Concerns about Elaine's long-term guest Sheila

Honey: I don't care what goes on in everybody's personal life except when it negatively affects me. I have spoke to her and said not to threaten me or intimidate me. I've felt violated by her before. I don't want to resolve it; I want us to stay away from each other.

Sheila: I'm happy with this.

Hannah: In conflict resolution, you have a goal that you're working towards. This includes bating, knit-picking. People need to act in good faith.

Elaine: It isn't cool if the police is being called. Nobody is threatening you. If you're mad at me, you should take it out on me. I didn't have anything to do with it. If you ask me something, I give it to you.

Travis: In my personal opinion, we should handle things as a community as much as we can before we rely on the police to come in. To that end, I'm here a lot. I'm in 201. If people feel like calling the police and want someone to act as an intermediary force, come knock on my door first. That's my job, to make sure that conflict doesn't get to the point where people are calling the police.

Honey: I told Elaine and Hannah that morning that I was tired of this and would call. Elaine came out and cussed me, too. I don't want to hurt anybody, but my thought process goes further than a fight or cussing you out. Just leave me alone, and I'll leave you alone.

Jess: I think we were at a really good place at the beginning where you both agreed to stay out of each other's way. These altercations seem to happen in the area next to Elaine's apartment. Honey is a paying coop resident, where Sheila is not currently. If one of you is there, then give the other some space. Could you both agree to do that?

Elaine: Sheila is a resident here. She may not be in the coop, but she's a resident now.

Hannah: Now that you're on the lease, you're a coop member.

Honey: We didn't vote her in. That's not fair.

Hannah: Sheila, you've got to come to one more meeting. I think that the normal procedure is that we do a membership review, but we're in limbo because you weren't a member.

Elaine: I'm not the only one with people in my apartment.

Travis: Needs to be brought to the attention of Hannah and other officers, and we'll deal with it as a house.

Hannah: As far as I'm concerned, Sheila needs to be on our lease. I think my preferred outcome is that we don't particularly want to see either of you go. You don't have to be best friends or ever talk, but I hope you can learn to live in this place around each other.

Leslie: I like you both. I think you both are amazing people who are very valuable to this community. It makes me sad when I can feel conflict this intense around me. I feel like you're upset at my friend. I think that, above all, cooperation is about coming together.

(Donny and Jess) Vote on the Maintenance Teach-In Party, a.k.a. the Around the World Potty!

Jess: We are motioning next weekend to have a party. Will be a maintenance-brand version of that party. We'll each go to several different apartments. Each apartment will feature a different maintenance project. Final place will be in the commons. We'll have a potluck and some drinks and some fun. Motion is to have the party next Saturday at 8:00.

Leslie: Can there be some clean-up labor slots and a sign/email saying what we need volunteers for?

Jess: We'll use make-up labor for cleaning up.

Donny: We'll go to 4-5 units and return to the commons for a celebration.


(Travis) Google Fiber Application approval

Travis: I want to create a neighborhood hotspot, along with a secure mesh network for the coop. We would also have sort of a computer lab in the commons that community members and use to get on the internet. I've sent it to the CHEA board.

Donny: We had to not have our meeting this week. Two out of the four couldn't make it.

Seneca: Having a pool of labor drastically improves your odds of getting the grant.

Donny: Some people who could be served by this might be evacuees from Katrina.

Seneca: Computer literacy classes, job application help, etc. are really big.

New business

Seneca: I have a lot of stuff in my garage that might be better served in a space that's publicly available. Some dumb bells, a bench, medicine balls, some mats.

meetings/2013-09-15.txt · Last modified: 2017/06/28 18:06 (external edit)