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March 2, 2014

Present: Adrian, Z, Cynthia, Don, Donny, Hannah, Marilyn, Meghan, Mike, Nolan, Paul, Richard, Ryan, Virgess

Meet and greet

Adrian: We're still trying to recruit facilitators for the childrens' program. Every Sunday for a couple of hours. Particularly people of color who have a profession, so that the children have good role models to look up to. Cassandra is really busy, and there's no way I can do it alone.

Donny: Might want to get in touch with Andy Peterson. He has talked about wanting to work with kids.

Kitchen report

Meghan: We did a lot better than I expected. Costco was $110 for a year. We get 1% back of everything we spend. We took in $375 last month and spent $425. I've bought large bulk items, and they disappeared the next day, and I don't know where they went. I'd prefer that you just take a small amount in a tupperware container. If you use the last of something, write it on the list. Wrt the budget, I can keep dipping into our savings, but I would prefer not to. I'm going to keep it as minimal as possible. If you have special requests, I'm going to put it off until I'm sure we can afford it. Assuming that we're going to get a kitchen crew eventually that'll want to reorganize. During this past week, we had a bit of famine going on. When we have a feast going on, I think we should put a week's worth of food put away, label it LR, put it on the bottom shelf of the freezer, for the weeks they don't have stuff for us. I'm not sure what the inventory organizers are doing. I would want that to be one of their tasks. It doesn't seem very inventoried or organized. I am a recovery cook. I usually wait until Thursday-Sunday before I grab anything. I notice that other recovery cooks are grabbing stuff as it comes in. I think our job is to make sure stuff doesn't go bad. If there isn't much left for the cooks, we're defeating the purpose.

Z: We had six containers of basil today. I wanted to take it to make pesto. Wanted to make sure that's alright with you.

Meghan: None of this is definitive. Anything involving bananas, please take them. Of course basil is going to turn black really soon. If you see a massive amount of something, of course, please take it.

Marilyn: When do you usually shop?

Meghan: Been going every Monday and Thursday. I'd like to only go every Monday.

Torrie and Andy

Andy P: My friend Torry has been staying with me for two weeks now.

Torrie: I told Gatlin I'd be willing to volunteer with cooking.

Steward officer election

Hannah is our only nominee. She has accepted.

Eric: She is going to be splitting up membership / trying to find someone to do that with her.

Z: Wanted to discuss whether we want to continue having a steward. We are all responsible. I don't want us to be in a situation where we don't be proactive because we feel it's the steward's job. I get that we need somebody to check up on the officers, and be a point person, but it seems like a lot of what we want the steward to do is conflict mediation, and having that shouldered on one person, would be problematic. If membership becomes a committee, could be absorbed by membership.

Eric: You want somebody who wants to do the job, no matter what the job is. A committee would be awesome, but we're not there yet. We still need more hours. When we can get more people more hours, we can work on organizing a committee. This was already brought up when we had elections, and we already shot it down. I've been trying to mediate, but sometimes you need someone else.

Ryan: Having the same person as membership and steward means that it'll be integrated. I'm pretty sure Hannah doesn't want to do all of that on her own, but she'll take it up while we're figuring it out. When we needed mediation, I found the AORTA people, since it wasn't happening, and I spent half of my labor time in one month dealing with it. Now we're requesting $300 on conflict mediation. If we had someone on point, ready to deal with that, then we might not have needed to.

Marilyn: I think she has some program ideas, things she wants to create and build up here. I think it's important to get somebody who has that kind of vision.

Donny: The position depends a lot on the personality and the things the steward decides to take on and focus on. Anyone who is not doing an officer position makes that officer position look worthless. Let's not abolish it just because someone was burnt out and not doing the job they were supposed to be doing.

Meghan: I think if anyone should do it, should be Hannah. You can talk to her and keep your anonymity. I wonder if we should have an anonymous dropbox with complaints. There are a lot of no-shows that people don't want to initial because they don't want to look bad.

Virgess: I think the membership coordinator is so critical that she should be asked specifically to find the person to train to hand it to, so that membership can be contiguous.

Eric: She is working on it with Marilyn.


Schedule a DCU every night to combat badsink roachbait. (Donny)

Donny: When we don't have DCU scheduled, I've noticed that dishes are piled in the sink, almost without fail, even though we've made it clear that people should wash their own dishes. We do not want to encourage roaches to come in here. Telling each other to do our dishes has not worked. Requesting that the labor czar find someone to wash dishes, ensure that things are put away.

Torrie volunteers to do it.

Virgess: Across the street, two nimrods put a box spring and mattress on top of a closed dumpster. People threw garbage on top of it, around it until it ripped. Eventually, after a week, whoever manages the complex got labor in and got it off. If the same thing had happened at our dumpster, would have been less than twelve hours. I don't want to reinforce a concept of someone cleaning up your personal dirty dishes. I want it to be a coop. I would like it to be considered whether we're reinforcing the notion that it's somebody else's job.

Virgess: On the days that we don't have DCU scheduled, we do have commons cleans scheduled. Part of my concern is that I think the people scheduled for those commons cleans haven't been doing them, and that's part of the problem. Is it the case that people are coming in here in the evening, having a good time, not cleaning up after themselves?

Donny: Not always. I've come in the middle of the day, and there will be a stack of eight dishes; people making lunch or whatever.

Eric: We've no-showed some people repeatedly, and doesn't change anything.

Z: Gatlin and I wanted to wait until the end of February, tally all the no-shows, and decide what to do. Next week is crazy, then spring break, so I'll have more time.

Ryan: I lived at a student coop for five years. It was impossible to get people to do all of their own dishes. You could usually get people to do 60-90% of their own dishes. Everyone's got their own blind spot. For me it's cups. When you have 20 people and everyone's got a different blind spot, you'll get a full complement of dirty dishes in the sink. Same thing happens at Sasona. Better to deal with the problem than to hope it gets delt with and have it not be delt with.

Eric: I've come in numerous times, and there are dishes piled up there. The microwave went a long time without being cleaned. It was filthy.

Donny: Don't want to bring it to a vote tonight, but I would like to see this, both as a co-oper and a kitchen manager.

Z: Torry is willing to do it. I think we could just call it a four-hour position.

Meghan: If we're already having an issue with people not showing up to their shifts and now we're creating more shifts, I don't know how that's going to solve the problem.

Donny: The problem is that we don't have shifts Thu-Sat. The dishes aren't getting done. The other nights, generally they are, and it's very clear when they're not, and a no-show can happen.

Eric: We need to have it on the labor sheet, or Torrie isn't obligated to do it.

Nolan: Seems that it's a lot to ask someone to both clean the commons and clean the kitchen. I think they should definitely be separate positions.

Donny motions that a four-hour position be created.

Z: I'd prefer the person come in at 10:00, wash dishes, come in in the morning, put dishes up, seven days a week but focus on the weekend. I'm not sure that we need a proposal to create a labor position.

Treasury Officer Report (ryan)

Sorry for the late report. There is a lot of ground I want to cover here and I think I got to most of it.

First a look at our April through Jebruary inances. You’ll see we are over budget by $6000 and it’s virtually all due to being over on maintenance. The maintenance team has done a good job keeping underbudget in the last few months. But there isn’t a whole lot we can do when a furnace/stove starts spewing Carbon Monoxide and Carbon Cyanide and needs to be replaced. Every time this happen we blow though almost a month and a half of budget.

I spent a good chunk of January working out processes with Andy that will raise our productivity. We’ve got it so our spreadsheets mostly generate reports automatically. I’ve been working on automating all of our bill paying. We noticed that many of our utilities were charging sales tax, so we are longer paying that and will hopefully be receiving reimbursements for that. I also spent a good bit of time earning us $1000 by setting up bitcoin donations.

The other thing I’ve been working on is figuring out how I want to try to implement Triple Bottom Line Accounting. The idea is that finance people traditionally were only worried about profits, but more sustainable business models like to emphasis the “Triple Bottom Line” which has been simplified into the acronym PPP or Profits, People, Planet. I’ve started by allowing myself to take on tasks that aren’t strictly related to treasury.

I’ve spent a good chunk of time trying to figure out how to deal with conflict. I’ve reached out to some of my contacts in coops to get recommendations on people we could hire for dealing with conflict. We’ve received an anonymous donation of $200 to be used exclusively for conflict mediation.

Other than that, I’ve been talking to other officers to offer my financial/planning skills to try to get their projects functional. The tech, food and maintenance committees have already been beneficiaries of this, so I haven’t spoken to them this round. This serves the dual purpose of increasing cooperation between different officers, opens up lines of accountability, and allows me to begin the budget planning process.

Jesse and I have spoken about setting up a grounds budget and starting a rain water collection project, which would save us money.

Travis and I spoke about changing non-functional policies and effectively using our $200 donation.

Labor doesn’t affect treasury much. When it does it through labor fines, so I enquired about how we were dealing with no-show and people who can’t do a full labor allotment. A monthly check in/ report on no-showers is what I remember hearing from the one of the Czars. Food program is doing great and under budget. Soon, I would like to see them interact with grounds and plan on how we will it as source of food. Also, how we can make a budget so the food program can serve everyone equally.

I havn’t talked to anybody about this but in the near future Membership, Finance, and Labor need to have a conversation about associates members. Mainly we should be asking ourselves the question, do associates who are not up to date on labor and membership dues get priority on the waitlist?


Ryan: Most of our costs are about what we expected. We're about $7,000 in the hole for maintenance, but maintenance costs have generally been going down, except when they don't, such as when we needed to replace the furnace. Started setting up automatic bill pay. Noticed last month that we've been paying sales tax on utilities. Trying to get them to stop and to give that money back. Businesses that have wanted to be sustainable have been using a triple bottom line: profit, people, and the planet. I've spent a good amount of my time working on conflict mediation. I hoped to pass it on to Travis and/or Hannah. Travis resigned soon after that, so Hannah picked it up. Paying more attention to grounds and maintenance. Had a couple conversations with Jesse about creating a budget for grounds. How do we deal with associate members? Have three different people tracking them: membership, labor, and finance. If they're not paying associate dues or doing labor, should they get priority on the wait list? We're not communicating between the three parties. If they don't do labor, shouldn't get priority on the waiting list.

Eric: Isn't a good way to look up who has been doing labor.

Ryan: Could check my registrar on the 8th. If an associate hasn't paid, can check with the labor czar whether they've been doing labor. If they haven't, then they go to the bottom of the wait list.

Z: I think we need to write an associate review policy that formalized how long an associate has to go without doing labor or paying dues before we just decide that you're no longer a member. Part of the reason the situation with Brent got complicated was that we have nothing written down. There are several people who would like to be associates (ie, Sarah) who are friends of the house, have done a lot of work for the house, but can't afford the financial requirements. Do you think we could revisit how much we're asking associates to pay, especially considering that our meal plans have changed, or would that cut into the budget? If the fee was $10/month, would make it easy to say that, if someone hasn't paid and done labor, then they're no longer an associate.

Ryan: There are a variety of checkboxes that you can check off for them, and they're not all required. I have a hard time keeping them straight. It's hard for Andy to tell, when he receives a check, how much goes to what. If there is food bundled with associates, none of it has been allocated to the food budget.

Hannah: What Andy and I have been doing is that I just email him and tell him what the breakdown is.

Ryan: Have we decided whether a portion goes into the food project?

Hannah: Most associates aren't particularly interested in bulk, although Richard is doing that now. Meals are free now. I've told Sarah many times that, if she wants to come to a meeting and say that she doesn't have the money but would like to do extra labor, then she could do that. I think she doesn't have time for extra labor at this point, either.

Discuss mediation process of working with AORTA Conflict Mediators, discuss authorizing $250 to pay for services (Ryan/Hannah)

Hannah: travis stepped down from steward, and I've taken point on the mediation. We've been talking to the AORTA folks, who are professional mediators, about a mediation between Honey and Eric. We weren't given any kind of cost estimate until a few days ago. The low end of their sliding scale is usually at least $500. I think that's a lot for a conflict that happened a while ago.

Eric: I've talked to her. Nothing seems to be wrong. She has been coming out of her place, cooking. I don't think we should spend money right now. She seems to be doing better. We might later if things change. Chad is training to become a mediator, too, so he may be able to help, but I need to get a hold of him.

Hannah: When the mediation was going to be covered by a $250 donation, I thought it would be worth following up with, but the price went up at least another $250. We still have work to do but not sure this is the right tool for it at this point.

Ryan: The reason we thought it was $250 is that that was for one person, and they would want to have two mediators present. They can train people to do conflict mediation. I think it would be a lot more sustainable to use the donation to hire them to train people. Would give us more bang for our buck. This coop has a lot more class and race issues than we're used to dealing with. I think AORTA could get us through that.

Z: I would like to hear from Honey that she feels the same way. If she still thinks that's an emergency situation, that'll change our assessment.

Hannah: Last time I talked to her, she didn't think it was particularly necessary. I'll talk to her again.

Z: In that case, I think having somebody come out and do a nonviolent conflict resolution training seems like a much better allocation of our resources.

Meghan: I think a mediator would be a good idea. If we get one, they should be bilingual.

Cynthia: i agree with that.

Marilyn: I'd like Sasona and our community rep to be able to be part of that.

Eric: Sam and Delia are really into helping out a lot. Silvino and Martina work a lot and feel they don't have time to do labor and want to move out. Tried to talk to Maria but it is a challenge.

Andy P: It's hard to talk about peoples' involvement in the coop when you don't have a strong, meaningful relationship.

Hannah: I'll email Sasona. I'll come back with more information about AORTA folks, or give it to Ryan.

Pick a day for La Reunion's first birthday party (!!!). I suggest Saturday, April 12th or April 19th in the evening (April 5th is the Austin Cooperative Business Association conference) (Hannah)

Hannah: April 12 or 19. I think we should avoid the 5th and the weekend after the 19th because it's Eeyore's birthday.

Z: April 11 is my birthday, and I haven't had a birthday party in a long time. I feel the need to have a really big birthday party. I don't know if the house would want to keep them separate or would feel fine with celebrating them concurrently.

Hannah: I was thinking it could be an evening party, starting around 6-7.

Hannah motions to have the party on APril 12, starting at 6:00.

Meghan: Can we have it be a costume party?


CHEA Board Rep officer report! (Donny)

Donny: Had a great event yesterday. Passed bylaws changes, elected a new board member. Working towards getting the maintenance allocation system worked out between us and Sasona. I want to thank Eric for busting his butt getting things done, Erin and Alex from Sasona, everybody Eric recruited.

New business

Andy P: A week and a half ago, as I had the recycling in my truck, I was pulled over by a cop. He ticketed me for littering. Apparently a single piece of paper came out. I'm going to protest it. I also got ticketed for my inspection. Might have a proposal for the coop to pay for that ticket. At the anti-racist workshop, had an interactive training workshop. Some analysis but a lot of concrete stuff. Talked a lot about the situation in Austin. I think Cynthia and I are going to get together and brainstorm about how we might implement some of this work at the coop.

Meghan: Wanted to reiterate the idea of having a comment complaint box. I think a lot of people are scared to put it out there and be the bad guy. I've noticed that there's been a lot of labor not being done and not a lot of people being written up for it.

Paul: I think Gatlin has a standing offer where, if you want to write someone up, can talk to him.

Hannah: I don't think there's any policy that you can't write “anonymous” when no-showing somebody. We can make it clear that we allowed that. Would be easier than making a box.

Andy P: A commons complaints box also came up in a membership committee meeting. We came to a stand-still because someone would have to respond in a concrete way.

Meghan: Could be the steward or the labor czar. Don't know if either of you would want to take that on.

Hannah: I'd rather people understand that it's okay to write “anonymous” on those sheets.

Meghan: Some complaints might not fall along those lines.

Eric: Chad wants to come Wednesday, March 5 from 7-8:30. They want to have at least six people to make it worth doing.

Mike: Should we move dinner to 6:30 on Wednesday?

Eric: If that's okay with everyone. Seems no problem.

Eric: We need to assign labor to set up the party.

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