The information technology revolution has had manifold benefits, but it has also given rise to two serious problems.
First, computers manufactured today have a very short life cycle. Many computers are deemed obsolete within two years and discarded. In recent years, the Greater Vancouver Regional District has buried 20,000 tonnes of computer and electronic waste(e-waste) annually. Traditional methods for the disposal of computer equipment release dangerous toxins such as lead, chromium and mercury into the environment.
A second problem stems from the rapid advance of computer technology: because many people lack access to this technology, they are left behind, without basic computer skills. As technology becomes ever more pervasive, those without computers find it increasingly difficult to access opportunities from employment to communication.
The concept behind Free Geek is to use these two problems to solve each other. By sharing a little knowledge of computer mechanics, a significant portion of the electronic waste bound for landfills can be refurbished into working starter equipment for individuals and organizations who may not otherwise be able to buy these items. Volunteers are trained to help process the diverted computers for reuse or recycling, receiving one of the refurbished computers in exchange for their efforts. Ultimately, it is possible to safely recover over 99% of the materials in computer equipment through reuse and recycling, thereby greatly reducing e-waste's negative environmental impact.
The result is: computer equipment is re-used rather than discarded, while members in a variety of communities gain both valuable job skills, computers, and access to the opportunities afforded by technology. It is a win-win situation for everyone involved, as summed up in the Free Geek mission statement: Free Geek recycles used technology to provide computers, education, job-skills training and access to the Internet to those in need, in exchange for community service.
General Company Description
Free Geek is a non-profit community technology centre. The primary goals of Free Geek are to provide technology to those who need it, while reducing the environmental impact of waste electronics. It serves all people regardless of race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, sex, sexual orientation, age, mental or physical disability. Free Geek's products and services cater to many such as low-income individuals, computer hobbyists, non-profit organisations, IT professionals, waste management companies, as well as environmentally-conscious consumers. Free Geek Vancouver's operational model was adapted from the highly successful model of the first Free Geek organization, founded in Portland, Oregon in 2000. It has a 15,000 square ft facility, and an annual budget of over $1,200,000 USD. There are currently nine Free Geek organisations in the United States; Free Geek Vancouver is the first Free Geek in Canada followed by Free Geek Toronto.
The Free Geek model differs significantly from other non-profit technology groups in the following aspects:
- Free Geek's use of Free and Open Source software enables the use of cutting-edge software and operating systems without the cost or encumbrance of proprietary licenses, while extending the life of older hardware with more efficient, more stable software.
- By offering opportunities for skill-sharing, Free Geek enables volunteers and computer recipients to remain involved in Free Geek's operations and community, contributing to the success and growth of the organisation.
- Free Geek takes a sophisticated view of technological issues and community needs; it cultivates robust connections with regional environmental, industry and local community networks. This enables Free Geek to raise its profile, maneuver in the marketplace more effectively, and bolster its appeal to a wide citizen base.
Free Geek Vancouver began operations in Vancouver, British Columbia in November, 2006 and moved into a 2000 square ft community technology centre in June, 2007. In 2008 We moved into our current address at 1820 Pandora Street, We are now currently looking to expand again. Operations are supported by volunteers, numbering about 7,700 and growing. Free Geek has received and processed approximately 400 tons of electronic waste, and many individuals have earned free computers for themselves. We have provided thousands of hardware grants to non-profit organizations.
Products and Services
Free Geek's primary service is offering low-cost or free computer hardware to the citizens of Vancouver. In addition, all of these products and services are offered in an inclusive, safe, and welcoming space without discrimination based on income level, ability, gender, orientation, background, or any other factor. While Free Geek is occasionally able to offer high-end systems, most items are at least 2 years old; however, they are still sufficient for the average user's needs, such as word processing, Internet, entertainment and so on.
Outlined as follows are the key services Free Geek provides:
Computer donations are Free Geek's exclusive source for computer hardware, for both equipment provided to the community and for Free Geek's own infrastructure. Free Geek's central location offers downtown business, local residents, and those served by Vancouver's transit network easy access to computer recycling.
Besides donations, the recycling program has a revenue stream. As part of the recycling process, non-repairable and obsolete equipment is broken down into base materials, such as steel, aluminium, and copper. These commodities will be sold to recycling partners. Free Geek aims to recycle as locally as possible, in conjunction with organisations maintaining the best possible environmental practices.
Free Geek's Adoption program allows individuals to receive their own computer system in exchange for work at Free Geek. During their time at Free Geek, volunteers work in three basic areas: receiving, recycling and testing. In receiving, they learn to identify hardware and become familiar with the use of the mouse and keyboard by testing them. In recycling, volunteers learn how computer components fit together. Testing teaches volunteers how to insert and remove components from computers, and how to run diagnostic software. After completing 24 hours of work, volunteers receive their computer. Technical support is made available to them on an ongoing basis through our Open help night.
Made up of two departments Build and Laptop build, these programs are Free Geek's most technically demanding. As the name suggests, the Build programs create all the computers needed for Free Geek's other programs. Volunteers are taught how to build computers working mainly with used parts. The tested hardware is assembled into standardized desktop computers or laptops that are then loaded with Free/Open Source operating systems and applications software. Each system passes two quality control tests before it is released to an adopter or non-profit. The computers are distributed into the community through the Adoption and Hardware Grants programs, as well as sold in our thrift store.
From the moment they enter Free Geek's doors, Volunteers gain hands-on experience with computers that are all excellent resume building skills for those looking to increase their chances for employment.
Computer Hardware Grants
While Free Geek's first priority is building and supporting the systems for distribution to volunteers through the Adoption program, extra systems and other hardware are granted to other non-profits and social change organizations in the Greater Vancouver Regional District. The grant request process is simple and involves filling out an online form. Thus far, on average, grants are filled in about two weeks. Grants to date have ranged in size from a single system to a fully networked lab of thirty computers. A non-profit may also choose to sponsor an individual who is unable to participate in the Adoption Program.
Computer Thrift Store
Free Geek receives many items that can be reused, We run a very efficient thrift store where the stock is in a state of constant change, Such a store fills an important niche for computer hobbyists and clientele in the manufacturing industry, both of whom require rare older parts no longer available in stores. By selling surplus equipment, Free Geek further works toward putting working, usable equipment back into circulation. The thrift store is a vital part of the Free Geek financial strategy for self-sufficiency.
Movie Prop Rental and Sales
Vancouver has a vibrant film industry which sometimes requires vintage computer equipment and electronics for use as props. Meeting the needs of this highly specialized market offers the potential for great returns, and a larger space will enable Free Geek to do this more frequently and expand upon existing connections in this industry.
Computer Donation Pickups
Larger pickups can be arranged by filling in the form on our web site, www.freegeekvancouver.org
On-site Immediate Data Destruction
Free Geek already preforms on-site data destruction as part of its donation intake process. We also have certified data destruction at $10 per drive, $20 per phone.
Free Geek can attempt data retrieval as part of its Open Help Night program on Wednesday nights 6pm to 9pm.
If you would like to book a tour or field trip of our facility, contact our volunteer coordinator at email@example.com
Market Definition and Opportunity
Free Geek will direct its efforts to serving citizens, businesses, and non-profit organizations in Vancouver, BC, in both the disposal of unwanted old computers, and in providing refurbished computers for free or at low cost.
Free Geek has determined that the most effective way to market is through high-profile Internet and media exposure, direct engagement of the public at community events, engagement of the student population through on-campus student clubs, building alliances with other non-profit organisations, and networking with local technology enthusiasts and industry professionals.
Free Geek's primary target markets are as follows:
- People in need of free or low-cost computers (students, low-income families)
- Environmentally conscious citizens and businesses, interested in reuse and/or responsible recycling
- Citizens and businesses who wish to dispose of surplus computer equipment and may or may not be environmentally conscious
- People in need of specialized or esoteric parts and equipment (e.g. hobbyists, machinists, film industry)
Free Geek's operations model and marketing plan comes from the first Free Geek in operation, which began in Portland, Oregon in 2000. Since then, Free Geek Portland has grown rapidly, in 2006, they processed nearly 20,000 computer systems, and had sales revenues over $200,000. Their annual budget is $500,000 USD. Vancouver and Portland are similar markets and thus there is likely to be similar supply of unwanted computers and demand for refurbished systems.
Competition and Other Influences
Free Geek faces competition from two key areas: other computer re-sellers and refurbishers, and the provincially electronic recycling program. A discussion of both areas follows.
As mentioned previously, the computer resale market is highly competitive. There are a number of companies - some non-profit and some for-profit - currently operating in the Vancouver area. These companies range in size from small operations to very large operations and may or may not focus entirely on electronics. The resellers are often more well-established than Free Geek, but are usually connected with a different market than Free Geek's target markets.
The provincial program represents competition for supply of used hardware, a vital component in Free Geek's operation. While the provincial program has a larger advertising budget and presents a more convenient disposal option to citizens, it has no provision for reuse of working hardware. People who wish to see working hardware diverted away from waste streams are seeking out reuse organizations such as Free Geek. Due to Free Geek's high profile regarding its policy of transparency and articulated consumer advocacy, individuals and organisations are coming to consider Free Geek to be a more trustworthy option. However, Free Geek will face significant challenges in positioning itself as a valid alternative to the provincial program, especially to those who are unwilling or unable to do the extra work necessary to bring their hardware to Free Geek.
Due to Free Geek's unique perspective, networking, and high profile, its membership has been asked by the Environmental Stewardship of British Columbia (ESBC) and the Recycling Council of British Columbia (RCBC) to participate in the development of re-use certification standards that would augment the current provincial plan. The other participants are few, and include the City of Vancouver, the Greater Vancouver Regional District (GVRD), and Computers for Schools. It is such influence on the evolution of the recycling industry practices and policies that indicate Free Geek's insider position.
Free Geek uses Free and Open Source Software (FOSS); outgoing computers have a GNU/Linux distribution installed. FOSS is up-to-date, actively maintained, easier to use than proprietary software, and immune to nearly all known viruses, malware, and spyware. Bug fixes and patches in the Free and Open Source community are renowned for their speed and efficiency. Free and Open Source Software is not as demanding on systems as proprietary software and thus can be run on older systems, enabling Free Geek to reuse a larger percentage of hardware. For example, Free Geek assembled its first computer lab from 10-year-old computers that would otherwise be considered obsolete; GNU/Linux was used to add thin-client support, making lab terminals as fast as an average home or office computer.
Free Geek has a strong commitment to transparency, especially as it pertains to the final destination of recycled computer components. Lack of transparency in this industry is increasingly perceived negatively by the environmentally-conscious in part due to efforts by the Basel Action Network, which exposed the large-scale dumping of electronic waste in poor communities overseas - a process in which some North American recyclers played a prominent role. Free Geek is well-positioned to be the most environmentally-responsible computer re-use option in the Vancouver area (see Marketing Strategy).
Prices in Free Geek's computer thrift store are approximately 30-40% lower than comparable competitor prices for used systems. Free Geek is able to achieve these savings through use FOSS, volunteer labour, and reliance on hardware donations. In addition, individuals may obtain computers at no cost by participating in the adoption program, thus providing the necessary volunteer labour.
Free Geek's primary marketing strategies include community outreach, media, engagement with the IT sector, and environmental activism.
The Free Geek model is designed to directly engage its community. Free Geek's volunteers are active at a number of community events, such as festivals, eco-fairs, and trade shows. At these events, Free Geek volunteers directly engage citizens, many of whom fit Free Geek's target demographic of environmentally conscious citizens. Free Geek's hardware grant program for other non-profits increases Free Geek's visibility among community leaders, who in turn spread awareness about Free Geek to the general public. In addition, Free Geek's membership is quite diverse, from a variety of backgrounds, and are thus able to reach a number of different communities.
The Free Geek model has always generated a lot of public and media interest due to its direct engagement with the community. Free Geek is increasingly known as an organization that represents the community's best interests. Free Geek has been profiled in a number of print and online magazines, furthermore, because Free Geek Vancouver is the first Canadian Free Geek operation, national media coverage has followed in other cities.
Free Geek's national profile will grow as new franchises appear. Free Geek Vancouver has already been contacted by individuals wishing to start their own local autonomous Free Geeks in Calgary, Montreal, and Nanaimo. Support for the proliferation of the Free Geek model is extensive: materials and information for starting up new Free Geek operations are freely available on the Portland Free Geek website. Seven other Free Geeks have started in this way since the founding of the original Free Geek in Portland, Oregon in 2000, including Free Geek Vancouver.
Free Geek receives extensive exposure through on-line media sources, which will be discussed in the next section.
IT sector and Web Presence
Free Geek's advocacy of Free and Open Source software makes Free Geek popular among the software development community. Free Geek maintains relationships with technology professionals who influence purchasing and disposal decisions at both their respective companies and among the general public. Also, the IT sector perceives Free Geek as an extension of the IT community, and professionals gravitate toward Free Geek as an avenue through which to express social, environmental and philanthropic spirit.
Free Geek is closely allied with industry professionals through such organizations as the Vancouver Linux User's Group (VanLUG).
Groups provide Free Geek with search engine optimization strategies, volunteers, hardware donations, software expertise, and thrift store sales. Due to Free Geek's skill at search engine optimization, it has been able to ascend very quickly past older rivals to take a higher Internet marketing share. People affiliated with these groups regularly blog about Free Geek's activities, again raising its profile and Google ranking.
Free Geek's has been profiled in exclusively on-line publications, including feature articles on Linux.com (3,000,000 page hits daily) and The Tyee (150,000 unique visitors/month). Its online prominence has also partially resulted from online republishing of stories released in conventional media outlets, and publicity for events it has participated in.
The Basel Action Network (BAN) is the world expert on the transnational movement of hazardous waste, particularly computer waste; they have been instrumental in raising global awareness of this trade and also in working with governments and industry to reform toxic abuse in developing nations. BAN's support of Free Geek's activities confers enormous credibility and has raised Free Geek's profile to the point where Free Geek is one of the strongest Canadian voices speaking out about the problems of e-waste smuggling and the need for reuse and responsible recycling.
In British Columbia, e-waste has recently entered the public consciousness due to recent provincial legislation regulating e-waste recycling.
Free Geek is well-positioned to comment on these issues and will continue to advocate transparency, responsible recycling and particularly re-use. For those citizens who agree with the environmental advantages of re-use, and expect their e-waste to be disposed of responsibly, Free Geek will be the obvious choice.
Free Geek Vancouver's operational plan is based on that of the original Free Geek in Portland, Oregon, which has evolved over the last seven years into a large, successful non-profit enterprise.
Free Geek's operations rely on a steady supply of hardware donations from which the stock of reuse computers is built. There is a very large supply of unwanted and/or obsolete equipment in the Vancouver area. All computer-related hardware is accepted, working or not, of any age, there is no charge. Since beginning operations in November 2006, Free Geek has processed approximately 400 tonnes of donated hardware.
Donations are accepted either on a small scale or in large batches. But these donations make up about half of the total volume of donations. Free Geek actively searches out new sources of hardware donations; for example, Free Geek has an arrangement with British Columbia's Computers For Schools (CFS), another local computer reuse organization, wherein surplus stock is exchanged. Free Geek has provided surplus monitors to CFS in exchange for hardware unsuitable for school deployments but acceptable for Free Geek's reuse program.
Free Geek has run hardware drives to accept donations at locations around Vancouver. It has also begun soliciting hardware donations from computer stores, manufacturers and related businesses. Contact with environmentally-conscious organizations, such as green architecture firms, has been particularly fruitful. Longer-term plans include corporate contributions from telecommunications providers, increased solicitation from hardware manufacturers, and increased alliances with charitable associations and foundations, such as the Rotary Club and YWCA.
Donations are brought to the receiving area of Free Geek's workshop, where they are processed as follows: - Donation is itemized - Cash donations are accepted. - A receipt is provided if requested. - Data is immediately destroyed in front of donors if requested; otherwise hard drives are segregated in preparation for data destruction. Hard drives are either physically destroyed or they are wiped and overwritten twice before they are booted up. No warranty is offered or implied; donors are encouraged to wipe their own data if they have significant data concerns, or to contact Free Geek to arrange onsite data-wiping in advance, or we can certify data destruction for a small fee.
Free Geek Vancouver's operations are based out of its 4500 square ft workshop located in East Vancouver at 1820 Pandora St., near Hastings and Commercial, where it has been located since 2008. The location is close to SkyTrain and mainline bus routes, and well-located to serve both downtown Vancouver and locations east and south of downtown. The facility is open Tuesday through Saturday, from 11a-6p. The Free Geek facility also hosts evening events such as open help night and staff meetings.
The facility currently includes a receiving area; workshop spaces to support evaluation, testing, and building of re-useable systems; storage for recyclable parts; computer thrift store and Kitchen and office space. The workshop is accessible to the differently-abled, who actively advise Free Geek in improving accessibility infrastructure. Facility expansion must improve accessibility, including full wheelchair access to all work stations, the thrift store, washrooms, and computer lab. Community consultation will be conducted to ensure additional accessibility requirements are met.
In addition, Free Geek maintains an extension of its facility online, including a dynamic website, wiki, mailing list with publicly accessible archives.
Computer recycling is labour-intensive business, since computers must be manually disassembled. Free Geek's volunteer programs attract a large base of volunteers which provides a low-cost labour force that other organizations cannot match. Free Geek's day-to-day operations are run by its coordinators and a small core group of dedicated volunteers (see Structure and Management), with a casual volunteer workforce currently numbering about 7700 individuals registered in the Free Geek database.
Many volunteers donate their time because they strongly identify with Free Geek's mission and want it to succeed, or because they value the experience and enjoy the activities they participate in. Others volunteer as part of the adoption program, where they receive a computer in exchange for 24 hours of work in the shop.
Donated stock is converted into refurbished computers through our build program. Hardware moves through the following stations:
Evaluation: Computers are initially assessed. Hard drives sent to our Harddrive testing area. Computers are hooked up to a testing station with working monitor and keyboard and powered on to determine processor speed and memory. old or nonfunctional computers sent to dismantle. We also keep an eye out for antiques!
Dismantle: hardware not suitable for reuse is disassembled into its component parts (metal case, power supply, motherboard, etc.); these parts are stored in large boxes for later recycling.
Monitor test: Monitors are hooked up to a testing station, where they display a test pattern for one hour before being certified as operational.
Data destruction: disk drives are erased using DBAN, a software program that erases data using US Department of Defense standards.
Build: new systems are assembled using sanitized disk drives, RAM, video cards, network cards, CD drives, monitors, keyboards, and mice. A operating System is installed including Internet browser, office software, graphics editors, and many other applications. Currently installation is network-based. Although we will do DVD based install as needed.
Service and Support
Users who are interested in learning more about Free and Open Source software and how to use it effectively are encouraged to attend Free Geek's weekly open help night program. Free Geek volunteers provide instruction and answer questions. Attendees at these workshops are encouraged to stay involved at Free Geek and help instruct less experienced future attendees. This event also provides people opportunities to install GNU/Linux, upgrade their computer with hardware from the thrift store and have it installed for free. Donations always accepted.
Hardware sold in the thrift store has a 14 day Exchange for Store Credit, all computers and laptops come with a 90 day limited warranty, unless sold as is. Non-profit and volunteers who have received computers through the grant, adoption, or build programs are offered continuing technical support so long as the computers are still running the original Free and Open Source software.
Free Geek is committed to a policy of Zero Waste, and is continually searching for new recycling partners with less environmentally sensitive and more sustainable recycling practices as they become available. Free Geek also develops strong relationships with materials handlers with a mutual desire to follow sustainable practices. Free Geek is currently auditing a number of recyclers for various materials.
Those parts of computers that have been tested and deemed nonfunctioning or not acceptable for reuse are recycled. Computer recyclables are divided into the following categories: Flat wire Round wire Motherboards Light and Heavy circuit boards Power supplies Keyboards and mice CRT monitors Disk drives Printers and scanners Plastics Steel Aluminium Copper Floppy disks, CDs Paper (e.g. manuals, CD packaging)
Currently, steel is sold to North Star in Vancouver, while paper goes to Urban Impact. All other materials are currently kept in storage until recycler audits have identified appropriate recyclers. Currently, Free Geek has an agreement with 36 Zero Waste Group, a recycling company established in Alberta and which aims to be fully operational in Vancouver by Fall 2007.
Computers are distributed through volunteer programs, hardware grants, and the thrift shop.
The volunteer programs are designed to allow individuals to earn a free computer in exchange for their labour. The work they do is both necessary to Free Geek's operations, and educational for the volunteers. In the adoption program, a computer is earned after 24 hours of labour.
Free Geek has a hardware grant program to provide computers at no cost to non-profit and social change organizations local to the greater Vancouver region. Grants are filled as the hardware becomes available. A wait time of about two weeks.
hardware is made available for sale in Free Geek's computer thrift store, located on-site. The store fills an important niche for computer hobbyists and/or business owners who may require rare older parts no longer available in stores; moreover, it allows individuals to purchase cheap computers if they cannot participate in volunteer programs. As well as our regular costumers By selling Reuse equipment, Free Geek further works towards putting working, usable equipment back into circulation.
In its first month of unadvertised operation, thrift store revenues were about $300. It its second month, after prominent advertisement on Free Geek's website, revenues tripled to about $1200. Today the Free Geek thrift store makes around $30000 a month.
All software Free Geek uses, installs and contributes to is free to download, install, use and update. Much of it falls under the GNU General Public License (GPL), under which software can be shared and modified at will, as long as subsequent users can enjoy the same freedoms by having immediate access to the source code.
Insurance, Liability, Regulations
Free Geek has third party Liability Insurance ($2,000,000 with $1000 deductible); and has $1 million with a deductible of $1000 of Directors liability Insurance.
All goods and services are offered without warranty nor liability, on an as-is basis except where noted.
Free Geek's staff is covered by Workers' Compensation Board (WCB) regulations, subject to the Workers Compensation Act (WCA), Occupational Health and Safety Regulations and associated guidelines.
Free Geek's safety procedures are designed and implemented by our Occupational Health and Safety workgroup, as laid out by WorkSafeBC. A culture of safety-consciousness and prevention is promoted. Volunteers participate in a mandatory safety orientation before they may begin work.
Free Geek adheres to all municipal, provincial and federal laws relating to waste management and recycling. As an active member of the Recycling Council of British Columbia, it is currently working with industry NGOs and municipal authorities to develop guidelines for re-use/recycling organisations in British Columbia.
Free Geek was incorporated under British Columbia's Society's Act.
Free Geek is also committed to the Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal, as well as its Amendment. Principles include not shipping to non-OECD countries and not using prison labour. http://www.basel.int
Management and Organization
Free Geek is democratically run in a non-hierarchical way that is open and transparent to all participants in its programs. Its volunteers help shape Free Geek and determine its priorities and practices.
Free Geek operates using a form of consensus; while decisions may occasionally take longer to make, they tend to be more efficient in the long term, bestowing more agility and participation in implementation, requiring less revisiting, and leading to higher investiture in decisions.
It is a highly structured model, with guidelines and formats for managing meetings, facilitating discussions, resolving conflict, and reaching decisions. Thus, general membership sets overall policy and vision, and a number of working groups involving both staff and volunteers develop and maintain its programs.
Free Geek's ability to reflect and respond to community concerns is therefore innovative, resourceful and profound.
Board of Directors
Free Geek has a Board of Directors, who are volunteer and unremunerated. They provide for the legal and financial oversight of the business and affairs of Free Geek, and exercise all the powers of Free Geek as provided by the law and Articles of Incorporation. Directors are subject to restrictions imposed by the Act, the Articles of Incorporation, and Free Geek Bylaws. New directors will be chosen by the Membership at the Free Geek Annual General Meeting.
Free Geek's current Board of Directors:
- Nigel Cornwall (Board Facilitator Lead)
- Rex Brocki (Assistant Board Facilitator lead)
- Cindy Liu (Treasurer)
- Jonathan Marks (Secretary)
- George Rosenberg (Marketing Lead)
- Cori Peterson (Volunteering Lead)
Free Geek's current staff:
- Athenaise Guertin- Volunteer Coordinator
- Michele White- Sales Manager
- Adrian Wong- Production Manager
- Jay Rajaratnam- Warehouse Coordinator
- Lucas Saliban- IT Coordinator
- Mike Frost- Laptop Manager
- Michael DuBelko- Sales Coordinator
- Karen Nygaard- Office Administrator
- Brian Dick- Laptop Coordinator
- Robert Pilkington- Materials Coordinator
- Khaled Kloub- Production Coordinator
Core Volunteers: Collective Management
As a consensus-based, initiative-based organization, Free Geek's is defined by core volunteers who take an active role. They come from a diverse background and bring a wide variety of skills and experience.
Members of the Free Geek community provide general guidance and vision to Free Geek. This includes both short term and long term vision and goals. The membership normally meets on a monthly basis, at the Monthly General Meeting, and Members in good standing can meet to decide policy in extraordinary meetings as needed. Membership meets to elect members to the Board once per year at the Annual General Meeting.
During Extraordinary Meetings and the Annual General Meeting, individuals can volunteer to undertake certain roles, in order to facilitate the consensus process: Facilitator – facilitates the consensus decision making process, keeps order Regulator – assists the Facilitator, keeps a Speakers List, ensures that everyone is heard Scribe – takes meeting minutes Minutes checker – checks meeting minutes Presenters - speak on particular topics
During a Monthly General meeting, a Facilitator will be chosen. other roles can be added as needed.
Reward for staff and volunteers often comes in the form of personal empowerment and palpable positive impact on peers. Free Geek staff and core make efforts to recognize individual contributions with praise, while coordinating social and community celebrating events such as volunteer of the month and BBQs.