Monthly Meeting - 2009-04-14

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Public meeting minutes for Tuesday, April 14th 2009 at 6:30pm
Location: 1820 Pandora Street
Previous: Monthly Meeting - 2009-03-10 | Next: Monthly Meeting - 2009-05-12


  • Attendance
  • Consensus Briefing


FreeGeek Monthly Meeting Tuesday April 14th 2009

Attendance: Luke, Bernie, Anthony, Frank, Randall, Dan, Ifny, Alex, David, Sumi, Jack, Severin, Mike, David, Simon, Gregor, Stephen (late)

Old business



Report by Ifny

  • 4k revenue from scrap
  • Sales down, $12700 this month. Possible factors - less production, not having laptop build going regularly, dropoffs slowdown after post-holiday surge.
  • Pickups slowing down a bit but large enough to keep Mike busy.
  • More pickups out in Coquitlam and Surrey. $15 pickup fee and current economy could be discouraging people to use pickups.
  • Discussed alternative fees, e.g. not charging for (large) pickups or using a donation scheme.
  • Noted that current pickup fee is significantly less than alternative recyclers ($50-$60)


Reported by Luke

  • Adam left FG - directors agreed to pay out leave for the rest of his time.
  • Discussed the difficulty of running an open organization while respecting the privacy and legal requirements of HR.
  • David has been volunteering in the warehouse and cleaning up the area.
  • Many were disappointed by Adam's abrupt departure, proposed a sendoff for Adam via a yet-to-be planned FreeGeek Social


Reported by Ifny

  • Open positions (2) are looking to be filled, HR committee is sending out questionnaires, resumes reviewed
  • Interviews scheduled for 16th/17th
  • Staff morale down from Adam's leaving.
  • Warehouse reorganization going well.
  • Following Adam's leaving, a proposal for staff conduct and discipline policy is being reviewed. An improved staff review process is also being worked on. Directors will have a large role in the new review system.
  • Noted that the organization of the new staff proposals are scattered throughout wiki, proposal to improve structure.
  • Q: Someone mentioned a TV advertisement for an electronics recycling scheme, questioned if new competition would have an effect on business. Do we want to do TV ads?
    • FG cannot afford TV advertisements, does not pay for advertising as a general rule. The company with the TV ads is part of FG's downstream recycling anyway.
    • Public service announcements are a possibility for exposure, currently we have radio spots but no TV.


See below.

Directors insurance

No report.

Megan has been tasked with sending in director's insurance form. Simon to follow up with Megan and insurance.


  • Earth day upcoming on April 22. Two companies are rounding up staff hardware for pickup by FG, equipment drive.
  • 1 year anniversary of e-stewardship coincides with Earth Day.
  • Annual General Meeting - Sunday May 24th, Maritime Labor Center
  • Invited to attend CossFest (Calgary Open Source) but may not be able to.
  • Ubuntu Vancouver is having a release party, Fri April 24

New business

Standardize meeting minutes

Currently no fixed format and inconsistencies between minutes. Improvement could be effected by a paid staff member, fixed form.

Discussion deferred to next meeting.

Helpful links for you to review:

Proposed budget

Report by Ifny

Page containing pdf of budget

  • 2009 Budget proposal has been prepared by director Sean H., Ifny and our bookeeper Mahmoud.
  • Proposed budget was presented to staff at April 3rd staff meeting and passed with full consent.
  • Vancity grant would be required for full HR retention, operating costs.
  • Budget includes staff benefits that have been in the pipeline for a long time.
  • Covers 5 full time staff Jan-Mar.
  • Full-time staff pay $24000 - budget follows this staff pricing from April onwards.
  • Vancity grant will cover Build and Education coordinator salaries.
    • When grant runs out, may have to look at ending one of these positions.
  • Bank balance is positive but not a real cushion (unless grant is included).
  • Noted that the budget is drastically different from last year.
    • Reflects large growth but smaller cushioning margins.
  • Budget predicts store income very conservatively ($12000 up to August)

Ifny stepped through individual budget items.

  • New services charge now that we use a bookkeeper.
  • Suggestion was made to compare budget with previous year's to see changes in usage trends - utilities, wages.e.g. power use much larger than last year's - some suggestions to reduce utility use - closing open doors, using LCD monitors, pulling inactive power adapters.
    • Ifny noted the budget figures for gas were based on the last year's usage.
    • Noted that utilities make up a relatively small percentage of operating costs
  • Most of the operating costs is for staff.
  • Question raised if the ratio of paid workers:volunteers has changed.
    • Currently 1070 registered volunteers, no exact figures on active volunteers. Typical to have 20-30 daily volunteers.
  • Rent has increased as of March now that FG rents the entire venue - from $1851 to $2880
  • Paying $285/mo for storage, limited capacity. Differing views on whether the need for storage will increase or decrease this year so have budgeted for the entire year.
  • Someone suggested a "build-party" event after hours, for processing build fodder.
  • Training programs budgeted, including communication and first aid courses for staff.
  • Budget does not include costs to produce a safety instruction manual and have it reviewed by safety consultants.
  • Calls for volunteers to help with the safety manual. Safety joint committee will need to be reactivated.


  • Questioned why Free Geek does not seek government grants.
    • FG has applied for some govt grants but not received any yet, pointed out constraints that grants impose, meeting requirements, external auditors.
    • Can be difficult to communicate the objectives of the organization and how they relate to grant requirements.
    • FG has been run successfully as a non-profit business and this is the primary means of raising revenue.
    • One of the starting principles was to keep FG financially independent.
  • David felt the budget was more realistic than last year's and relatively uncontroversial because not running in deficit.
  • Next budget will be more difficult because will not include Vancity grant money - recommendation to begin the 2010 budget earlier.

Proposal to formally adopt as the official budget, no objections raised, consensus reached.

RCBC Board Election

Presented by Ifny

  • RCBC (Recycling Commission of BC) board of directors meeting is coming up.
  • President is stepping down, new president will be appointed from the board.

Proposal: FG supported candidates will be selected by a working group, Ifny to put out a call for volunteers. Consensus reached.

Weekly "Internal day" proposal

Presented by David

  • Staff under high workload.
  • Some activities (e.g. policy production, discussion) being overlooked because staff do not have enough free time to attend to.
  • Proposal to have an "internal day" every week to free up staff for these activities.
  • Suggested to have more trained/experienced volunteers rostered on internal days, or none.


  • Q: do staff require a whole day?
    • Luke noted the proposal is to run the internal days for 3 months, not a long term proposal.
    • Ifny felt that a full day was appropriate.
  • Suggestion to have volunteers finish an hour early instead, leaving an hour of extra time at the end of the day for staff to work without distractions.
  • David had an alternate proposal to shut down FG for two weeks, to get through backlog of outstanding tasks. **Suggested Friday as the internal day, allows preparation for busy Saturdays.
  • Objective is to "go slower to go faster later" - taking some time to reorganize will help FG run more efficiently in future.
  • Frank suggested having staff take half-days to work on backlog while keeping FG running as usual.
  • David noted that current work backload is affecting staff training of volunteers - less staff time working with volunteers and less attention to volunteers due to other work distractions.
  • Suggestion to avoid scaling back activities that produce revenue.
  • Suggestion to have volunteers that do not work on the benches, but are solely responsible for helping volunteers at stations. Role of support volunteers was mentioned, covers these responsibilities.
  • Suggestion to rotate a free staff member and have others working normally, allowing FG to continue running while letting a staff member work on tasks.
    • David noted that staff have dedicated roles and so wouldn't work out.
  • Implementation of some suggested ideas would require staff to create more structure/processes, adding to existing


  • Ifny noted that we can't close receiving or the store; the store can't be run without paid staff.
  • Ifny suggested teaching first-timers in groups.
  • Sumi noted volunteers looking for more instruction & information. Environment and support given to volunteers directly affects the volunteer experience, perception of working at FG.

Proposal for internal day once a week for 3 month trial, with no volunteers. Day of the week to be picked by staff. Brief review at the next monthly meeting. After 3 months the trial will be reviewed. - no objections raised, consensus reached.

Build program & grant

Presented by David

  • Vancity has given a grant for $42000 to cover specific tasks hiring two people (education and build coordinator) to implement a build program.
  • Plan to implement grant requirements was outlined in the grant proposal. David raised questions of Stephen to determine the status of phases of the plan.
  • Stephen noted the plan is behind schedule in parts. Transition/startup issues, coordination. Noted the plan was ahead in terms of numbers of computers being taken out of the waste stream, the primary objective of the grant.
  • David raised concerns about fulfilling grant requirement and implications of failing to fulfill obligations.
  • David noted no formal procedures available for running the build program, making it difficult to transition if build coordinator is replaced.
  • Vancity has been informed that the program start was delayed due to time taken to find a build coordinator.
  • David proposed a decision should be made to either return the grant money or we commit to the program and begin drawing from the funds.
  • Ifny noted the decision to start spending would affect the formal start date of the program.
  • Q: Are the objectives reasonable?
    • Ifny felt they were reasonable
    • Stephen had concerns about the responsibilities outside of just building but overall were OK.
  • Luke asked Stephen how to get visibility and accountability on the program status.
  • Stephen recapped program status.
  • Proposal for build program coordinator to come up with a monthly planof action items from the original Vancity grant that can be checked at the next monthly meeting.
  • Ifny raised concerns about inducting new build volunteers, pointed outneed for procedures and more process, visibility. Concerned about the state of the program and meeting grant requirements.
  • David noted that there have been times when external customers have been unable to source desktop PC's from FG, no infrastructure for build program.
  • Stephen raised the point that the 40 machines built last week have all been sold, citing high demand as a reason that PCs are unavailable from the store. e.g. An order for 50-100 machines recently. On a general basis the build capacity could fill the store but high demand results in unavailability.
    • Others commented that empty shelves have been the result of prioritizing custom orders over Adoption and Store needs, as well as slowed production and lack of build program infrastructure.
    • Store sales do not reflect higher demand than usual -- sales have been lower over the last 2 months than normal.
    • Adoption classes have not had sufficient machines, or have technical problems during classes (approx 3 computers are required per week)
  • Sumi questioned the objective of the program for FG - idea is to set up the infrastructure for a build program and have a pool of trained volunteers able to keep the program running. Noted the 24-hour Adoption Program was the most popular program run by FG. Relies on training volunteers to help new volunteers, internal day would also help set up infrastructure goals.
  • Ifny noted the difference between building computers and coordinating a build program, noted that it's easy to get distracted by the former.
  • Problems raised with visibility of recent Adoption vs Build Meeting Minutes, no advertising of meeting.
  • Stephen - Actions from the meeting will be used to guide starting the build program tomorrow, but can be changed at a later date.
    • Questions were raised about an ad-hoc non-workgroup meeting making decisions to change existing FG programs (Adoption, etc).
    • Suggestion to treat the decisions of Adoption vs. Build meeting as proposals.
    • Need a way for the planning and progress to be made visible and enable participation from the FG community and staff.
    • Stephen noted that sending the meeting minutes to staff only was an oversight.
    • Concern about bringing in newbie builders before there were enough build instructors.
  • Suggestion to catch up on Vancity proposal items while working through build program setup as outlined in minutes.
  • Severin - if we're paying a build coordinator then the formal start

date is irrelevant - money has been spent.

  • David suggested a HR committee organize a meeting to address internal concerns regarding the build program. Can be elevated by committee to FG directors and staff - no objections, consensus reached.
  • Luke proposed to get a status plan of the program covering the first two months from Stephen for next month - no objections, consensus reached.
  • Luke proposed starting the program, spending the money, forming a report of current status, working through backlog of work on the program and improve communication on the project. Consensus to do it!

Staff Discipline Policy proposal

Presented by David

  • David summarized history of Staff_Disciplinary_Policy_and_Procedure
  • Randall suggested getting a legal review for the procedure.
  • David and Ifny volunteered to find a lawyer, starting at our previous lawyer.
  • Proposal to tentatively adopt the procedure as a living document, pending legal review - no objections, consensus reached.
  • Any changes to the document should be considered separate revisions, and should follow normal proposal procedures.
  • Luke proposes after legal review, staff be educated about the plan and

sign it. Consensus reached to proceed with that.

Proposal for warehouse coordinator

  • Finding a replacement for Adam.
  • 2 weeks getting warehouse organized and set up.
  • Final week to train replacement warehouse coordinator.
  • Mike, Sumi expressed support for David to be coordinator.
  • Proposal to contract David at regular staff wage for the next 3 weeks - consensus reached.
  • Stephen proposes: Amendment to extend it back retroactively to cover 4 weeks - consensus reached.

Next Meeting Roles

05-12 - Facilitator: Gregor, Scribe: Jack