Monthly Meeting - 2009-05-12

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Public meeting minutes for Tuesday, May 12th 2009 at 6:30pm
Location: 1820 Pandora Street
Previous: Monthly Meeting - 2009-04-14 | Next: Monthly Meeting - 2009-06-09


  • Facilitator: Gregor
  • Scribe: Jack
  • Consensus briefer: Luke


  • Jamie M
  • Chris H
  • Stephen M
  • Ifny L
  • Mike MM
  • Patrick C
  • Luke C
  • Megan Z
  • Alec S
  • Graham C
  • Stephen S
  • Jack B
  • Gregor J
  • Simon P (tiny bit late)
  • Ashley S (tiny bit late)
  • Sean H (tiny bit late)
  • Alex F (later)

Consensus briefing



Finances Workgroup

Presented by Ifny

  • Patrick reports $5,000 sales since May 2nd, Sean reports on target for $13,500
  • Sean, Ifny, et al trying to find better ways to do petty cash, already have new forms
  • Taxes prepared, not submitted yet, but we have time
  • Switched payroll companies and are very happy
  • Two new full time employees on payroll
  • Intend to train more staff how to do bank deposits


  • Jamie is awesome new warehouse coordinator
  • Patrick is awesome new store coordinator, trying to sell lots without loosing too much money, customer relations, helping people if not too busy
  • Patrick is checking prices to ensure we are not the highest, not raising prices
  • Have had important staff meetings to gel staff and ensure staff are heading in same direction
  • Getting past conflicts, opening clear lines of communication
  • Lots has changed since pedal left
  • Trying to get lots of things visible
  • Training new staff
  • Going back to drawing board to hire education coordinator, advertising position
  • Megan successfully applied for three Service Canada positions, which are wages for three workers for the summer, worth more than $10,000
  • Very flexible, but basically a student worker in warehouse, student worker in store, and student worker helping with policy documentation
  • Full time positions, forty hours per week, hopefully change to part time for more longevity
  • All very glad Megan is back

Human resources (relations : )

Presented by Luke

  • Luke talked with Free Geek Portland people about better staff reviews
  • Current system is every months, more like six months, there is a big bang review
  • New system is new staff review every HR meeting, which is more continuous process, part of daily zen flow, get in the habit of giving and receiving feedback
  • Set a goal or get staff to suggest a goal each review
  • HR group has not met much and we should get on that


Operations Meeting - 2009-04-28

Presented by Ifny

  • Free Geek electrical infrastructure is at capacity and will be expanded
  • Some volunteers with electrical experience will run cable but not connect everything because you need to be licensed so we'll hire someone for that
  • Trying to be committed to meetings
  • Operations meets the fourth Tuesday of each month at 6:30 pm to 8:30 pm
  • Real need for more production coordination
  • New production workgroup created, production will use operations mailing list
  • Meet every two weeks to discuss production, discussion to continue on operations mailing list
  • Operations only meets once a month, this was one reason for separate production meeting, also there is lots to discuss in operations meetings
  • Next meeting will be on Friday, May 15th at 4:30 pm
  • Jamie requested that only staff ever go in the cardboard dumpster because people may throw needles in there

Weekly "Internal day"

  • Mostly shutdown from volunteers so staff could do important work which really can't get done when place is super busy
  • Consensus is staff are actually getting stuff done which was languishing
  • Staff: "Why didn't we do this before?!"
  • Stephen would like to have some senior people in who don't get in the way but hasn't got agreement yet
  • May be helpful to have senior builders in during the week to help other volunteers, rather than senior builders all coming in on Friday
  • Consensus at last staff meeting was to get clearance from the rest of staff before inviting volunteers on Fridays
  • There is a small problem answering the phones on Friday, intern could help
  • Discussion about what to call the "internal day", which could be confusing
  • Possibly not call it anything, just don't book it
  • Send suggestions to list : )


  • Big collection event being held on North Shore on Saturday, June 6th
  • Ifny doing a talk on June 17th at Parkgate library
  • Production meeting on Friday, May 15th at 4:30 pm
  • Store meeting on Saturday, May 16th at 9:45 am
  • Invited by SPEC Society for Promoting Environmental Conservation to have info booth at their facility for harvest festival
  • Want to have follow up hardware drive
  • Have we had contact with them before?
  • SPEC asked for a letter of support, which would enable them to get a grant
  • Stephen is former SPEC director, we held Windowless Wednesday there
  • Sean did a Free Geek Open Office workshop there too
  • SPEC is on of the oldest environmental organizations in Canada, founded in 1969
  • Letter says we're participating and we think harvest festival is awesome
  • May day this year, international workers holiday, stat holiday in most countries, forgot last year till mid May, made it a paid day off
  • Proposal for all full time staff to get a bonus paid day for that day, part time staff to get a bonus paid day if they would have worked that day
  • Don't want something like only get the bonus day if you worked x of the last y days
  • Ashley, part time staff only getting it if would be working that day is unfair, prefers other metric, like having worked 15 days in the last 30
  • Megan, should be treated like stat holidays, should be consistent
  • Stephen proposes one fifth, or similar fraction, of one paid day
  • Sean asked if this is a precedent or just this year
  • Luke proposes we pay all staff for this one day, just this once
  • No policy comes out of this
  • Some concern about bringing this up after the fact
  • This is not a stat holiday, so the idea is to pay staff extra for this day rather than not paying them or giving them an extra paid day off, like we do for extra training days
  • Policy decision is an agenda item for next meeting, old business?
  • Decision to defer decision to next meeting and pay all staff retroactively, discuss also permanent policy

Occupational health and safety

Safety Consultation

Old business

RCBC Recycling Council of British Columbia board election

Presented by Ifny

  • Meeting was held by Ifny to select candidates voted for by Free Geek
  • Mary-Em Waddington of Computers for Schools was elected to the board

Build program and grant

Presented by Stephen

  • Mostly caught up
  • Issue with courses because would like to coordinate with education coordinator
  • Holding off on electrical intensive stuff like LTSP Linux Terminal Server Project terminals because would like electrical infrastructure first
  • Are we following steps in the grant proposal or something reasonable? - report based on checking off items from the grant proposal
  • We have completed phase two, except for the two items mentioned
  • Is there a contingency plan amongst staff for re-hiring an education coordinator?
  • Once we have and education coordinator, first thing will be working with Stephen on courses
  • Grant was designed so build coordinator is hired first, education second, so build had a chance to get systems in place
  • No contingency
  • Maybe with part time staff
  • Stephen is waiting for an education coordinator which makes sense? What is the last date when we need to hire an education coordinator to satisfy the grant?
  • Would like to hire someone in the next two weeks, or Stephen will start preliminary work on this
  • Megan and Stephen to start having weekly Friday build and volunteer meetings
  • Megan's sensitivity training to be part of build instructor training
  • People starting to use build binder, to track people in pre build and in build, which tracks issues with systems
  • We generate system ids which are stickers on machines, so as long as sticker not removed, can track back to builder
  • Store is caught up on systems
  • New build benches in place
  • Megan including the build program in tours, so people understand difference between build and adoptions programs
  • Occupational health and safety training for build instructors still missing

Directors insurance

Presented by Simon

  • Still some issues with directors insurance
  • Don't have the name of a company to put down as auditor
  • Need to indicate the source of the board's legal advice
  • Ifny has the names of a couple law firms that we consult
  • Whatever we do, should make commitment to have a board with insurance
  • Should have insurance by the AGM Annual General Meeting in two weeks
  • Plan is to submit what we have, let them know our AGM is in two weeks, and ask if we can get it by then
  • Simon to obtain information from Ifny and send directors insurance forms to Cooperators

Standardize meeting minutes

  • Bumped items to top of next month's agenda
  • Process Luke started last month is to send minutes to staff list, which includes directors, three days later minutes are sent to general
  • Alex to update meeting process in wiki
  • Ifny commits to adding minute checker checklist to the wiki
  • Should we send rough notes to staff or working group list immediately?
  • General meeting and staff meeting minutes to be sent to staff list for corrections, then general list three days later
  • working group minutes to be sent to working group list for corrections, then general list three days later

Staff conflict/discipline proposal (legal report)

Report by Ifny

  • David proposed staff discipline policy at last general meeting
  • Consulted with Harrison Co. for legal advice on employment law
  • Consulted with Paul Fairweather
  • Feedback is that policy needs to be completely overhauled
  • Anything we put together must be signed by staff
  • Whenever we change terms of employment, need to give staff something of value, like a chocolate bar or a dollar, this is called consideration
  • Must ask staff for consent to share personal information with other staff
  • Directors legally considered employers
  • Can't be sharing performance information with volunteers because they're not legally bound
  • Can be discussed with staff with discretion on a need to know basis, e.g. staff can be told why someone was terminated, so that they know that if they do that same thing, they could be terminated too
  • Can say publicly that someone was terminated, but can't share personal information
  • With regard to consensus, people cannot consent to illegal activity, or tolerance of that activity
  • To include consensus in staff framework, we might ask membership to consent to allow the HR working group to administer the staff framework
  • Ifny commits to doing a writeup on the legal feedback she got on staff conflict/discipline for the general list
  • There is a deep discussion around whether we want the Canadian state to dictate the group's morals or whether we have the option

New business

Two staff, three hours per day, from 11 am to 2 pm, on the floor like in Portland (Megan)

  • In Portland there is more job sharing while we have more specific positions
  • One of the things Megan has done is stagger volunteers so they don't all show up at 1 pm
  • Organization is growing, we're fully booked for next two weeks
  • Either we start telling people they can only volunteer every couple weeks, or start giving volunteers more support
  • By having two staff on the floor more support could be available
  • Would support volunteers be able to provide this support?
  • Calendar should reflect when support volunteers are scheduled
  • No negative feedback on this proposal
  • Proposal to give staff consent to figure out how to work efficiently, received consent

2/3 work for 2/3 pay for Megan (herself)

  • Megan's job has grown into more than one position, but Free Geek doesn't have funds for more staff
  • We have thousands of volunteers, so much could be done with this volunteer labour, but we don't have staff resources
  • Megan's workload has tripled since she started
  • This has caused Megan to burn out or become demoralized, she's asking for time to recover and get back on her feet
  • What can we do to work toward position returning to full time and being healthy?
  • Can we support Megan to bring herself back to sustainability?
  • What do we do to make the position sustainable?
  • Can we reallocated a budgeted staff position to support Megan's position?
  • What Megan thinks is needed is that volunteer support on the ground be done by support volunteers and interns, but so much of Megan's time is taken by work on the ground, she can't get there
  • Luke proposes deciding one or two things which must get done each week, and committing to them in front of staff, then if there is too much scrambling, need to step back and work on the important long term infrastructure
  • A good thing for all staff
  • Part time staff going to warehouse, store, receiving, but not made available to volunteer support on the floor
  • This change or any change to staff workload will affect other staff
  • In general need to be more active about perceiving when staff need support and offering it
  • Alec commits to being more active about giving support, especially to volunteer coordinator
  • Megan doesn't have a workspace, nowhere to work
  • Do we have the infrastructure to support Free Geek's rapid growth and outreach?
  • Proposal to take advantage of volunteers to do Megan's work by dividing into four workstations, for example
  • Suggestion to create a bright orange vest, to get people to go to the position rather than the person
  • In general we need more people, at Jamie's pace he may burn out too
  • Scheduling volunteers currently takes an hour of Megan and Stephen's time, proposal to allow volunteers to work on the calendar, but this is problematic, Megan controls the rate of volunteers
  • Need to take measures like saying no and reducing number of volunteers, and investing that time in building infrastructure
  • Megan wrote a report in anticipation of leaving because of burnout and realized how much was left to do before she's comfortable going back to full time, or handing over to someone else
  • How much time Megan needs off depends on how much support she gets?
  • Avenues of support include visual identification (vests), part time labour, and better training of support volunteers
  • Megan notes that these are longterm suggestions and that her objectives are to work towards off loading her work with support volunteers and interns but shes stuck, while supporting volunteers now she can't get there, what do we do now?
  • How will we cover the days off?
  • Megan got Free Geek three staff paid for by Service Canada for the next few months, there will be staff to cover for her if this is a trial period
  • Is working four days, including Friday which is an "internal day" an option?
  • Ifny has been covering truck, phones, volunteers, etc. and is also burnt out from covering other responsibilities
  • Can we afford to have a part time volunteer coordinator? Can we afford to create a vacuum, by losing Megan at this point?
  • Proposal to consider something short term and concrete, like a number of hours off that Magan and staff are comfortable with, and a number of weeks, implement the suggestions for sustainable volunteer coordinator position to give everyone a sense of what things will be like when the position improves
  • Cut off volunteers to ten per day
  • Ifny more willing to take on volunteer coordination to give Megan a day off to work on infrastructure, rather than to enable Megan to work part time
  • Proposal that this is a two month trial, Megan is comfortable with this
  • Megan willing to work two five day weeks to give time to hire interns and prepare for part time volunteer coordination position
  • Proposal to have staff decide the details for how much time Megan can take off, when, and for how long
  • Megan not feeling support from all staff
  • Megan wants this considered compassionate leave
  • Free Geek experimented in the past with part time leave and non standard work weeks
  • Free Geek has no official policy in this area
  • Decision to hold a contingency meeting on Thursday, May 14th at 6:30 pm

Hiring production coordinator (Ryan)

Bumped to next month

Why are folks unhappy at Free Geek? (Megan)

Bumped to next month

Director nominations per email list before AGM (Ryan)

  • Important for people to self nominate rather than be nominated, this is important to be preserved
  • All directors step down each year, but they can run again
  • Last year there was an opportunity for introductions
  • All present could ask questions of candidates, went around the circle with each question to directors
  • There was discussion while the nominees were outside
  • Choosing directors, people who are legally and fiscally responsible for the organization, is an important decision
  • Ryan's proposal is for nomination by others or by one's self but there is objection to nomination by others
  • Megan agrees in general with objections to nomination by others, but would like the organization to maybe grow to the point where a nomination committee might look after the interests of choosing good directors
  • Concerns about nominating others include perpetuating politics, endorsement, can pressure or flatter nominees into running
  • Proposal to adopt Ryan's proposal, but as there is insufficient time for implementation, candidates are not required to do these things for this year's AGM, instead they are strongly encouraged to nominate and introduce themselves in advance, via list and wiki
  • Ifny commits to writing director nominations solicitation email

Metrics for "Big Visible Charts" (Luke)

Big visible charts

  • Luke to bring big visible chart material to Free Geek potluck on Saturday, May 24th
  • Goal to have each staff to contribute at least one metric


  • Simon to obtain information from Ifny and send directors insurance forms to Cooperators
  • Alex to update meeting process in wiki
  • Ifny commits to adding minute checker checklist to the wiki
  • Ifny commits to doing a writeup on the legal feedback she got on staff conflict/discipline for the general list
  • Alec commits to being more active about giving support, especially to volunteer coordinator
  • Ifny commits to writing director nominations solicitation email
  • Luke to bring big visible chart material to Free Geek potluck on Saturday, May 24th

Next meeting

  • When: Tuesday, June 9th, 2009 at 6:30 pm to 8:30 pm
  • Where: Free Geek, 1820 Pandora St, back door
  • Facilitator: Chris
  • Scribe: Alex, but he might not be able to attend
  • Consensus briefer: ???