Monthly Meeting - 2011-10-11

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Public meeting minutes for Tuesday, October 11th 2011 at 6:30pm
Location: 1820 Pandora Street
Previous: Monthly Meeting - 2011-09-13 | Next: Monthly Meeting - 2011-11-08


Everybody familiar


Tim, Tyler, Jordan, Geoff, Justin, Jess, Wayne, Christine, Rod, Devenne, Dave, Karen

Explanation of roles

Everybody knows. Facilitator: Jordan Scribe: Tim

Consensus briefing

Everybody knows



Christine: Filed on the wiki under finance workgroup.
Tyler: How was Q3?
Christine: We're only up to end of August. Year was skewed because of exceptional Q1.
Jordan: Does this include September?
Chirstine: No
Geoff: You say we don't have a lot of money?
Christine: We have 57k all in.
Geoff: How does this compare to what we budgeted for? We're up 34k over the year, no?
Jordan: If there is some confusion, we should go over it separately.



Rod: I looked into it. A lot of paperwork must be done before we can even talk to anyone about this.
Jordan: Has anything been done?
Rod: We haven't applied for any currently.


Build / Production

Geoff: We've had such high quality donations that we've been able to wholesale some of the lower quality stuff so that we can keep all dual core in the store.
Tyler: How much of a backstock do we have?
Geoff: Full shelves ~30-40 machines.

H & S

Jess: I hurt my back doing Dave's job. (Lifting CRTs)


Dave: Been real busy. Lots of big corporate donations. We got another six skids of motherboards out.


Tyler: Lots of backup, moving servers around without people noticing. Got one or two people helping out on project for the store.


Jess: "Are an absolute delight" had the engineering students coming in from UBC. Good numbers for the tours.
Karen: Are we getting long-term volunteers or high turnover?
Jess: We don't really measure it. In the past year, it seems we have more long-term volunteers compared to last year. Emphasizes we value short-term volunteers too.
Geoff: We have certain people doing everything, answering phones, final QC etc.
Rod: Turnover in the warehouse seems to be high.
Jordan: But why? You get to touch everything!


Total sales ~16.5k net


13.5k net


2.9k net

HW Grants

Flying through them.



Rod: how has sign up for the open class been?
Jess: 10-12 signed up for next month's. A few less for this week's which is good as we could do one-on-one.
Tyler: They follow on from each other but are otherwise independent of each other?
Jess: Yes.

Events / Media

Rod: There is an "electronics show" at the trade and convention centre.


Tyler: Is anyone talking to them?
Jess: I speak to Toronto and Portland. Nothing's really happening with Intergalactic itself.

Staff / HR

Items on the agenda TBD

Directors / Governance

Wayne: We lost a director. According to the bylaws we have to replace them.
Geoff: We have to?
Wayne: Yes, according to the Bylaw we have.
Jordan: It would be easy enough to change the bylaw accordingly, but we'd have to have an EGM.
Christine: Previously, we had one director step down soon after joining the board. Much later, two new directors were appointed in an EGM and then two directors stepped down later in the term.

Old business

New business

Modifying the Mandate

Tyler: 1."Adopt as our official mandate document, in particular the Principles section. This is intended to clearly document our free software, training, and non-hierarchical intents alongside the recycling intent. These principles are referenced elsewhere such as the Director Agreement and removing them I believe substantially changes the documentation on why this organization exists."
2."Modify our mandate statement as George Wong has proposed to the following:-

Free Geek is a nonprofit community organization that reduces the environmental impact of waste electronics by reusing and recycling donated technology. 
*Through cooperation with government, retailers, businesses and schools we position Free Geek as the preferred channel of donated technology flow through.
*Through community engagement we provide education, job skills training, internet access and free or low cost computers to the public."


Tyler: This was essentially copied from Portland and my proposal appends this as above. Did anyone read this?
Jordan: I'd like to propose that we postpone till staff and directors have read the document in question and have had a chance to respond.
Tyler: The proposal has been out since Sept.14th. There have been previous opportunities to read this.
Jordan: Discussion should happen on the governance list.
Tyler: Actually it's core, so it should probably go to general, and defer for next month.
Tyler: A separate proposal changes our mandate to recycle in conjunction with other corporations etc as above.
Wayne: It limits us, I will block the second one.


Second proposal is blocked, The first is deferred till next month.


Staff and Directors will read the document.

Business Plan Workgroup

Tim proposed that we create a workgroup for the purpose of outlining a strategic vision and updating our business plan, based on our mandate, including a proposed operating budget for 2012, to be submitted to General for the first monthly meeting of 2012.


  • Consensus was achieved
  • Tim committed to heading up this group and Devenne, Tyler, Jess committed to joining.

Staff bonuses (or raises) need to be caught up

Geoff: "We're an entire quarter behind at this point, and we're on track to be between $40,000 and 60,000 in the black by the end of the year which isn't cool as a non-profit because we'll end up paying tax on it. We were $24,000 up at the end of June and we've sent off 6 skids of PCB twice since then. Our accountant has recommended a bonus for a variety of tax reasons, but perhaps Karen can speak to this next week?


Geoff: Total revenue is 15% up ytd.
Jordan: Have we stayed on budget?
Geoff: Expenses are 5% ytd under. We've spent 8300 less than budgeted.
Jordan: We're 34k up at the end of August.
Geoff: This is pertinent when it comes to looking at the bonus.
Jordan: There was this issue for a long time. We decided to mitigate the risk by giving bonuses earlier in the year.
Geoff: We decided to review this every quarter.
Wayne: I was at the meeting in August. It wasn't going to be a regular thing. We said we would give a bonus for that quarter. There's a lot of issues, for example we could just give a nominal bonus. Who makes this decision? I wish something had happened with the group assigned for the purpose.
Christine: I would recommend against it based on the bank balance. We should be at 80k for operation and reserve (based on 25% of our expenditure).
Jordan: Your cash reserve is based on {absolutely nothing happening with the doors closed and the staff still being paid}. Consider the consequences of doing something versus not doing something. Is it worth having a low morale?
Wayne: The issue is we're still getting our heads around this. We're liablie for this, we're taking our responsibilities seriously. I don't think I'm in a good position to recommend this.
Karen: Te first month we were preoccupied with harassment issues.
Tyler: I'm concerned with not coming up with an answer today. It was put off from July to August, and before that too. The raise was put off again. We don't have the criteria. We've been paying bonuses quarterly ytd. The issue is not so much whether we can afford it, it's what else would be spend the money on.
Tim: This plays into the need for a business plan.
Rod: I'm not sure about this. If it had been paid out when it was due, then it would have been a lot less(?) In our defence, we've been trying to get numbers so that we can figure everything out. We're also looking at growth, a new building, improvements etc.
Christine: Not all the money we have yet. Some of it is on invoiced.
Geoff: I'm hearing a block. Some of it talks to the next point, which is operations-roles.
Tim: The credit we're carrying is very low, most of it's our main wholesaler.
Jordan: Acknowledges that morale will be low if we don't do something.
Wayne: Proposes we dissolve the last group, restrike a committee for the next general meeting to address the issue again
Jordan: Is this the general issue or specifically for Q3?
Wayne: I don't want to go through this every quarter. Resolve the issue till the end of the year.
Dave: threatens to leave. Leaves.
Tyler: it's been going on five months.
Karen: please remember we weren't here before. When we got here it was mid-August.
Rod: I feel the tension, and maybe the staff needs something right now.
Jordan: I haven't received many requests re: assistance from me as a former board member, save one from Rod.
Tyler: This isn't a director's problem, it's a problem of the workgroup and all those here who are interested in the longterm prospects of this organization. I don't know how to fix this immediately. This group needs to figure how we make the decisions so that this doesn't take over five months.
Wayne: Mea Culpa, I was in England.


To restrike the committee, meeting on Tuesday next week, the short-term proposal is two weeks. The matter will be finally resolved for next month.


Wayne, Tyler, Dave, Karen, Jess, Jordan, Christine, Rod, Tim, Pizza.


Geoff: "Tasks which are essential to our operation need to be done by someone who is paid and therefore accountable, so not a volunteer and not a director.

"We're currently in the process of moving payroll (including staff benefits) back to being done by a staff member. Currently bank deposits are being done by our wonderful director Karen, but as in every other business and organization it should really be done by a member of staff."


Geoff: We don't/can't count on volunteers and directors. If someone can't come in then we have to carry on. Directors started doing things as a result of an emergency decision after a bunch of staff were laid off and nobody knew who was doing what.
Jordan: We did start doing payroll, it's true.
Geoff: The arrangement that we just started, whereby Jess does payroll and someone else verifies it. It should be the other way around.
Jordan: How about a volunteer does it, then a staff AND director does it
Jess: I feel hurt that the directors had a meeting without us and that the meeting was edited. There wasn't a single thing in that meeting which the staff or other volunteers couldn't have helped with. We're here for more than just opening and closing the doors and making sure that we don't get robbed. It's upsetting that you guys are overwhelmed trying to do the day-to-day stuff when the bigger picture stuff isn't getting taken care of. Throws compliments and verbal hugs around.
Karen: I've been doing deposits and invoicing since January, if you guys want to do it, no problem.
Jordan: It seems like in a nutshell, we're misusing our resources.
Jess: If the directors had come and asked me I could have told you how to do some of it.
Jordan: Who does payroll?
Jess and Karen.
Rod: There's only so much you can do too. The board is responsible for what happens here.
Jess: You have insurance.
Rod: This is a non-profit place, which is different. This is an unusual board.
Tim: I was unclear when the board changed who was supposed to be doing what. Certain things were left undone briefly. We should have a list of who does what, either a list of tasks and who takes them on, or a list of people and what tasks they do.
Tyler: THe current discussion is heading towards staff vs. volunteers/directors. Deposit is working fine. Payroll is still an issue, it may be a legal issue if we let volunteers do payroll. The role of everyone is unclear. Figuring out what roles people play. But I'd approach it from the point of view of groups rather than individuals.
Christine: Tim, is it unclear who does what, in finance, still? I wasn't clear about who does what either.
Tim: We should have a list(s) so that new people know what they're doing when current actors leave.
Christine: I'm going to update the finance section of the wiki so that this is clearer.
Wayne: In the corporate environment there would be a CEO who decides these things. I tried to make a chart of all these things. It's not clear in any of the documentation for the board of directors who does what.
Jordan: We're having issues with communication between staff and directors, but the flat structure of the organization isn't up for discussion. Everything should happen with staff involved, use the staff list not directors. We didn't know what we were doing when we started, Chris did payroll because there was nobody else and we all had our hands full. You don't need to worry about the staff, you're responsible to the volunteers, the volunteers to staff, staff to directors.
Justin: I've been doing this for about a year, and I'm a very happy volunteer. Gushes.
Tyler: it is better than I've seen it for a while, volunteers-wise. It has not always been a positive atmosphere here.
Christine: The staff is a lot happier than it used to be, aside from the bonus issue.
Geoff: We're making progress.
Karen: Come January, I'll do what Luke does and we can advertise for an intern.
Jess: Nobody should be sitting down with a list of sixty things. The directors seems to have better communication amongst themselves than with the rest of us. People are getting crabby on the mailing list, we need to communicate more. We can tell you what's what if you ask us. I'm frustrated because there's not enough of the communication.


Not reached.


A general sentiment that we should communicate "better" and more frequently.

Stop Taking CRTs

Jessica: "To stop taking CRT monitors, encouraging the public to send them to Return-it depots.

"Reasoning: CRT are a large part of the workload for the warehouse staff person, this is an unreasonable amount of work to expect our staff to do. Volunteers can not build them as it is potentially dangerous and they require steel toed boots. We have had regular incidences of staff hurting themselves in the warehouse due to high workload, which is unacceptable. We will still be receiving CRTs from corporate drop offs and the occasional public drop off that slips through the door. This will keep our stock for adoptions and sales more than full."


Jess: Every time I've had to do Dave's job...the constant lifting is not healthy. It's a recurring problem. Dave's a machine, but it's very physical and kind of dangerous. We'll still have enough CRT for our needs, the downstream isn't a problem because it's going to Encorp anyway.
Rod: We should then not take servers. THey're also heavy.
Jess: But one staff does all CRTs whereas any volunteer can lift a single item.
Tim: Also, there are other issues with servers - they have value to us, and the downstream is an issue.
Jordan: We could make it discretionary, there could be exceptions.
Rod: I've lifted a lot, they're not easy.
TIm: Another thing about not taking CRT is that it would be really good for trike pickup.
Tyler: This is a health and safety issue. Either it's safe or it shouldn't be done. The decision should be made on the basis that if it can't be done, then why not.
Rod: People carry them up the stairs.
Jess: We don't build the skids above a certain (height) level. We looked into option of getting rollers, which reduce lifting. However, this option was dropped because it was too expensive. Was it 15k?
Tyler: Return-It. It's a concern if people take everything to Encorp. We could consider hiring a separate warehouse person.
Tim: We might not even have one right now.
Jess: Why are we all talking principles when people are hurting themselves in the warehouse.
Devenne: Are there's doctor's notes?
Jordan: That would sound insulting to some people here.
Rod: We maybe need to consult...
Devenne: We should temporarily stop taking them.


Temporarily, we take stop taking CRTs at the discretion of the staff until we address the health concerns till end of April.


Next meeting

When: Tuesday, November 8th, 2011 at 6:30 pm to 8:30 pm

Where: Free Geek Vancouver, 1820 Pandora St., back door


Facilitator: Rod.

Scribe: Christine.