Staff-Board Meeting - 2019-01-19

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Staff Meeting minutes for Saturday, January 19th 2019 at 9:30am
Previous: Staff-Board Meeting - 2017-04-06 | Next: Staff-Board Meeting - 2019-04-06



  • Robert
  • Adrian
  • Vivian
  • Mike
  • Mimi
  • Flo
  • Joel
  • Michele
  • Glen
  • Rex


  1. 2019 Budget
  2. Short & Long Term Goals
  3. Staff Retention
  4. Grant Writing
  5. OHN & Diversity
  6. Staff/Board Communications
  7. Technology Community Centre
  8. ASL Instruction for Store Staff


2019 Budget

Budget presented by Michele is approved by consensus.

Mike would like to have a laptop assistant at 4 days/week; will start with 3 days/week and re-assess after 3 months.
Robert would like to hire someone in place of Khaled.
Joel notes that we need to hire an Executive Director; this is unlikely to happen in 2019, and we will likely need to look into grants to fund this.

Short & Long Term Goals

Adrian asks the Board what their short (within 2019) & long term goals (over the next 5 years) are.

Long Term:
Joel wants to be more than a recycling centre. Envisions FGV functioning as an actual community technology centre, including more classes, summer/winter camps (in concert with groups like ACCESS Youth, which he has spoken to). Creating more programs that appeal to a wider audience, especially with regards to improving diversity & inclusion. Unify our vision and work towards it. Develop corporate sponsorships with organizations that have similar goals.
Mike wants to partner with organizations that are against planned obsolescence and are in favor of green design and the circular economy. Would like to form a group of organizations with shared goals.
Michele wants more partnerships with organizations that can donate goods.
Flo is interested in being certified as an educational institution.

Short Term:
Improve policies, particularly ones that protect staff members. Michele notes we need to create an anti-harassment/anti-bullying plan.

Staff Retention

Adrian asks what the Board is planning on doing to improve staff experience and make the place more attractive to prospective employees.

Michele looking at increasing staff wages, giving more incentives to staff members, trying to create a culture of appreciation.
Vivian notes that the store staff have outside interests; if Free Geek can facilitate those and give people the opportunity to use those interests in their work at Free Geek, we can improve retention.
In order to look for ways to fund professional development in places where interests overlap with organizational benefit, staff and Board will look into grants and bursaries that are available.


It is asked what grants we are currently looking into.

Mike and Katarina: Vancouver Greenest City Grant. They want matching funds; we can declare volunteer time, Vancity Credit Union Living Light Fund (matching funds, covers employment)
Michele: YVR
Adrian: BC Gaming grants, others via GrantStation
Karen: CSJ (3-4 interns at 30 hours/week)
Robert/Flo: Foundational Training Program (covers education and training; can cover education for staff but may allow us to hire new staff if we train them; up to $300k)
Jay: City of Vancouver Art Grant; City of Burnaby grant for a building
Mimi: Car Free Day (Main Street and Commercial Drive events)

Robert recommends that someone heads up the grant writing process for the purpose of accountability. Glen suggests having a spreadsheet for keeping track of who is doing what. Joel wants to look into software that can delegate tasks (for example, grants that nobody is responsible for.)

OHN & Diversity

Michele will contact Christopher to ask about joining the Diversity Committee so that there is still a connection to the Board.

Robert suggests that if an email thread is getting heated, the individuals involved should meet face-to-face to continue discussions.

Mimi suggests piloting a women+ OHN event for women, trans, and non-binary people. This will be held once per month on a different day than our regular OHN night. The idea is based off the model that Kickstand uses. The aim is to highlight our female volunteers and provide a safer environment for some clients.

Robert feels that we have an obligation as an organization to do more to include marginalized people.

Joel has concerns about how this event will define the meaning of Open Help Night, and is worried that this is a band aid solution that will not address the root of any problems. He would like to know why women stop volunteering, and if it is because they experience barriers at Free Geek. He also notes that adding more programs may help. Mimi adds that there are other programs (Ladies Learning Code, for example) that we could reach out to in order to gain more female volunteers.

Vivian would like to market via social media and physical outreach at spaces that work with marginalized groups. She suggests reaching out to current volunteers about their experiences with OHN. For the women+ event, she would like to take metrics via exit surveys, especially with regards to how this demographic may end up feeling excluded. Adrian suggests doing this via tablet.

Michele notes that fixing things beyond a band aid solution is beyond the scope of our organization, and we need to have a plan to address toxic behaviour when it comes up.

Mimi and Vivian to write a proposal to present at a future Board meeting.

Staff/Board Communication

Joel wants to open up communication lines between the staff and Board. He feels staff worry that their concerns won’t be addressed.
Robert suggests that Board members volunteer at Free Geek to see how operations work. It is noted that staff and members are welcome to join a Board meeting, especially if they have a topic they want to add to the agenda.
Board members would like to read staff meeting minutes, so they should be uploaded; Robert reminds Board members that they are welcome to come to staff meetings.
Communication between the committees and Board has been minimal; we need a liaison.
Make sure new staff are aware that Mike is the Staff Representative.
Need to have a email for new staff making sure that everyone knows important information with who to talk to/what services we use.
Joel notes that parts of our Wiki (specifically the Anti-Oppression page) may be exclusionary and should be rewritten to be more accessible and inclusive.

Technology Community Centre

Joel believes the best place for growth is to add more educational components. Partnerships with other organizations will be necessary for this for space and resources.
This could be a source of additional funding. Adrian notes that there are organizations out there who are looking for non-profits to rent space to.
Robert notes he’d love a future where people come and state “I didn’t know you did recycling!”
Michele states we need to reach out more to volunteers with specific skills to help us achieve these goals.

ASL Instruction For Store Staff

Vivian would like store staff to be trained in ASL, and to get store staff accustomed to welcoming people by waving in addition to a verbal greeting.
Robert will look into whether this could be covered under the educational grant he is working on.
Once in place, we could add a notice to the website that we are able to accommodate ASL users.
Adrian suggests bringing in volunteers to help interpret in other languages.