[Noisebridge-discuss] My name is Al Sweigart, and I approve this message.

Danny O'Brien danny at spesh.com
Tue Jan 18 22:34:53 UTC 2011

I'm standing for the board. I'm on the board of another non-profit, the Open
Rights Group in the UK (though if I get this position, I will probably
resign that one; I think you can be on too many boards, and I'm not
contributing much over there right now). I've worked for privately funded
(ie non-government funded) non-profits for the last 7 years or so.

Board stuff should be boring, mundane stuff, unconnected with the day-to-day
running of the space. It is not the place to enact great change, especially
as we have defined the Noisebridge mission and traditions. There are no
tools in the Noisebridge Board cupboard that can change NB in any more
effective or efficient way than groups of noisebridge members working, as
members, to change it. Trying to impose such change using the board's powers
with a membership strongly opposed to centralised decision-making would be
pretty much the definition of how not to get change enacted in NB.

I'd also want to add a word on the whole "noisebridge is in trouble" meme.
I'd hoped to get the complete poll results out for tonight, but I'm not sure
that's going to happen. But I can say that I had 98 entries in the poll from
last month, and when asked whether they thought the good things outweighed
the bad, or bad outweighed the good, or whether things were in a perfect
cosmic balance, here were the results:

Good things outweigh stuff I don't like
6774%Bad things push out the good
1314%Perfect cosmic balance
(People could click on more than one checkbox, and did, but mostly to click
on perfect cosmic balance in addition to one of the others)

Obviously, there's lots of caveats here; I don't know the delta -- maybe
there was a time when 100% of noisebridge was happy, though looking through
old meeting notes, I haven't spotted that time. I don't know how
representative the polling sample is (though if 100 people was
unrepresentative, we have a *lot* of people coming to the space).

Nonetheless, it is my strong impression is that Noisebridge is doing pretty
well in its mission of bringing a lot of people together to hack on things,
and most of those people are broadly content. When they're apologetic about
not paying, the majority say it's because they say they can't afford to pay
right now in the current economic situation, not that they don't want to
because Noisebridge isn't awesome enough.

In terms of money coming in, Kelly is still crunching the numbers, but every
indication I have is that we've got regular scheduled dues (membership and
otherwise) coming into close to around $4K a month, with costs of $5K. This
excludes random money (unscheduled donations). We had a big spike in random
donations in December, but $1-2K of random donations a month is pretty much
sustainable, as long as we realise it's an obligation that we have to meet.
Again, Kelly knows the definitive answer, but my provisional stats say that
random monthly donations varied from over $5000 to $50 a month in 2010; the
median was near $900, the average about $1500)

My personal inclination is to try and get a hundred or so $10 a month
donations and make our regular monthly payments via paypal the bedrock of
Noisebridge's funding. Stuff like having events where donations are
requested, behavioural nudges like the donations box, really help.

I don't believe that the financial crunch at the end of the last year was
symbolic of some deep-routed discontent. And I don't (and no-one else) needs
any kind of board power to improve those financial figures. You just have to
work out ways to reach out to our hackership and encourage them to pay a
little for what they already love.



On Tue, Jan 18, 2011 at 10:50 AM, Albert Sweigart <asweigart at gmail.com>wrote:

> I remember this post from Jake in particular. I don't think an email
> on the mailing list saying "This is what Noisebridge is" tells us what
> Noisebridge is. The current membership of Noisebridge should tell us
> that, and one way they can do that is with the board election. Let's
> not follow the map over the territory.
> I don't think things are "just fine". We constantly make fun of the
> consensus process at our meetings. I've seen awesome people stop being
> members because they wanted their money to go to a workspace rather
> than what they saw Noisebridge as. There are some things that
> embarrass me about Noisebridge that keep me from recommending it to my
> friends sometimes. Sweeping changes aren't needed, but I think NB's
> current situation is far from optimal.
> -Al
> On Tue, Jan 18, 2011 at 10:25 AM, erik swedberg <erik_swedberg at yahoo.com>
> wrote:
> >
> > i would like to refer the right honorable gentlemen to the comments made
> > some moments ago:
> >
> https://www.noisebridge.net/pipermail/noisebridge-discuss/2009-October/008561.html
> >
> >
> > -erik
> > ________________________________
> > From: Albert Sweigart <asweigart at gmail.com>
> > To: Wladyslaw Zbikowski <embeddedlinuxguy at gmail.com>
> > Cc: noisebridge-discuss <noisebridge-discuss at lists.noisebridge.net>
> > Sent: Tue, January 18, 2011 10:59:37 AM
> > Subject: Re: [Noisebridge-discuss] My name is Al Sweigart, and I approve
> > this message.
> >
> > We don't need to escalate the tone of this discussion. I'm putting out
> > my views on why someone should (or in some cases, should not) vote for
> > me to be on the board. That's all. We can have discussions where we
> > talk about our disagreements and not have it become "drama."
> >
> > Noisebridge is in some ways a very conservative organization, where
> > even speaking about going against the status quo is met with hostility
> > (albeit the online variety. But it does affect the tone of the
> > debate.) I think we could temper our arguments if we changed/abandoned
> > the high-stakes consensus process with its nuclear-option blocking.
> > People would feel at more ease voicing dissenting opinions without
> > fear that they would be seen as personally blocking an issue, and we
> > wouldn't need to subvert it with do-acracy.
> >
> > -Al
> >
> > On Tue, Jan 18, 2011 at 9:48 AM, Wladyslaw Zbikowski
> > <embeddedlinuxguy at gmail.com> wrote:
> >> On Tue, Jan 18, 2011 at 2:06 AM, Albert Sweigart <asweigart at gmail.com>
> >> wrote:
> >>> I think we could use _some_ rules that _are_ enforced.
> >>
> >>> I want to see what rules the majority of members would like
> >>> to see for Noisebridge. These are rules that would be simple and small
> >>
> >>> even if we don't get rid of consensus altogether for a majority voting
> >>> system, I
> >>> think the way we conduct our consensus process needs to change.
> >>
> >> Jesus Christ, what happened while I was gone; did somebody burn the
> >> fucking Reichstag?
> >>
> > _______________________________________________
> > Noisebridge-discuss mailing list
> > Noisebridge-discuss at lists.noisebridge.net
> > https://www.noisebridge.net/mailman/listinfo/noisebridge-discuss
> >
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