Meetings/2017-01-16

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Held 8pm, 16 January 2017 in the Fulford Arms (mostly).

Agenda

  1. Review of Outstanding Actions
  2. Administration
    • Treasurer(s)
    • Internet Connection
    • What e-mail addresses do we need for admin type contacts?
    • Google groups and drive permissions
    • Where to publish minutes
  3. Finances
    • Review current financial situation
    • Review founder member subs rate
  4. Advertising
    • What are other spaces doing?
    • Events in York we can rock up at.
    • Flyers - costs and where to deploy
  5. Social Media
    • Blog
    • Other social media
  6. Improving the Space
    • How can we obtain equipment to attract more members?
  7. Membership Drive
    • How can we be more attractive to new people?
  8. Makerfaire UK Application
    • When is it, who is going, what are we taking, and who can do the application?

Minutes

In Attendance:

  • Gavin Atkinson
  • Daniel Bailey
  • John Cooper
  • David Court
  • Carwyn Edwards
  • Næþ’n Lasseter
  • Luke McCullagh
  • Nick Moriarty
  • John Robinson
  • Bob Stone

There’s a quiz that starts at 9pm, so we’d better keep this brief. Or move. The secretary needs to choose a venue and time to avoid other events next time. Action: NM

Actions from Previous Meeting

The following actions were taken from the last meeting. Except where noted they have been completed:

  • Register York Hackspace as a Company Limited by Guarantee
  • Select and switch to a new electricity supplier
  • Sort out an internet connection - see update below
  • Register for rates exemption
  • Return Valuation Office Agency paperwork
  • Discuss e-mail addresses we should have for committee positions
  • Create a standard flyer to use in hand-out advertising
  • Document procedures for locking, unlocking and operating the burglar alarm
  • Check with the council regarding fire alarm procedures
  • Set up online file storage system - see note below
  • Sort out our social media and online presence

Administration

Dan is now a treasurer, so has access to the bank account. He’ll be away for a few months during the summer - there should probably be at least two treasurers most of the time, so if anyone else is interested in this please discuss it with the committee.

Næþ’n chased A&A a couple of times about actioning a free internet connection as discussed, but has had nothing back from them. There has been some discussion of using Plusnet instead if we can’t get anywhere with this. There is a possibility we might get something out of Sky? We would still like to try to arrange internet connectivity for free, if possible, to keep our costs down. Currently, Gavin is paying for the 4G dongle.

We have a treasurer@ e-mail address. We should check out what addresses are currently set up to forward to the group, and perhaps set up another for info@, committee@, etc. We are able to create personal addresses if need be - get in touch with Næþ’n.

Currently, the “secret cabal” is the only private group/list we have, and it doesn’t match either the current members or committee. We should set up a group for just the committee so that member details aren’t open to others (this could also be a target for committee@ so people can get in touch about private matters). The “cabal” type discussions (i.e. non-public mailings) could be done on a members-only group - like a cabal 2.0. We should keep the public mailing list in general use for most things, as it’s open to everyone.

Minutes should be published on the wiki. Publishing as a wiki page makes it easier for search engines to index. Alternatively, they can be published as a link to the Google Doc.

When we originally registered for exemption, we got one that covers us from 22 October, but we needed to send further paperwork to sort out the period before that, which Gavin provided. All the paperwork is now in order, but we weren’t aware of this (we’d managed to miss paperwork being filed) so there was some misunderstanding around whether there was more to do. This is now sorted.

After further investigation, setting up OwnCloud for online file storage proved less attractive than we thought. We are continuing to use Google Drive for general file storage for the time being.

Finances

Dan has made improvements to our accounting spreadsheets so it’s easier to relate to our bank account and statements and a bit more usable by others.

Our bank account is currently £1308.64 in credit. A statement of our accounts is attached[1].

Our income from membership is £540 per month. Our expenses are around £378 per month. We’re currently overpaying for electricity, so that figure should go down a bit. This means there’s about £162 extra going into the account per month.

A discussion was held regarding dropping the founding member subscriptions to match regular members. We currently have 11 members, 2 of which are granted a concession and 7 of whom are founding members. The following alternatives were put to a vote:

  1. If we dropped founding member subs down to £40 (to match others), we’d only be saving up £22 per month (a total drop of £140/mo) over our expenses, which is a little low in case someone drops out or we want to buy something.
  2. An alternative suggestion was to instead drop the founder subs to £50 and also drop regular subs to £30. Existing concessions will be unaffected. This option works out leaving us making £72 / mo on top of our expenses.
  3. There was also the option to maintain the status quo.

A vote was taken, with all in favour of option 2. Action: Publicise and update website

Advertising

Leeds hackspace managed to get a mention in some Magazines by submitting articles, e.g. to Linux Format and MagPi. As far as we know, they don’t pay - they just write an article or similar and submit it. We’ve managed to get a bit of attention through magazines before, and we could potentially try to push some of our blog articles toward that type of publication. We may also be able to get some contacts through Twitter and other social media.

We should try to turn up at some York events to get local coverage - there are occasional things like York Code Dojo, which we could try to make an appearance at. We should also try to contact student societies - we met some at fresher’s fair who do related activities.

We should get some prints of A5 flyers and A3 posters if possible. A5 flyers (base glossy with a blank reverse) can be purchased from Vistaprint for:

  • 250 for ~£24
  • 500 for ~£28
  • 1000 for ~£30

For now, we’ll print a few more of the current flyers to use in the meantime, as we only have a few left. Once the space is a bit more orderly and we have a few more images, we’ll refresh the content and purchase a proper print run Action: NM. Flyers will be stored at the space where folk can get them. Action: GA

We discussed trying to get into “leaflet racks”, but we think this probably costs a lot.

We should try to catch the attention of the local press, if possible, and could try to get some local coffee shops etc and the like to put up or carry a few of our flyers. Action: anyone

We definitely need to get the word out a bit better - lots of people don’t know about us. We need to be better at sharing what we do, so people know about what we do, and don’t feel intimidated. There are a lot of groups doing all sorts of crafts who we’d be interested to talk to. Action: NM / DB to find out from people where they might have expected to find out about us?

Social Media

Our Google+ is now verified; we should try to get our Twitter and Facebook verified too. Action: DB, BS. This is probably worthwhile as it could give people we deal with more confidence that we’re genuine.

We get more attention on Twitter than Facebook, and less on Google+. We should try to do better targeting following of local groups in York to try to get a bit more exposure beyond the maker scene - e.g. trying to follow York Press, YorkMix, etc. This might be less easy on Facebook because of the mechanics of being a Page.

Thanks to Dan for maintaining the blog. Dan has tried to set up notifications on the blog so we know when people comment. We discussed comments arriving on the About page, and agreed to try to direct people to the mailing list. We need to be able to let people talk to us easily - e.g. via an HTML form - and this should probably go to a committee@ account. Gav suggested a contact@ address for general enquiries. We agreed that anything that isn’t an obvious “post to all members / open list” should go only to the committee initially.

Improving the Space

We discussed how we might afford more equipment for the space, as this is likely to encourage more people to make use of it.

There was a grant mentioned which will pay up to 40% of costs for capital items. We can only make one submission, and we have to cough up the other 60% from somewhere. Leeds City Region LEP provides it. Someone should get in touch about applying for this. Action: NL

We should talk to JustAddSharks to see whether we can get a discount on a laser cutter - we think they’ll cost about £4.2k otherwise. Action: BS

We should talk to Digital York about whether we could get a grant towards equipment or similar, as it’s the right sort of subject area. Action: GA

We should sort out our “donation box” so it’s well-placed and advertises the sort of expenses we have and encourages non-members to help us out.

Membership Drive

We had a discussion of how we might be more attractive to newcomers.

  • More workshops might be good - like the Blender workshop - and we should try to advertise them more widely. For example, to other spaces.
  • We should do more of an “open” open night. Feedback suggests that some people come along and see what others are working on, but can leave feeling like they’ve not been able to get involved. We should try to have a dedicated person each open night who can help to get new people doing stuff, so they don’t end up feeling ignored or excluded. We could try to :
    • Have stuff for new people to do, and people who know what materials (e.g. kits) we have and can help people out with them
    • Manage expectations better - encourage people to bring stuff with them so they have something to work on and get help with, rather than have nothing to hack
    • Set up a “hack this” bench for stuff that’s definitely not precious to anyone - so people can just come along and find something interesting to play or experiment with
  • We need to be better at including people in what we’re working on during open night - even if it’s just lending you a hand with what you’re working on so you can explain what you’re doing.
  • Wednesday evenings are our traditional hacking time - now that we have a 24/7 space maybe we should reconsider this, and try to be more social with new people:
    • Having more people around at one time is good
    • Maybe we should focus more on newcomers on Wednesday than we have traditionally done - maybe expect to break off from what we’re doing a bit more?
  • We need to be careful not to come across as pushing membership - encouraging people to donate to help out if they use materials, and encourage them to come back again.
    • John R fed back that he found the reverse problem - it was a challenge to find out how to join!
  • We should keep a space clear for open nights - we need to be a little neater; preferably really neat! All the benches should generally be clear except for tools.
  • We got some new storage which should help us keep benches clear.
  • How do we get more workshops - do we need to make some money available to arrange this?
    • E.g. to get some equipment in to bootstrap it, even if attendees will be asked to donate towards this cost?
    • We agreed this should be OK
    • JR suggested people are probably prepared to pay to cover costs plus a bit if they’re learning something
  • What areas could we cover for workshops? We’re quite heavily focussed on electronics and computers - can we branch out a bit?
    • We’d like to do this - we want to do what the members want
    • For example, woodwork, textiles, etc
    • We’re not currently very well set up for these (yet!) because we’re lacking the tools (and in some cases the expertise) etc
    • We should ensure we can encourage people to bring other crafts and hobbies along, and empower them to help set up the space for it
  • We might be able to get people to come and use the space for workshops - this might be useful advertising for us, and might help cover costs a bit
  • “Mobile hackspace” idea - take some gear, set up for the afternoon and just do something interesting somewhere public, answer questions a bit and attract attention.
  • “Design-a-kit evening” idea - try to get stuff together for people to work on and be involved

Makerfaire UK

This is on the weekend of April 1st/2nd. What can we take along?

  • At some point we’re going to need to retire SpaceHack, but we’ll take it
  • John’s tetris table

We have PLI now - this will need to go on the form - it covers us for Hackspace-y activities in and out of the space; we’re just not covered if someone becomes full-time employed.

We’ll make arrangements about this event via the mailing list(s).

Any Other Business

The people demand Hackspace T Shirts! Check with the mailing list to get numbers for an order.

Dan suggested posting a list of phone numbers for some of the committee on the Hackspace door (in the corridor), in case people need to get in contact urgently. Carwen noted that it could be useful for burglar alarm accidents etc. This has now been put up.

Næþ’n would like to do some chemistry - not to be done on an open night, but they want to get some gear to do it. They know how to do stuff safely, and they’re working out of a Make chemistry book which tries to recreate the typical “home chemistry” kit. A grant for lab supplies was requested, but consumables would be paid for by those taking part. We already have interest from at least Næþ’n and his housemate (others attending were interested too). After discussed, we had some concerns about doing this sort of activity:

  • Our PL insurance may be stretched depending on what we’re doing exactly
  • We’re working in an environment with wooden benches, carpet, etc, which could be easily damaged (e.g. staining).
  • There could be issues with fire alarms if any fumes were generated
  • We need to be respectful of the goodwill of our fellow tenants
    • We really want to get on well with people and draw their interest
    • People might not react too well to chemistry in an office environment

To summarize, we agreed it would be nice be able to do some chemistry, but we’d need to be careful about which experiments we do - and we’d need to be careful with the planning categories. We probably want to look at a different environment - for example somewhere suitable for chemistry, pottery, welding etc. For now, maybe we can arrange an event in collaboration with somewhere that has a lab since the environment we’re in isn’t appropriate.

We might want to find sympathetic organizations who are willing to host an event branded as “York Hackspace doing stuff they can’t normally do”, in general.

Separately, we noted that we need a chemical cupboard, and to store things properly. We should also probably get MSDS and COSHH notices as required for the materials we have.

We should try to get some good contacts at Leeds, Sheffield and Newcastle hackspaces. More local ones like Selby were also mentioned. Carwen suggested networking with other spaces to get decent numbers (say ~15 people) for collaborative workshops.

We discussed a need to have a few rules and guidelines for the space. We mentioned, for example, our policy on under-18s (and the fact it wasn’t actually spelled out anywhere). We should have something about keeping the place tidy - these should probably be guidelines for the most part. Action: GA to draft some basic rules and guidelines

Gavin is writing a CPC order - if anyone wants to add anything onto it, it’s on a Google Sheet linked from the hackspace Trello board.

Attachments

  1. See File:Accounts upto 2017-01-16.pdf