Version Zero

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There are lots of proposals floating around, and currently no boundaries on what may be suggested, discussed, or proposed. What would be more beneficial to the group and everyone who is participating is a small set of coherent options to discuss and either adopt, adapt, or set aside.

This is a list of operating and founding guidelines, not suggestions for projects or particular uses of any given space. This list is also exclusive of the space search discussion, this would still be version zero no matter where we end up.

I (Abachman) suggest we codify the current proposal on the table as being something like the following:

  1. The budget target for space, utilities, and insurance is $800 per month, maximum. That can be considered the maximum allowable non-optional burn rate. The amount we would have to pay to not lose the space. This number is based on $600 rent + $150 avg. utilities (could be more some months, which is why we need a buffer) + $25 insurance (Rent, Utilities, Insurance: RUI). Sherwin suggested that theft and liability insurance (which would be required by the lease) could be as little as $100 a year. I suggest $25 as a reasonable approximation (within an order of magnitude), regardless of final location.
    Anything outside the scope of this amount is not considered version zero, and should be discussed elsewhere.
  2. The total budget for the organization should separate line items for non-optional and optional quantities. The number based on RUI would be the top priority and should be achievable based solely on membership dues collection. All other monthly income after initial donation drives (see below) would be put towards Events, Equipment, and Projects (EEP).
  3. Signing a lease would be dependent on financial commitments for the support of the space from each of the founding members of the organization. A situation in which any single member is financially liable for the whole cost is unacceptable (unless we have a volunteer?). The amount required from each founding member would be sliding based on need and personal ability, but must be agreed upon before the lease is signed and must be for the term of the lease. This amount constitutes the non-optional quantity required to keep the space. If it can't be met, the space closes.
  4. Upon the acceptance of the above outline and the immanent acquisition of a space, we would start three donation drives:
    1. The Founders Grant. This would be a one time funding drive intended to build up a buffer of at least three months RUI. Based on the back of the envelope calculation above, that'd be about 800 * 3 = 2400, but would vary based on the final RUI calculation.
    2. Equipment & Furnishings: in order to fill the space with fun things to do for as many people as possible, we need tools, equipment, parts, scrap, raw materials, and furnishings. The easiest way to do this is free, so we set out to solicit the donation of physical matériel. Stuff that is available on loan would come later and through separate channels, this donation drive would be things that people are willing to part permanently.
    3. EEP Grant. This would ideally come after A. and would be the open ended drive to collect funding for events, equipment, and projects; and everything EEP entails.
  5. In parallel with and on the same time line as the donation drives, we begin the membership drive. That is, community outreach focused on gathering and enrolling membership in the Baltimore Node organization.
    NOTE: this requires a solid definition of who is a member (see next item on the list).
  6. We choose a key-holding membership cap based on the space available. It's reasonable that Load of Fun could support a membership of 25. Evenly spreading RUI expense across 25 members would put monthly dues at $40. The "what is a member" and membership benefits discussion will have to be another thread. Try the Membership page.
  7. We adopt a "space first" attitude as far as the founding members are concerned. It was mentioned briefly at the second organizational meeting that the founding members are in this phase of the discussion to act as janitors, administrators, and midwives for the organizational birthing process. That suggestion still stands. The items proposed here are independent of projects, location searching, and the future of Baltimore Node as a loose confederation of like-minded technological enthusiasts.


The Initial 10 and the Next 6[edit]

My two cents on Adams suggestion. Kellyegan 04:33, 10 July 2009 (UTC)

I think $800 RUI is very possible.

Let's assume a starting membership of 10. If we set dues at $50 and ask initial members to donate $30 extra a month for the first couple of months. That is $2.66 a day. I can skip the coffee shop for a couple of months to see something this cool happen. It has to be better than the cable I am watching. Each new member we add after that would reduce initial members extra donations by $5. At just 16 members we have no more extra donation and every member after that will be adding funds to our bank account each month. Can we convince 6 more people to join after the initial 10? I think we can. The initial 10 would also have a big monetary incentive to convince the next 6. After that we could survive for a while without anymore membership. 16 to survive.

I think all other costs including incorporation, equipment purchases, etc. be paid for with specific fundraising. The first fundraiser, perhaps a big party, could be used to give us some toward a 3-months rent fund. If we handle these costs with fundraisers we will reduce the burden on the initial members.

Without going through complicated demographics DC is a bigger market and HacDC was out of the gate first. If HacDC has 40 members after a year we will have somewhat less. I realize there are many possible mitigating circumstances which may mean we are more or less successful. I think 25 to 30 is a safe estimate of amazing success after a year. This number doesn't include all those at workshops or other events just those paying monthly dues. But I also think that that means that we can definitely get 16 and probably at least 20. At 20 members we would be bringing $400 a month extra which could go for equipment, events or rainy day fund.

DC has 40 members with very little expensive equipment. Just a small drill press, some power tools and used electronics testing equipment.

I think a space of 700 sq. ft. would be more than doable for 16-20 members. Even at 20-30 I think it won't be as cramped as you might think. You have to remember that whole membership would only be there in the same place for important meetings and big events. Most of the time it would be 4 - 5, possibly less. This would allow ample room to work on a project that may need a little more room. By the end of the year we can reassess our space needs in relation to our actual membership. If we outgrow our space sooner we will be successful enough to afford any move out cost.

Also it is clear that one of HacDC's initial problems was too much stuff. We should make sure that the Node doesn't fill with everybody's old CPUs. We should have basic supplies, stuff being used for active projects, tools and equipment and furniture. This is not going to be a storage locker or a junk shop. This has to be a place where things get done. We should be ruthless with junk, each member has a small storage space and has to take the rest home.

So who wants to be the initial 10?