Member Meeting Minutes for September 27, 2009

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Meeting Agenda

  • Recap of the last month
    • New members added
    • Events (DevHouse, Maker Faire, Pitch Night, etc.)
    • Classes taught
    • Power is on
    • Lighting issues
    • RFID project status
  • Discuss Two Hands
    • When/what/why/how
  • Move to meet twice a month
    • Or more
    • Because of upcoming decisions
  • Discuss volunteer hours
    • Limited opportunities make it difficult for members to fulfill obligations
    • Two-tiered membership proposal
    • Alternatives
      • Remove volunteer requirement altogether
      • Move to a Resistor-type model
    • Solicit feedback from membership
  • Review the current financial status
  • Discuss budget for 2010
    • Back of the envelope "what it takes to stay alive"
    • Discuss dues vs. class revenue vs. grants
    • Discuss increased cost of 501(c)(3) (e.g. insurance) vs. benefit (potential grants)
    • Solicit feedback from membership

Minutes by Agenda Topic

Attendees: Doug, Steve, Dave, Amy, Marty, Forest, Matt S., Lori, Nick, Andy, Dan, Pete, Jon, Liz, Matt M.

Recap of September

  • New members
    • Welcome Doug!
  • Events
    • DevHouse was here
      • We need to charge them for beer :)
    • Maker Faire RI
      • Matt, Matt, Steve, Nick, Maria
      • A group visited AS220
      • Lots of hackerspaces were in attendance
      • A lot of networking was done for HackPittsburgh
    • Pitch Night
      • Highest Friday night attendance yet
      • Great project ideas
        • Bristlebots
        • CD shrink-wrap system
        • Moxie Marlinspike and the Everyone Wins Lottery
        • Weather balloons
        • Laser cutter fundraising ideas
  • i3 Detroit has thrown down the gauntlet for a rideable Bristlebot challenge
    • Date TBD
    • Matt M. is leading the charge
    • Be it resolved: this aggression shall not stand
  • Classes taught
    • Intro to Programming the Arduino
      • Attendees from Detroit and Ohio
      • Coverage in the PG Tech Man blog and the Make Blog
  • Power is on!
    • Now we have to pay for it :)
    • We have a few broken ballasts that need to be fixed
    • We need to run outlets
    • Donations of extension cords and power strips are welcome
    • Pete volunteers to help
  • RFID
    • Parts are in
    • We need to get going on the build and installation

Two Hands Project

  • Overview of the project
  • We anticipate they'll be here tomorrow Saturday, October 3
  • Come down and hang out tomorrow from 6-9 Saturday, October 3!
  • Bring your projects!


  • Frequency of meetings was discussed
  • Mitch Altman of Noisebridge provided guidance about meeting frequency
    • They meet once a week
    • They wonder how we get things done meeting once a month :)
    • Could we meet twice a month?
    • Could we meet on a weeknight?
    • Could we commit to starting meetings on time?
  • We'll use a Doodle poll to determine the best weeknight to meet (M-Th)
    • We'll target two meetings a month (vote passes)
    • We'll choose one weeknight and one weekend day


  • We've spent some time pursuing 501(c)(3) status
    • This will enable donations
    • There seems to be some interest in our organization if we do this
    • There are legal costs involved
    • There is paperwork and overhead involved
    • Insurance is required to avoid liability and to protect council members
      • Base insurance is approximately $6k/year
    • No other spaces have this status
      • Due to liability
      • Due to hassle
      • Due to trouble getting insured with the type of equipment these shops have
  • The alternative is LLC or C-corp with nonprofit status
    • The same protections are afforded
    • Some taxes are required
  • A discussion about liability, officership, and options ensued
    • Could we do LLC now and pursue 501(c)(3) later?
    • We can run this by the legal clinic
  • A workshop is being held Wed 10/21 at 5:30
    • Greater Pittsburgh Arts Council
    • They provide guidance on such things
    • We'll ask our lawyers what they think
    • Marty and Lori will attend the workshop
  • Our goal is to assess our options and come up with some real numbers, and as good a cost/benefit analysis as we can
  • Progress on the 501(c)(3) will be halted for now

Volunteer Hours and Two-Tiered Membership

  • Duquesne Law Clinic recommends that members have no voting rights
    • Especially if we do 501(c)(3) or nonprofit
  • Voting and representation was discussed
  • We want participation and investment in the group from everyone
    • This is fundamental to our culture
    • How do we have this without winding up with everyone on the board?
  • We've had trouble making volunteer opportunities for people
  • We've had trouble collecting cash when volunteer opportunities are missed
  • We don't need "office hours" anymore
    • The shop is open self-sufficiently
    • People are showing up to hack
    • What we do need is people to sweep the floors, clean the bathrooms, run classes, hold Friday night events, etcetera
  • The two-tiered membership was proposed to address this
  • Keys and access were discussed
  • Volunteer hours and opportunities were discussed
  • NYCResistor's model was discussed
  • Suggestion
    • Doodle poll consists of dates
    • When you do something, you stick your name and what you did in the poll
  • Another suggestion
    • Move away from hours
    • Everyone gets billed the same amount up front
    • If you do hours, you get a coupon or a tab or something
    • Credit or voucher system
    • Instead of expecting people to have their hours, you honor them if they do
  • A lot of this stuff comes from lack of automation and management systems
    • Management app

Financial Status Review

  • Jon had been crunching the numbers to determine sustainability models
  • may affect membership rates and fundraising requirements
  • discussion tabled until next general meeting in 2 weeks

Potential of Raising Dues

  • currently breaking even with rent only (utilities not included)
  • suggestion of buying a cheap property rather than renting
  • discussion tabled until next meeting

Sprout Fund

  • we only need a compelling proposal
    • how the project would benefit the 18-25 y.o. demographic
    • how the project would benefit the region and young people living here
    • suggested public event involving a laser cutter
      • educational aspect
      • spin-off idea of etched acrylic panel artwork based on live data
      • crowd-sourced assembly
      • Answers to the question, "What are you making?"
      • Public demos of laser cutter in operation
    • Possible venues
      • GAGI Festival
      • Penn Arts Unblurred
        • possibility of theming an event with a display
        • possible fundraising during venue event
        • Art And Technology Initiative
        • fashion show with recycled clothes
        • date for event April 2nd - Good Friday
  • November 1st application deadline


  • they are waiting on details about desired classes
  • consensus was already reached on forum thread
    • 2 classes per month for 4 months (8 total) wanted
  • Nick will followup with email to get the ball rolling

Action Items

Matt S.:

  • Put up the Doodle poll for meeting nights

Matt M.:

  • Organize the Bristlebot Response


  • Kick off RFID design and installation
  • Attend Greater Pittsburgh Arts Council meeting
  • Discuss management app with Steve


  • Attend Greater Pittsburgh Arts Council meeting


  • Email the Two Hands guys for update (Done)
  • Discuss management app with Steve


  • Organize electricity buildout planning

Steve K.

  • create membership account/automation system


  • move forward with Sprout proposal by emailing details to council, and they will email the details to the group
  • schedule meeting to determine interest level among members and continue planning


  • Email MAC/UPARC to organize classes