Below is a summary of meeting minutes posted for 12/4/11

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Working Group Name:            Volunteer Services

Meeting Date/Time:               December 4, 2011/1:10PM

Location:                                 Atrium of 60 Wall Street

Meeting #:                               3

Attendees:                               Alex, Ravi, Christine, Anthony, Lois, Liz, Andrew and Daniel


3.1.1                Getting Started


Ravi:                Maybe if scout in closer we can use body heat to warm ourselves up.


The facilitator who was supposed to facilitate this meeting turned out to be unavailable; Ravi volunteers to facilitate. At Ravi’s request, Anthony agrees to take minutes again this week.


3.1.2                Introductions


Ravi:                How about we go around and have everyone introduce themselves and say a little something about what you’ve been up to.


Alex:                I’m working on the Harlem space; it’s coming along great!


Daniel:             I flew in from Honduras to participate.


Anthony is trying to power through a dull hangover.


Lois:                I’m Lois


Christine:         I’m Christine. I’ve done a lot of stuff with volunteer management and can’t wait to bring that to OWS


Ravi:                I’m obsessed with—among other things—potato chips, knitting and technology.


3.2.1                Deciding the Agenda


Report backs on tech stuff, progress with Harlem space, allotment approved during last night’s GA, internal communications.


Additionally, there’s been a request that we move VS meetings to the park (Lois proposes that once the Harlem space is ready we move meetings up there.)


Anthony has some concerns about last night’s proposal he would like to address if there is time.


3.3.1                Report Back on Harlem Space


Alex:                Yesterday was an instrumental day in what’s happening at the Harlem location. We got nearly seventy percent of what we need to set up the location! Even if this is a leaderless movement, shit is still getting done.  (Pause) I think there needs to be some clarity about what the facility will be used for, what happens there, etc. As it stands now, it looks like the space will be ready by the second week in December. (Pause) Maybe we should have a kick-off party at the Harlem location when it’s ready.


Christine:         Even though the location isn’t up yet we have a lot of needs. We’ve had volunteers doing data entry for finance and other groups. Alex has had a request from the Kitchen for people from 1:30-4:30 every day. It’s been exciting to get people working.


3.4.1                Tech Stuff Report Back


Ravi:                Volunteer management system. We have a ton of volunteers. Different groups maintain different lists. We are trying to ensure that contact the right volunteers for the right services.


Someone new arrives; her name is Liz.


Liz:                  I’ve been down a few times and hung out but this is my first meeting. I want to try to figure out how to be more involved.


Ravi:                Do we want to use an open source software application like CIVICRM? We have someone who works with this software and is super adept at it. He (Andrew) can only work part-time though. He’s agreed to help us get set up—clean data, upload, organize. Just to make it clear, OWS favors Open Source software because it doesn’t have an end client, so it’s leaderless and thus a good fit for us. I need to talk to Tech Ops this evening to see where they are with the two forms they are designing. One will be for Volunteers to fill out; the other is for WG to fill out so we know what sorts of volunteers they need from VS.


Lois:                The forms need to include volunteer’s skill sets.


Ravi:                CIVICRM allows massive tagging. For example, Tech Ops can tag volunteers with the programming languages each volunteer knows.


And just like that Andrew arrives.


Lois:                Who controls the data if it’s open to everyone to use?


Christine:         VS will be the first group trained on it. We’ll have a formalized use policy. Further, we’ll be able to track usage so we can tell if people aren’t using it right.


Lois:                Can you tell who logging in, when and what they did?


Andrew:           Yeah. But it might be a lot to police.


Christine:         Say, if someone sent an inappropriate e-mail to everyone. You could track who sent it.


Andrew:           You can set up groups. CIVICRM allows for specific Admin and permission structures.


Ravi:                We are going to have a conversation about best practices.


3.5.1                Purpose of the Harlem space.


Ravi suggests that we keep time—approximately ten minues each for the remaining agenda items. Liz offers to keep time.


Alex:                There are a lot of questions floating around with regard to the legality of the location. To be clear, there will be no one sleeping there. Lois will be making a contract about how the space will be used. I have no problem adhering to what she wants. We need to limit traffic as much as possible—I mean it is her home; her grand-daughter lives there. I think with this space and once we get the necessary technology in there we will be better able to stream where volunteers are going and what they are doing. Beyond that I’m willing to explore options on what the space will be used for.


Lois:                The space is connected to my apartment. It’s not that I don’t want to help more. It’s just that it connects to my house so I can’t have people staying overnight.


Christine:         I have a lawyer on retainer. I had him review the agreement have with Lois and he said it looks on the up-and-up.


Alex:                The space is specifically for VS.


Ravi:                For example if Tech Ops needs data entry the location would provide a place for volunteers to show up and do that data entry.


Christine:         In the past we’ve need a large group of people to do certain things. Finding space has always been difficult. This will solves that problem.


Alex:                And to reiterate: this is nice and usable but it’s not high end stuff.  I bought most of it myself.


Andrew:           Having a location is great. It allows you to plan and get more things done.


Ravi:                Are we comfortable with this?


Uptwinkles all around.


3.6.1                Launch of Harlem space.


Alex:                December 12th is the proposed launch date.  We want to have work completed by then. The following weekend (16th) I’d like to a get together with all the people who helped make it happen.


Ravi:                Questions about this?


Liz:                  What else needs to be done?


Lois:                Walls need to be sheet-rocked. Smoothed. Painted. Tiles put down. Also, doors need to be changed. There’s a bathroom and shower.


Alex:                There was a guy who offered us a tub at the GA last night.


3.7.1                Budgeting.


Ravi:                We had a proposal that passed GA last night for $2K. Is there anything else we need to do with this money?


Alex:                I would like for $800 to $1K of that be earmarked for tech needs. We should see if we can reserve some of the funds but I am not sure if we can do that. We need 4 desktop workstations, a fax machine, a printer and a copier. I’m willing to donate—discussed with Lois and she gave approval for this—an alarm system; just because of what’s going on there. I want to contact ADT to install window breaks and door alarms to control access to the space.


Andrew:           You should add security cables to your budget.


Anthony:         No. I can get those for free.


Andrew:           Also, you need to make sure you have data backup.


Everyone agrees.


Ravi:                We need to work to increase communications about things we need. Sometimes other groups have stuff we can have for free.


Alex:                Yes, I’m working on it. We also need to think about earmarking funds to pay for electricity. Additionally, we have a file cabinet. We will probably need to earmark another $300 for office supplies.


Ravi:                Why do we need a file cabinet? Couldn’t we just put all this stuff into the CIVICRM. It’s more secure.


Alex:                I guess we could but then we’d need a good high quality scanner.


Liz:                  Have you approached local businesses about getting donations?


Alex:                Yes, we’re working with people on that.


Andrew:           Do you know about TechSoup?


Alex:                Yep, I am going to get in touch with them.


Lois:                Who is going to take charge of contacting people on the supportive business list?


Ravi:                I am. It’s preliminary but I want to find out if there are businesses willing to donate stuff or subsidized purchases.


Alex:                I don’t think we are going to have a ton of extra expenses.


Lois:                We should get free stuff if we can.


Alex:                I’ll be talking to TechServe and TechSoup this week.


Ravi:                I’ll be reviewing budget items and minutes to develop a form for these expenses. Since we’re doing great on time, does anyone else have any proposals?


Alex:                I do. At GA last night, someone asked me if VS could develop a plan to help find employment for OWSers.


Ravi:                There are so many groups that are trying to do that already. We really need to stick with talking to other people to determine needs.


Christine:         There’s a website being set up for that: (It may not be live yet.) This may not be the best thing for VS to get in but we can direct people to it.


Andrew:           VS plugs people in to the movement. Finding jobs doesn’t necessarily pull them into the movement.  Maybe we should have a mission statement.


We do. It reads:

The mission of Volunteer Services is to provide volunteers to meet the needs of the various working groups and projects of Occupy Wall Street, and to help people in New York and across the country become involved and empowered in the movement through volunteering.


Ravi:                We should talk about clarifying this; it’s a little unclear as it reads now.


Liz:                  Are we only helping people on-site?


Ravi:                No we are working with people off-site as well


Alex:                Just got an e-mail from the women who donated that 99% buttons, she’ll be in town next week. I want to talk about this.


3.8.1                Buttons


Ravi:                Should we give them to people when they join? Or give them to DA for actions?


Liz:                  Have we thought about handing them out at events? Recycling them afterwards? (Everyone likes this idea.)


Ravi:                Through the other groups we’re involved with; we’ll broaden the discussion about what’s we are doing with them.


3.9.1                Communication Protocols.


Ravi:                Alex and Christine have been the main people with creating communication standards protocols, etc.


Christine:         We’re ready to start uploading our data. But I would really like to play around with it first before we open it up to other people.


3.10.1              VS Weekly Meeting Location.


Alex:                I don’t want to meet outside.


Christine:         Neither do I.


Seems like we are staying at 60 Wall until the Harlem space is ready.


3.11.1              More CIVICRM logistics


Andrew:           Think about what you want to get from people on the volunteer form. The best place to get this info is during intake.


(There’s a statistic being bandied about that we 6K volunteers in our database!)


Liz:                  Consider optimal data structure when building the form, so cleanup is minimized.


Alex:                Is the purpose of the space in Harlem to address needs from other groups and then fill those needs?


Ravi:                Yes. But we can also do it remotely because CIVICRM is web-based.


Alex:                We had consensus last meeting about Direct Action Contacts (DACs). But I am still concerned that some of the members of the group feel as if their voices aren’t being considered.


Ravi:                I don’t think we can use Direct Action since there’s a Direct Action WG. How about Volunteer Coordinator?


Alex:                We need full-time people to get stuff done in real time.


Christine:         Can we go back to communications. Something that might help: Google groups are fantastic. I think we should get as many people involved with VS’ Google Group.. Use it as a primary means of communication. The way is set up very few people use the e-mail group content option. So please sign up for VS’ google groups. The link is


Lois:                What is the capability of the CIVICRM software? We have a form for volunteers and a form for groups explaining what they need?


Christine:         CIVICRM is different from Google Groups.


Ravi asks Liz to bottom line best practices for CIVICRM and Google Groups. How often do we e-mail (Advises her to use NYCares as an example).


Andrew:           You all should be writing this down.


Ravi:                Anthony’s got it. Liz as you uncover things—make a thread in Google Groups about them.


Liz:                  What are the immediate needs?


Ravi:                Let’s have a breakout after the meeting about that.


Liz:                  What’s the relation of CIVICRM to Salesforce?


Andrew:           CIVICRM came out of a Salesforce environment.


Liz:                  I’ve worked with Salesforce, so CIVICRM will probably be similar.


Ravi:                Is that it?


3.12.1              Proposal Feedback


Anthony:         I wanted to say something about the proposal we brought before GA last night, if there’s time.  (It seems there is.) Basically, I am glad that we went and glad that we got the funding. The issue is that I had some issues with the proposal. It lacked necessary specificity—such as an itemized expense list and other pertinent details. I sort of obsessively haunt the future proposals page on And really we should be using the proposals from SIS as models for our proposal.  Also, I was a little disturbed by the tone toward the end of the proposal. I know that the GA where Alex original brought the proposal was sort of crazy; blaming facilitation for the craziness isn’t really fair or constructive. There’s too much of a tendency to point fingers on this stuff instead of stepping in an working to fix the problem. I would just like us to be more wary of this as we make future proposals.


Christine:         Let’s bring this to Google Groups. Feedback is great.


Meeting Adjorned.

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