[TheThinkTank] Big News From NYC!!!

Ollin envoltorio at gmail.com
Mon Feb 1 13:41:43 PST 2016


Congrats Josh :) ¡Abrazos desde Guadalajara!

On Mon, Feb 1, 2016 at 2:45 PM, Angel York <aniola at gmail.com> wrote:

> Awesome!  Congratulations!  Add yourselves to the wiki list, too!
> https://www.bikecollectives.org/wiki/index.php?title=Community_Bicycle_Organizations#New_York
>
> The Davis Bike Collective has bylaws that took like a year to put together
> because they're consensus-based but designed to accommodate hierarchical
> legal requirements (the major takeaway is that if you want to do
> consensus-based, have your "board" have no decision-making power and have
> them beholden to the core group of key holders).
>
> The Santa Cruz Bike Church has an interesting payment structure.  They
> don't have one or a few paid employees and they don't have no employees.
> They pay people a bit, not much, to do the tasks that nobody would
> otherwise want to do.  If you want a low-hierarchy organization, this seems
> like a good way to go.
>
> volunteer roles: post volunteer role descriptions on your website.  this
> takes a little volunteer management, but then you have more people to split
> the work amongst
>
> One of the major challenges, in my experience, is in cultivating a
> physical space that is emotionally welcoming for everyone.  If you don't
> have clear shop guidelines for behavior at the outset, you'll find yourself
> developing them eventually anyway.  Also, it's better to frame things where
> possible in terms of expected behavior, rather than what not to do.  It's
> good to get everyone on the same page from the outset.  Look to libraries
> and other publicly-owned spaces for expectations of behavior while in the
> shop.  They may have a lot of don'ts, but they're there to serve every
> single person who comes through their doors for library-type activities.
>
> What are the norms for volunteers at your bike co-op during off-hours?  At
> meetings?  How do you feel about drinking?  What about spending the night
> occasionally?   These sorts of norms seem to vary and what you choose in
> each case will make some people feel more welcome and other people feel
> less welcome, so they're probably good topics to consider and occasionally
> do a check to see if there's still a general consensus.
>
> When I think of bike co-ops (etc.), I'm thinking of a place where people
> can go to learn how to work on their bikes.  Is this what yours will be?
> You'll get people who urgently need to fix their bikes.  Having the
> mechanical skills to be able to help them is important, but equally
> valuable is having the pedagogical skills to be able to help them.  Are you
> going to have a maximum student:teacher ratio?  Quality vs quantity of
> learning.  Are you going to do appointments, drop-in, or a mix?  Are you
> going to have a volunteer-only night?  Will that be for volunteering, or
> for volunteers?
>
> Having a few basic snacks available is so so so very key.  When people are
> hungry, they get frustrated.  Feed them and they will learn.  Peanut butter
> is cheap. Chips and beans are cheap.  Host a CSA (if those are an option in
> NYC) and you can get free produce.
>
> A *high-consequence environment* is when you're showing up and your bike
> is broken and you don't know how to fix it and you don't know how to get as
> much help as you need and you need your bike to get home tonight.  A *low-consequence
> environment* is when you're showing up and learning how to fix bikes on a
> donated bike.
>
> When you become an official legal organization, they require a board,
> usually with a minimum of three board members.  MAKE SURE these members
> stay current and active.  Don't let them move away without taking them off
> the board AND the bank account.  Otherwise you end up with a bank account
> you can't access - careful, this has happened before!
>
> Keep your dirty rags in a fireproof container.  They're spontaneously
> combustible
> <http://bikeportland.org/2013/08/15/opening-day-fire-causes-serious-damage-at-the-bike-farm-92335>.
> If you're keeping heavy things in a filing cabinet or shelving,  bolt it to
> the wall.  After years of sitting there like it's no big deal, the cabinet
> can spontaneously fall over, and you wouldn't want anyone next to it when
> that happened!
>
> It's all good and well to have rules for what makes someone a keyholder,
> but equally important is defining a process for what makes someone no
> longer a keyholder.  The easiest way to address keys is to get a keypad
> door lock.  Otherwise you end up changing the locks every once in a while
> anyway because keeping track of keyholders is a bit of a never-ending
> juggling task.
>
> How do you identify people in the shop that you can ask for help?  It may
> seem obvious to the core volunteers who these people are, but it's not
> obvious to the patrons.  One good way to deal with this is to have
> teacher-volunteers wearing red aprons (or hats, or something).
>
> OMG I <3 you so much for being bilingual from the get-go.  Double the
> work, double the reward.  I haven't seen a gender-balanced collective yet,
> too.  Consider also ongoing volunteer education workshops.  What
> populations do you see a lot of?  Invite an expert to come do a 101.  Which
> populations do you want to see more of?  Invite an expert.
>
> If you do a variation on a women's night, carefully weigh the pros and
> cons.    Some people who might come to that night who might not come to the
> other shifts, but then you have fewer women mechanics with energy for
> regular shifts.
>
> Figure out what traditions you're going to develop for regular, ongoing
> volunteer appreciation.  Volunteers are a key resource in a bike
> collective.  Give them lots of sunshine and water them well.
>
> income: donations of bikes and selling of bikes, stand time, memberships,
> donations of money, grants, fundraiser parties.  Are you a fundraiser party
> group or a grants group?  If fundraiser, you can get pretty much all the
> moving parts donated. If grants, I know Americorps is a good source for
> getting a paid person for a year.
>
> Find a mediator that you know you can call on.  Better to have this person
> or organization available as a resource in case of conflict **before you
> need them**.
>
> FAQ: if you make a label in your co-op's inbox for FAQ, then you can go
> through once in a while and figure out what the FAQ actually are, and then
> you can post an FAQ page to your website based on actual FAQs.
>
> I've never volunteered at a bike co-op with a great database but omg it
> would be so useful for managing inventory and volunteers, and I'm pretty
> sure there are some resources out there.
>
> See also:
> https://www.bikecollectives.org/wiki/index.php?title=Main_Page#Starter_Kits
>
> You'll do great.
>
> -Angel York
>
> On Mon, Feb 1, 2016 at 7:38 AM, Josh Bisker <jbisker at gmail.com> wrote:
>
>> Dear Think Tank!
>>
>> Big news from New York City: it's my pleasure to introduce you to the New
>> York Mechanical Gardens / El Jardín Mecánico, the city's first true bike
>> co-op. We've been quietly organizing over the last few months, and as of
>> Saturday we've reached an agreement with a grassroots community center in a
>> church in Brooklyn. We plan to open doors on April 1. Things are about to
>> get real in NYC!
>>
>> We need your help in a couple of easy ways: follow us on all the social
>> medias, and we'll do the same back, and this will help us (a) build a local
>> community by sharing good content, (b) demonstrate our viability in some
>> weird way to potential funders. We're @bikecoopnyc at FB
>> <https://www.facebook.com/bikecoopnyc>, Twitter
>> <https://twitter.com/bikecoopnyc>, and Insta
>> <https://www.instagram.com/bikecoopnyc/>, on the web at www.bikecoop.nyc,
>> and emailable at bikecoopnyc at gmail.com. (Spanish translation is on the
>> way for the site, and we aim for all our outgoing materials to be
>> bilingual.) We also are eager to see your examples of good bylaws or
>> decision-making rubrics -- we don't want to get too far down the road
>> without having a structure for making decisions, figuring out membership,
>> etc. Finally, if you have an amazing suggestion for a seedling co-op like
>> ours about fundraising or soliciting donations or supplies, please share!
>>
>> This message is more than an announcement: it's also a love letter to
>> everyone on this forum. The Mechanical Gardens would never have started
>> planting a single seed here if it weren't for your inspiration, optimism,
>> and friendship.
>>
>> I'd been convinced for years that NYC has too much going against us for
>> it work out here -- chiefly that real estate works differently than
>> anywhere else on the planet, and people's time is a different kind of
>> commodity too. But I got back from B!B! this year really reinvigorated to
>> start a co-op, and more aware of how much it takes a community of people to
>> make a project happen. Soon after I returned, I made up my mind to start
>> this story fresh, and then found that Sera and Aaron from Rag & Bones had
>> just moved here for grad school, and that Courtney and Arnold from Krank It
>> Up were working at a shop in town, and that a few other folks I talked to
>> also had co-op backgrounds -- or got stars in their eyes when we started
>> talking about making one happen here. So suddenly the dream became a team,
>> and then we were figuring things out together -- and now we've got a space
>> to start working in. Hot damn.
>>
>> We can't wait for the first season at the Mechanical Gardens, and are
>> filled with gratitude to you for all the lovely fruit our boughs will come
>> to bear.
>>
>> Big love,
>>
>> Josh
>> The New York Mechanical Gardens
>> El Jardín Mecánico
>>
>>
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