Bman Non-Profit 1st Meeting

9/30/10 6pm Lucky Lab Hawthorne


Brian Moran, Ben Dantoni, Mel Casburn, Andy, Deadletter, Ether, Emmanuel, Tito, Conch, Eric, Deb Ochoa, Keith DeChance, Kim Smith, Syd(?), J.P., Sam Sauter, John, Ken Strait, Chuco the Driver, DiAnna Conda


6:00-6:15 Gathering and chit chat

6:15-6:30 Introductions


2)Experience, burning man, non-profit, etc.

3)Why are you here?

6:30-7:00 Why are we here?

-responding to a desire/need for more involvement

-investigate possible options for an additional organization or suggestions to improve/modify current structure

-Vote on moving forward to investigate options


1)leave existing structure, with or without recommendations

2)form an additional organization (likely 501(c)3 but not necessarily) 2

3)convert the LLC to a non-profit

7:00-7:30Basic info on forming a non-profit 501(c)3

-filing with the state

-membership organization or not

-organizing members

-filing for 501(c)3 status with the IRS

-approval process usually 3 or more months

Pros & cons of 501(c)3



7:30-8:00 Next Meeting and deliverables

   Rough Timeline for the next 6 months


[meeting called to order by BenD @ 6:15pm, all attendees briefly introduced themselves]

BenD said we're here to resolve conflict within and around the existing organizations, and react to community's desire to get involved. He wants to achieve transparency, implementation of voting... and let's take a vote on moving forward in this process. BenD made a motion that this group move forward in exploring/investigating an alternative organization for the local community. Deadletter asked if we should first discuss pros/cons of a non-profit; BenD noted that we're not quite to that point yet and may not discuss it tonight. Motion seconded by Bonk, motion thirded by Mel. Unanimously approved by the group.

Andy noted that voting brings problems we need to be aware of; BenD acknowledged the remark, says we need to navigate mandates and approval processes as we go through the exploration. Noted that LLC is currently closed, has no elections, does not publish finances. Current SOAK LLC members are: Ken Strait, Marcea Wiggins, Beth Martin, Thomas Mcelroy. [some SOAK history was discussed; not included in these notes]. BenD also noted that current SOAK LLC funds are substantial and taxable. It was noted that legally that money belongs to the LLC members and cannot be claimed by the community. BenD stated that his goal is for any new org to work *with* the LLC. The question was asked about why Tzara is not in attendance. BenD speculates that he feels his current activities are appropriate for the role he has been assigned by the BORG. He also stated that we lose the ability to work in the funding stream if we create an organization that doesn't work with the existing structure. Deadletter says if a community org really represented the community, it would grow larger and faster than the existing structures.

BenD says this group should explore possibilities and identify which one (or ones) best serve the specific needs, either as-is or with tweaks. The 2nd step would be forming the organization that works alongside the LLC; we can get into specific details of various organization types later. Deadletter noted that he runs two orgs where one handles the legal details to enable the other to run activities. BenD noted that non-profit structures can hinder fast decision-making and this is a limitation to be considered. Another option is to merge into a single entity, but this group needs to investigate it together. He recommends the next few meetings are about researching options, presenting to the group, and then coming to a final recommendation.

Deb asked about how much structure the BORG provides for each region; BenD noted that it stops at the role of the regional. He noted that the "meta-regional" may or may not operational at present and he doesn't have all the info.

John noted that we should start with goals because the organization we choose should follow the goals. Tito noted that we need to learn from past experiences, and that Burning Man itself is mutating ("it's dying, as a playa experience it's dying... and those of us that have the magic want to keep the magic"). He noted that regionals have an opportunity to keep the principles alive.

BenD asked what we want the goals to be:

Tito said: Art grants (BenD noted this is currently done by the LLC and should be the primary goal, and that the simplest, easiest, non-invasive function of the new structure could be to simply manage inbound event revenue and outbound grant + event sponsorships. BenD noted that money is currently giving out in a "grossly negligent" way (after giving two specific examples).

Deb asked about events; BenD said legally the LLC is throwing the events and that Tzara manages the staff who puts it on, and that it's a volunteer-run event. Deadletter noted that he feels SOAK is a "mature" event but Burnout is a "clusterfuck", and a good proving ground for new leadership in the community that includes proactive and timely communication. He votes strongly for the new organization to run Burnout starting in 2011. Deb suggested the new org could start off by taking on a single event per year.

Kim said she was never asked for receipts for the art grant she received, and raised a concern about the lack of accountability and transparency. John repeated his question: what is the PURPOSE of this new organization and what are its GOALS? Andy voiced a concern about what the LLC's attitude is about this organization, and that they may not be willing to collaborate with a new organization. He also asked where the new org would get seed money, and recommended throwing frequent parties (i.e. not waiting until Burnout 2011), and using that money to hand out art grants. He stated that would give us experience with the day-to-day logistics of running the organization. Bonk said he thinks the goal is to create a legal entity that can hold the money. He said he doesn't feel that friendly collaboration will be feasible and he feels a new org should take over the new one in some way.

Ether said he's on the LLC grant committee and their job is to give out money, and encouraged people to participate in the process if they want money for a grant. He said 4 people were on that committee, and he was asked to be on that committee and "what Tzara says goes".

BenD feels taking on events now is perhaps biting off more than we can handle at first. He said the BORG asked Tzara to create a committee for art grants, rather than just having 2 people make decisions (as had been happening previously).

John said here's what he feels is the business purpose: To be a community-driven organization that supports the local BM community in a transparent manner.

Deadletter says there are different projects we can take on with a non-profit, that we can shepherd local business projects, and that we don't know yet what we'll do with the time and money. He said outreach should be part of this mission to bring more people in this region into the community. He says it's a PDX problem, that we disrespect the other cities in the metro. He feels "being anti-provincial" should be part of the purpose. Ken Strait noted that he's run into several people who don't know how to reach the community. Tito suggested scholarships as another way to use the money and Deadletter agreed with this idea

BenD asked the group to say whether they feel it's worth moving forward, spending some talking about various options (including a non-profit). John asked again for the group to agree on purpose. Tito asked what we want to be doing 15 years down the road. BenD said he feels one of the functions of the org is to be able to live on in perpetuity. Kim stated that we need to identify our mission at a higher level than tasks such as "give an art grant". She noted that even in this meeting there are old-schoolers, new-schoolers, factions, and that the LLC has done good work in some functions, and isn't truly accountable for all of the things we might want to do.

BenD stated a suggested mission: To foster and promote art & creativity. Sam suggested adding "community" because that's a part of art and creativity, and those things help the community. Deadletter said it would be possible to create a non-profit for art (not the people) or for people (not the art), or one whose boundary is "Burning Man communities" but he hopes we'll form something that helps us represent our interests in other places around town, that we should have our fingers in everything and have both an internal and external focus. Keith said that fits with what Chicago has done; there's a possibility to open up a lot of new events and they created a lot of new things in addition to just taking over the existing.

John suggested another purpose: Foster the creation of art and education through the transparency of a community-run organization

Deadletter noted that Seattle has a formal grievance process. Deb asked if we're opposed to identifying ourselves within the larger BM community; BenD said this is a question we will need to answer but he feels we should honor and acknowledge that BM brought us together but we don't have to formally connect it, and can therefore operate autonomously. He said this would be a nod to reaching beyond the BM community.

Bonk said a large portion of the community doesn't even go to the playa anymore and the main event shouldn't have a say in how we run our region. Deadletter noted that we simply need to avoid using terms under the control of the BORG, and BenD confirmed and said this applies also to using BORG infrastructure to publicize events.

Kim asked if anyone knows the 10 Principles and said Tzara has stated he doesn't believe in all 10. BenD asked if anyone knows them; noted they are published by BORG and note how the event is to be run and that they expect regionals to promote them locally. Tito asked about what we might learn from other regions; BenD deferred this item to future meetings where we'll pursue research and explore options. He's already in contact with Seattle and will contact other regions. [Deadletter ran through the principles for the group].

BenD says he feels like we're not ready to make major decisions as a group; he wants us to present research findings for the group before we make major decisions... he says this meeting is about figuring out what we want. Emmanuel wants to know the process for figuring out what we want. John says every organization is self-organized around its own purpose, which is why we have to decide the purpose first.. and those who agree with it will stay, those who disagree will leave.

BenD asked for us to agree to a democratic process; Tito asked for more detail around that process. BenD says the group that meets is the body that will make decisions around the intent of the org... but is not necessarily the group who files as a legal entity. This group is meant to make a recommendation only, and to be public about all content and processes, invite anyone who wants to attend, allow for proxy voting. BenD noted there is a Google group already in place that's being used to organize meetings. BenD again asked for agreement on the use of a democratic process for research + recommendations; Kim asked how we can make a space for people who cannot attend or feel they aren't being heard. She doesn't want full consensus but feels we need an inclusive process. Andy voiced concern about the Google group because he doesn't check his Google account; BenD said you can sign up with a non-Gmail email address, and Deadletter said you can set up auto-forwarding as well, if you have Gmail that you don't check. BenD said he's also started a wiki to allow people to have input. Kim stated she wants a process that includes "voices" because simple majority creates angst.

John stated that he thinks we should decide NOT to make any decisions yet, but should help everyone participate by employing democratic rule by the people who show up at each meeting, and comments can be sent to the Google group by non-attendees and each comment must be raised at the next meeting before moving forward. Andy noted we should post meeting notes to PDX List, and BenD said that will happen on an ongoing basis so people can participate through whatever means. {Guy whose name I don't know} said we can use Google Polls to gather info as well.

BenD again moved for a democratic process to be developed; Mel seconded. BenD called for a vote which was interrupted. He noted that he spoke to a lawyer who recommended striving for consensus but using democracy to solve problems where consensus can't be reached. Sam asked if unanimous = consensus; BenD noted it's complicated and requires heavy involvement in the content at hand.

John moved for a meeting time change to 7pm; seconded & thirded, approved.

Bonk moved for a meeting location change; seconded, approved.

Deadletter moved for a meeting frequency change so we don't always meet Wednesday

John moved for a vote on the group purpose; Mel asked for some "gestation time" around the ideas discussed, and to have that sort of vote done in a venue where people can be better heard.

Deadletter asked for a homework assignment: that everyone think about how they want to spend their time with this organization. Deb asked that if we pursue this idea, we all speak as individuals.

John suggested homework: everyone bring their list of alternatives to the last stated draft purpose. BenD said next meeting is to discuss alternatives and end with a vote on the organization purpose. Deadletter asked if we're planning to draft a mission statement; BenD said we're not at that point yet because we're not a legal organization.

Kim asked about the non-profit and what it means to liability; BenD deferred the question. John said from his experience, there are 2 groups of people: workweek people and shift-based people; recommends Sunday afternoon meeting. BenD wants to try to be as inclusive as possible due to the goals of the next meeting.

BenD noted it's a long shot to get a non-profit formed by 12/31/2010, the LLC could donate funds to protect them from taxation

NEXT MEETING: Sunday October 3rd @ 2pm; John's studio space (1110 SE Woodward St 97202; people must bring their own chairs, and optionally some potluck)