How we're going to get a space.

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Christopher Cprek

Mar 31, 2010, 1:28:01 PM3/31/10
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This is the basic overview of last night's discussion about how we're
going to get a space. Warning that this goes pretty long, but please
don't skim as it's all important info.

First let me say that this group has accomplished what no other
hackerspace initiative in the city has been able to accomplish. As
we've grown, I've heard multiple stories from people about different
groups trying to do what we're trying to do. Namely, establish an open
space for technically oriented fun and experimentation. For different
reasons, these initiatives never got enough momentum to get off the
ground. I'm proud to say that this group is succeeding where others
have not. We have done the hard work necessary to build a solid
foundation. And we've created the momentum to establish a space soon.

We've followed the hackerspace design pattern of getting 3 months
reserve of finances in the bank. Back in January, we decided to start
collecting membership dues for founding members in order to build
reserves. These are the people who were willing to pony up and build
that reserve. You know who you are. You have everyone's gratitude. In
addition to those funds, we've pulled in extra finances from
donations, workshops and Make magazine sales. When we were presented
with the chicken and the egg problem of getting a hackerspace off the
ground, we made an egg.

Now here's the deal. This is 3 months reserve and then some for
getting a space that is *sustainable with our current membership*.
That is to say, the total expenses that we can afford for a space is
what we have currently coming in monthly from member dues. We don't
count potential members, we count real members. As in who's in, right
now. This is the only hard number we can plan on while making
preparations for leasing a space.

***What size and type of space we can afford is entirely dependent on
this member count. If member count is lower, the space will start
small. If member count jumps up, the space can be bigger with more
amenities. It's as simple as that. ****

If you've been watching from the sidelines to see how it all
transpires now's the time to act. The deadline for nailing down what
this monthly expense number is going to be is next meeting on April
12th. If you intend to be counted as a member, with 24x7 access to the
space and equipment, voting rights and other details as listed in our
bylaws please sign up for recurring member dues. You can do that here:

***After this deadline, memberships will still be open as usual. But
we will not be counting those finances while making final preparations
for signing a lease.***

Above all else, we need a hard number for sustainable finances. This
is how we are going to determine that. Once we know where the bar is,
our leasing options are clear. Members will then be able to vote (as
stated in the bylaws) for the sustainable leasing option that they
like the best. Tada we have a space.

I personally have looked at several spaces all ready. Some did not
meet criteria from the start. Others look promising, but are saddled
with worrisome anecdotes that spook everyone. The important thing is
to have as many options as possible very soon. I'll post details of my
finds in a separate thread for general debate. I encourage others do
the same.

Here is the most basic criteria of what's needed when proposing a space:

***Find something that total monthly cost is going to be in the
$600-$1000 range.***

Who is the property manager? You must provide details for who to
contact them. If you are proposing this space, it is assumed that you
have already contacted them directly and discussed the space. Do not
propose a space that you have not put in the bare minimum of effort to
actually contact them and discuss the details what's available. It can
be over the phone, over email or preferably in person. Respect their
privacy and don't post their contact information on a message board.
But make sure you have it.

What is the square footage? What is the price? What duration of lease
would be required (1 year, 2 years)? What are the expected costs for
utilities? This is information you should be able to get from the
property manager. If not, this is your responsibility to figure out
some kind of estimate. We need as much information as possible about
the total monthly costs associated with leasing the space. This is how
we determine if it meets the expense sustainability requirements for
our expenses.

Address, duh! Is it in a safe enough area? Is it a area/building
suitable for machine noises?

When would the building be available? Is it immediately available or
would we have to wait some amount of time to occupy it?

Give us some pros/cons why you think this is a good option. In my
experience this is only really apparent if you *go see the space*.
Take pictures. Take video.

If you can't address those bare minimum of points, please find a way
to do so before suggesting something. We need to do this in as
efficient and coordinated a manner as possible. Real options only!

When someone says "I've got a friend who's got a friend who has a
place that's 5 cents a square foot with a particle accelerator in the
basement!", it's more a distraction than anything else. The only thing
people will hear is '5 cents a square foot' and 'particle accelerator'

Nevermind the fact that it may not actually exist, we have no way of
contacting your friend of friend to find out, or that it's 5 cents a
square foot for 300,000 square feet, or that we couldn't move in until
the Mayan calendar reaches 2012, or that the particle accelerator must
stay on at all times and consumes 1.21 gigawatts of electricity... You
see what I'm getting at. Fulfill the criteria above and we'll have
good realistic options to make informed decisions about.

Things to consider above all else:
I've gotten lots of feedback from our membership during this process
of finding a suitable space. The overwhelming concern is not square
footage. The overwhelming concern is safety, security and a
comfortable working environment. These are the criteria to keep in
mind when you find something you want our members to actually vote
for. Now we are not establishing a hackerspace in Candyland. We will
ultimately be responsible for making sure the space and it's contents
are secure. But you will be well-served to put these concerns at the
top of your list.

Please help us find options for leasing a space. We are ready to do
this. The more options we have, the better decision we'll be able to
make. There is no such thing as a perfect space. We'd be waiting
forever for that. But out of a large group of options there *will* be
a 'best' space.

And if you want something bigger and better than we can currently
afford, you need to sign up to be a dues paying member by the next
meeting. Otherwise no crying about it until our lease is up again and
we can grow yet again.

We've come a long way and have a lot of momentum. Get excited because
this is happening very soon.


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