Bradley, David, Fen, Gerard, Laura S., Laura W., Lucy, Mike, Peaceful, Phil, Sarah
There were 11 people present, which was a quorum of the 20 presently signed up as members.
Chair: Laura S. (David offered to co-chair if Merry comes and needs to be looked after)
Introductions and purpose of meeting
During the last year, the running of the SSC has dwindled to a few people and has not been focused on collaborative learning or consensus decision-making. The actual teaching has been done by lots of different people who have come and gone. We have had a series of conversations over the past four months about whether the SSC should be closed or its operation can be taken over by enough people with enough energy to keep it going. One purpose of this meeting was to collectively make this decision.
Our options were:
- to keep the SSC open as a ‘space-holder’ for possibility; or
- to continue running the SSC in a way that is consistent with commitments to co-operative pedagogy, organisation and process.
Reading of the constitution
As required of an Annual General Meeting, we read the constitution out loud in turns and discussed various points raised, including whether this approach to reviewing the constitution is necessary and most appropriate. We clarified the process of and options for ‘consensus decision-making’ and passing resolutions for the purposes of this meeting. Key issues raised included:
- ACTION: In the future, we should review the constitution in a way that is accessible for everyone, as reading out loud in turns is not. We agreed to read the constitution out loud at this meeting by consensus with dissent but no blocks.
- Are what we call ‘planning meetings’ in fact ‘general meetings’ according to the constitution? If the SSC continues, we will need to call at least three of them ‘general meetings’ and assure there is quoracy. If quorum is not met at a meeting within half an hour of a meeting starting, the constitution (#29) says the chair has to adjourn the meeting. However, in the past we have instead deferred major decision-making during these times and emailed the membership to ask them to participate in decision-making on that issue within a certain time frame (usually two weeks).
- ACTION: We also need to change the constitution to reflect the new regulations (Registers #51a/b). Lucy will propose a resolution to this effect at the business meeting.
- ACTION: We agreed to change the personal pronouns in the constitution from ‘s/he’ to ‘they/them’.
Financial headlines (pre-business meeting)
Laura S. will stand down as Treasurer at this meeting.
The SSC has been running at a loss for three years – not under budget, but contributions have been gradually decreasing and our spending depletes the balance. If we do not increase our income, we will no longer be able to operate or contribute to local and activist services. Current expenditures include:
- indemnity insurance (annual)
- Cooperative membership (annual)
- Mayfirst email and website facilities (annual)
- community room hire (monthly)
Suggestions for how to respond to this financial situation:
- increase membership contributions to cover the costs
- decrease our expenses
- close the Mayfirst website and email service and use a free platform intsead
- change the legal structure of the group from a co-operative to another form
‘Open Space’ discussions
Co-operatives – what organisational form should the SSC take from this point if any, and how ‘co-operative’ should it be?
Everyone at this table thought that the SSC should continue, in its legal form, as a co-operative because:
- the co-operative principles and values are important
- of do-it-yourself approach to co-operative organisation
- of the pro-sociality necessary for and created by co-operativism
- unlike for charities, there is no curtailment on political position or activity
- co-operative education in the SSC has helped some people facilitate co-operation elsewhere
- need to connect and work more with other co-operatives, particularly HE co-ops
- need to make more explicit that the work of the organisation is everyone’s responsibility
- need to look more into the benefits of Co-operative membership
- need to reduce costs (e.g., speakers who can pay their own expenses should contribute)
Courses – how should courses be offered in the future, if they are?
- There was interest in keeping learning opportunities alive.
- There was a discussion about the purposes of courses, and whether they should be considered ‘higher education’; the discussion focused on the underpinning principles of the curriculum, including that it should focus on research and projects, and promoting open-mindedness.
- To offer shorter, theme or project-based courses (8–12 weeks, or shorter) that are collaboratively constructed and run – as have done in the past, as well as in new forms.
- Running a longer course could help to sustain wider engagement and participation.
Roles – what formal roles, if any, should there be in the SSC?
- What roles are absolutely needed to keep the SSC running in a positive way? It was suggested that, once decided, these should be written into the constitution. They should be collaborative and those holding roles at any time should be supported by other members and able to bring issues to the collective for questions and discussion. Suggested roles included:
- treasurer + assistant treasurer
- secretary + assistant
- engagement and membership
- publicity and website
Notes from AGM business meeting Saturday 26th May 2018.
Attending: Lucy, Sarah, Phil, Fen, Mike, Bradley, Laura, David, Laura, Gerard, Martha, Peaceful Warrior
- Welcome, introductions, members present elect chairperson.
Martha had joined us for lunch and the business part of the AGM so she introduced herself as there were some new members, everyone else had been previously introduced. We elected Laura Stratford as chairperson for the meeting.
- Confirm minutes from 2017 AGM
Minutes were approved.
- Matters arising from minutes of 2017 AGM
We reviewed the actions from this meeting.
Actions complete: Laura did change the cheque signatories and added herself and Lucy McGinty.
Actions not complete: Mike did not give Laura figures on what he had been contributing to so that it could be reported on.
Mike did not find information on the secretary role for the planning meeting following the AGM.
Bradley did not create a googledoc where we could list ideas we were interested in.
- Vote about whether members wanted the SSC to stay open or close: At this stage there were 3 members who gave consent to close and one member who blocked the decision to close.
Discussion amongst members about why they did or did not want to continue the SSC if they wanted to contribute to the discussion.
David – felt the SSC was an important open space to support other projects. It is important for those members who don’t actively attend weekly or monthly to help them think about how co-op Ed can work. David would like to become more actively involved to ensure the SSC continues.
Gerard – believes the SSC is an important space and would like to see it continue.
Sarah – would not like the SSC to just stay open as a good idea but needs to be open for a purpose as a great cost is being born by just a few members.
There was a general feeling that people ought to commit to more mundane roles of running the SSC so the responsibility was spread amongst more members and not just a few.
Laura S – the SSC can’t continue in the manner it has been as it is too much for a few core people.
Sarah – the SSC needs more radical energy to sustain it.
Bradley – also believes the SSC shouldn’t just continue because we like the idea of it. The last two years of the SSC had been run by a very small core number of people.
It was agreed amongst members in order for the SSC to continue there had to be more roles filled by more members. It was agreed the SSC would continue until at least November and then we would have a review.
Secretary & Co secretary: Laura Stratford & Bradley Allsop
Treasurer & Co treasurer: Lucy McGinty & David McAleavey
Publicity & website: Laura W & Phil
Engagement & membership: Peaceful & Fen
Lucy and Laura S shared the financial report with members. There was a discussion about overheads and whether any could be reduced. We shall stop our contributions to Mayfirst for the website and email facility and try to move everything over to free WordPress. Mayfirst are a radical tech group so it was suggested when we have more contributions coming in we should look at funding them again. Discussion about room hire and David suggested we might like to consider Mansions of the Future as it is a free space. It is a collaborative arts space and the cooperative are one of its funders. David has said in principle they have agreed. Finances are depleting so we can’t keep spending at the rate we are as there aren’t enough member contributions. Lucy and Peaceful will re-start their contributions.
Action: David to look into Mansions of the Future as a venue a little more.
Action: Laura W and Phil to arrange to meet with Joss as he has knowledge of the website and email facility.
Action: Laura S to forward all finance emails with contacts on to the two new treasurers.
Action: Laura S, Lucy and David to meet to handover finances.
Action: Laura S to talk to Mayfirst about suspending account to reopen in future.
Action: New treasurers to close down Paypal and ask the two members who donate through Paypal if they want to continue to contribute can they do it through the bank account.
- Review of the constitution
Proposal to change pronouns from she/he to them/they. This proposal was accepted. Proposal to change 51a) about member date we hold from name and address to name and email address. Proposal was accepted. Proposal to change section 14b) management committee to members at general meeting was accepted. Proposal to change section 27) management committee to elected officers.
Action: Bradley to re-write constitution with proposed changes in
Action: Bradley and Laura S to make a google poll for days and times for sessions as some members had expressed Tuesday evenings weren’t convenient.
Action: Engagement and membership officers (Peaceful & Fenn) to check GDPR and ensure we are compliant. We also need to delete the 50 members who didn’t respond to opt in to membership with the SSC as they are no longer considered members and we need to comply with data protection.
Phil – announced his and Fenn’s engagement. They will be having a commitment ceremony on 21st June.