AUGUST 21 2010 BOARD OF DIRECTORS MEETING OF COMMUNITY FREE SOFTWARE GROUP, INC.
The meeting of the Board of Directors was held at 289 Clinton Avenue, Brooklyn, New York 11205 on 21 August 2010 at 2:00 PM. Forest Mars, President of the Board of Directors, called the meeting to order.
The following were present:
being a quorum of the Directors of the Corporation.
The Secretary presented the minutes of the previous Board meeting. The minutes were read, and on a motion duly made, seconded and carried the Directors approved the minutes.
There was no Treasurer's report, as the office was vacant following the resignation of Joe Maffia.
Dave Williams introduced Jeremy Seideman to the Board of Directors and formally nominated him for membership. After discussing the nomination a motion to elect Jeremy Seideman to the Board of Directors was made, seconded and carried, and upon unanimous vote it was
RESOLVED that Jeremy D. Seideman is a Member of the Board of Directors of the Community Free Software Group.
Forest Mars described how he would like CFSG to operate moving forward: The organization should hold regular meetings, produce constant and consistent documentation of all activities, define our levels of membership and participation, and identify the communities we serve. Exploring and reexamining the organization's mission will aid in accomplishing these goals.
Forest emphasized service as the operating principle, while still factoring in the need for sustainability. These goals combine to form the core of the group's business model. The original PC Garage program CFSG created was what he described as a “beautiful metaphor” for the Free Software movement: It helped immigrant children in a community center, interacting with them and fostering dynamic learning, while all around new computers badged and running Microsoft products kept appearing, sprouting like weeds.
Forest mentioned the “Digital Divide” program he operated as part of the Three Jewels Community Center, in which discarded computers were rebuilt and distributed to the elderly and other area residents without access to computer technology. Jeremy Seideman observed that this program was a good example of the type of project he was personally interested in. As one of the members of his regional chapter of the Knights of Pythias with a professional and educational background in Computer Science he chairs the Knights' technology committee. Their mission includes working with charitable organizations, so participating in a similar program in partnership with CFSG would be a good opportunity.
Instead of operating such programs directly, Forest stated that CFSG would be most useful as a “glue” organization, enabling other groups to be more effective at a regional, local level. The Free Software Foundation and the Software Freedom Law Center have an international scope, but CFSG can facilitate their presence directly within communities. A good example of this was the contribution CFSG made to establishing a Software Freedom Day event in New York City.
Forest believes the group should collect information and create an infrastructure for gathering and disseminating resources. A big part of this will center around enhancing the organization's online presence, using project management and documentation systems. At the same time an increase in outreach is necessary, to bring in additional participants. A good project consistent with becoming such an enabling organization will be to identify regional non-profit organizations in which Free Software can replace “pirated” proprietary applications and systems. In his work with Manhattan Neighborhood Network Forest has access to a list of community groups that receive video production resources through grant programs. This is a promising resource to explore as a method of identifying opportunities.
Dave Williams asked about the mechanics and logistics of becoming a consulting service and information clearinghouse for non-profits and community centers. Although the software is free and available at no cost, the equipment, human resources, and technical expertise are not. Part of being an effective “glue” organization is matching the best people to potential projects, and some discussion of how such a process can work is warranted.
Forest replied that documenting the value created by the group is key. Additionally, building a network of associates and colleagues will create goodwill. Comprehensive documentation will lead to successful grant applications and enhance the organization's prestige. Becoming an information hub may prove a better approach to fulfilling the group's mission than actually implementing projects directly, by providing an opposing force to the network effects of proprietary software. CFSG can identify projects and match them to qualified people, allowing others to handle the implementation details. Forest proposed a networking event over the Labor Day weekend, and suggested members of the May First organization be contacted.
Dave said that the highest immediate priorities of the group should center around replacing Joe Maffia, which can be accomplished by recruiting a new Treasurer and moving the organization's online resources to a new host. Once this task is complete all of our available energies can go toward growing the organization and establishing these new resources. Dave proposed that Jeremy Seideman take over the Treasurer's responsibilities in the interim, and Jeremy agreed to the request.
There being no further business before the meeting, the President moved to adjourn. The motion was seconded, carried, and the meeting was adjourned.