Berkeley REACH Supporters Update: September 2018

by stardust 3 min read16th Sep 20184 comments

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Since our big fundraising push at the end of June (thanks!), REACH has been making progress on a number of fronts.

Finances & Structure

The June fundraising push let us commit to a 13-month lease (Aug 1, 2018 - Aug 31, 2019).

In June, we raised about $18k in one time donations, which allowed us to pay the $11k deposit for the space and have a bit left over for administrative expenses as well as saving some for the future.

Since late June, the Patreon monthly pledge total has fluctuated between $4,400 and $5,600 (with some people adjusting pledges up and some down), currently at $4,478. We have continued renting out rooms, bringing in another ~$1.5k/month. This allowed us to fund some improvements to the space on top of paying rent from July - September! (See below for specifics.) We also recently heard that we will likely be receiving a grant which will allow us to pay a part time manager for the space! (Details forthcoming once it is officially announced.)

REACH incorporated as a non-profit (Berkeley Rationality and Effective Altruism Community Hub Incorporated) in May with a three-member board: Sarah (Stardust) Spikes, Andrew Rettek, and Doe Dearr. We have received our Employer Identification Number (EIN) which has allowed us to open a bank account for REACH. The board began the application for 501(c)3 status on 8/2; we have heard that it takes anywhere from 3 to 9 months to be fully processed.

In August, Stardust started an external (mostly remote) 20hr/week job, but is still the Executive Director. We are working on setting up payroll for a part-time manager for the space.

Survey & Stakeholder Meeting

In July, we ran a survey (around 40 responses, detailed analysis here) and a stakeholder meeting (around 30 attendees). Here’s some of the feedback we heard:

You weren’t sure when events were happening, when it was okay to drop in, and whether you had to be quiet during coworking hours.

  • We started announcing and running intentional coworking days at least once a week, which include facilitated (quiet) pomodoros with announced breaks for chatting and sometimes a group lunch expedition. Room C is generally open for people who want to chat or take video calls during poms.
    • There is less-structured coworking with no quietness rules from 11am to 5pm on weekdays whenever there is not a structured day scheduled, though if everyone present decides to start doing sync’d poms, that is very welcome!
  • We created a list of people who are authorized to host events in the space, now known as REACH Stewards.
    • If you want to host something, get a steward to co-host with you! (ask in #event-planning channel on Discord)
    • If you want to have access to the space when there’s not an event going on, ask a steward for access (in #at-reach-now)
  • We try to keep the events calendar on the website up to date, as well as continuing to post them on the FB page.

Although you like the location of the space, you found it cluttered and crowded.

  • Despite the rent increase, we decided to stick with the current location for now.
  • We’ve replaced the bulky wicker chairs with sturdy folding chairs that can be hung compactly on the wall when not in use.
  • We’ve removed some of the less functional furniture in favor of items that take up less space and taken most of the “stuff swap” items to goodwill.
    • There’s still a small amount of free staple clothing (t-shirts, pants, dresses) and costume items.
  • We’ve also set up two of the 4 side rooms as primarily coworking spaces, with the ability to host people short term, as opposed to bedrooms that can occasionally be used for coworking or other events.

The social norms at REACH can be confusing.

  • We’ve created a Code of Conduct and have set up nominations for the REACH Panel, which will handle disputes as well as vetting REACH Stewards to help keep the space running smoothly.
    • Panel voting will occur 9/19-9/26. Only REACH Stakeholders will be able to vote, and the vote will happen via the new stakeholder mailing list (if you were not already invited and believe you meet the criteria, you can request to join. The criteria are any of the following: donated at least $50 to REACH, volunteered at least 5 hours, or run at least 3 events).
    • Note that current Stewards are interim until the Panel is in place to set up the authorization process.
  • We expect the CoC to change and evolve along with the space, so if you see anything there that seems like a bad policy, feel free to bring it up with Sarah or any REACH Steward you feel comfortable with.

Upcoming Improvements and Experiments

We have a prioritized list of further space improvements and volunteer tasks.

  • We have made most of the improvements mentioned in the survey (seating, the shower, lighting, coworking setup).
    • There is a standing desk in room C now with 2 monitors, as well as a couch
  • We are planning to create a sound-isolated section of Room C for taking calls.
  • We would still like to replace the kitchen sink.

We’re going to continue pushing for a variety of events.

  • We got requests for more serious EA events (e.g. talks from community leaders, rationality practice, public double-crux sessions, speakers from other intentional communities).
    • We have since been more proactive in terms of inviting speakers from the community, including 3 speakers in the last 2 weeks
    • We’ve also taken on a new series of Thursday Rationality meetups (though Stardust dropped the ball on scheduling last week, pushing last week’s event to Monday)
  • On the community-focused side, we heard that you’d like to see movie nights, writing events, and more group music events
    • There have been some movie nights, but there are not currently plans for recurring movie night events at REACH
  • Please get in touch if you’d like our support to run any events, especially of the types mentioned above!

At the July stakeholder meeting, we realized that many of you don’t know where to find information about REACH. Here’s a start:

REACH website: https://www.berkeleyreach.org/

Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/reachberkeley/

REACH Resources (e.g. checklists for event hosting)

Event Request form (use if you want to host events)

Discord: We don’t want the invite link on the public web due to privacy concerns, so ask Stardust for an invite if you need it.

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