AGM-Planning meeting 28/4/18

Aside

28th April – Angel Coffee House 

Who: Laura S, Laura W, Phil, Bradley, Mike, David H, Hannah

Summary:

Met to plan AGM and discuss future of SSC (currently not running sustainably and not cooperatively). Decided that AGM will be space to consider what it means to run as a cooperative (and alternatives) – and to commit/understand roles and constitution (the constitution can change), and the idea of being run by its members and for its members – not a free service of drop-in lectures. There are ways to make it more financially viable too. AGM (26th May) will include different themes including roles, courses & being a cooperative as well as affirmation and elections.

Plan for AGM:

  • Read through constitution together
  • Open space discussions
    • Cooperatives (Mike)
    • Roles (Bradley)
    • Courses (Phil)
    • Surprise! Anything that emerges on the day
  • Bring & Share lunch
  • Elect roles; change constitution if needed; AOB

Meeting notes (thanks to Hannah for note-taking!)

What
AGM is on 26th May, we need to think about if the SSC will continue to run before the AGM (so that the AGM is either celebrating of what we have achieved, or giving direction for next year).
Now SSC is running unsustainably – is this still viable? If we want it, how can we make it possible?

What will the AGM look like?

Why is it unsustainable?

Financial – Running a loss – but there are ways to make that better

People – SSC has a fluctuating group, so there is a feeling that we constantly have to discuss/decide what to do next, rather than getting into anything.
It has become more like drop-in classes (lecturers don’t often come to the other classes, so the dynamic is different).
= not a cooperative?
positive feedback for lecturers but not cooperative.
There is a feeling that this is “not the SSC”- just a series of lectures

(which is the same as what the university and others in Lincoln do) –
Our thing is coming together, cooperative HE, writing together
etc…we’ve lost that.

Just a few members left (Mike resigning as secretary, Laura resigning as treasurer) –
do we have the people to step up without it becoming a burden.

Discussion

Now there are around 10 core members  – it’s enough, but will people actually commit?
Discussion about people’s feelings about this
– Mike has been secretary for a long time, if SSC continues he will resign as secretary, he is ready to stop the SSC, it has been a struggle to keep it going, AGM as a celebration – something new could be created after.

– Laura –

– Bradley- more optimistic – a lot more engagement than previously (more numbers),
Feels that it seems wrong to close it now when we have just put out this
membership survey (?) We cannot decide to close now, people need to have chance
to put their names forward  

– Phil- mentions that Joss says it wouldn’t have to carry on as a cooperative- but wants to know what alternatives would be. Also suggests he could do the website (intends to contact Joss about this)

– Laura W – Feels like as a new member finds it difficult to comment on dynamics. But says that it would be shame to abandon it; SSC is fantastic – still so eager –

SO- looks like maybe it will continue= maybe it will take on a different look.  – a rebranding?

– Laura S- a “rebranding” is exactly not what she wants – worried that this will be the same thing as the neoliberal higher education but run by volunteers = this is “the opposite of what I want from the SSC”. It should be different from NL HE  I’m very concerned about the idea that we’re providing a service: we’re doing this for us, and anyone who joins us is doing it with us.

SSC is a cooperative at its essence.

We want cooperative HE, and we want a way to study together in a way that is
different to the NL uni. .. so let’s think about if it’s possible with SSC:

what needs to be done

Bank-money stuff

Income = roughly 300 (going down), member contributions

Expense= about 800 at the moment. -room hire, website/email host, insurance, Co-operative membership

reduce expenses?
venue costs = public cafes -not ideal, make people uncomfortable

mintlane- coffee for 50p? .

Cut costs of website= can be free,
Phil could do this if coordinates with Bradley & Joss.
Insurance = a big expense, protection against being sued about £200 a year – we could reconsider that?

Raise income?

More people might be interested in paying in – at the moment we don’t
really put out the fact that we want contributions  – if we have greater
clarity of where we’re going, might be easier to ask for member
contributions.

Roles:

(Do we need all of these?)

Secretary – (Mike atm but resigning) arranges meetings, rooms, minutes etc.

Membership – (Joss atm)  i.e. list of who’s a member, first point of contact,

Treasurer – (Laura S atm but resigning)

Publicity

Bradley- How about working groups? A person who does it, but then others that can
be involved in it.  

(Can we even have this conversation today?)
Difficult to know if carrying on is viable as not everyone’s in this room?

Laura: But we’ve had the past 2 months trying to get all these people in the room?

Bradley: haven’t had the chance since the membership survey,
Also a way for other people to join who can’t necessarily be there. We can’t
decide this in this meeting
Laura: Worried that in the AGM will have the same conversation, and be unable to
close bank accounts and whatnot
= SO we will have the AGM- and if it’s not viable then, SSC closes, but should be a chance to recommit/establish roles etc

 

AGM – 26th May.

Venue: 10-2pm Crofts St. main hall; transfer to small room at 1pm

So what will AGM look like?

    1. Affirming, reading the constitution at the beginning but only affirming it after conversation.
    2. Widereaching discussion before and then towards the end electing and
      the constitution etc.
      Do we need a wider discussion about if SSC will be a cooperative.
      Mike says that AGM is about affirming what an organisation is – If it’s not a
      coop it’s not a SSC, so that’s not the conversation for an AGM
      Heart of the problem – we don’t have enough people that
      understand/committed to cooperative We do have guests but this
      should be the exception. People can come who are not members, but
      we need enough committed members to run as a cooperative.
    3. David asks – what actually are we meaning by cooperative? An organisation run by its members for the benefit of its members (and the community)
      This can be a question/point of discussion for the AGM, what is it to be
      a coop HE? (and what are alternatives?)

Bradley says – in his entire time at the SSC it’s not been fully cooperative so
this discussion/table needs to have someone who knows about this.

    1. Working groups – people choose what they are more into, i.e. some people not so interested in the philosophy of running as a coop.
      BUT can’t spread too thinly if there aren’t many people.
    2. Courses (offers historically jointly run by an academic and others)
    3. Pedagogy
    4. Electing roles? – maybe at the end, so understand who/what SSC is first.

Open Space:

Cooperatives (Mike): what does it mean to be a coop? What are non-cooperative options?

Roles (Bradley): What named roles are needed? What do they involve? What support & training is needed? Opportunity to sign up?

Courses (Phil): offers, ideas, pedagogy

Surprise” table: anything that’s needed that comes up on the day

(a sheet on a table, people can put their name down/comments on roles they
would be interested in, and also any training needs for these).

Engagement with the community?  

Could include discussions about research?

Who’s facilitating?
Noone- Roll with it

Need:

Big paper and pens

Food

Publicity?

Not too much – we primarily want members.

BUT clear message to the group.

 

Recent events at SSC

Tuesday 30th January

Money, Wealth and a Society of Abundance with Mike Neary

In this talk, based on Karl Marx’s theory of Capital, Mike Neary explored the social life of money and how it has come to establish itself as the predominant social force. A part of this exploration is to reveal its real nature: as capitalist money, through an account of the significance of labour for capitalist society. Mike suggested another from of society where money and labour are not dominant, grounded in the satisfaction of needs and capacities: a society of abundance.

Reading:
http://www.grundrisse.net/english-articles/Read_Capital_The_First_Sentence.htm

 

Tuesday 13th February

What is neoliberalism, and why does it matter? with Bradley Allsop

Neoliberalism- we’ve all heard it used, often with contempt, but what does it actually mean? How is it different to that other often-used, rarely-understood word: liberalism? And why does it matter, anyway?

We talked about the neoliberal project, how, from the 70’s onwards, it has radically changed society, economics and politics, with its full-frontal assault on the ideas of collectivism, social solidarity and state provision, what this means for our own lived experiences and what we can do about it. Issues raised included mental health, schools and education, and democracy.

Social housing & homelessness in Lincoln

Social Housing and Homelessness in Lincoln (Lucy)

Discussion Notes: 14 November 2017 at Mint Lane, Lincoln

Reading: chapter 1 of Pedagogy of the Oppressed by Paolo Friere

http://www.msu.ac.zw/elearning/material/1335344125freire_pedagogy_of_the_oppresed.pdf

Scholars present: Lucy, Phil, Mike, Louise, Eddie, Laura, Meredith, Sarah, Fen

Lucy offered to guide a facilitated discussion on Homelessness in relation to Chapter 1 of Paulo Friere’s Pedagogy of the Oppressed (1972), and with honesty, explained that when working as a Homelessness Support Worker was often frustrated that the role made her feel part of the problem rather than the solution. Unfortunately, this was because when trying to assist the homeless she also felt like an oppressor through ensuring they ‘complied’ with the defined (and punitive) supported housing rules, thus clearly identifying with Friere’s proposition of false charity. This unlocked a much
wider and diverse dialogue. Some of the key points and perspectives freely presented by scholars are summarised below:

Are we all part of the system anyway?

 We can only be engaged with the reality that we are in… we can work and live within/without the system… we have choice, we are privileged to choose – we acknowledge that others do not have choice
 There is always the possibility of hope… our frustration should not stop our perseverance to change the system
 How we are educated (inculcated) via the system reinforces the system. Ditto being ‘treated’ by the NHS
 There is alternative education – Freire’s purpose in educating peasants (Mike kindly gave useful insight in to Freire’s background and his lifelong determination to educate the oppressed, and ultimately the oppressors).
 The current system constrains our abilities to offer help: employees “up against the wall”, “gagged by funders”
 Oppression of workers in UK – are trade unions part of the problem? Are they bullies?
 Elsewhere (non-UK) appears to have better cooperation between trade unions and employers
 UK is poor relation – lack of labour, skills, worker’s right, zero hours contracts adds to causation of homelessness
 Important to recognise the principle of trade unions – what brings them together = collective purpose
 Identification of Squatting/Travelling movement as real self-organisation/help – creative pooling of resources
 What is the definition of ‘Homelessness’? Does it have meaning? – defined by government (system)
 Homeless/homelessness demonised; abetted by media perception: serves the system’s purpose?
 Statistics report significant rise in homelessness – Universal Credit (UC) will make it worse
 UC is a deliberately designed sanction to create forced employment – made to work therefore conform
 Leads back to Freire’s perspective of Dehumanisation – work is part of the system = prostitution
 Work equals humiliation, and is further entrenched and measured through work based appraisals
 Creating temporary autonomous zones (i.e. alternative free festivals) offers fresh perspectives for the oppressed
 Exilic Communities – mutual aid/liberation. See ‘Living on the Edges of Capitalism’ (Grubacic & O’Hearn, 2016)
 See ‘Riot. Strike. Riot. The New Era of Uprisings’ (Clover, 2016). Undoing professionalism: hierarchical arrogance
 Solution: our refusal to work – value comes from human labour – system requires surplus value to survive
 Growth is essential for the system. When growth can not be met, it begins to asset strip, moves production out
 Counteract by right to strike – withdrawal of labour; system would react by enforcing war to recreate status quo
 We need to make a leap of faith. Consider occupation and cooperation to find alternative solutions
 Work with the system to influence new housing projects which do not put property in landlord ownership
 Better tenancy rights. More social housing. There should not be limitations who can access housing
 Housing not allocated through the lens of the deserving and undeserving. ‘Ownership’ should be communal
 Can we occupy the commons? There are alternative ways of living/being. Home ownership creates divisions
 Follow Freire’s proposition – strive to make a difference through educating and learning – seek objectivity
 Who is really homeless? Should we give money to the homeless/beggars? Opinions divided

 

Notes by Fen

Meeting Notes – October 1st 2016

Notes from SSC meeting, 1st of October, 12 Mint Lane, Lincoln

Present;  Andrew, Laura, Ana, Magda, Callum, Bradley, Sarah, Mike

As there were people present who had not attended SSC meetings before, the meeting began with a discussion about the nature and purpose of the SSC.  An important part of SSC’s current activity is to attract new members so it was encouraging to see new people at this meeting.

There was a discussion about how to take the work of the SSC forward this term. It was agreed that we should run the Sociological Imagination course, but that is should be publicised with specific reference to topics that are of real interest and concern to people’s everyday lives. This would include Brexit, unemployment, the concerns of rural communities and the government’s campaign against radical extremism.

The point was made that in order to achieve the aims of the SSC we need to find ways of gaining the trust of local groups in the community.

It was suggested that the SSC has more of a social media profile, particularly on Facebook. Mike will contact Joss to fix up a meeting with  those at the meeting who are interested in working on this.

Mike and Laura are to arrange to contact and visit a local secondary school to talk to Six Form pupils and their teachers about higher education and what is offered by the SSC.

Magda said she would invite members of the local migrant communities to our next event.

It was agreed that we all meet up again on the 5th of November at Mint Lane, hopefully with some new members present from the publicity and new contacts made. One purpose of that meeting would be to agree how to take the SSI course forward this term. An important principle of the SSC is that courses are designed with the participants, teachers and students, in the tradition of popular education.

 

 

Minutes of 2016 Annual General Meeting

Social Science Centre Annual General Meeting

Croft Street Community Centre

7 May 2016, 11am-4pm.

Attending

Sarah Amsler, Steve Hanson, Clare Lynch, Andrew McCulloch, Carol MacRea, Mike Neary, Karolina Szynalska, Joss Winn

Apologies

David McAleavey, Laura Stratford, Lucy McGinty, Peaceful Warrior, Wendy Vause

Minutes from AGM of 16 May 2105

Approved

It was proposed that in the future, note-takers should summarise each section of the meetings, including actions, and read this out for approval from those in attendance on the day.

Action: trial this proposal in practice in forthcoming meetings

Matters arising from minutes of 2015 AGM

We reviewed the actions agreed at this meeting.

Completed actions:

  • Met on 28 May 2015 to discuss the SSC [Independent Social Research Foundation] ‘co-operative university’ project; those attending were in favour of using this as a way to discuss governance issues in the SSC
  • Mike circulated a description of the role of the Secretary.
  • Andrew (again) circulated a proposed statement of values; however, it was not discussed.
  • Lucy, Sarah and Andrea drew up plans for a new short course; however, they did not run it.
  • Alex Dunedin from the Ragged University has agreed to work on the SSC website.
  • Members discussed the possibility of paying a co-ordinator and decided against it.

Actions not completed:

  • We did not organise a half-day workshop on decision-making and technologies for decision-making. Sarah did not bring a paper on democratic decision-making.
  • We did not discuss the statement of values that Andrew circulated.
  • We did not organise a year-long project using the constitution to develop meaningful definitions and practices of ‘democracy’, ‘non-hierarchical self-organisation’, ‘membership’ and ‘consensus’, with attention to issues of power and communication and with a view to revising the constitution, our ‘business plan’, statement of values if necessary and producing principles of organisation, teaching, and how to propose and run courses/activities (or whether the constitution should include a stronger statement of SSC values).
  • Lucy, Sarah and Andrea did not produce principles for new short courses.
  • We did not use some of our money to pay for training in decision-making and other relevant skills.
  • We did not ask each member for 200 words about themselves to publish on the website.

Action: Sarah to organise a discussion for members to reflect on the above.

Election of officers

Mike was nominated, seconded and approved as Secretary for the coming year.

Laura was nominated, seconded and approved as Treasurer for the coming year.

Thanks to Stephen for his long service as Treasurer to this point.

Action: Laura to arrange transfer of signatures, documents, etc. from Stephen.

Financial report

Approved. It was noted that this year we spent more money than we earned from member contributions. Stephen had said that this might happen. We will need to monitor this in the coming year.

Action: Future accounting reports to include more details of expenditure and income (e.g., precise figures for member contributions)

Review of the Constitution

No amendments were deemed necessary.

Members attending the AGM reviewed the Constitution and raised the following points for discussion:

  • Membership – did we make a decision about the definiton of ‘active membership’? Yes, and it remains broad to include a range of forms of participation and contribution.

We need to improve the process of ‘becoming a member’ to include face-to-face meetings and discussions, rather than only an online registration and email. It was acknowledged that meetings with new members have been offered and organised in the past, with little take-up.

  • Quorum – it was suggested that we reconsider the number of members needed for quorum, to avoid a situation in which decisions cannot be made at meetings.
  • Expulsion – it was suggested that the language defining grounds for expulsion from the SSC be revised to be more specifically related to violations of the values and principles.

New SSC Manchester

Steve Hanson introduced a new project, the Social Science Centre, Manchester. It grew out of the Manchester Left Writers project (which will continue), and aims to offer its first Sociological Imagination course in September 2016 at the Friends Meeting House. All agreed this is both an honour for the SSC, Lincoln and an exciting project that we are keen to learn from.

Action: Steve to write a brief blog about the SSC Manchester that we can publish on the SSC Lincoln website.

Other business (AOB)

It was noted that elements of SSC organisation have been adapted elsewhere; e.g., the Co-operative Institute for Transnational Studies, based in Greece. Several delegates from Mondragon University came to visit Joss and Mike recently to discuss co-operative education and student-as-producer pedagogy and curriculum.

Action: Mike to update the bibliography of SSC-related news, articles and publications on the website.

The AGM finished around 1pm and we had lunch, followed by a discussion about the research project: Beyond Public and Private.