Special RfB February 2012

Special Ritual for Business Minutes – February 18, 2012

In attendance:
Gaia Folks: Rosemary Williams, Erin Scrogum, Devin Scrogum, Linda Boyce, John Boyce, Jamie Peters, Kit Peters, Susi Matthews, Thomas Shotwell, Larry Hols, Lizzy Ticer, Cynthia Cole, Aubry Gabbard, David Reynolds, Cheryl Stice, Eric Simpson, Scott Banes, Carol Banes (Barbara popped in later)
Emerald City Folks: Vicky Smith, Bill Drummond, Gill Warner, Diana Arganbright

??.I Approval of Agenda – Approved with addition
??.II Words With Vicky – She has some concerns about the LLC, and about what impact we might have on the people of this community. She offered that perhaps we would be wise to dip our feet in slowly, lease for a while, and see if this is a community that we really wish to be part of.
A) Kit stated that part of our mission statement is to restore paganism to its rightful place of dignity in the family of the world's religions, and we can't do that by half-measures. It is his belief that if we rent this place, and we are strictly leasors, that we will not have that sense of ownership and membership that we need to participate in this community the way our mission covenant demands. It is for that reason that he believes that not despite Vicky's misgivings, but to honor and support those misgivings, if we commit to this place with our time, finances, and hearts, we can finally achieve what we set out to do when the community was first founded.
B) David stated that part-ownership will give us more investment into integrating into the community, and to show the locals who we really are.
C) Cynthia stated that it's not just about us, that we will be dealing with real life people, and that we should take Vicky's concerns into account, that if we are «forced down people's throats» as it were, it will make the work much more difficult.
i. Vicky, personally, says that she does welcome the challenges ahead.
D) Aubry's concerns are what sort of steps that we can take to realistically build those bridges?
i. Vicky's response: trust ourselves.
E) Jamie brought up the differences between a renter's and owner's investment in the community, and that the biggest thing we can do is have open doors so that people can see for themselves what we're all about
F) Susi, as a child, was part of a mixed-race congregation in a predominately black neighborhood. What they had was open doors, a place where people could come, but where people wouldn't put up with any crap. If we are not investing in a neighborhood with our money and our time, we're not in the right business.
G) Linda: Do you have the same concerns with Emerald City?
i. Vicky: Yes, though she sees several individuals out there and working to connect. We must be aware of the history and situation of the area and work within that framework.
H) Gill brought up the possibility of coming in with a lease with an option to buy, and that there are more ways to structure this than just a joint ownership LLC.
I) Thomas stated that he has the training and background to cross the boundaries that we are dealing with in this situation. He personally doesn't see a problem, as most of the people in the congregation already do exactly what's necessary every day, many without even realizing it.
J) After Susi brought us back to keep from getting ahead of ourselves, Erin brought us back to the question to Vicky of, what is she offering us? Vicky stated that she is willing to be part of the process, whatever the final decision is. What she has heard from us so far she finds very encouraging.

??.III Statement of Proposal (fully revised version)–
??.IV Questions – (Many more are already addressed in the Troost Questions Google Document.)
Is there a difference in the distinction between Ubuntu LLC and Ubuntu Community?
Nope.
Is Ubuntu LLC completely separate from Emerald City?
Yes. There will be cooperation and cross-pollination between the two entities, rather like an overlapping Venn diagram. The connection is philosophical, but not legal.
Will we be able to maintain our status as a non-profit if we enter into the LLC?
Yes. The only thing we might have to worry about is some degree of tax liability.
Has anyone checked into whether we'd be eligible for UUA grants for space improvement when we don't own the space outright?
Not yet, but there is precedent in other UUA churches that are part-owners of their spaces.
Can we clarify the first paragraph in that we would be buying into as part owners of the building? As currently written, it could be perceived that it is merely being proposed as an investment.
Yes, and tis done.

??.V Concerns & Objections –
* Handicapped accessibility – There are plans in place to make one of the downstairs restrooms fully ADA compliant. As for upstairs, so long as we have the plan and ability to physically get someone up the stairs, it is an acceptable accomodation. Full elevator accessibility will be a goal for the future.
* Parking – There is a funeral home across the street that has offered us use of their parking lot (so long as we're nice), and we can negotiate with the owner of a parking area on the corner. There is also ample street parking. (The no parking signs on 4327's side of the street were put up for the pouring of the new sidewalks; they are expected to be removed soon. The building is also directly on a Max bus route.
* Green Space access – While we don't own the playground area, it is right there, and open to use so long as No Trespassing signs are not put up. There is also a set up ritual space at 42nd & Tracy owned by an Emerald City member and will be open to our use, as well as an empty lot on the corner that's owned by Habitat.
* Safety of People & Property – According to David, Mannheim Park (the area the building is located in) is one of the more functional neighborhoods in the urban core. This area has not had any issues with property maintenance in recent history. There has been a 26% drop in crime rate over the last year, which is the best improvement in the KC metro. The revitalization projects are bringing in a lot of activity and people, which is more eyes to watch for trouble. There is new lighting on Troost and all of the side streets, and the building is outfitted with a warehouse-level security system.
* Potential Loss of Membership – We have been told explicitly that there are a specific number of former members who will start coming again if we move to Troost. There is, at minumum, a 2 to 1 ratio of gain to loss from people who have stated their intents. The members with the longest commute have voiced their support for the move.
* Neighborhood Reaction (what if the locals flip out on us?) – That reaction is likely to hinge at least partly on how we comport and present ourselves. It's also a potential issue no matter where we go. This would be a great opportunity for Social Justice outreach, and perhaps we should consider forming a committee for community outreach. There's also a good possibility for starting a community interfaith discussion group (there is more religious diversity in this neighborhood than one might expect at first glance).
* Timeframe for Acceptable Access – So long as the A/C is up and running by July 1 (and given the other use desires for the space, it almost has to be), we can work with what's already here. Kidspace can use the day care space until their rooms are ready upstairs if necessary.
* Expectation of Participation in “Sweat Equity” – This is more than just work; some of us are better at serving in committee/circle capacity. We can also set aside some Gaia Sunday times for building work.
* Costs and Ongoing Expenses – We have a large number of skills available within our own membership, as well as a few people who are good at locating cheap/free materials. John has crunched the numbers, and our share of the utilities/ongoing expenses (figured at 25%) is considerably less than what we're prepared to pay in rent. Not all of the renovations have to be done at once, or even in the next couple of years, so the expenses can be spread out.

Consensus has been reached!