Town Hall Meeting, 30th Nov 7pm

We’d love for you to come along for a town hall meeting, at 30th Nov 7pm, where we want to feed
everyone, share a drink, catch up with our fellow members and talk about all the changes, improvements and say thanks for the hard work.

Because we want to cater, please ensure that you book a free ticket on eventbrite:

It’s been a big year for HSBNE, not only with COVID and the wider parts of life, but with the site construction finally going from paper to reality. But the biggest part has been the huge amount of work all our amazing volunteers have been doing. The Port Hack Campus has never been better, we’ve never had this huge range of tools working so well. It’s been a lot of work and we’re done
with the the big stuff, so its time to celebrate!

It’s also time to come together and talk about the future of HSBNE, what 2022 looks like. We’re thinking less focus on fixing/changing and more on events/classes and community.

The night will also be an official meeting, with one voting item. We are going to talk about and vote on changing the fee structure of HSBNE.

New Fee Structure

HSBNE was started in a pub in 2009, and the founding members all figured what the heck, they’d put in $60 a month when nothing existed, so that something could exist. Because they did that, and the work of all the other volunteers since, we have a huge site, nearly a quarter million in assets and probably one of the best hackerspaces in the world. It’s something we can all be
incredibly proud of.

With all the recent hard work to make each area functional, accessible, clean and tidy. And all the work making sure all the machines are Working/Accessible/Documented, a task that will always have room for improvement but has taken huge strides. HSBNE has its best foot forward for value for money.

A big part of this proposal and its structure is we want to reward our volunteers who are so important to the functioning of the group. We currently dont recognise their hard work in any way other than proliferate thankyous, and while a bit of monetary difference feels token, I think it matters. I am also, of course, hoping this structure incentivises more people to volunteer.

A volunteer is someone who has signed a volunteer agreement with a Team or otherwise. The goal is to write down the responsibilities and what it takes to run HSBNE and get people to commit to small parts of it. We have a few volunteers working huge hours to keep the place running, when what we need is lots of volunteers doing 1-4 hours a month.

We can vote on the items below as one item, or separately.

  • New fee structure
  • Legacy Membership
  • Officialising Alacart Pricing
  • Tracking CPI

Item 1: New Fee Structure

We’ve never changed the fee from the original. Thats 12 years. If we had just tracked basic inflation along CPI then we would be at about $80 right now. So, keeping that in mind, this is the proposed new structure:

  • Hackers $60/m → Normal Members, $100/m. No expectation of volunteering.
  • Starving Hackers $30/m → No Change, but we will require them to volunteer, 4-8hrs a month.
  • Volunteers, $60/m → Expectation of 1-4 hours a month.
  • Lifetime Membership → Only counts Legacy Memberships and Volunteer Time.
  • Backer Hacker $100/m → Removed, but we hope we can introduce a
    ‘pay what you want’ option in the portal software, for people who want to donate extra

The ‘hours of volunteering’ is not a hard KPI, its just us trying to communicate expectations, and that we want relatively little from each individual volunteer.

Item 2: Legacy Membership

All memberships started before 1st Jan 2022 will be allowed to continue at their current rate so long as they maintain continuous, unbroken payment. No missed months or coming and going. They must be on whatever the current method of payment an exec decides, or have specific exec approval for exception. The current method is the portal billing system.

Item 3: Officialising AlaCart Pricing

Allowing the group to set prices on usage. Some candidates are:

  • Storage outside of the members storage tubs area
  • Welding gas/time
  • Laser Cutter Time
  • CNC Machine Time

We want to have the option to charge for storage space not as a major fundraising effort, but as a way of self regulating the use of storage space. Historically people will use us for extremely long terms and abandon items on site. We’re hoping a nominal fee will help this self regulate.

With regard to welding gas and laser time, we want to approve the practice so it is ready once we have a method for tracking usage. When we got the first laser we talked about this but never implemented it. And for things like the NdYAG the cost to run it is pretty high so its important to recoup some of it.

Item 4: Tracking CPI

To make it procedure to assess the fee every year, compare it against CPI and automatically raise it if CPI discrepancy is more than $5. Ie, if inflation is nominally 2%pa, we’d probably see an increase of $5 every 3 years or so.

It’s scary to ask the membership to raise their own costs. I know, I’m doing it right now. For the good health of HSBNE, letting it automatically track inflation makes it easier to not fall behind for another 12 years.


Because everything costs more, 12 years of inflation. We have more assets to maintain, consumables to stock, power to pay for. We want to be have the cashflow to be able to get our own place if we need to. We need to have enough revenue to provide the best experience for everyone, to fund continued WAD.

And because we’re out of the Pub, we have (I think) a world class site, and we’re worth it.

1 Like

I’ve been thinking about this overnight, and I have to say I’m for it.

Financially things don’t change for existing members, and there’s an encouragement to put in a modicum of work. An hour a month or so for even someone time poor like me, is easy to do, and there’s no shortage of tasks that benefit the space, such as vacuuming the floors or sorting out bench spaces. I do admire the efforts of members who are currently putting in absolute mountains of effort otherwise.

And tracking CPI is just good financial sense when everything around the space is too.

1 Like

I had a discussion with my boss and he had some thoughts.

Volunteering for monetary benefit is not volunteering but membership credits or similar.

And I have a thought as well.

Does helping others with their projects count?

-the laser cutter supervisors
-helping the guy build his raspberry pi game server(he needed help setting up the software for it)

The goal is that anyone who wants to be a volunteer, will be made one. Theres so much work around the space to keep it functioning. I figured it out at one point and we need like 60 different roles at a minimum, for everyone to do a few hours each. So while we want to get the high value stuff covered first, I think volunteers can contribute in all kinds of ways. I would love to see a community focused group of volunteers whos mission is to be around and help people with their projects, that would be amazing.

The idea is volunteers sign an agreement on what their responsibility is, and their team leader reports each month on whether or not they did what they agreed to, and that all bubbles up to the exec. Its a super basic/simple accountability process so that we dont get people saying ‘yep ill volunteer’ for the rate and then never doing the thing.

(Small foot note, laser cutter supervisors is no longer a thing, we’re hoping to have the machines open access (after induction) for people quite soon. exciting yeah?)

Its really a back and forth on words, but $40 does not cover 4 hours of a persons time, so its not really meant to be compensation. Its just we only have a few levers to motivate and reward people for contributing and this is one of them.

The revised fee model is appealing. Just like owning industrial grade metal laser cutter and cnc machines is appealing.
Given that members get banned for two weeks for not locking gate. Members need to think long and hard about how the reality of these suggested expectations are going to turn into reality.
I for one am looking for transparency in how member hours are recorded and used to have members moved to another $ level or banned.
As in.
Enough unwanted surprises about what is agreed in a meeting over what happens.

Hey @GeoffC

At the moment theres no plans to ban people for failing to meet their volunteer agreement, so lets make that clear. Its a one strike warning, second strike out kind of thing currently in the policy, and it just bumps them back to the normal member level.

The idea, in theory (no plan survives contact), is that volunteers sign an agreement that outlines their responsibilities, hopefully in a way thats specific, measureable and attainable. Ie, if the responsibility is to ‘keep area x clean’, be clear on what ‘clean’ means. The team lead once a month goes through everyones items as a checklist and submits a report to exec. It should be a 10min job once a month, and if it isn’t we will figure out why and fix/change things.

On a long enough timeline, software would be good. I have idly had a bit of a look at some time tracking software, not because i want to track peoples time but more so we can spot what people are working on and how much, and spot things like ‘person spent 20hrs on this this month’ and figure out whats going wrong. Maybe something like that could aid doing the monthly checklist. We have been using an app called taskade for project management and I think we can setup that tool to make it easy. We’re still finding our feet, if its not evident.

But, just to repeat myself and make doubly clear, we are not aiming to track hours as a kpi. I mention the hours to give an indication on how much work is reasonable. IE if a volunteer should have 1-4 hours a month of work, but their agreement lists 10 big items todo each month, somethings not right. Its more about the checklist than it is about timesheets. I hope I’m being clear there. It should be simple as in ‘volunteer is responsible for ensuring machine y works, machine y has been working and theres nothing to fix on it because they are keeping up with the preventative maintenance, so tick great all good’. Its immaterial if it took them 4 hours or 10min if its done, it only matters if it took them 20 hours.

At least for the first few months its going to be a learning and tweaking process.

This system is inspired by other volunteer organisations where people sign agreements on their role/responsibility, and by the writing The Tyranny of Structurelessness. The idea is to write down the jobs that need doing, and just enough structure so the group gets accountability and volunteers can get it done, without it being a bureaucratic nightmare.

We made this transition partially with the move from Causes to Teams, the fee change is to help that process.