While our monthly Steering Committee meetings are mainly operational in nature, they have historically been one of the few places where the core team can come together for open discussion of brigade strategy and specific issues. This means dense agendas and even denser recaps. We’re finally catching up from the holidaze (!), so here’s a high-level recap of both December and January meetings.

Green-tinged photo of OpenOakland members seated around tables in City Hall overlaid with the words 'Steering Committee' in white.

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CfA MOU signing | Culture change and training opportunities | Councilmatic and Open Disclosure updates | 2022 planning

Negotiated and signed: 2022 Code for America Memorandum of Understanding

The CfA MOU outlines our relationship with our parent organization. After a full Steering Committee review and discussion, the team voted to approve signing of our memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Code for America, with several key revisions proposed. After some negotiation and discussion with CfA to address issues of data privacy and “what if” scenarios, we signed the new 6-month MOU. View the PDF (also available on our Resources page).

Discussion: Options for addressing culture change

This year-long conversation continued to explore a multi-faceted approach that includes:

  • Direct skills training in conflict management and facilitation for the Steering Committee (with the intent of that knowledge being shared across the brigade).
  • Conflict resolution to acknowledge and address specific past and/or existing trauma.
  • Ongoing training and/or culture programming to ensure a sustained shift over time.

With these three tracks of work in mind, the Steering Committee discussed the pros and cons of the several related opportunities and challenges:

Discussion and decision: Direct skills training in conflict management and facilitation

We continued discussion about hiring SEEDS Community Resolution Center, one of the few affordable training options that met our criteria of being local, BIPOC-led, and focused on communities like our collective. Even with their flexible pricing, it would use up at least a third of our financial reserves. We remained unresolved in December but by January’s meeting had come up with an alternative solution.

Thanks to some lucky timing and the generosity of Code for America, we were able to secure space in SEEDS’ public Building Restorative Spaces workshop series for the entire Steering Committee and a limited number of seats for additional brigade members. We’re so excited to finally be committing to this work as a team and will share more on the blog in the weeks to come. If you’re interested in participating in this training as part of your OpenOakland experience, complete our interest form.

Discussion: Conflict resolution and healing options through CfA

Alongside the training effort, Code for America offered us an opportunity to participate in an initiative aimed at “restoration of relationships and healing, post-traumatic events” through listening practice. With few details at this stage, we agreed that we’d keep this as an option to be pursued alongside any formal training, since individuals can opt in if they feel it will be personally meaningful. Jess took on the action items to find out if other brigades are participating and to share more details as they become available.

Discussion and decision: Review of our Code of Conduct process

The enforcement of conduct issues has been one of our enduring challenges over the years and we’re overdue for a dedicated initiative to revise this process. Our CoC is identical to CfA’s but we’ve also had a pair of Ombudspeople who have been historically tasked with fielding conduct reports, with mixed effects. The current Ombuds team has repeatedly pushed the Steering Committee to reconsider the role.

  • In December’s meeting, the Steering Committee voted unanimously to participate in an initial consultation with a third-party team that Code for America is considering to review their CoC process. CfA invited OpenOakland into that engagement as a stakeholder and example of how the CoC plays out at the brigade level. That consultation was scheduled for after January’s meeting. More to come!
  • The Steering Committee also voted in December to leave the Ombuds role vacant until the CoC process has been reviewed (votes: AK—aye, ER—aye, FB—aye, JB—aye, NT—aye, JS—aye, TT—nay). With the outgoing Ombuds having served multiple terms, no reports coming through that channel all year, and a process review pending, we opted to direct all CoC reports to Steering Committee and provide CfA’s safespace@codeforamerica.org email as a fallback for those who don’t feel comfortable going through Steering Committee. We’re grateful for Ronald and Mary’s dedication over the years and are excited for them to be able to participate in the brigade in a renewed capacity.

Discussion: Councilmatic status updates

The brigade continues to discuss how best to support the health of the Councilmatic project.

  • Councilmatic’s Project Lead reports that the GitHub repo is actively being updated and that the credentials for the Councilmatic Twitter account are inaccessible to the current team. The account has tweeted personal attacks against OpenOakland’s leadership team on multiple occasions. The Steering Committee once again expressed the urgency of either transferring account ownership to OpenOakland or disconnecting the account from the project altogether, seeking assistance from the project’s current Project Lead.
    • The current Project Lead introduced a 3-month plan to transition the project to a new Twitter account. As of this writing, the Steering Committee still has not been given credentials to the new account. Several members expressed concern at the slow timeline and lack of cooperation.
    • The Steering Committee approved a formal request that the Councilmatic team remove all links to the current troll account as soon as possible (votes: AK—aye, ER—aye, FB—aye, JB—aye, NT—aye, JS—aye, TT—nay). As of this writing, this has been completed.
    • The Steering Committee also unanimously approved language for a public Twitter response from OpenOakland’s Twitter account and to have the Comms Lead file an imposter account complaint. As of this writing, both have been completed.

Discussion: Open Disclosure bug report

In response to a public tweet calling OD data into question, the Steering Committee reviewed the issue and confirmed this was due to a technical bug that was fixed when it was initially reported last year. The Open Disclosure team agreed to respond via Twitter with a reminder about the bug and invitation to attend our meetings. As of this writing, this has been completed.

Discussion: 2022 planning

Additional discussions in December and January focused on the year ahead:

  • 2022 is our 10-year anniversary! There is general enthusiasm for acknowledging/celebrating in some way but also concern for the team’s capacity to do so.
  • Strategy and vision: How do we sustain the work we’ve been doing? Or how do we shift the work to something more sustainable? There continues to be concern about how to resource everything we want and need to do.

Steering Committee meets the Third Tuesday of each month and is open to all OpenOakland members. Read more about how Steering Committee works and how to participate. Our next meeting is Tues., February 15.