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2019-04-25 Toronto Workers Co-op: CoopDevs Chat

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πŸ“… Calendar | 🐱 GitHub | πŸ“‚ GDrive

Time: Thu, Apr 25 @ 10-11am ET
Attending: patcon, dcwalk, ben&ferran, pau



  • Intros
    • Hypha Worker Co-op
    • CoopDevs
  • Open Questions (from question bank)

⭐️ Action
... Missed


  • Intros
    • Ben: started working together with a group of folks on mesh+events in Toronto.
    • dc: Research+organizing -- food and data justice, decentralization.
    • patcon: developer, community organizing -- civic tech, adjacent to gov't
    • pau: comp eng. ... bridging tech & social movements. hitech+coop. in barcelona region. katuma platform for regional supply chains. saas platform, then coop formation? ...
    • ferran: ansible [& devops?]. accounting for coops β†’ odoo (Open ERP)? coop telecom (

@ben's sketch of coopdevs org structure

  • ben: recap of offline Barcelona pre-convo:
    • CoopDev (CD), based in BCN, structure: 4owner+2workers, 1 year worker becomes member (probation)
      • ferran+antonio = workers
    • CD part of larger assoc., previously existed,
    • legal form of the wider org: "association". has president, money person, secretary and thats it.
    • no right to economical activity. You can issue invoices but not much more.
    • ppl can come close via the association (less legal structure, more social connection)
    • to join professionally, have to join the co-op
    • larger assoc meets every tues for meetups? very loose
    • totally separate legal entities. informal agreement between assoc members and co-op. but same project and single brand.
    • revenue
      • assoc shouldn't need much money to run. to be associate it's just 10€. But coop feeds or helps it. stickers, events, etc.
      • coop has customers and services and some grants in order to pay salaries (non-profit).
  • Most people are full-time or near
  • 60% billable work, 40% internal/donated/volunteer work
    • "like a donation of cooperative to project"
    • non-paid work, non-client work: work on community, communication "re-productive" :)
      • "trying to get rid of this work"? Couldn't hear well. [name=patcon]
    • timeoverflow example: 20h a month as a donation. One city council is paying for some feature but we out-sourced it from the coop.
  • Grant as a means to start and consolidate projects.
    • ERP (resource planning) example: goal is that next year should be in market and switch to customer revenue v. grant
    • lucky: city gov and catalan govt eager to fund coop and solidarity econ
      • research group at Catalunya university are big fans of platform coop and them (pilot proj & EU funding)
      • for Katuma digital platform coop
      • coopdevs initated it as a kind of little incubator, each member has many projects

coopdevs projects

  • org has accumulated many projects
    • above diagram shows members responsible for them
    • note: ferran+antonio (less responsibilities) are non-member staff; rest are member-owners
      • examples: internal tech, communication (social nw), katuma, timeoverflow...
      • coop telecom = 30% income
      • but most weight in income: SomConnexiΓ³ (telecom), OpenFoodNetwork
  • tooling
    • + their ci (slow transition from github)
    • appear in β†’ jitsi
    • bitwarden for passwd sharing
    • chat in telegram (plan to transition) riot/ for "pam a pam" project
    • difficulty to find the time to know the tools and more to switch.
    • discourse forum for the coopdevs community
    • time tracking: trello or Toggl are we winning/losing money? How much productive/reproductive work are we doing? Which projects are we investing more. We are using closed source . "our" tool Odoo has some feature for time tracking but it's a little clumsy.
    • Odoo is an enterprise solution. Focused on CRM, invoicing, accounting, ... and has miriads of modules. Companies try to fit everything inside it.
  • making decisions
    • initial difference on contracts of workers with owner-workers in the legal and responsibility plane, but info and decision making is shared
    • quarterly planning
    • play it fairly casual (in response to advice process vs consensus etc)
    • project lead (both for internal and customer-facing)
    • monthly assemblies (meetings) asking how everyone is feeling.
    • assoc. also meets monthly, many members come, check in, planning future activities
    • general assembly annually, board elections... etc... to meet legal requirements
    • Many dec'ns made over chat (discussion in telegram), or starts in telegram, then get together to reach agreement. Mostly for concrete dec'ns-- for example: sending invoice, accepting client
    • Have a co-working space as the physical place, keep general "hours" for specific projects and also being in-person spread across the week
    • wish there was more face-time
    • also hold calls when needed
  • Unknown unknowns, things CoopDevs wish they knew when starting:
    1. accept the fact that legalities are hard, won't get done correctly -- work with accountants or folks with expertise
    2. with accounting there are many important things to need to know: quotes, invoicing, balances, understand how those relate to budgeting
  • ben: who does accounts?
    • enrico did business management, so has that background
    • partnered with accounting coop
      • need to check in on them, as coop is ultimately accountable
  • time tracking + invoices
    • toggle β†’[manually]β†’ odoo
    • katuma: starting with google spreadsheet.
    • which access do the accountants have? Shared google things. Access to our Odoo now. But Enrico is who is managing it. Ideally: all inside odoo
  • best "hacks" of org structure or process?
    • suggesting everyone to install plugin for time-tracking (game-changer)
  • pau: number of members - workers?
    • 5-10 ppl in coop. Could be sustainable to pay salaries and have an impact.
    • ferran: ...smtng processes
    • handbook: documenting everything that we do. company shouldn't stop when someone leaves? joining should be easier
    • ferran: "roles of each person are not that much decided." "could afford more projects and be more safe with more ppl."
      • still feels like he's costing money :)
    • onboarding process helps org to see how it works.
    • Have a goal of a base rate per hour (35 euro) have to hit that before growing?
  • how does education/onboarding work?
    • has a very particular env where ppl go through association and project work first, so lots of osmosis
    • onboarding does have also values processes?
    • ferran knew coopdevs at sobtec conference and social economy
  • have you had any conversations around considerations of diversity & inclusion in your work?
    • pau: effort to include more women and underrep'd folks in assoc, by doing outreach to "women in tech" groups, but hasn't really panned out so far. (⭐️ #ask why?)
    • coop is very small group.
    • ben: what about diversity of skills. e.g. designers?
      • mostly tech ppl, just bc how they started
      • lots of ppl tired of startup movement and want to do something different
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