Board of stewards

Here we publish and discuss materials that contribute directly to defining the role and membership of a Board of stewards in

See also more general discussion here: Defining a Board for

Agenda for a meeting of a ‘prototype’ Board

This is the offered agenda for a meeting of members of a ‘prototype’ Board of stewards. prototype Board - Agenda

Date Thursday March 10th - 17:00 Central European/16:00 UTC (London)/ 11:00 US Eastern

Here: meet. coop European meeting room

Timing: total listed below: 115min

Meeting language: English. See item #6

  1. Check in. Start on time for the icebreaker so that all are participating. 20min all participants.
    1. Check-in, round-the-room . 15min
    2. Icebreaker, small breakouts - “How do you come to be here in this gathering? Do we have similar backgrounds?” 5min
  2. Strategic rationale at this point in meet. coop development 12min Wouter Tebbens - slides with notes here
  3. The bigger picture: Small breakouts: “Before deciding whether to contribute in the Board, what needs to be made clear about the Board, or about meet. coop?” 15min
  4. Q&A following from 3. 15 min Ops members responding
  5. A board of Stewards - What is a Board for? Purpose, principles, membership, contributions, recognition 12min Mike Hales Q&A - A slide here and notes here. pdf here
  6. Social relations : What is meet. coop for? Contributions of meet. coop in our community.12min Mike Hales Q&A- A slide here and notes here. pdf here
  7. What happens next? 15min Wouter Tebbens Q&A
  8. Check out. 15min

This is available as a downloadable document in our NextCloud

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Reminder for all participating in the Board of Stewards prototype meeting tomorrow:

Date Thursday March 10th - 17:00 Central European/16:00 UTC (London)/ 11:00 US Eastern

Here: meet. coop European meeting room

Check the agenda in this same thread.

See you tomorrow, happy commoning!

In order to consolidate the Board of Stewards we need to approve a Definition of that Board that is acceptable by the Board itself, the Operational members and, at a later point, can be approved by the General Assembly.

For that purpose I think we need a clean, minimal version of the Board definition that we have discussed so far, a version that can later be incorporated in our Constitution or Bylaws - Principles can go elsehwere and too much detail on what the Board should do or not do are not necessary. So I have stripped down what we had. I have also looked up some example Bylaws, such as the Wiki Media Foundation one and other cooperative bylaws where typically a Board is considered a Board of Directors taking formal responsibility for everything taking place in the organisation. Now I’d argue that our Board of Stewards is mid-way between such board and an Advisory Board, and I think at this point we can limit responsibility of Board members. Below follows the proposed Definition. Any comments and improvements are welcome before we put it to a formal Decision by the Ops members.

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Definition Proposal - Draft to be approved

Board of stewards in

For the purpose of later inclusion in a Constitution for, in this document we define the Board of stewards, its composition and main activities.

  1. Purpose of the Board
  2. Core principles
  3. Membership of the Board, voices, voting
  4. Contributions of stewards in
  5. Recognition of contributions
  6. Conflict of interest
  7. Limitation of responsibility

1 Purpose of the Board

The purpose of the Board of Stewards is to provision and facilitate the General Assembly (GA) of all Members of, and to act as proxy for the GA between meetings.

The GA is the central venue for stewarding the commons, hence, the naming: Board of Stewards.

2 Core principles

The Board adheres to and may wish to extend or deepen and interweave existing principles as practiced within the community. These principles are adopted by both (the General Assembly of Members) and specifically by the Board. They are developed in detail elsewhere. They include:

  • the cooperative principles
  • principles of commoning
  • p2p principles of mutual aid and federation
  • privacy and protection of personal data
  • use of renewable energy
  • intersectionality, multilingualism, subsidiarity.

3 Membership of the Board, voices, voting

The Board is composed of members - also called Stewards - appointed in the following manner:

  • Each Operational Circle’s convener (which maybe a rotating role), is defacto member of the Board.
  • User members and other Operational members, elected by the GA, with a three-year rotation.
  • Collaborating Members, appointed for specific periods by the Board and/or the GA.
  • There is no limit to the total number of Stewards. We aim for 40% Operational members, 20% Collaborating members and 40% User members.
  • The Board presents proposed Board candidates to the General Assembly which decides by majority to adopt the proposed composition of Board members. Candidates may propose themselves to be included before or during the GA.
  • Within the internal structure of, the Board operates like a Circle-of-circles, running on sociocratic principles - notably consent rather than consensus decision making.
  • During Board activities, Stewards may take specific roles to conduct fruitful meetings, such as host or facilitator, note taker etc.
  • Communications: the Board of Stewards has a category in the online forum for posting and public deliberation threads, and also a private category for internal stewards-only communication, deliberation and chat. The forum provides for direct messaging between individual Board members or groups of Members. The Board also has space within the cloud for public and internal document sharing.
  • The Board can be seen as a location of negotiation and communication, between Ops and User membership constituencies, and also across sectors of User members.
  • Voting on all matters, may be conducted by email, chat software, video conferencing, forum software, or other similar verifiable means. Proxy voting shall not be allowed.

4 Contributions of stewards in

Stewards, through the Board, provide guidance and contribute at a high level to the following areas of practice:

  • membership and recruitment
  • partnerships and federation
  • operational and development practices
  • setting and monitoring the development roadmap
  • revenue generation, funding possibilities and proposals including grants
  • balance of contributions within the coop - both work and voices
  • compensation of paid work contributions and recognition of other kinds of contribution
  • contributions in the community and practices of stewarding in the commons.

5 Recognition of contributions

The contributions of members in the Board are in general gift work rather than paid work, receiving recognition of some non-wage kind(s). It remains open for members of the Board to undertake Bounty tasks when they are qualified for these.

Individual commitments of work time in this venue should be an order of magnitude less than Operational members. Board members commit to a minimum of 10 hours per annum (in the case of Operational Members, this is in addition to their Circle commitments).

Sessions of the Board are quarterly, in an online space, for two hours.

6 Conflict of interest

It shall be the duty of all Board members to make prompt and full disclosure to the Board of any personal, professional, or financial conflict of interest in a matter under discussion. When a conflict of interest is disclosed, the Board member must not participate in the discussion or vote on the relevant issue.

7 Limitation of responsibility

The Board has formally an advisory role and cannot be held responsible for any contract or services provided by the cooperative. Further details about responsibilities of the cooperative are defined in the Terms of Use.

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Is there any deadline to comment on it?


Some feedback on the draft:

I’m sort of assuming this is an aspirational document, and not a reflection of what’s workable right here and now. Hopefully my comments will explain this assumption:

I don’t bemire that the board of stewards as currently composed can be effective in provisioning or facilitating a General Assembly, and I don’t believe this should be it’s key purpose at present. The sense I got from the initial call and the discussions around that, is that this is very much an advisory group at present and I believe that the key task at hand is to guide the organisation from where it is now towards a more clearly defined structure, with governance and management systems in place that will enable to better reach its potential. I think that over the course of that journey the next phase of’s governance arrangements will become much clearer. Right now I see the full membership of - all of the stakeholders - as a key group that we should be consulting with and learning from, and over time bringing into being suitable processes by which a General Assembly can be really effective.

Core Principles
Wow, that’s a pretty long list, and I know that I don’t know all of what’s involved there. If these 6 bullet points underpin what we do and how we behave, we’ll need to know a bit more. Sociocratic principles don’t seem to feature here although they are mentioned in the next section.

Membership & Voting
Is this all true now, or idealised?

Has this list been carefully developed? does it cover everything that needs addressing?

There is no hard deadline, but ideally we can collect comments until the next All Hands (5th of May) so Operational members can take the next step to reach consent and by our next Board meeting we have a sufficiently solid foundation to work on.

Replying also to @graham’s comments and questions:

indeed, as an intent to define what we may want to do inside and with the Board, but with all the flexibility to decide what to prioritise according to each phase in development.

you could say it’s too strong a focus in this definition; OTOH by the time we celebrate our first real GA of all members (not only ops members), this Board i.c.m. with the operational circles would most likely be key participants in that meeting. I agree with you though that at present our priority isn’t really in organising the GA, but in contributions listed under 4. The Definition allows for setting priorities of what work and activities we consider most valuable at each moment and still situates the GA as a central purpose from which all other things should (later) emerge?

point taken. We’ll try to work out those principles in a vision document. Possibly here in this Board Definition we could simplify and refer to Vision & Mission elsewehere defined?

This is a proposed definition to be discussed. Maybe our first Board isn’t exactly following these %, but quite near (depending whether all Stewards confirm). We have 6 Ops members here, some 4-6 User members and maybe 4-6 Collaborative members. Do we need to loosen the % per membership class, or change % or consider that “we aim for” is just good enough for now?

it may not be perfect, so please shoot at it, before we set it in “stone”? :slight_smile:

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Dear Stewards,

we’re currently undergoing important discussions within Operations to (re)define our sustainability model, with the shared mission & vision through which we hope to grow into sustainability, i.e. a level where our membership contributions suffice to pay fair wages for operational work and have all hearts, mouths and hands working collectively to realise that shared mission.

We recognise that now is an important moment to clarify our model with - ops, user and collaborator - members working effectively together to increase our membership sufficiently. Therefore we are preparing a distributed marketing plan where we’ll be needing your help.

This will take some time to share these plans with you and we consider it appropriate to postpone our meeting until JUNE. We suggest to convene the next Board of Stewards on the second Thursday in June, i.e. 9th of June 2022, 17:00 CEST. Please note in your agenda, hoping that most can make it on that date.

Towards that date we’ll be sharing the important bits and pieces that make up the strategy and invite you for in-depth feedback.

Furthermore, we encourage you to present yourself in the internal Board of Stewards thread. Happy weaving our networks :wink:

Thanks for your understanding and support.