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April 2008 Access Space Participants' Meeting

Minutes

Chair – Jim Methley. Minutes taken by Hannah York.

  • Actions we've now taken, or developments since the meeting are in bold.

1. LEARNING

(a)Workshops exclusive to certain groups (e.g. women, ethnic minorities, GLBT groups etc) were discussed, some of the group were in favour, some felt this was against the Access Space ethos, the following Pros and Cons were discussed:

PROS

  • It would encourage groups who are uncomfortable in mixed spaces.
  • The Computer Knowhow for Women sessions were successful.
  • It encourages a wider user base as people who wouldn't usually come in, will come in.

CONS

  • It doesn't tie in with the ethos of Access Space being for everyone all the time.
  • It puts staff under pressure to do additional projects and definitely couldn't be done unless resources were found for this.
  • It would mean amending the opening hours so that we could ensure regular users did not lose out.

Further discussion under agenda item 3. Training

We're now actively seeking funding to help us run creative workshops that are particularly targeted at people with Asperger's, who represent around 15%-20% of Access Spacers. These workshops will also be open to other spacers as well.

2. PACKAGES

Discussion regarding the Mandriva packages in use on the machines. Some of the group complained about the way the different packages are bundled up making them difficult to distinguish between.

Rich explained that he and James are currently working on a package installation project which will hopefully reduce the number of updates required and tidy up the system for users.

Rich/ James to report back at next user meeting.

We're upgrading the system in August 2008 from Mandriva 2007 / Mandria 2008 to Debian Etch. One of our aims during this upgrade is to make sure there's a consistent install procedure for every workstation. We're also looking to make our own Debian software mirror, which will make it much faster to upgrade machines that have missed out on a particular package.

3. TRAINING

Some of the group wanted more clarity on who teaches what in Access Space and to see more lessons being organised.

James gave a summary of the ethos of Access Space i.e. to learn informally from one another and discussed the difficulties related to formalising learning. The biggest issue is resources (see Agenda item 1).

However, as this is an issue that has been raised a few times James suggested he organise a workshop on how to get funding for workshops. The catch would be that, anyone who attended this workshop would have to undertake to run their own workshop too, on any subject.

That wasn't exactly the point - I suggested that there are drawbacks to the conventional, “Think what you want to do; Raise funds; Deliver whatever the funder specifies; Be disappointed that the action is six months later and not quite what you first had in mind” model. I suggested that at my workshop workshop we should not only think about how to raise funds, we should also think about alternative models for how to get workshops to happen - raising enthusiasm, energy, focus, value and enjoyability, so that workshops can and do happen even when they're not funded. JW

James to organise and advertise in advance his workshop.

Adam suggested their may be funding available from Burngreave New Deal for Communities if we get participants to sign a sheet to say they are benefiting from Access Space.

Adam/Team to check.

4. PROGRAMMING

  • Tony is happy to run a C workshop.

Someone needs to run a Python workshop as it has been requested at the last two user meetings, however this may prove difficult due to no-one regular at Access Space having these skills.

Tony to speak to James about dates for workshop.

Jim and James to discuss.

5. FAB IDEAS

Diary room for recording how users are feeling, what projects they're working on etc. Users could take part or not. Group approved of the idea though not all wished to take part.

  • Dan suggested a photo area in the foyer for users to try out ideas.

James to sort trial diary room. (If people time/resources allow! Help needed!)

6. ENVIRONMENT

Fridge/ microwave etc - this is a regular suggestion from the users, Jim suggested we have a discussion on the pros and cons.

Pro:

  • A temporary fridge for events may be useful so that Reka can store dips etc in it.

Cons:

  • Smell
  • Space, i.e. where would we actually put either of them.
  • It would mainly be the staff who would end up cleaning it not users, like the mugs, kitchen, vacuaming and toilets.

:!: Hot water – users are seriously unhappy with the lack of hot water. This is due to the landlord of the building refusing to repair it, however the staff conceded that it is an issue especially in winter and we need to sort it. James asked that anyone with good, cheap electrician friends let him know and he will contact them and arrange it ASAP.

Staff decision on fridge for events to made before next event.

Anyone with electrician friends pass their details on to us.

We've replaced the hot water heater (at some expense) and thanks to a great contact we got the plumbing work done for free - we just had to pay for the parts. Now we've all got no excuse for not doing the washing up.

7. COMMUNICATIONS

Current suggestions is for 3 user meetings a year. Some of the group wanted more but Jim stated that with more frequent meetings what tends to happen is good attendance for the first few with a gradual decline in numbers.

The following suggestions were made for a more regular event that weren't user meetings but would allow users to interact and resolve any issues:

  • A user group that meets fortnightly, monthly or bi-monthly depending on what the group decide.
  • Regular socials in the Rutland.
  • Socials in Access Space so people who don't drink/ like pubs can come too.
  • A meal out 2/3 times a year.
  • E-mails – group asked that communications about meetings/ events go out at least a fortnight in advance due to the irregular use of the space.
  • Forums – Should we create an Access Space one or is the wiki enough?

Participants to discuss further with staff.

Let Jake know if you don't receive emails currently but would like to be added to our contact list.

Better advertising of the wiki as not many people knew about it.

8. SKILLSWALL

How well used is it? How could we improve it?

Need to make it a non-negotiable, users have to complete and update cards, that way we have better information on how people are using the space and potentially pushing people who are wasting theirs and our time into creative projects.

Update ways of identifying skills on the cards.

Machine readable version?

Staff to encourage skillwall card creation.

9. AOB

  • Futuresonic – Richard Stallman is speaking on Thursday, does anyone want to go, should we arrange an Access Space trip?

Speak to Harriet if you want to go to see RMS.

  • Graffitti Outside – non-permanent paint, Dan suggested a group of us wash it off.

Dan to organise.

  • Mess Outside – smokers please put fag ends in the drain not in the garden patch or on the floor. Tell people off if they are spitting outside.

We've now added two nice planters outside Access Space, and we've got some more plants for inside. They look great now, but they need looking after. Please, don't move plants into shadowy corners and leave them there. They are living things. They can't complain. They simply die. Would anyone like to volunteer to keep checking and watering plants?

  • WiFi – Some participants felt this would be useful. Rich not willing to make available currently due to security/logistical issues.

Revisit in 2009.

  • New Participants – Regular users are feeling dispirited due to a high number of new users not engaging either with them or with the ethos of Access Space. The group asked that the staff attempt to get everyone engaging, participating or contributing or we ask them to leave. We're not a cyber cafe and we need to re-affirm this.
  • Established Participants' Survey – James asked everyone to respond to his questions so that we can find new ways of getting everyone participating positively, and hopefully reduce the problem discussed above.

Please email James your comments or speak to him ASAP.

The survey, and our experiences, led to some changes in our Terms & Conditions.

(1) We've added the rule “Grow Up!” which asks everyone, of all ages, to behave like a sensible adult in the space, and not have childish arguments or behave in an annoying fashion.

(2) We've realised that many youngsters are quite sensible in ones and twos, but when they're in a large group, they act up around their mates. To stop this we've resolved to ask groups of kids larger than three to leave the space, and for them to come back when they've got genuinely productive projects to put forward - not simply use the space as a place to hang out.

 
minutes_200804.txt · Last modified: 2008/08/15 19:33 by james
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