Our first meeting was a resounding success! We had a total turn out of seven people, which was less than I had hoped for, but the people themselves more than made up for it. We had a legal hacker, an IC/firmware hacker, a physics and finance hacker, a — hacker, as well as a nice spread of other skills and interests. It was really great hearing everyone’s back story about how they got to where they are today. Many thanks to Adam from Fablocker and Fale for making the long drive out to visit.
We ended up talking for over three hours at the Green Bean, then some of us went over to Natty Greene’s and brainstormed for another hour or so. I think I speak for everyone when I say we’re all really excited about the possibilities and can’t wait to see where this all takes us.
But, the future we want wont happen without our direct action. So here’s what we discussed and the plan going forward.
The first step is to incorporate with the state as a non-profit. That requires filing articles of incorporation with the Secretary of State. Oddly enough, and I suppose this is telling of the fate of most non-profits, the only legal-ese that you are required to file with your articles of incorporation are provisions for dissolution which spell out how the assets for the non-profit will be distributed in the event that the board of directors votes to shut everything down. They have to be in accordance with NC General Statues § 55A-14-03. Generally, they say that the people running the show can’t just take everything and leave, but that the property of the hackerspace has to be given to another non-profit or given to the federal, state or local government.
The next step is to apply for an Employer Identification Number with the IRS using their online form. You have to do this regardless of if you intend to have employees. It’s the federal business equivalent of a social security number.
Once we’re incorporated with the state and have our EIN we can move forward with setting up a business checking account and setup Paypal and Google Checkout accounts in the name of the Greensboro Hackerspace. And then… we can start collecting dues! Collecting dues is a hard sell while we’re in the process of getting a physical space. It requires the trust of everyone involved that the money that they put into the space will be used towards our collective goals. But, we need three to six months of expenses in our nest egg before we can take the plunge in leasing a physical space. I was really, really humbled by everyone’s willingness to help pitch in at this early state.
Which brings us to transparency. During our meeting we were all in agreement with the need for transparency in both the documentation of the space as well as the financials. The wiki is in place to make that happen. We are in the process of moving documentation that we’ve had in a Google Drive into the wiki, which has things like equipment lists and requirements for the physical space. It is a work in progress, but expect to see it really start to flesh out over the next week. This blog post itself, documenting the incorporation process, is also part of that transparency.
Our next meeting is in two weeks on Thursday April 4th, again at the Green Bean coffee shop in downtown Greensboro. We’re going to have a car-trunk hardware swap! So if you have some “junk” that you’d like to either exchange with someone or would like to give to the hackerspace, come on down! We’ll also be sharing updates on our projects and talking about the latest on the path towards getting our own space. I really look forward to seeing the people that I’ve meet recently as well as all of the new faces. See you all there.