Last night, the Board of Stewards of East Bay for Everyone voted to adopt revised bylaws which formally introduces membership and makes visible much of our previously invisible structure. The full bylaws are available in our About Us section, and here’s why this is especially important.
East Bay for Everyone was founded in early 2016 in response to the ongoing housing and affordability crisis in the East Bay at an ad-hoc meeting of organizers in downtown Oakland’s Awaken Cafe. It was at this meeting that the 7 of us agreed to put off any kind of formal structure until we needed it. Our number one priority was to be organizing the east bay to support more housing and the formalities of a board, incorporation, bank account, and so forth was more overhead than we needed.
This sustained us for about a year. By February of 2017 we had grown to over 400 members as led by roughly 20 organizers covering major portions of the East Bay. Many were asking how to contribute money to us to support the work that until then had been sustained by the precious individual contributions of our own organizers. We believed that this money should go towards hiring permanent staff and subsidizing the regular expenses of our organizers, and to do that we would need to formally incorporate and become a 501c4 organization.
It was a difficult decision to commit down that road of formal structure through adoption of a corporate board and officers as required by state law. In the end, we came up with what was to be our provisional bylaws. It laid out a Board of Stewards, a Treasurer, Secretary, and two Co-Executives alongside a declaration of intent to adopt a formal membership structure by June 2018. We discussed and debated and developed what Membership might mean within the organization throughout 2017 and part of 2018. Who was able to join? Why would anyone join at all? What does membership grant, why does it matter, and how can we design it to reflect our do-ocratic way of organizing?
Our new bylaws answer some of those questions; others are answered through our day-to-day organizing work. But in the end, East Bay for Everyone committed to being the change we wish to see. Today’s land use decisions are incredibly undemocratic. The process of late night project-by-project planning commission fights and city council meetings that run until 11pm or later is inherently exclusive of those without the means to attend these marathons. If we had a Board of Directors at the top directing the officers to implement a platform decided by the board, would that be any different than the system we claim to oppose?
Calling it a Board of Stewards instead of Directors might seem trivial, but careful selection of rhetoric is an important part of our work. East Bay for Everyone exists by, for, and because of the work of those who Show Up in service of the human right to housing. We’re a true grassroots organization. This is reflected in our simple yet inclusive definition of who may join East Bay for Everyone:
Membership shall be open to any natural person dedicated to the purposes of the Organization who resides in or holds employment in the East Bay or the larger nine-county San Francisco Bay Area, who is not currently suspended by the Organization and has either:
- Shown Up in service of the Organization, or
- Making a Recurring Donation to the Organization, or
- Having been approved by the Board of Stewards
Our first election of the Board of Stewards will occur on July 12th, 2018. Nominations are currently open and may be made in EBFE Discuss.Ratification of the Updated Bylaws of East Bay for Everyone