Phase Two Meetings

This postcard was sent to 800 address in the area via a program with the US Postal Service called Click2Mail that printed, addressed and paid the postage for about $.47 apiece. Read further for reports on these meetings in early June.

Meeting June 1, 2019

The meeting took place at the Sierra School Site, from 2:00-4:00, Saturday, June 1, 2019.

 

Sulfiati chaired the meeting because Amelia, who is focusing on setting up the 501-c-3 nonprofit, the by-laws, etc., was suddenly taken ill Saturday morning. The meeting was also facilitated by Eddie Valero, the Tulare County Supervisor for this area. He conducted what is called a SWOC activity (details to follow). The chief of staff for the Fresno County supervisor, Nathan Magsig, was also actively involved with the meeting. Thanks to both for their participation!

 

Sulfiati did a brief recap of where we stand. We have met with the supervisors of both counties. Amelia has also met with Eduardo Gonzales, who leads the Fresno State Office of Economic and Community Development. He has agreed to give us substantial help including helping Amelia with the 501-c-3 nonprofit application at no cost. The usual fee for this is at least $500. , Other costs for processing the application should be about $800.

 

The goals for this meeting were to begin forming the community and to develop a larger working group. Specifically, we needed to have these three committees:

1. formation committee to work on the by-laws and structure of the non-profit, 

2. fundraising, and 

3. communications - helping to make phone calls to increase participation. A list of those on the three committees is attached to this report. 

 

At the beginning of the meeting we went around the room to introduce ourselves and to say what inspired us to come to the meeting. This was interesting and useful because probably no one in the room knew everyone there. Also, it was inspiring to hear the reasons that community members were moved to come. Then Eddie Valero ran the SWOC session where we broke into small groups to identify what we thought were the Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Concerns that we saw in this effort. It was stimulating and exciting and helped us focus and get down to work. At the end of the meeting each participant filled out index cards with his or her name and what they wanted to work on. The level of participation was even better than what we had hoped for and many volunteered for more than one committee. Eddie was wonderful, His presentation helped to inspire us and helped us focus our energies. Please click here to see a summary of the SWOC activity.

 

--Sulfiati Harris &

Amelia Williams

Meeting June 8, 2019

The meeting started promptly at 2:00. Present were: Edward Garcia, Lloyd and Gail McClard, John Huneke and Julie Harcos, Lynn Knudson, Robert Mertens, Theresa Zelazny, Moon Savage, Herman and Ginny Cassaday, Dusty and LaRae Garner, Allan Aguirre, Emmanuel and Amelia Williams, Sjarif and Sulfiati Harris, Ted and Susan Brase, Larry and Joni Jordan and George Barnes.

Sulfiati welcomed everyone and outlined the goals of the meeting. In our meeting the previous Saturday we had formed and gathered names for three committees: Formation, Fundraising and Programs. This meeting was to:

  1. Begin the work of those committees and to gather specifics that could make the basis of a business plan to bring to the School District when we meet with them on July 20, and

  2. To discuss the name of the community center. The working name has been Sierra Arts & Community Center, which was not satisfactory to some.

 

We began the meeting with the name discussion, which took about an hour. Amelia Williams, who is partnering with Sulfiati Harris on spearheading the effort to create the community center, led the discussion. Many issues were brought up, such as:

  • “Arts” in the title limits the activities by calling out that one aspect

  • Badger is historically the first location settled in this area (in the late 1800’s) and the whole area on real estate maps is called Badger so it should be the Badger Community Center. However there has been a competitive feeling in the past between  Badger and those communities 6 miles up the road in Pinehurst and Miramonte so this might be divisive.

  • Perhaps call it an “Activity Center” instead of a Community Center. However the School District is expecting this to be a community center, so that should remain.

  • We want a name that is unique so that we can not be confused with other community centers. A search was done on a cell phone to check on whatever name we proposed.

  • The name should indicate where the community center is located. Dusty proposed that it be called the Sequoia Community Center because this indicates our local area. The tag line after it would be “Serving the Communities of Badger, Pinehurst and Miramonte”.

 

Amelia took votes along the way to see whether we were approaching consensus. Each time she led short conversations with those who were not happy with the proposed name and we continued to work together. At the end we had unanimous consensus on the name: Sequoia Community Center, with the proposed tag line included afterwards. This took much longer than what we had planned for but it  was a useful exercise in building community by consensus.

We had a short refreshment break and then broke into Formation, Fundraising and Program committee meetings. Here are reports of those meetings:

 

Formation Committee Meeting (chaired by Amelia)

 

We began with each person sharing what they bring to this committee and what they hope to achieve. Then we reviewed a list of tasks to undertake - including designing a functional board as well as preparing the documents required for the nonprofit formation.

 

We reviewed the timeline for actions required. For the most part, we will be working closely through email, rather than in person.  We aim to complete much of the work during June, taking one task at a time. Here are some of the decisions we made:

 

  1. We agreed to the selection of a Fiscal Sponsor, to be implemented when we are ready to receive funds that support the costs of applications to California and IRS. The Fiscal Sponsor allows us to accept tax deductible donations under their umbrella until we have our own IRS tax exemption. (It does not cover us to operate as a nonprofit. Legally that's something different.)

 

  1. We will accomplish tasks up to, but not including, the actual application for legal standing.  This step can only be taken upon receiving clear approval from the School Board, as we cannot commit the $800 in application fees without this approval.

 

  1. We clarified the role of the Foundation Committee.

  1. The role of this committee is exclusively to design the governance model and to prepare the documents for incorporation, as well as coordinating with Eduardo Gonzalez, who will review our work and prepare the applications.

  2. The members of this committee are NOT the founding Directors. 

 

  1. We reviewed the steps to become a tax-exempt 501(c)3 nonprofit corporation, which are as follows:

  1. Design the governance model and prepare the applications.

  2. Help recruit the persons who will serve as the legally required "Incorporating Directors", who will then sign the application to Secretary of State to become a California non-profit corporation .  (Some committee members may be willing to fulfill this function.) 

  3. Once the State confirms this status (which is not yet tax exempt) then the Incorporating Directors convene the "Organizational Meeting of Incorporation and Directors".  The purpose of that meeting is to elect the Directors who will serve as the first real board.

  4. As soon as the State confers that we are a California non-profit organization  THEN we apply to IRS for tax-exempt status as a 501(c)3 non-profit. This can take 6 to 12 months, but sometimes sooner. 

  5. Meanwhile, we are permitted to behave as a tax-exempt organization, as we will have received our EIN#.

 

The Fundraising Committee

There were five people on this committee: Larry Jordan, Ted Brase, Dusty Garner, Allen Aguirre and Sharif Harris. The goals were set by Sulfiati Harris who is trying to gather specifics for a beginning business plan to present to the School Board on June 20. Our initial needs are $800 to $1000 to file for the non-profit. The more long-term need is something like $5000 to be comfortable when we first open the Community Center.  This is not to pay any salaries, but to get the propane tank filled, pay for utilities for at least 3 months, to do grounds cleanup and other improvements that may be called for.

The committee noted that we may be able to get grants, and that this was not their expertise. Larry Jordan offered to set up a Go Fund Me account to raise the initial money. To raise a larger sum the group decided to put on a BBQ dinner at the site on Saturday, July 27, along with a “silent auction” of donated items that would take place inside the building.

 

The Program Committee, chaired by Sulfiati

Sulfiati asked those interested in offering programs to fill out a worksheet that would collect the specifics needed to help us create a beginning plan for programs. 

The offerings so far are:

Internet Café: Going by responses to the survey and from conversations with people in the area, setting up the online café is high priority for the community. Some in the area don’t have access to the internet and they need it badly. Also needed is a place to gather for coffee, some simple food, and conversation. To start with this could be three afternoons a week. Sulfiati is working on this.

Health: We are aware of the lack of emergency services in this area. The group discussed community first aid and safety classes, CPR classes and information center, and a continued effort to bring mobile medical and dental clinics to the community center. We would like to find a way to have emergency services more quickly available in this area. Susan Brase is a retired nurse and can be helpful in these areas.

Wellness activities: LaRae Garner is interested in arranging Zumba (exercise dancing) and other kinds of movement classes such as different dance techniques for couples.  Helena Mertens is a skilled and inspired yoga teacher who already has a following in the area and who would like to lead yoga classes at the center.

Education: Dotty Woolum presented the idea of having a monthly lecture series on topics of broad interest, possibly followed by a movie that is keyed to the subject. She is a retired university physics professor who taught and gave popular and technical talks on her research. There are others in the area with specific scientific knowledge, or knowledge of gardening and permaculture, or of our local history.

Arts: Drawing classes. Sulfiati Harris taught drawing to children for years in the San Diego area, and also locally for the Kings Canyon Unified School district (middle school classes). She would like to teach classes for both children and adults.  She discussed doing weekly classes with local children from the Hare Krishna community.  She is also interested in doing classes with adults, which would be done with “right brain drawing” techniques taught by Betty Edwards and others.

Sulfiati is also interested in teaching tie-dye, which would be done in 2 hour sessions held outdoors in the warmer months.

Robert Mertens has a lifetime of doing various kinds of art. He could lead classes in creating digital art if we had the proper kinds of computers and software to support this. He is also interested in putting on weaving sessions to create small to very large God’s Eyes.

Ginny Cassaday is interested in helping to get the library set up and is willing to be the contact person for those who are interested in donating books to the library. She will need others to help her work on circulation protocols.

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