Got rid of old board info.
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= Board 2007 =
By running for a HCoop Board seat in 2007, I am not looking to radically change the direction of the Cooperative which has led to growth that has been impressive by any standards. Instead I hope that by running for a seat on the board I am able to bring up a number of issues which I think would increase the sustainability of the Cooperative and decrease the environmental impact of our hosting services. Below is a summary of my relevant experience and how I intend to work with the Cooperative if elected for a board seat in 2007.
Generally, my positions below state how I would try to help the Cooperative to work towards an environmental policy, as well as how I would work on various initiatives to increase membership. I would work to achieve this latter goal through the formation of volunteer groups within HCoop in order to recruit new individual members, perhaps by distribution of promotional material to college campuses. I would also make an effort to grow relationships with other cooperatives, such as grocery cooperatives, and local internet organizations such as community wifi groups. Please email me at leitgebj [ AT ] hcoop.net with suggestions or questions about this page.
== Previous Experience ==
Currently I am working on a PhD in Spanish Literature in the [http://rll.buffalo.edu Department of Romance Languages and Literatures] at the [http://www.buffalo.edu University at Buffalo]. My academic interests are described on my [http://justin.phq.org personal home page]. Previously, I completed a MA in Sociology and a BA in Computer Science.
Although my current research is primarily in the humanities, I have experience in technology from previous jobs in software and system administration. Before returning to academia for my PhD, I was an operations developer (i.e., system administrator and programmer) in a large Internet advertising company, where I worked on a network of over 300 linux machines divided into clusters of database and web servers. During a peak traffic day, our network served nearly 500 million HTTP page views during 24 hours.
I am also working as a tester and programmer with a project funded by the [http://www.neh.gov National Endowment for the Humanities] that is designed to help disseminate literary texts in a variety of languages, in annotated form, over the Internet. Although the new version of the software that I am helping to develop is still in beta testing, a previous version of [http://litgloss.buffalo.edu LiTgloss] is publicly available.
== Environmental Issues ==
NathanKennedy suggested a while ago an EnvironmentalPolicy that has not yet been adopted. This has been largely because we didn't achieve a consensus on the concrete steps that it would contain. While it seems that there is no perfect solution to this issue while continuing our hosting services, I think that most members of the group can agree that our hosting operation uses a non-trivial amount of electricity. For this reason, we should work together to reduce the environmental footprint that we leave. For this reason I would like to propose that we take the following steps as a cooperative:
* State on our home page ([http://www.hcoop.net www.hcoop.net]) page that, as a group, we are aware that our operation uses a non-trivial amount of energy to run. Our cooperative is committed to looking for practical solutions that reduce energy consumption and substitute renewable sources of energy where possible for the energy that our servers consume. We are also looking to take an active role to raise public awareness of the costs of hosting operations and how we can reduce our environmental footprint.
* On the EnvironmentalPolicy page of the wiki, we mention that we could buy renewable energy for the energy that our servers consume. While I am not against this approach, it seems to have the undesirable effect of buying electricity once through Peer 1, and then again through another company. Before adopting this approach, as a member of the board I would first contact Peer 1 to see if they could sign us up for a renewable energy program, even if this costs a small amount more than what we are currently paying. This way, we wouldn't be paying twice for energy and perhaps, as our organization grows, we can get Peer 1 to offer a service that other companies colocated in their center would benefit from. I think that if Peer 1 doesn't do this, we should look for other colocation providers for future servers that have a "green energy" policy. In effect, I think that we may need to do some lobbying first in order to come to a better solution for renewable energy for our servers. :)
Finally, I think that given the increasing importance of environmental awareness in our society, these steps towards an environmentally-friendly hosting operation are not only important ethically speaking, but that they would be a strong selling-point for future members as well. As a member of the board I would work to gather continual feedback from members about different steps we could take as a cooperative to raise awareness about the environmental effects of our operation, and to come to a consensus about what measures we can take as a cooperative to reduce our environmental footprint.
== Cooperation Among Cooperatives ==
With our new hosting operation in Peer 1, we should have plenty of capacity for new members. I would use my position on the board to help organize a team of volunteers to contact local grocery cooperatives to see if we can offer them hosting services, perhaps with a special package that we could develop for these customers based on their needs. I think that this would help to connect us to local communities, while following the SevenPrinciples of cooperative organizations where it calls for "cooperation among cooperatives."
== General Membership Drive ==
I suggest that we devise an advertising brochure which could be posted in local colleges universities by member volunteers. This should help us to increase our member base, especially with those in interest areas related to technology, the media, and social movements such as cooperative organizations.
== Collaboration with Wifi Communities and Cooperatives ==
Our hosting operation, it seems, could benefit a lot of local wifi organizations. Some of these are cooperatives like HCoop, and I think that many of them would like working with the technically skilled membership that HCoop has. I would like to see us work with some of them because of the mutually-beneficial relationship that we could develop, as well as the ability for this to tie us into local communities dedicated to supporting the internet and sources of media that are democratically controlled by their users rather than large telco providers.
== Membership Dues ==
HCoop has undoubtedly drawn lots of users because it has kept dues lower than other comparable services. We've been able to do a lot of this because of volunteer organizational and technical labor. However, up to this point we have only been charging members based on a division of the costs of hosting, and we haven't kept any money reserved for upgrades and repairs.
I think that this is a bad idea for the sustainability of the Cooperative. Not only could we get into a situation where members don't want to donate the required resources for fixes, upgrades or legal issues, thereby sinking the Cooperative, but it could also lead to a less democratic organizational structure. This could occur if we need to take a donation, and the donor puts conditions on what they donate. Instead of resorting to donations for upgrades (it should be noted that several large donations made the move to Peer 1 possible), I would rather have the cooperative able to sustain itself from (more-or-less) equal contributions from members that includes money that will be set aside to help the cooperative to grow and sustain itself. Of course, it is a common practice of cooperative organizations that if there is excess money held by the cooperative, this will be returned to members at a time and in a way that is determined by the board.
Along these lines, I would like to see a plan that doesn't charge members a different amount every month. I think that, especially with the ideas above of trying to increase membership and in terms of offering our services to other cooperatives, it just doesn't work to say, "well, this month membership is $2.00, next month it might be $2.25, etc." There is no reason we can't have a more stable rate that sits just a bit above absolute operating costs. We could always re-adjust this cost every 6 months or so to reflect current costs of operation.
== Increase Board to 5 Seats (as soon as possible) ==
NathanKennedy mentioned this in a recent email to the list serve. I fully support this given the current size of our organization.
== Technical Issues ==
The technical progress that HCoop has made over the years is impressive by any standards. The development and administrative experience of the current board of directors is commendable in this respect. If I were elected for a seat on the board of directors, I would encourage the present direction of the technical infrastructure of the Coop as much as possible. This includes making sure that AdamChlipala, as the lead HCoop programmer, and DavorOcelic, the lead HCoop system administrator, have the resources that they need to continue their work. As in the past, I would also try to make suggestions for technical improvements, especially in areas where I am able to draw from my experience working on large network of linux servers.