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February 26, 2011
Meeting Four: Qualitative Shift

As two members were settling in, Elana Wilf gave Atlas a surprise visit! She is one of the two awesome law students who led the IYPEP of 2010. Elana was excited to hear about Atlas. She is keeping herself posted through FindingAtlas.

After Elana’s visit, we talked about our petition (see meeting two). So far, we have over 50 signatures! In order to receive mass signatures, we need to approach the youth in a more efficient way. Someone suggested we set up a table inside a center of other places where youth congregate. We are brainstorming for places to go to. If you have any places you would like us to hold a petition-stand, tell us!

On the topic of petitions, we decided to have another one especially for adults. As the youth are pleading the need for an immigrant-support center, it would be great for adults to pledge services and donations to Atlas.  Here is how it roughly reads:

ATLAS: A Cooperative Empowerment Center for Immigrant Youth and Their Allies

Atlas, an NGO currently under development in New York City, is a cooperative empowerment center for immigrant youth and their allies.. Offering legal, mental health, career, educational and life skills services, Atlas provides for the most vulnerable of NY’s youth populations: immigrants. By utilizing a cooperative approach, members of Atlas sit on our board, take part in all decision making processes, and are both the benefactors and beneficiaries of services offered at the center.

Atlas plans to open its doors in January of 2012 and I am committed to ensuring its success. By signing the below petition I pledge the indicated sum ($5, $10, $100, etc) or to offer indicated services (teach one yoga class a week, assist in the writing of one grant proposal) to the founding of Atlas once it obtains 501c3 nonprofit status, making my donation tax deductible. I believe in the mission of Atlas and believe it is necessary for betterment of New York.

What we need in addition to signatures are letters of support from organizations, judges, attorneys, and schools.

As we discussed all of these, something wonderful was happening to Atlas. Four meetings ago, Atlas was the spoken word, an idea. Through investigation, discussion, and action, Atlas has made a qualitative shift! This emergence of new quality is what’s development.

The next half of the meeting may explain what this new qualitative shift is. We talked about cooperatives: the governance and economic aspects. In a social co-op, there are stake-holders. Membership could refer to those receiving services and the service-givers. At Atlas, who are the members and what decision-making power do they hold? Should they become a power-holding members right away? Or should there be a “probation” period? If members hold decision-making power (we are a cooperative after all), what are the basic constitutional laws and rights  that cannot be changed/voted out?

Then came the topic of time-banks, which stirred up an exciting discourse. Time banking refers to reciprocal service exchange in which time is currency. One puts in hours to receive hours. How should Atlas do it? Should each our of access-ers give in x amount of hours a month to receive their basic services — legal, mental, and life-coach services? If they wish to participate in extra activities (yoga, tutoring), they must give in extra hours? Or if they are not able to give in hours because of other commitments, should there be an option to pay? We even brought up the possibility of a scholarship to Atlas as a supplement for the payment. So many questions!

All these questions, which need further investigation, would not have been brought up without this qualitative develop of Atlas. Now, we are prepared to make more change.




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