ATX Hackerspace Responsibilities During COVID-19 Orders

Note that this proposal was amended during the member meeting last night to add “It is the feeling of the class-B members” at the beginning of the resolved statement. For clarity, this would now read:


It is the feeling of the class-B members that the Hackerspace doors be returned to key fob operating status and not physically locked,
That every person at the Hackerspace premises be solely responsible for assuring their own activity is legal under the various orders,
and that any guests be the full responsibility of the hosting member in accordance with existing guest policies.

That all members and guests are required to follow best practices as outlined by CDC and local authorities including: don’t go to the hackerspace if you’re sick, wash hands regularly, sanitize tools, minimize time you’re close to other people (social distancing) and wear a mask when you’re close to other people.

That the total number of people allowed at one time in the ATX Hackerspace is restricted to 25% of the Occupancy Load as determined by the City of Austin.

That these restrictions will expire on August 1st.

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Looking back through this just wanting to point out for the record that the initial statement here is no longer factual. Those meeting minutes were added on 5/15 and update to include additional details on 5/27.

Also want to make sure it is clear to all that the doors are already currently operating by key fob status and not physically locked.

Preparing the Helios vote and will send out after verifying it is setup correctly.

I do not see why Skedda could not be required while following this proposal. The locking/unlocking of the door is not dependent on the requirement to use Skedda.

Skedda could have multiple other slots added. The problem is the exit time is hard to schedule, so it would never be accurate in regards to who is actually there.

If people are not using Skedda, then politely revoke their membership until we’re at phase 3.

When I went the other day, I found it very strange to have a time to leave the hackerspace by. A very novel feeling. It was also a novel feeling having to rush because I felt like I might be late.

After visiting the space, I feel like it is now something that is way too under-utlized for the expense. I’m not sure the property management company deserves any of my monthly fees given the current utilization of the space.

PPE production is nobel, but now it seems like it is more of an excuse to keep people from using that area?

We all have different expectations from the space. Someone who just wants to use the woodshop might be quite happy with current situation, while there are others who find a lot of the current approach disagreeable.

I very strongly disagree with the need to pay an attorney for any advice on these matters. Many members here are capable of formulating their own correct opinions without needless money being wasted. Likewise, I’m not sure how the insurance company would come into play. Some sort of negligence has to be demonstrated and it is hard for me to fathom that ever being the case regardless of this proposal.

The facemask clause is what loses me. During the meeting I heard another member say they could call out to others when they were walking by as a tactic of some sort. Well calling out is close to singing and for those who have been paying somewhat attention it is a great way to expel viruses into the air. I simply don’t trust people. A cloth mask is a nuisance but not like wearing a respirator.

Regardless of all this, the board has went through a lot of work and I do acknowledge that none of these decisions are easy or straight-forward. I am going to put off my vote until then end but will likely vote in favor of the proposal. This is especially easy given that it is no longer binding.

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In the United states anybody can be sued for anything, even with forms and contracts saying you can’t sue, you still can.

The space would then have to hire a lawyer to defend themselves from a frivolous lawsuit. Even if it is eventually dismissed the time and expense of fending off a frivolous lawsuit can weight down on the space.

(I’m not involved in the talks with our insurance or lawyer so I’m assuming here) Consulting our lawyer and our insurance is to insure if we are sued and lose the insurance would pay out if we follow the requirements they lay out.

It would be foolish for the space to decide “well our insurance will cover any lawsuit payouts if we enforce limits on who all is in the building, but we decided we didnt want their protection so it could be a free for all instead.” The space is opening themselves up for both lawsuits and legal payouts because we dont want any limits.

Again consulting our lawyer if frivolous lawsuits start being filed, the lawyer we have on retainer will only handle so much as part of their retainer. They may decide they require more to represent a organization who willfully opens itself up for liability, and decides against their legal advice.

You say the space is under utilized. What is it that’s causing it to be under utilized? Right now everybody has access to skedda, full view of the schedule.

If the schedule was fully book and people couldnt get in because there simply wasn’t any availability I could see your arguement but so far people just havent booked that much time.

If people are having issues using skedda, or not sure how to do something we encourage them to speak to somebody on the re-open team to address those questions.

Trying to figure out how much time you need for a project is not an impossible order. If you need more time you can put a back to back booking in skedda (we need to update the documentation. To specify such) but if you planned for 2 hours but turns out you need 3, you can just book additional time as long as nobody else has booked it.

I dont understand why figuring out how much time a project will take is so impossible. It has been fine for the CNC’s, lasers, printers, autobay for years for people to estimate the time they needed. Why it is physically impossible for you to estimate your project I dont understand. Even at my day job I’m forced to estimate how long projects will take it’s not impossible simply requires effort.

I will summarize my still lack of understanding of what this proposal is trying to fix. I dont understand what the pain points are.
-is somebody unable to access the space that wants to? If so let’s work to address the issue.
-is somebody thinking our attempts are in-effectice? Then let’s work out something so they are effective.

All I hear from this discussion is “we are legally allowed to do less to protect our members, therefore we should do the minimum”

If there are specific actional issues that you want addressed then specify them. What specifically is the issue with the current plan that is so horrible we should abandon all attempts at moderation of the space?

The governor and CDC guidelines are laid out as the absolute minimum you are required to do, they still recommend businesses asses their own situations and take actions accordingly.

Much like paying some one the minimum wage is saying to them “if I could get away with paying you any less I would” treating our members safety in the same manner is abhorrent to this community.

Cases in austin are still rising. The pandemic hasn’t peaked and it’s not over. Turning it into a free for all now will put people’s lives at risk for no clear reason other than people dont like restrictions.

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Anyone can be sued for anything, but there are many things that need to line-up. Yes, you could “sue” me tomorrow, but I have no concern over that. People are overstating the issues with liability when it comes to covid. It can’t be proved where anyone caught it, no one is forced to come to the space, there is PPE stuff all over. Everyone is fully aware of the covid situation. There are 2 layers there, LLC and insurance. Last resort is the space is bankrupted, people take their hosted items and a new space is formed, but IMO the chances of that happening are .0001326 %. So all the hand-wringing over being sued is not really a useful use of time. Have you ever heard of someone catching the flu and suing some place? Why would it have changed now? The hackerspace isn’t even worth suing unless you can get the insurance company involved.

If I was the insurance guy and you came to me and asked a question, I’d say, ‘yea, shut it all down and continue paying your premiums. THank you for calling’. :slight_smile:

It is under-utilized because there are multiple rooms that were less used by “makers” that seem to have nothing but random PPE stuff sitting around.

What you don’t understand James is it not always about “projects” and being a “maker”. The place had its own culture before all that stuff started being pushed. A lot of us basically had the feeling that the shop subsidized the space as a whole. Most shop only people had 0 desire to interact with the culture of the time. It was dysfunctional but I found it far more enjoyable. This has been completely flipped upside down though. (It is my guess here - but a lot of this is because the property management people started cracking down on the hacker-hobos.)

Your analogy about paying people minimum wage is valid but in a different way. In both situations people are unhappy because they are not getting what they feel they pay for either via their labor or their $.

I agree the culture of the space isn’t ideal.

At my old makerspace people were much more open with sharing their work with others and enjoyed teaching others what they were doing just cause they enjoyed sharing their projects.

This makerspace simply doesn’t do that, and I wish they would. I had offered in the past to have “project help saturdays” like I used to do at my old makerspace. Where I would be available to help anybody with their projects. But it never attracted a single person.

I would like to see the culture of the space change to be more social and sharing of projects but that’s a long term change.

Yes covid has changed alot of things but turning the space into a free for all because we miss interacting with others is the worst thing we can do atm. While cases are still increasing in the city, turning ourselves into a social hotspot is the absolute last thing we should be doing. Social isolation is getting to everybody, but that doesn’t mean we should put members at risk so we can have water cooler talk.

The board has made efforts to host zoom socials and workshop tours to try and get people interacting where possible, I’ve been in talks to see what kind of events we might be able to have (the landlord rejected one idea I had).

We are trying to make accommodations where we can that would allow people to be safe but still interacting.

I am strongly opposed to this on two levels- first, the pandemic crisis is still very very real, and this open community shop presents a real risk to the community. We are not alone in this- it is my understanding that ALL other makerspaces in Texas are currently closed entirely, and we are already being the pioneers with our Phase II restrictions.

If this were actually taken as a requirement, this equates to stripping the community protection measures to “anyone can do anything you like and it’s your problem if you get arrested” is not acceptable for any maker community at this time. It is an unjustifiable risk to our members, their loved ones, their jobs, and public health.

The legal minimums of the stay-at-home orders at the state/county level are notoriously vague, and arguably lack enforceability so as to be nothing at all. This does not mean we have no responsibilities as a community, or business, or as individuals. The legal minimum “that won’t get you arrested” is not our standard.

This lack of management invites conflict. There is no regulation of how crowded an area would be, nor how building capacity would be managed- if someone plans to come to the Space and finds “too many people” there, or people acting in a manner seen as dangerous to them, who is to leave? Literally anyone can argue “this does not count as ‘close’, it’s unsafe for me to wear a mask, and the Travis County order is legally negated by the Governor’s office, so I’m technically right.” We could spend 100 hours arguing that, and get nowhere. Who would do a head count and tell anyone to leave? Who would say what is “safe”? The Phase II rules and the Skedda system is our best effort to manage that, and a lot of nothing less than heroic volunteer effort has gone into creating that.

Which is the second problem here- this proposal is fundamentally inappropriate in its nature. The Board has not only the power, but the responsibility to set health and safety rules for the community, and has done a great deal of work in research, operating in conjunction with the wider network of makerspaces, to create these rules. That duty to set rules exists on a community, professional, and even legal level. The ReOpen committee was formed to help with that. But this would functionally strip the capacity of the Board to carry out its duties and conflict with our mission as an organization.

Do I agree with every word of the Phase II restrictions? Of course it wouldn’t be the exact same thing if I wrote it, I’d debate details of what rules should be all day. But the bottom line is the Board has the responsibility to make health and safety rules, and voting to undo them does harm to this community. There is the ReOpen group to bring up your concerns, as well as making a case for or against rules with the Board.

Our voting system should not be used to undermine the structure of the org in this way, and presents a significant capacity to do harm to our community.

Vote NO. And please bring your input to ReOpen, or the Board!

Stay safe!


I’ve never had that impression, but you have to actively be at the space to have people talk about their projects. I don’t like video-conferencing. I have a small company and everyone is remote. We never video-conference.

One thing that could be done is add 3-4 slots for the lounge/classroom if PPE production is no longer active. Seal up the hole on the door. I am not sure how the AC system works and how the 2 areas are segregated, but it is a thought.

Regardless, board said they would ignore the proposal and it was reworded specifically to allow them to do so. So the vote is symbolic at this point. Anyone who cares enough has been given enough of a chance to make the $100 deposit and be a B-share member.

Well maybe you should, it’s a growing trend for companies across the country even before the pandemic.

I work for an R&D department at my company. Our team has a short video conference 3 days a week to give updates, discuss issues, and generally just get to chat for a while. It is definitely the high light of my day at work.

But because you don’t like video conference, you think everybody should start exposing themselves to covid so you can socialize.

I said no such thing. Thats incredibly awful logic and frankly quite surprising coming from you. My views on the hackerspace have nothing to do with video-conferencing on any level. I just said that because I don’t find it to be an adequate replacement for any purpose of the hackerspace outside of meetings or someone giving a presentation.

I went to a presentation by Rob. I’d attend others given the right timing and subject matter, but thanks for the lecture on video-conferencing, James. I will be sure to carefully reconsider my thoughts on the subject.

Personal snark aside, I’m unclear on how this proposal as written would actually change anything now?

It is the feeling of the class-B members that the Hackerspace doors be returned to key fob operating status and not physically locked,

Already done.

That every person at the Hackerspace premises be solely responsible for assuring their own activity is legal under the various orders, and that any guests be the full responsibility of the hosting member in accordance with existing guest policies.

This is currently and has always been true, is it not? We appreciate all the work done by the board and other volunteers, but they’re not around 24/7 and there’s not much they can do about a member choosing to do something illegal in the space other than report it to the authorities. ATXHS does not employ private security (to the best of my knowledge).

That all members and guests are required to follow best practices as outlined by CDC and local authorities including: don’t go to the hackerspace if you’re sick, wash hands regularly, sanitize tools, minimize time you’re close to other people (social distancing) and wear a mask when you’re close to other people.

Currently also true (and I believe technically orthogonal to the fact that guests aren’t currently allowed access)

That the total number of people allowed at one time in the ATX Hackerspace is restricted to 25% of the Occupancy Load as determined by the City of Austin.

Also currently true. My understanding of “restricted to X” is that it can’t be more than X, which is certainly the case now. I suspect the original intent was that the allowed number of people be increased to 25% of the Occupancy Load, but that’s not what the text of the proposal actually says.

So… am I missing something?


This Proposal:

  • acknowledges the seriousness of the pandemic

  • requires behavior consistent with what is wildly recommended by public health experts (hand washing, face mask wearing, limiting to 25% capacity, social distancing, sanitize tools, etc)

Official Reopening Plan (Phase 2) does everything this proposal does and:

  • requires reserving on Skeda for everything and limits hours

  • doesn’t allow guests

  • closes midnight to 7am

I’m opposed to the Official Reopening Plan and in favor of this proposal because those additional measures in the Reopening Plan don’t provide much reduced risk compared to the reduced benefit to members.


Could we please limit the over-the-top doom-and-gloom or implications that anyone who supports this proposal doesn’t recognize the seriousness and danger of the pandemic?

The larger issue to me is the cultural issue of how to balance freedom+trust vs limitations+controls. I believe the Reopening Plan goes too far towards limitations+controls and erodes freedom+trust. Hacker culture has historically strongly favored freedom+trust. To see the culture go toward limitations+controls makes me a little sad and is demotivating.

You’re right about these things you pointed out @Jon. Another thing to note is that the opening statement regarding the meeting minutes for the emergency board meeting on 3/13/20 is not factual – those minutes do exist at the link provided (direct link is

I can’t and won’t speak directly for the authors of this proposal, but I will speak on my understanding of the intent. This proposal seeks to undo current policies in place around access that make sanitation, masks, and scheduling time clearly defined requirements. I’ll let one of the authors of the proposal give a more definitive answer, but that is how I understand it.

It’s important to note that the wording of this proposal was changed in the Resolved statement to add the line “it is the sense of the majority of the class B members” because it has been clearly noted that what this proposal seeks to do is not within the rights of B-share members.

I am very uncomfortable with this sort of vote being put out. It undermines what voting is supposed to be, and sets a harmful precedent for our org.

If “symbolic”, my viewpoint is it serves to create a division, disruption, and undermines the professional structure of management we are trying SO hard to finally establish. Thus for “symbolic” purposes, it should still be a “no”.

As far as intent goes, let’s be clear- of course no member wants to be limiting access in principle, and least of all the volunteer Board responsible for our community and providing that access. They have been putting in great effort to create a system from scratch to provide safe access without precedent, at a time when other makerspaces are closed entirely. It is already understood that all involved want full access restored as soon as possible, and that has always been the case.

We all want things open. I can’t support a symbolic, if ineffective, “in principle” gesture that the Board should be restricted from making measures to regulate heath and safety and still confused how this is up for a vote. It does not seem healthy for our community.

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I really do believe that you believe that all members are responsible adults. The problem is that I believe they are responsible to themselves but not responsible to the community.

A 96% effective rate is terrible protection when magnified across a community. With 96%, the chance of any single person getting the virus is low, but the probability of someone getting community spread is very high. So individuals can rightfully make a call, “Hey, this seems safe,” and still be doing the wrong thing. THAT is why I think the community as a whole has to make a broader stand than “every person evaluate for themselves”.

I don’t believe that everyone will willingly sacrifice their own self interest for the community. We already know that there are people who have knowingly and deliberately broken the rules of the space as far as bringing guests, among other violations. They made a responsible adult evaluation and decided that their actions weren’t a big threat. And they might be right. Individually, each of us can take a very low risk action that still results in a huge collective threat. The math is really far against this proposal.

I’m not sure which is more of a harmful precedent? Not voting after a meeting and a legitimate proposal would be LESS harmful? The proposal has been defanged. Gunner put that addition into the proposal to give the board an out in not implementing the B-Share vote. No one complained. I’m not going to complain. It has been made clear that the board is likely to ignore this if it passes. I’m ok with that.

Basically refusing to even do the symbolic vote is far more damaging IMO than taking the vote and ignoring it like agreed upon.

I see very few people who feel strongly about this. Even as loud as I am I have tried to find common ground.

And much like Jon Ecklund, I don’t see this really changing that much, and it has been made symbolic. It is no worse than Flip wanting to take a vote from all the members and have that somehow have more weight. How can that be ok then B-share vote is not?! Now that’d be a far stranger precedent. I’m not stuck on the B-Share system., but that is how the governance is laid out until it is corrected.

At this point I’m simply curious.

The vote is taking place, the ballots have been sent out. I placed my votes already and this item was on the ballot to be voted upon.

If it passes. More would need to be done to see how the matter will be addressed. If it fails, we can put this matter behind us.

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The results of the vote have been posted in a mailer that was just sent out. We are still waiting for the results to be released through the helios system.

This proposal failed to pass with the following results.
For - 13
Against - 25
Abstain - 2

Well good - at least it was a clear outcome.

All that effort and the proposal basically lost at 2 :1.

I’d like to give a shout-out (?) to Valerie for actually sending a reminder that I hadn’t voted. I must not have fully clicked through the original time.

B-Share members have clearly spoken.

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Thanks for the shoutout @BrianBowles! I certainly wanted to make sure everyone who wanted to vote got the chance.

Glad to put this to rest and will continue asking - as we have been from the start - that if people have specific needs not being met by our current plan they bring them to the reopen team so we can take a look and see where we can readjust. You can find an example of this in this thread about the current guest policy - Guests in the Space? Your thoughts appreciated. Feel free to reach out over Discourse using @safety or over email to