Collective Wisdom

…of BiCon 2010

At some point during each BiCon, the massed ranks of bis, friends and allies are called on to make decisions.  Here are 2010’s.
Minutes of the 2010 BiCon Decision Making Plenary
University of East London, Saturday 28th August 2010

Discussion leader:  Sharon
Minute takers:  Sanji and Palantypist

1)  Welcome
Everyone was welcomed to the decision making plenary.   Sharon introduced herself as the discussion leader at this year’s DMP.  David M was thanked for his work in the past.

2)  Finances

Pride Packs
Sanji provided an update on the Pride Packs purchased using BiCon monies as agreed at BiCon 2009.  Pride packs consisting of: a pull-up banner, a marching banner with poles, a purple table cloth and 4 purple umbrellas.  These are situated in Wales, Scotland, North-east England, North-west England, London and the Midlands.   This came to a total of £434.72.
Packs are available for use at BiFests, Prides and other bi events.  To borrow a pack, contact the named regional person (details in BCN).
Sanji was thanked for her work.

BiFest Wales
Ele provided an update on the funding for the first BiFest Wales which occurred on 24th April.
BiCon monies of £500 were loaned at BiCon 2009.  However, thanks to an anonymous donor, BiCon monies were not used but may be needed for BiFestWales on 5th March 2011.  It is hoped that monies will be able to be returned to BiCon 2011 if all goes well.
Ele was thanked for her work.

3) Proposed Guideline Changes

First Proposed Guideline Change
The first proposed guideline change was for a new guideline B11. B is the section of the guidelines that deals with access.  The new proposed guideline was:
“If any part of BiCon is not open to all attendees, the reason should be made clear in BiCon literature.”
Lengthy discussion followed.
Arguments in favour:
–    individuals being excluded from workshops for reasons such as gender, is exclusionary practice
–    there should be a justifiable reason why people are excluded from a workshop, even if it is a safe space
–    Sometimes people don’t know if they can attend a safe space workshop and having some detail would help them decide if it is appropriate for them to attend.
–    Detailed explanations of who the workshop is for will aid people in deciding whether that workshop is for them and explains to them why the exclusion is necessary.
–    Knowing why an exclusion is necessary might make it hurt less.
Arguments against:
– It would be like a non-bi person trying to tell the bi community what to do
– sometimes to be a good ally, you need to allow yourself to be excluded from some things
–    Although excluding some, these workshops provide a safe space for other attendees.
–    BiCon attendees have benefited from safe space sessions and requested similar sessions again
–  People should be free to attend a safe space workshop without people attending who would make that space unsafe or attendees feel like they were there to be learned from.
Alternative wording suggested at the pre plenary DMP was raised again.  It was worded “Only people who can bring something to a session or who will take something away from the session should attend”.
– This level of detail is not intended to be in the guidelines as guidelines should be broad.  Therefore this should not be a guidelines change.
– The proposed guideline change is in effect disputing the need for safe spaces.  Safe spaces are very important for people to share experiences and emotions without having to repeatedly explain those experiences or their validity.
– Workshops are only a temporary form of exclusion.
– Expansive explanations put more burden and pressure on the people who create the safe space, which they face every day anyway.
– Prescribing rules about how a workshop description should be written will put some people off running workshops.
– Guidelines are for BiCon organizers, not workshop organizers.  Whilst BiCon organizers might explain concepts like safe space and privilege, it is not the responsibility of workshop organizers.  It does not therefore need to be a guideline.
A request was made for alternative wording such as “Session organizers should give thought to who they exclude before choosing to exclude anyone” which does not mean anyone has to justify exclusions but will have been reminded to give it thought.
– If the guideline is passed – who will make the decision of whether a justification is sufficient and how will we manage the fact that organising teams change every year?

A vote was taken on the original DMP proposal of:
“If any part of BiCon is not open to all attendees, the reason should be made clear in BiCon literature.”
In favour: 16
Against: Everyone else (at least 30)
Abstentions: None

Vote on the proposed guideline change:
“Session organizers should give thought to who they exclude before choosing to exclude anyone”
A vote was not carried out as this was not a suggestion that had gone to the pre-DMP as with the previous guideline change.  It was suggested that if people still wish to propose it, they could do so at the pre-DMP 2011.

Second Proposed Guideline Change
The second guideline change was: removing the final sentence from guideline B5 and removing the footnote number 8.
The footnote to be removed reads:  “The BiCon team should make use of the BiCon special needs data bank.”
The whole of that guideline is:  “BiCon literature should give a clear description of the level of disabled access available and provision for people with disabilities should be a major consideration”.
The removal was proposed because the BiCon special needs data bank did not exist.  Therefore, it could not be used or updated.Questions were raised regarding:
Passing of people’s access needs’ data from one BiCon team to another – it was clarified that a) information on running BiCon in terms of accessibility has passed sufficiently passed into that community that the data bank would no longer be efficient or effective.
b)  Use of a wiki as on www.bicon.org.uk with generic information on running an accessible event being stored there.  Natalya offered to moderate.

A vote was taken:
In favour: Everyone else
Against: 0
Abstentions: 2

4)  Future BiCons
Natalya and Alison put forward a proposal to run BiCon 2011.  They outlined their plans and preparations thus far. Their proposal was approved with all in favour and one abstention.  Questions were asked to be directed to them via their email address or after the DMP.
It was confirmed that international delegates are welcome at an UK BiCon, regardless of whether it is an official International BiCon.
Rebecca confirmed that BiReCon will be intending to run alongside BiCon 2012.
Spain are organizing their first bisexual conference in September.

A proposal to run BiCon 2012 was put forward by Libby and Sonin.  It was approved with all in favour and one abstention.

5)  Bi Companies
Extensive discussion was had regarding the formation of bi companies building on previous discussions over the past 3 BiCons.  In summary – work has been done to investigate the practicalities and legalities of setting up a BiCon asset management company and a company for liabilities.
Issues that had arisen which had delayed progress included:
– confidentiality issues arising as a result of the potential public availability of members’ names and addresses.
– changing legislation on the formation of companies and charities

An update was provided:
Instead of two separate companies, one will be formed which will hold BiCon monies.  Members of the BiCon community will be able to eventually apply to the company to join.  There will be elected directors of the company who will be voted in and out on a rolling basis.

Documents needed to form the company were ready and available to sign by the core group needed to get the company started.  It was explained that until issues around corporation tax liability were clarified, no further progress could be made.  Therefore, assistance from an accountant or lawyer with a tax specialism would be sought.
Questions were raised regarding:
    The registered address of the company – (provisionally) the LGBT Centre in Leicester.
    The cost of gaining specialist tax advice – BiCon has been signed up as a free member to the National Council of Voluntary Organisations, where it is hoped that discounted assistance will be available.  Approximate figures will be available after further investigation.
    Who would be classed as a “member” – it was clarified that only those who have attended at least one BiCon can be voting members of BiCon Continuity Limited, and they are the people who then elect the directors
    Who the current directors to initially form the company are – Natalya, Elizabeth, Ian, Grant, Sharon and Hessie.

A resolution was put to the DMP to vote on which read:
“DMP notes its resolution in 2008 to protect BiCon’s assets, including the accumulated surplus and intellectual property, by the formation of a limited company to hold those assets in trust on behalf of the bisexual community in the UK.
DMP further notes the establishment of BiCon Continuity Limited, a company limited by guarantee, to achieve those aims.
The DMP resolves to instruct the current and former BiCon organizers to transfer forthwith any and all surplus funds held by them to BiCon Continuity Limited, to be held by the company on trust for the bisexual community.
The DMP further authorises the directors of the company to take appropriate professional advice, particularly concerning the tax status of the company and of current previous and future BiCon organizers.”

A vote was taken:
In favour: Everyone else
Against: 0
Abstentions: 2

6)  Closing and thanks
Thanks were given to the Palantypist, Sharon and Sanji.

The DMP was then formally closed until BiCon 2011.