Barefoot Community Meeting 11th July 2023 7:30pm
Apologies: Ruth, Johnnie, Cathy, Holly, Sharon M, Louise L, Louise P, Michael, Helena, Helen P, Anna C, Dora, Karen W, Marcus and anyone I’ve missed!
1) Welcome and introductions
Present: Angela, Phil T, Karen, Sharon F, Andrew B, Devora, Sandra, Laurence, Sandhya, Stephen
Karen welcomed everyone. Angela chaired, Laurence noted.
The finances were looking healthy largely due to good attendance and sound financial management. We agreed to keep admission prices the same. (£10 for teacher session; £5 for one of us doing the music) … and always we will accept a donation of any amount if those prices are unaffordable.
We needed a certain surplus to operate in order to pay large bills every now and again (e.g St Matts hall was paid termly in advance around £800/£1,000 and expected to increase from September; hire of Gidleigh Village Hall was around £840 in advance). It was agreed we keep the same surplus at the end of each financial year as previously agreed, i.e. £2,500, earmarked as follows:
£1,000 for running costs including replacing sound equipment.
£1,000 up front costs for supporting annual residential.
£500 to support new initiatives by group members. See later in meeting for more on this.
Laurence said every financial transaction was recorded on a spreadsheet and for total transparency our accounts were published on the website at the end each financial year (31st January).
There were some questions on last year’s accounts which showed a surplus in reserves of £1,777 as at 31st Jan 2023.
It was also agreed, as previous, that any surplus above £2,500 at the end of the financial year would be donated to a charity of the groups choice.
It was noted that we paid teachers a minimum of £140 for running a session. If there was a good attendance they were paid a percentage of the total takings which could amount to up to £260 on occasions.
All the jobs at barefoot are done on a voluntary basis. An executive decision had been made to pay members who had done 3 live mixes, which were well received by the community, a sum of £60 for subsequent live mixes. It was agreed by the group we make this policy going forward.
We all agreed it was great that the Zoom sessions were continuing. These sessions happen every 2 weeks. Once a month there is a link to the hall when someone brings a playlist which the Zoom folk also dance to at the same time. On the alternate weeks the Zoom people do their own thing. We talked about the scenario when someone put the playlist together but didn’t attend in person, who was holding the space?
ACTION: Stephen is happy to be asked to hold the space if music provider is not present.
Karen draws up the programme a term in advance and books the teachers. At any time anyone can send suggestions for teachers to Karen. ACTION: ALL
We talked about inviting different teachers: Bernadette was mentioned. Also what about Leigh Tolson who runs a Wednesday session in Bristol (natural dance on Facebook) –
ACTION: Andrew to approach Leigh about coming in the Spring term. Karen to approach Bernadette for the spring term.
We agreed to keep all of the existing teachers on the books after a discussion.
4) What our reserves are for - especially supporting new initiatives
We earmark £500 a year to support new initiatives. We wondered if we could promote this a bit better and enable folk to get money for setting up something or even training.
Cathy (in an e-mail) suggested we might get some training in marketing for all members who were doing dance/movement related activities. Devora suggested that anything spent to support new initiatives ought to directly benefit barefoot.
At this point Sandra offered to train people in putting together a wave, and Andrew offered training in live music mixing.
ACTION: Stephen and Sandhya to come up with some criteria about what the money is for and circulate it to those present in the first instance for comment, before circulating it more widely
5) Experiences of barefoot ... How's it going? Could we do better?
Angela reported it sometimes feels difficult to have as many as 40 people in attendance. The space can feel too crowded. Whilst this may be true most people thought we should go with the flow on this one. It is self-regulatory. The important thing is that there is the support for us to look out for each other and be in the space with awareness. This is the way we can avoid unintended collisions.
When a teacher is present it is their responsibility to hold the space and ensure safety for all.
There followed a long discussion on how we hold the barefoot evenings (i.e. when there is no teacher present). Ought we think of having written guidelines or protocols which are available to all and a copy given to new people?
We noted the Totnes Dance Collective had just come up with such guidelines and protocols. We agreed we did not want to copy theirs as they have a different culture and way of doing things.
We also wondered about just a mention of key important things we expect at the beginning of each session in the same way we mention no talking on the dance-floor. E.g. no mobile phones, we dance with an awareness of each other. Maybe these could be read out (in under 30 seconds?).
We agreed we would like to give new people a copy of something written about our group and our vision/expectations. It was noted there was already something on the ‘ABOUT’ page on our website which could be referred to.
ACTION: Stephen to do it and send to Karen to discuss.
We talked about how we welcome new people. It could sometimes feel awkward to approach new people – did they welcome being approached? Maybe this could be more awkward with a man approaching a woman? Sharon said it worked well to suggest people make it clear if they want to dance on their own or not like Laurence did at the beginning of his Sunday dance/movement sessions. Maybe something about this can be included in the opening statement?
We agreed the person on the door has a key role in making all people feel welcomed. We also agreed that everyone has a role in welcoming people.
Phil said that Johnnie had done something at the start of the session last week which he thought bought everyone closer together (An invitation to give a welcome hug). It mixed everyone up. Maybe we could think about how we do something similar each time? Not everyone agreed with this, especially if it involved physical contact.
Andrew wanted to buy some twinkly light things … there were issues about time to set anything up, storage, cost and the fact that twinkly things can be fragile and break.
ACTION: Andrew to bring a proposal to Laurence - Stephen is also happy to be ATTAC (Assistant Twinkly Things Advisory Consultant)
Sandhya reported she is having a nice time.
We all wished to thank Marcus for coming up with the window opening tool. Thank you, thank you thank you!
6) Peace tenders/space holders
Stephen wondered how we came up with the term ‘peace tenders’ – Can we change the name to community mediators? –
ACTION: Laurence to check with Johnnie about us using the term community mediator.
Do we still need such a process? Stephen thought we should just go live with it – he thought it already had and had been sitting by his phone for the last 3 years waiting for a call! ACTION: Laurence to make currently hidden web-pages about this visible.
There was also a proposal to have another day of training in mediation and invite more people in.
ACTION: Stephen will talk to Johnnie about a refresher/starter mediation training.
It’s a big group now with quite a lot of new people. Karen suggested we need more people holding the space, energetically at least.
Maybe its just a case of more people having a general awareness. Since Covid a lot of the old regulars who knew about this are no longer so regular.
As a community there are many of us in the space who do have an eye out for others. We are a community who do hold well. Several people can only relax when they feel the group is safe. Karen and Laurence take an active role in seeing to this.
Stephen wondered what he could do to help out, did we need something more formal? Devora offered to hold the space if Karen wanted her to.
When there’s a teacher we expect them to hold the space and mostly they do.
What about the person bringing the music holding the space?
We agreed it’s important there’s at least one person designated as a space holder and that will usually be the bringer of music or someone they designate on their behalf.
Two things were then identified:
First - the opening circle and introducing all we have discussed above and welcoming the group and then
Second - dealing with issues which need immediate attention, for example, what if someone comes in drunk or starts taking photos or is talking in the space or making noise which is disturbing the group atmosphere…?
We wondered if there could be training in handling this? It was thought it wasn’t right that it’s always down to the same 2 people to hold.
How can we handle things when something is not okay? What can we do?
It was agreed that anyone could approach a person directly – everyone has a responsibility to hold the community. If not happy to go it alone for any reason call someone else in?
ACTION: Talk to the whole group about the culture of the group.
These minutes will be a good starting point for a discussion. No further action agreed at this point. Everyone to hold a general awareness.
7) Equipment available for group to use.
Recently our old sound system was put out for sale. No one wanted it. Then it was offered for free. There were a few people interested, some offering a donation to take it away. The first responder to the e-mail about this, however, was Stephen who also offered to continue to look after the equipment on behalf of the group. He does want to use it in 4 years time for a special birthday party, but it’s available for anyone else before then. He will manage it all. Contact him direct if you want to use it.
ACTION: Laurence to write to everyone who expressed an interest in the old system to say what we’re doing with it.
Everyone was very surprised and very pleased(😊!) that Laurence had purchased another portable sound system. This was the same as our current one enabling them to be combined together on special occasions for better quality sound and more of it. It also means we have another portable system that is available for anyone in the group to use which is easy to set up, good quality and relatively light to shift around.
Here's a list of what we have available free for group members to use:
Our original sound system 2 x LD active speakers and Z6 mixer – contact Stephen if you want to borrow; email@example.com; ring, text or Signal message: 07742 696345.
Our portable sound system as seen week after week at the hall Lucas Nano 605FX – contact Laurence if you want to borrow; firstname.lastname@example.org; ring, text or WhatsApp: 0771 363 7294
A high quality radio microphone *
Various lights suitable for creating an atmosphere*
Anything else we have in the hall cupboard (maybe not including the altar box - negotiate with Angela on this one)*
These are all items kept in the hall cupboard and may be taken on a Wednesday after dance as long as they are returned the following Wednesday before dance. If you want to book stuff in advance talk to Karen or Laurence.
8) Any Other Business
A request the next community meeting not in this room – the acoustics are so shit!
ACTION: Stephen to book venue for next community meeting.
We all thought it would be wonderful to have another Community Day. Sharon asked if it could be more central than in the wilds of East Devon to make it easier for everyone to get to.
At this community day we could have some practical workshops such as
How to put together a wave?
Planning an additional residential weekend as an extra to Gidleigh
How to live mix
ACTION: Sandra to set the ball rolling on organising a community day
Thank you Angela for being the chair, it seemed to cheer you up a bit,
Karen for bringing the herbals, everyone for your fabulous attention and contribution.
Date of next meeting not mentioned! They generally come round every now and again!