Following the Towards Carfree Cities IV conference, World Carfree Network's first Annual General Meeting was held on July 23, 2004, from 9:45 am to 18:30 pm at Humboldt University in Berlin, Germany. It was attended by approximately 50 people. Members of 12 Member Organisations were present. Six staff members of the ICC (International Coordination Centre) were present. The minutes were taken by Randy Ghent.
All numbered items below were approved by the AGM, at least for further development and refinement. Due to the haste of the one-day meeting, it was not possible to give each idea the attention it deserves. Therefore it is hoped that they receive further attention on the carfree_network listserve and in other fora.
9:45 - Introduction
10:15 - WCN Development
a. Member organisation approval
b. International Coordination Centre
c. Steering Committee and Advisory Board
d. Charter and Statutes
e. Long-term direction
11:30 - Report-backs and decisions
13:00 - Lunch
14:00 - WCN Projects
a. Towards Carfree Cities V
b. Carfree Institute
d. Car Busters magazine
e. World Carfree Day(s)
f. New projects
15:30 - Report backs
16:30 - Decisions
18:30 - End
Introduction by facilitator Jan Haverkamp. Overview of consensus process, how it works, reasons for using it, hand signs, ways of saving time in decision-making. Overview of programme. Overview of 'open space' process, which will be used so that several discussions can occur simultaneously with participants allowed to move freely between them.
Participants broke into five working groups (as listed in programme above), and came back with the following recommendations:
Regarding Member Organisations:
- All 26 groups that have signed the Charter (provisional Member Organisations) are approved as full Member Organisations.
- Member Organisations are encouraged to donate in-kind or monetary contributions, rather than a set membership fee. The Steering Committee will create suggested guidelines for the rates of these voluntary contributions, based on the size of the group, location, staff size, economic situation, etc. For next year's AGM, the Steering Committee will arrive with a proposal for whether to institute mandatory Member Organisation annual fees, and if so, at what rates.
- If there are to be Member Organisation annual fees, there must be transparency as to how these fees are spent. The ICC annual budget (for the past and current year) will be distributed at all future AGMs, specifically including how Member Organisation annual fees are spent.
- We will actively approach potential Member Organisations, especially outside Europe and North America. [Note: Lloyd Wright of GTZ volunteered to provide a contact list of NGOs in Asia, Africa and Latin America, which he sent in shortly after the conference.]
- The AGM participants need to be given the relevant documents (Charter, Statutes, etc.) in advance of the meeting. It is not enough to have these documents available on the Internet.
Regarding the ICC:
- There should be a WCN hub in North America, in order to access funds in North America and perhaps coordinate projects on that continent. [Note: Achieving nonprofit status in the USA is already being pursued, with assistance from member organisation CarfreeCity USA.]
- The network should have a part-time press secretary at the ICC in Prague (contingent on funding).
- Regarding Car Busters magazine, one person should focus on distribution in coordination with Member Organisations, to increase magazine circulation. (put off until afternoon)
- The ICC will solicit volunteers to conduct outreach outside the 'First World,' with the purpose of finding new Member Organisations and encouraging existing ones to be more vocal and active.
- The Resource Centre will expand its selection of films. [Note: The website will soon link to on-line downloads of various films shown in Berlin. They are now at http://www.worldcarfree.net/conference/videonight.php.]
- Each project should be internally audited to be aware of how much energy (funds and staff time) goes into each project (to assess whether they are worthwhile and cost-effective).
- The ICC will encourage Member Organisations to submit project proposals for funding support.
- ICC should make sure the statutes are followed regarding the AGM.
Regarding the Charter and Statutes:
- To allow up to two ICC staff members on the Steering Committee (proposal rejected).
- The Steering Committee will propose (for next year's AGM) alternative wording for how and when a disruptive Member Organisation can be expelled.
- Add a sixth minimum requirement to the minimum level of Member Organisations' involvement: "Assist with the distribution of Car Busters magazine."
Regarding the Steering Committee & Advisory Board:
- The following seven people are recommended to be approved Steering Committee members: Todd Edelman, Tanja Eskola (from ICC), Agnieszka Gorcynska, Giselle Xavier, Sara Stout, Markus Heller and Micah Posner.
- The following 16 people are recommended to be approved Advisory Board members (can be up to 15 people in total): Joel Crawford, John Whitelegg, John Adams, Katie Alvord, Ferenc Joo, Richard Register, Michael Yeates, Peter Neuman, Brian Smith, Jason Meggs, Dave Snyder, Annette Egetoft, James Kushner, Randy Neufeld, Enrique Penalosa (and if he says no, Luis Daniel Gonzales), and Francois Schneider. [Note: In the weeks after the AGM, the Steering Committee determined that it should help form a more gender and geographically balanced Advisory Board than the one approved at the AGM. The statutes say that the Steering Committee can make major decisions throughout the year if waiting until the next AGM would result in 'undue harm' to the network. At future AGMs we might want to ensure that decisions are made less hastily.]
Regarding the longer-term (five-year) vision:
The following three ideas for long-term direction of WCN should be given to the ICC to take forward:
[Note: Do we want to continue developing this? Normally five-year organisational goals need to be more concrete and specific, so that it's possible to gauge the network's success in reaching them. The goals brainstormed on the carfree_network listserve in Sept. 2003 were: "(a.) to make the mainstream public in the industrialised countries aware of the carfree movement's existence and goals (through a coordinated media campaign) by 2006; (b.) to have a carfree district in all national capitals of the industrialised world by 2015; and (c.) to stabilise global automobile production at 1990 levels by 2015." The original idea was that these goals would be refined further, and that perhaps two more goals would be added.]
- WCN as a respected partner for local and global institutions (city councils, politicians, etc.).
- Increase the media awareness about carfree movement - positive and proactive.
- Make the carfree lifestyle and ideas cool and trendy.
Other ideas from the vision brainstorm included:
- outreach to India, China and other 'less developed' nations
- establish regional coordination centers
- wider network with more members and interactivity (greater connection with other interest groups on themes such as quality of life and environment)
- get academics to support carfree idea, especially those in architecture and urban planning [Note: Perhaps this is a role for the Carfree Institute.]
- tactical campaign in which we can go to a problem area and 'really kick car tushy' (with street theatre, direct action, etc.)
- media blitz on quality of life improvements that flow from carfree areas
- better resource centre
- speakers' bureau (both academic and 'popular')
- stable and sustainable funding (for network and member organisations)
- reach clarity on role of Car Busters into the future
- make carfree life hip, cool, trendy, addictive and far more visible (be proud of being carfree, reach young people and kids more, carfree 'stars')
- get carfree idea into the mainstream (topic of dinner table conversation, etc.)
- keep it open, dynamic, flexible - allow and reward local inspirations to live and grow
- car 'fasting' (promote inidividual abstinence from car use and the honourability of it)
- get employers and schools to be supportive of a 'Don't Drive to Work/School' day (by placing ads in local papers, etc.)
- WCN Political Campaign Team (respected by policy makers, campaign for change in parking regulations for housing developments, partnerships with city councils)
- Resource Centre in library on train
- have a slogan bank for people to print up their own t-shirts, etc.
- support for actions that may not be fully legal?
- art and poetry and music to support our goals
- keep the Car Busters 'brand' as a more radical part of the movement targeted to newcomer young activists
- World Flight Free Network (WFFN)
After lunch, participants broke into six working groups (as listed in programme above), and came back with the following recommendations:
- Creating a greater distinction between Carbusters.org (more activist-oriented) and Worldcarfree.net (more respectable, mainstream image), involving reduced overlap and moving Resource Centre to Worldcarfree.net. [Note: Steve von Pohl (webmaster) will modify the websites so that Carbusters.org is just for the magazine.]
- Creating additional topic-based listserves (proposal rejected).
Regarding Car Busters magazine:
- All Member Organisations should get the magazine. The cost could be incorporated into the voluntary annual fee.
- The magazine needs more content submissions. People can be more active contributors by finding local sales venues or distributors, sending in reports of local news and actions, etc. The Car Busters editors need to actively solicit such involvement.
- Car Busters editors encourage the reprinting of Car Busters articles in other languages.
- A shift to more in-depth articles rather than such an emphasis on reprinting short news items from wire services, etc.
- Maintain more of a balance between practical alternatives, caricaturing car culture, and pointing out the evils of the car, etc.
- Consistency on page 1. At least one thing (design elements?) should stay the same on the cover, not just the Car Busters logo.
Regarding new projects and funding:
- A "Wheels for All" cycling event incorporated into World Carfree Day in 2005 that involves people with disabilities.
Description: "Carfree day events in at least three countries will include cycling events which integrate people with disabilities. WCN member organizations will do outreach to oganisations of people with disabilities in order to bring a large number of wheelchair users and other people with disabilities to the events. We will provide some tandem bikes for people with vision impairments. Outreach would also include diverse neighbourhood associations, including upper/lower income areas, immigrants, etc. The ICC will develop a booklet (with advice from disability organizations) describing the common ground between alternative transport activists, cyclists and people with disabilities. The ICC will also seek grant funding to finance these carfree day events, including publicity, event preparation and other event components.
Advantages: "Potential to fund more than just this component. Includes all the good parts of traditional cycling events. Publicly launch carfree/disability partnership."
- "On the Train Towards Carfree Cities": The WCN Resource Centre could become mobile (library on wheels) on a train visiting communities in the Visegrad countries (Czech Rep., Slovakia, Hungary, and Poland). Would have to be concentrated on communities with strong local contacts. Would involve school visits, etc. [Note: Todd Edelmann has developed this idea further, and can send a more detailed project description to anyone who requests it: cyklopraha (at) centrum.cz.]
- A tour of a cyclist-teacher speaking about climate change in small towns in several countries, with a colourful bike to attract attention. Funding should pay for one person and expenses, but others could join voluntarily. [Note: It is unclear whether this idea would be incorporated into the "On the Train" project or done separately.]
[Note: There is difference of opinion on whether these three projects were fully approved, or whether they would simply be further developed in consultation with the carfree_network listserve and other fora. Actually it doesn't matter which, since there is nothing in the statutes that says new projects need approval at the AGM or by any other forum. A network project is defined in the statutes as "any international project on the carfree theme carried out by one or more network Member Organisations and/or Active Individuals." The Steering Committee may address the question of defining a project vs. a project proposal, and how and whether project proposals should need approval by, or feedback from, the network as a whole.]
Regarding TCFC V Budapest:
As decided previously by a selection committee (formed via the carfree_network listserve), Towards Carfree Cities V will be hosted by Clean Air Action Group in Budapest, Hungary in 2005. Three of the organisers were present at the AGM (Maria Somodi, Judit Madarassy, and Andras Lukacs). Maria Somodi will be the TCFC V contact person. She requests that e-mails be sent to somodi (at) levego.hu, with the subject line 'TCFC V.'
The working group suggested a focus in two areas, in which members of the network would share their experiences:
- Successful media events/strategies involving the general public (promoting carfree ideas in a funny (fun?) and attractive way.
- Good practices and projects by NGOs and municipalities (presentation/exhibition at conference)
Regarding a Carfree Institute:
- A working group will be established to explore the focus, location, legal structure, funding, location, potential allies, etc. of the Carfree Institute.
- Explore the establishment of an outreach centre in Venice to promote awareness of the advantages of carfree living. This might include information sharing, tours, project tools, and possibly teaching activities. This center could generate funds for the Carfree Institute.
(This group took its own meeting minutes, which can be sent to anyone interested. Send request to mailbox (at) carfree.com.)
Regarding World Carfree Day:
Draft project mission (without consensus): "The World Carfree Day programme provides promotion and resources on carfree days, centred around an annual September 22 event. We encourage local organisers to hold carfree days on additional or alternative dates, according to cultural factors and geographical conditions."
- Keep it at September 22, while allowing for flexibility.
- School projects: educational curiculum specific to World Carfree Day, with art, essays, educational materials for teachers
- Outreach: NGOs, neighbourhood associations, city councils (establish contacts with local government authorities and provide 'how-to' info and examples)
- Greeting cards? Carfree hour at lunchtime?
Car Busters Publication Regularity:
There was a spontaneous discussion after the project report-back session, regarding the importance of Car Busters magazine being published on time, when it's stated as a quarterly publication. (Sometimes the magazine has been published after four months rather than three. Subscriptions state that recipients receive four or eight issues, without stating when they will arrive.) Opinions ranged from (a.) it's not so important if the magazine sometimes comes out late, even if stated as quarterly; (b.) if the publication states that it's published irregularly rather than quarterly, it wouldn't be a problem; and (c.) it's very important that the magazine be quarterly and that it be published on time. No consensus reached.
ICC Capacity? Wages?:
The magazine discussion led to the more general question as to (a.) whether the International Coordination Centre is within its capacity for managing its existing projects; (b.) whether its staff can be expected to accomplish more - such as publishing the magazine more regularly; and (c.) whether the ICC is sustainable without wage increases. [Note: A recent large grant for staffing, etc. should address this concern for calendar year 2005.]
The meeting ended on time at 18:30.