MNA Steering Committee Minutes, March 2020

MNA Secretary Meeting/Meeting Minutes

Location: HEB Community Room @ 1801 E 51st Street

Date: Wednesday, March 4, 2020

Time: 7PM to 9PM

In attendance: Preston (Ty) Tyree, Chair Ex Oficio; Ted Derr; Marta White; Alison Raffalovich, Secretary; Taylor Youngblood; Bart Jacob; Ed Dorn; John Reese Thomas, Treasurer; Richard Carr, Vice Chair; John Wooding, Chair.

Guest: Ani Colt, Chair, Aging & Neighborhood Committee

Not in attendance: Bart Glaser, Mariana McEnroe.


1.      Greetings and Pleasantries [John Wooding]

2.      Approval of Previous Meeting Minutes [Alison Raffalovich] – minutes were approved via email vote and have been posted.

3.      Treasurer’s Report [John Reese Thomas] – John filed our annual required statement with the IRS as a not for profit.  We got a new sponsorship from Lilla & Beth for $250 and Seton wants to give us $5000 and requested us to invoice that amount. John sent an invoice on 2/21/2020 and are awaiting payment. We are low on Alamo Drafthouse gift cards. In past years, we used a cash basis rather than an accrual basis. John proposes switching to an accrual basis. Our cash balance is roughly equivalent to where we ended up on 12/31/2019.

4.      Steering Committee Vacancy – Update [John] – Taylor approached some block captains but no one expressed interest. We can also post to Facebook and see whether that generates interest.

5.      MNA Committee Updates and Reports:

5.1. Aging & Neighborhood (A&N) – [Ani Colt and Ty]

        Discussion and Possible Action

Ani moved here in 2012 and was elected to the Steering Committee in 2013. At that time few people in the neighborhood addressed aging and neighborhood, except within Wildflower Terrace. Ty and Ani want to carve off their activities into a not-for-profit they have formed. The A&N objectives Ani and team drew up address networking, housing/infrastructure and employment. They started exercise initiatives, employment, the Wisdom Crew, a membership-based organization with benefits including a walking group and discounts at neighborhood businesses and restaurants. They also create a podcast on “Growing Older.” Their Facebook page is Mueller AgingNNeighborhood with informational and educational content, for example. Ani and Ty are also working on a development, ONEderment Central, which is at early phases – more a concept than a reality at this point. They propose taking the trikes they have purchased while in A&N and putting them into their nonprofit (WAOW Inc., for We Are All One) to provide rides to people with limited mobility under the TrikeN program. They also took initiative to create the Wisdom Crew and would like to fold that, the podcast, and ONEderment Central into their nonprofit. They also propose a new Facebook page on aging and neighborhood issues that is broader than Mueller. They created an domain that Ty is happy to give to the MNA if they want to take it over. A new neighbor has told John W that he may be interested in stepping into the MNA committee role. They’d like to use the Aging&Neighborhood term in their nonprofit and continue to collaborate with the MNA with whoever takes it over. If the committee would like to retain the Wisdom Crew, they would be fine with that. They want to collaborate with and support whoever steps forward to assume committee leadership. Richard moves that at the May Steering Committee meeting we consider what ONEderment is requesting in the way of an MNA letter of support. The motion passed unanimously. John W will touch base with Ty in April to consider.

5.2. Committee Updates [John W]

5.2.1. Chair Vacancies – Taylor suggests a social media blast to publicize open chairs. Neighborhood Engagement & Inclusion –One of Taylor’s block captains has expressed some interest. 4th of July Parade & Festival Fall Fest – seeking a Chair or, preferably, two or more Co-chairs Egg Scramble* (*Need Co-chair to support Joan McQuenan. Ted is working with her closely but would also welcome a formal Co-chair.) It is scheduled for April 11 from 9-11 a.m. Project Evaluation – Bart J has been liaison in the past but would welcome a chair as well as committee members. Taylor will repost to her block captains.

5.2.2. Recently Filled Schools – Interim Chair Appointed – Dusty Harshman, who is working to recruit a regular chair.

6.      MemberPlanet – Future of MNA Account [John Reese Thomas] – We got a deposit from Member Planet that John didn’t recognize and once he dug in, it turns out the MNA has an account with them established some time ago by Luke Downs. It allows members to affiliate with organizations that are registered, and enables auto-renewal. It is used widely by fraternities and sororities, for example. Only one person signed up. They charge $.20 more than Stripe for each membership payment but it is free to the MNA. We should either use it actively and promote it, or consider suspending the account. Richard offered to reach out to Luke to get his feeling about why we started it, etc.

            Discussion and Possible Action

7.      Zero Waste Guidelines [Taylor Youngblood] – Taylor’s proposed guidelines to sponsors at our events help them understand how to support MNA events while respecting the spirit of our zero waste goals. We could recognize compliant sponsors and vendors with a sign that says MNA Zero Waste Partner or Compliant or a sticker on their sponsor sign.  It’s also complementary to our resolution on climate change. Taylor will also load the guidelines to the Steering Committee folder on Google Drive. 

8.      Vision for 2020 – Discussion [All] – John presented the draft Vision 2020 document for major initiatives for the MNA in the coming year. Ted recommended we consider a Content Management System approach to organizing for John’s recommendation of an Internal Operations Reference Guide. For the Welcome Wagon concept, Block Captains would logically play a key role in that outreach to new neighbors. Taylor has asked block captains who currently do that to give examples of what they currently used. The communications function is decentralized and crosses multiple channels. Bart J’s committee does a lot of the online communications and the Front Porch Flyer plays a big role also.

9.      MNA Event Programming and Age Demographics – Discussion [All] – MNA events do not target any specific age group; all are welcome. The signature events have kid-oriented activities, and A&N activities appeal to seniors. We should try to emphasize that the signature events have aspects that appeal to residents of all ages. The project evaluation committee also collected ideas or can entertain ideas that can further engage other segments of the community.

10.   Outreach Efforts – Past and Present [Alison Raffalovich and Taylor Youngblood] – Alison was chair of the committee for the past two years. Early on the committee agreed that a lot of the challenge is just education to neighbors about what the MNA is, what we do and how our efforts build community in Mueller, so the committee created a brochure to help neighbors better understand the MNA (and how it’s not POA). We since have done 3 block walks to distribute brochures, recruit block captains on blocks that don’t have a current captain, and request membership from neighbors who are not currently active members. We also email from time to time to formerly active members or others in our database who are not current members and ask them to renew. There is a good volunteer base ready to support the committee’s work under new leadership. The committee works closely with the Chair of the Block Captain committee, currently Taylor Youngblood and formerly Dennis Mick. Taylor is working to get brochures with information on the MNA into all the apartments’ and builders’ new resident welcome packets.  We’re also working to pin down the current active sponsor list to update the brochure and reprint as it is out of date on sponsor listings and we are low on inventory. We’d like to schedule some new block walks in 2020. We currently have about 68% of block captains’ positions filled, which has been trending upward.

11.  Should we reconsider the Egg Scramble or make other recommendations or modifications in light of the new coronavirus? John W is staying abreast of City of Austin recommendations, which so far our events seem to fit in with. Ted will look through the CDC guidelines that Dan Updegrove proposed and pull out the items relevant to us and our events, particularly with the Egg Roll coming up soon. John will also look at the signs that CDC recommends that we could enlarge, print and post.  If it gets to the point where the city is considering closing schools, for example, we should consider modifying or canceling the event since it does have such a heavy mix of small children with other residents of all ages. John will address the overall topic in his next letter to residents.

12.   2020 Elections: Host Candidates? – Discussion [John] – We’ve hosted candidates in the past with the opportunity for candidates to talk to the MNA. We’ve traditionally worked to ensure that we give all candidates for a position are given the opportunity to present. We agreed to return to a former model of welcoming candidates who ask to attend a general meeting, briefly introduce themselves and offer to stay and chat with residents after the meeting is over.

13.   General Meetings – Feature Volunteer Opportunities? [John][All] – At regular intervals invite residents to introduce themselves and describe the types of volunteer activities they are involved in, including volunteer communities within the neighborhood.  

February General Meeting Agenda [John]

13.1. Treasurer’s Report

13.2. POA Review

13.3. Mueller Commission

13.4. Google Fiber Update

13.5. Volunteer Opportunity – AGE of Central Texas

13.6. Local Business Spotlight: Haute Salon

13.7. Gift Card Drawing

Other items of business:

Receipts from grant-funded activities should go to John Reese Thomas as physical receipts or as scans; he’ll prepare the check and get it to the applicant as they want to get it.

Taylor has a volunteer who would love to run or co-chair our yard sale.

General Meeting 3/21 10AM @ Ascension Seton Administrative Office, 1345 Philomena Street

Steering Committee Meeting 4/1 7PM

Respectfully submitted May 8, 2020,

Alison Raffalovich, Secretary