2017 Annual General Meeting May 21 – Run for the Board of Directors

ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING MAY 21 at 3pm. Members Only. Vote for our future.

The Riverwest Public House isn’t just a bar. You know this when you get that feeling. The one that comes when you bump into friends and neighbors over a pint. The feeling after an incredible show, or a Night School, a book club, a political art show or a dance party. It is that feeling that we aren’t just hoping for community but that we’re actually building it. We know our neighborhood, our city, our world is a better place every time we raise a glass.

This is why many of us have joined as members. We get sick of politicos dictating what is good “for the people” and disillusioned with the idealists who never get around to doing something. We aren’t waiting for someone else to act, but we are seizing control of our economic and communal destiny. As they say around the block, “You’re doing it!”

But maybe that overwhelming good vibe comes with a little tugging. Maybe you walk out of the pub and think, “It is awesome, but it could be so much better.” Maybe you’re checking the calendar for this weekend shows and say “I want to do more with the Public House.”

Maybe you’re ready to move from the barstool to the boardroom.

OK, so we don’t really have a boardroom, just the long table in front. But still. We’re taking nominations for the upcoming Board of Director elections. We need organizers and activists, dreamers and realists, folks that are good with nuts and bolts and folks that see the big picture. We need finance folks and HR people. We need neighbors and friends. We need the community to lift up leaders and leaders to direct the co-op, especially at this time of growth and change for our organization.

Our board has a few practical functions. We govern by policy and decide by consensus. That means we will look at what are the best practices for this cocktail community we’re creating. We give structural support to our workers collective. We carry the banner of co-ops and tell the story of the Public House locally and nationally.  We’re a working board, with each director serving on a committee.  The board currently meets twice monthly and the schedule will be restructured with the new Board. There are three open seats each with a three year term.

While any enthusiastic organized self-motivator who is a lover of the co-op should run, we are specifically looking for people with experience in HR, Marketing, business management, and of course who couldn’t use a lawyer?

So, if you love building community one drink at a time, come help design the blueprints for that building. Join the board. Email info@riverwestpublichouse.org for more information. Our Annual General Meeting, where board elections take place, will occur on Sunday, May 21. Please fill out the google form board application or you can pick up an analog application from any bartender. All submissions are due by May 7, 2017.

Cheers,

Riverwest Public House Board of Directors

Special Membership Meeting Thursday, March 9

For the first time, the Public House’s Board of Directors is calling a special member meeting.

The meeting will take place on Thursday, March 9 beginning at 6 p.m. at the Public House.

An email was sent on January 6 to notify membership of our ongoing financial problems and request members attend a discussion which occurred on January 12. Members who attended this offered many valuable suggestions and ideas. The WC and BoD are committed to keeping the Public House open but we need the members to decide how that will happen.

The purpose of this meeting is for members to vote on our various options to move forward, which include:

  • Members making direct loans to the Public House (for which we have precedent and a formula as we took direct member loans when we first opened)

  • Members making direct monetary gifts to the Public House

  • Members offering collateral to back the Public House obtaining a line of credit from a bank

  • Closing the Public House

 

Background

The Board of Directors has called this special meeting as a result of persistent losses that pose an existential threat to the Public House. While we have never taken out any commercial loans, we have also only posted a profit as a business one year out of our 6 years open. Persistent losses have compounded and resulted in crisis. Attempts to reconfigure our management structure and some of our practices have proven fruitless thus far.

One root of the problem is our income: we need more people to drink here more often. And we need a cash infusion in order to stay open while we implement further changes to the way we operate. In the near-term, we will be seeking a small direct personal loan of $3,000 to make improvements and aesthetic changes to the inside of the space. It is our feeling that renewing interest in the bar is contingent on making the physical space more appealing. We have also increased the number of free events and are making changes to our internal policies to continue to cut expenses and improve service quality.

However, these improvements won’t take place if we can’t stay open long enough to make them. We hope that the membership drive coupled with requests for extra support from you will make the difference.

On the positive side, we posted a profit for the first time in months: $714.92 for the month of January. This is largely due to our manager and workers tightening up and reducing expenses as much as possible. But we’re also putting off paying bills and getting necessary repairs done.

How can I help?

We currently have:

  • 173 lifetime members ($200 fully paid in)
  • 184 active/renewing members (between $40 and $160 paid in and current on their membership)
  • 704 expired/non-renewing members (between $40 and $160 paid in but membership lapsed)

 

Our specific request:

  • Lifetime Members: Would you consider giving the Public House the value of another Lifetime Membership ($200)?

  • Members: Would you consider buying up to your Lifetime Membership ($40 – $160)? If you’re not sure how much you have left, we can look it up for you.

  • Non-members and lapsed members. We get it, not everyone feels like they can swing $40 a year. We ask that if you want to help, that you gift us any amount. Even $10 – $20 makes a huge difference.

CLICK HERE TO DONATE (PAYPAL)

We sincerely appreciate any help you give between now and the special member meeting. Please join us on Thursday, March 9 beginning at 6 p.m. at the Public House as we carve out a path forward together.

 

In Solidarity,

 

RWPH Board of Directors

Riverwest Public House Financial Update

Members and supporters,

We want to share this financial update with you. We’ve had a pretty stable year on the revenue side, as you can see below. We’ve done what we can to keep our expenses as low as possible while treating our staff, members, and customers fairly. But some unavoidable expenses emerged in 2016 that have put us in a precarious situation. And we’re concerned about the bar.

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(click to enlarge)

Bottom line is, we need to see more of you. We’ve been in the neighborhood for 5 strong years. We want to be open for another one. After seeing other businesses come and go without much communication about their situation, we want to be upfront with you about the Public House’s status: the one-two punch of a sales slump and unforeseen expenses has put us in a precarious place.

Luckily, we’ve got the Riverwest community behind us, and we know you’ll show up to keep this place alive. We’ve been a community institution and radical space since we opened, and we need spaces like these now more than ever. If you value this institution as much as we hope you do, bring your energy here. Events drive revenue. We’ve got about 1,000 people on this list, and we need you all to spend some time with us, bring your network here, build your movement here.

Set up a meeting or a party or an event. Our space is free to use, unlike most bars and meeting spaces. Throw a fundraiser for your institution or organization. We’ll help.

Stop by one more time than usual this month, and bring a buddy. If you’ve lapsed, renew your membership. We’ve said it before, but it bears repeating: the first 4-5 years of operation brought regular member renewals. This equity allowed us to open and to operate free of debt. Now, the true believers among our membership have renewed up to their full $200 to become lifetime members. But we still need new equity. Bring in a friend. Evangelize for the bar you own.

We’ll be having a meeting open to anyone to discuss the bar’s health this Thursday, 1/12 at 5pm. Bring a friend.

Last, to make it as easy as possible to spread the word, here’s a sample email to spread to your networks:

Hi there,

As a member/supporter of the Riverwest Public House Cooperative, I wanted to take a moment to encourage you to bring your organization’s fundraisers, meetings, celebrations, or happy hour meet-ups to the Public House (815 E. Locust). The Public House is Milwaukee’s bar with a mission: it’s cooperatively owned, and it exists as a free meeting space for any organization that wishes to use it. To get started planning your party, fundraiser, or meeting, please email events@riverwestpublichouse.org.

Sincerely,

[YOUR NAME]

Thank you for your support over the last 5 years as we’ve built community, one drink at a time. See you at the Public House.

Cheers,

Riverwest Public House Board of Directors

2016 Annual General Meeting (AGM) This Sunday at 5pm!

We’re about to have our sixth Annual General Meeting (AGM)! It’s coming up quickly: May 15th, 2015 from 5-8pm at the Public House. This is the time every year when we reflect on how the Public House is measuring up to its threefold mission: to be a community gathering place; to serve local, organic, and tasty drinks, and to help build the cooperative movement in our neighborhood alongside the Riverwest Cooperative Alliance.photo (10)

At the last couple of AGMs, we’ve encouraged your participation and voice by putting upgreat big sheets of paper on the walls, giving you some nice-smelling Sharpie markers, and letting you go to town. This year will be no different. The “writing on the wall” gets reviewed by the board in the months following the AGM and the Board takes these messages into account. It’s a great way to give feedback to the Public House as a valued member-owner. Although we’re always here to listen if you’ve got a compliment, comment or concern.

Most importantly, this date marks the time each year when our members get to elect new members to the Board of Directors. The board of directors is the 9-person body that helps guide the course of the bar through long-term visioning, financial oversight, and governance. This year we have 4 vacancies! That could represent a big change of leadership and a lot of new opportunities and visioning for the bar.

Candidate applications are posted! Click here and scroll down.

Interested in running for our Board of Directors? (Application deadline May 7!)

We’d love to have you! The board of directors is responsible for the financial health of the bar and the long term vision of the establishment. We have 4 open board seats this year, which means a lot can change. In terms of time commitment, it’s about 3-5 hours per month of meetings, plus emails and side tasks. Each board member chairs a committee as well. A standard board term is three years. To apply, fill out the form on this page: https://riverwestpublichouse.wordpress.com/annual-general-meeting/

The Public House is turning 5!

The Public House is turning 5 years old on March 17th, and you should be proud. You’re part of the reason we’ve made it five years. A lot of businesses don’t make it that long. And let’s be honest, not everyone thought we could do it:

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To celebrate, we’ve got a whole month of amazing events. But the real treat this year is the week of programming dedicated to amplifying the 5 Year Anniversary message.

From Saturday, 3/12 to Friday 3/18, we have a strong sampling of the shenanigans that have made this place what it is. Saturday March 12 is a Pants Off Dance Off, Sunday has a Night School Sex Ed for Adults featuring the adventures of a youth sexual health educator followed by a show with KP&ME, The Pukes, and Abby Jeanne Rebel Love. Monday the 14th is a special edition of Karaoke modeled after that TV show The Voice, with our own panel of celebrity judges. Tuesday and Wednesday will have some weird stuff you’ll just have to sit tight for the details on. Thursday is our huge 5 year anniversary member party with classics from the Squeezettes, a set on the heavier side from Power Wagon, and the styilngs of Thistledown Thunders. The week rounds out with The Midwest Drag King Spring Fling on Friday.

A lot of the folks who are reading this aren’t active members (meaning your membership is due for renewal). If that’s the case, this month is the best time ever to join or renew your membership. Why, you ask? Because for March only, here’s what you get:
– One free tap beer for every new/renewal member
– One coupon good for one free admission to any show.
– If a current member brings in a new member, you both get a free beer. We call that “friends with benefits”
– If a current member pays up to a lifetime membership, you get a choice of a free shirt, tank, tote, or pint glasses.
– Everyone who buys/renews will be automatically entered into a raffle. There are three prize packages:

  1. Pizza Party: 2 pizzas / 6 free drinks
  2. Dranks: 2 free empty pint glasses / 4 free drinks
  3. Swag Bag: shirt, button, stickers, pint glass, tote bag.

– Temporary membership card
– New member packet with info about the bar, the neighborhood, and cooperatives.
– Bell gets rung and you get your very own round of applause

We really do appreciate all the love and support that has come our way over the years. Riverwest is the best!

To kick off the month, Tyranena Brewing Company will be taking over Public House taps tonight from 6pm to 9pm.
They’ll be raffling off 6 packs of beer to take home and some Tyranena swag. The line up:
– The Devil Made Me Do It! Coffee Imperial Oatmeal Porter
– Down ‘N Dirty Chocolate Oatmeal Stout
– Hop Whore Imperial IPA – Bitter Woman IPA
– The Wrath of Rocky Imperial Brown Ale

See you there!!

Love and Solidarity,

Your Riverwest Public House Cooperative

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Annual General Meeting: May 31 from 5-8pm

We’re about to have our Fifth Annual General Meeting (AGM)! It’s coming up quickly: May 31st from 5-8pm at the Public House. This is the time every year when we reflect on how the Public House is measuring up to its threefold mission: to be a community gathering place; to serve local, organic, and tasty drinks, and to help build the cooperative movement in our neighborhood alongside the Riverwest Cooperative Alliance.

At the last couple of AGMs, we’ve encouraged your participation and voice by putting up great big sheets of paper on the walls, giving you some nice-smelling Sharpie markers, and letting you go to town. This year will be no different. The “writing on the wall” gets reviewed by the board in the months following the AGM and the Board takes these messages into account. It’s a great way to give feedback to the Public House as a valued member-owner. Although we’re always here to listen if you’ve got a compliment, comment or concern.

It’s also a potluck. A very special potluck, indeed. Bring your favorite dish to share with your favorite co-op bar. You know what’s always great? When everybody only brings chips. Nope that’s awful, so don’t. Don’t just bring chips. If you bring chips, you have to bring something else too. Or whatever. You can bring what you want. Nobody’s going to judge you. Unless you only bring chips.

We’re also gonna raffle off some cool goodies like pint glasses and t-shirts and stuff to people. So bring your rafflin’ face.

Most importantly, this date marks the time each year when our members get to elect new members to the Board of Directors. The board of directors is the 9-person body that helps guide the course of the bar through long-term visioning, financial oversight, and governance. This year we have 5 vacancies! For those who don’t want to math, that’s the majority of our Board. Think you’ve got what it takes? We could use some help in the following:

● business management
● finance and bookkeeping
● human resources
● community outreach or organizing
● project management
● administration

To fill out an application to be on our Board of Directors, please click here. You can email your form to board@riverwestpublichouse.org or simply drop it off at the bar.

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RCA Community Meeting #1 – Sunday 5pm-7pm

Remember when we started the bar? When you became a member before the doors were even open? Before we even had a space! We proclaimed “we’re going to start this bar so it can help operate an umbrella organization to strengthen and grow the cooperative movement in Riverwest.” Well, that organization, the Riverwest Cooperative Alliance has been in development for a looong time. But now it’s finally ready to roll out some ideas and get community involvement. That means you! We’ve come up with a model that is community-accountable and community-guided to meet community needs.  Join us THIS SUNDAY from 5-7pm for the first of many many many community meetings. Together we can build a community-controlled economy.
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2013 Year in Review

And so we say goodbye to another year of drinking, working, celebrating, owning, and cooperating at the co-op bar. Another year of member mugs as mailboxes, broken pint glasses, slammed shots. Another year of watching straight dudes try to figure out which bathroom to piss in. Another year of steamy-ass windows. Another year of Just seeds cooperative’s artwork on the walls inspiring us to try to be better people and cooperators. Another 52 posters for this week’s shows, lectures, night schools. Another year of meetings at the big front table complete with laughter, tears, and an awful lot of dirty jokes. Another year of serious challenges to running a bar with no manager, collectively running the place as a team by consensus. Another year of triumphs in that department, too. Another year of the park next door getting filled up with bicyclists, activists, underwear riders,  registrants for the RW24, cookouts, farmers markets, Locust St. Fest, Co-op Fest, snowball fights and cigarette butts. Another year of brunch delivered fresh from our sister co-op down the street. A new library stocked by our other sister co-op People’s Books. A new stage built by Build Milwaukee cooperative. Another year of drag queens, members only tastings, a few new members to the board of directors, a handful of new staff and a bunch of new member-owners. Benefits for Planned Parenthood, ARCOS, Freedom Press, Valid Bike Shop, defenders of the Penokee hills, Riverwest Radio, the Center Street Free Space, Girls Rock and more.

Another solstice party with Kim chi spring rolls, “when u dip I dip we dip” dip, sweet potato pie, Brussels sprouts cranberry quinoa, sweet potato chili, oatmealy-chocolatey-granola-y cookies, and a ton of tortilla chips that remind us that maybe a lot of people are accidentally hippies. The basically neglected, gaunt, upside-down Solstice Bush with some lights on it dangled while we danced in a circle to the Squeezettes as they blasted song after song that sound super similar to the  uninitiated. But that’s polka for ya, ain’ta.

We also incorporated the Riverwest Cooperative Alliance back in March and have been building the foundation for its organizational development since then. Over the past 6 months, the interim Board of Directors at the RCA wrote a strategic management plan and came up with a hands on, community-accountable model that it will be rolling out on January 19th right here at the Public House. In short, another year of slow but steady cooperative development.

Thank you to all our members, workers, board, volunteers, friends, families, and customers who make this place possible and make it a fun place to drink.

Two More Common Ground Healthcare Co-op Info Sessions

Monday, Nov 11 at 6pm
Thursday, Dec 12 at 6pm

We had a good turnout for the first info session, held on October 27th. Johnnie Williams gave us a nonpartisan overview of how the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) would impact us, and what we could expect from the new Common Ground Healthcare Cooperative, which serves a big chunk of eastern Wisconsin. If you missed it, or know someone who could use the info, come learn more on Nov 11 and Dec 12.

“Common Ground Healthcare Cooperative is a non-profit, member-governed health insurance cooperative that believes in transparency. Any profit we make goes directly back toward lowering premiums and improving benefits — for you, your employees, or your customers.

Common Ground is a community organization that works toward igniting positive change within the greater Milwaukee area. With the power of the collective voice, we have a strong history of facilitating significant and meaningful improvements within our community.

Our most ambitious effort to date: create a health insurance cooperative that puts people before profits and gives its members a voice — just like Common Ground. 

Five years and thousands of hours of hard work later, we are very pleased to announce the opening of the Common Ground Healthcare Cooperative.

Enrollment started October 1, 2013 Common Ground Healthcare Cooperative will begin enrollment in 19 counties in Eastern Wisconsin, with insurance effective on January 1, 2014.

http://www.commongroundhealthcare.org/
https://www.facebook.com/events/539295402829326/