In the crowdfunding thread, Redon wrote:
since day one our hackerspace struggles with the costs we need to cover. In the beginning we have agreed not to have any charges for the members of the hackerspace for reasons that are already explained and this is something that doesn’t need to change at any cost in my opinion.
I support the crowdfunding initiative, but I’d like to revisit the issue of membership fees. Perhaps I missed it, so please remind me again, what are the “reasons that are already explained” why members shouldn’t be charged a fee?
Personally, I believe there should be a membership fee. It is vital for the long term sustainability of the OpenLabs. Crowdfunding (and even generous grants) are only one-off (or n-off, where n is not a very large number) options. After that donation-fatigue sets in, and people want to donate to/invest in new options. On the other hand, paying for something that we think is worth paying for, worth surviving, is the clearest sign of our belief in that thing. We have Lekes or Shekels or Dollars or shiny stones, and we vote with them for things we want, for the world we want to live in. Paying for something also connects us directly with what we use. When a member stops being a member (moves away, joins a different community, whatever), the member stops paying. But while the member is using the facility, as long as the member believes the facility does some good and is good for the world (and for herself/himself), the member pays for it. Just like we pay for a cup of coffee, or a computer, a pair of pants, or good software.
Yes, we need to think through different aspects, esp. that of being able to accommodate those for whom a fee would be a significant hardship (note emphasis on significant). A sliding scale for such situations would be most warranted. A crowdfunding campaign could finance scholarships for such cases, so the success of crowdfunding would dictate how many subsidized membership slots would be available. But everyone who uses the space and believes she/he benefits from it, would vote for the space by paying for it.
Please tell me your reasons against the above logic?
(In case you want to know, yes, I would pay for a membership in OpenLabs because even though I don’t live in Albania, and would almost never use OpenLabs, I believe OpenLabs is good for the world I want to see.)