It’s the afternoon of Saturday, August 19th. I’m sitting near the back of an airplane wondering how I’m going to keep from going stir crazy on this almost 6 hour flight back to California. As the plane takes off, I’m thinking about the last week at FOSS4G 2017 and images are flashing through my brain. Ok, I think, once I can take some stuff out of my bag (neatly stowed under the seat in front of me), I’ll doodle for a while. That should keep me busy for an hour or so. 5 hours later, I’ve almost finished this whole page and it’s just about time to land.
What struck me at the conference was how important the giving and sharing culture of our community is. The news from Charlottesville and the US President’s response seemed impossible. I caught up with people I hadn’t seen in a year, met people in person that I’d only known on Twitter, and found potential collaborators for a pet project that needs more people. I also found inspiration in many of the talks and came home wanting to get started on a thousand new things (except that this cold someone shared with me is preventing me from getting too much done yet). The best experience though was when I got to share my skills with the community. I taught a workshop (at Harvard!!!) to 20 incredibly skilled people and gave a talk to about 80 – both about cartography. I hope that what I shared will help them with some aspect of their work.
While I think it’s clear to everyone how the coders contribute, I think we need to do a better job acknowledging the contributions of users. After hearing a few presenters say they didn’t feel like they belonged because they were “just users”, I started speaking up during the question time telling the speaker how important their role in the community is. Making every member of our community feel welcome and valued is key to our continued success.
We also need to do a better job with diversity. The breakdown of attendees neatly avoided discussing race and gender. A look around the room, probably told you everything you needed to know about those topics though. How do we fix it? I’m not sure, but if we keep the discussion going rather than igoring it, we’ll find the solution faster.
So, thank you to everyone who made FOSS4G 2017 possible
My art process:
(pencil: Mirado Black Warrior HB 2) sketch in an image
(pen: Pilot Rolling Ball Precise V7 fine or Pentel Sign Pen ST150 felt tip) ink in the sketch
(pen: Pentel Sign Pen SES15N brush tip) fill in the spaces between the images