Better late than never, I want to share my thoughts and the topics discussed at the OSMF board’s annual Face-to-Face meeting in May this year.
We met on the 20th and the 21st of May in Amsterdam at the same location as last year. Martijn and Mikel made a quick survey and put considerable time into compiling an agenda for the weekend for us. This year we also had Dorothea, our administrative assistant who helped us keep time and took notes during the meeting for us.
Board members still smiling after a hard day of work
We discussed many topics and I will try to share them with you. I will focus on topics which I believe will be of particular interest to the community, but I’ll also include issues and impressions I simply found interesting myself.
Saturday started of with a session about how to define the “OSM community” which was more about knowing where each other stands. This led to the question about the community’s or the board’s relation to “corporate stakeholders” as well. Although I had the impression that we had quite different views on it and I felt a bit like an extremist, this was quite a productive discussion and in a follow up working session we developed a first draft for a “Welcome Mat”. This will be something for organizations and companies to read to familiarise themselves with the project, the community and especially to learn about the expectations we have and the responsibilities they have. The current plan is to compile the main points into a draft to share in July.
Sticky notes everywhere
A planned program for microgrants was the focus of a second large working session on Saturday. You might know similar programs from e.g. OSM-US, HOT or FOSSGIS. As a start and as a first trial we want to make a time-bound program where you can apply for microgrants until a specific date. We discussed many of the details like the budget, the set of applicants, a rough timeline and the need for a committee to help on with the selection and to provide some kind of “supervision”. We plan to have a dedicated blog post and more details coming soon, in August this year.
Working Groups and Volunteers
Sunday started off with a topic that I expected to be highly controversial: Working Groups and their role with regard to the board. But I was proven wrong. We talked about and discussed the scope of each working group, their (potential) needs and their relation to the OSMF board. It was quite interesting as almost every working group has at least one board member in its ranks.
One very obvious theme from our discussion about working groups is the lack of volunteers. Let me add a personal thought here: We have quite a few people running for the OSMF board each year with many great ideas. As the board is mainly assisting, you can achieve something more easily by actually joining a working group and not the board! Anyway, one of our working sessions on Sunday was dedicated to a “volunteer drive”. We run successful money donation drives but money cannot always be used to buy time. So, we really need more volunteers to help run our project, which is why we want to try and run a volunteer drive next year. If you can’t wait that long: Go on and join one of our great working groups now! 🙂
We had a couple of rapid fire sessions where each of us could name a topic they are personally interested in. Mine was about our need to properly explain why we need or want an administrative assistant. To make our decision more transparent, we plan to fully disclose the scope of the job’s duties and hope to demonstrate why we think it’s worth spending money on some administrative tasks instead of doing it ourselves or searching for volunteers. In a similar vein, Frederik asked about the others’ thoughts on putting financial tasks into professional hands. One reason, for example, is that it’s a major pain for new board members to get access to our bank account. Furthermore, we talked about an updated travel policy which is scheduled to be drafted in August. We mostly asked what and whom we do fund and up to which amount. One side aspect was to pay Kate’s travel to the SotM-Asia 2017 where she will be the keynote speaker.
Other than that we had a talk about a corporate editing policy, something the DWG has been tasked with and I guess you’ll see a public community survey on that topic soon.
Sadly, not many community members had the time to join our planned evening with the local community on Saturday. I still had the opportunity for some interesting private conversations, though: I know a lot more now about growing tomatoes and raising goats and I would recommend anyone with a farm to get some alpacas. 🙂
But we didn’t meet for fun, but for work: It was a friendly and productive meeting and – given the financial outcome of last year (read: the corporate membership program) – it didn’t feel so bad to spend some money on the meeting. We don’t have tangible results to show yet, but that was not the goal: The meeting was about discussion and offered an opportunity to talk about various issues that would be hard or impossible to tackle via the mailing list or on mumble. In order to not let that time go to waste, it’s now important to follow up on those topics. That’s why we ended our meeting with a “Mapping Where from Here” session to produce a schedule with follow-up tasks and a timeline describing what we would like to be finished when. So I hope you’ll hear more about the microgrant program and the welcome mat soon. Stay tuned! 😉