The OpenStreetMap community inspires me. Every day OpenStreetMap changes someone’s life. Whether it be helping some navigate their daily tasks or giving someone the chance to edit an open map, the ways OSM contributes is as diverse as the global community. Since I started as a supporter in 2010, my contributions and engagement have also grown.
Meeting OSMers in person on four continents plus via the various online channels provides me with incentive to run for a board position with OSMF. Extensive experience in community building and governance in open source communities are two strengths I offer to bring to this role. I’ve been involved in open source and open data communities for well over a decade including Open Knowledge, Ushahidi, and Mozilla. My board governance experience includes four years with Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team (HOT) and one year with PeaceGeeks. As part of the Governance Working Group at HOT, I recently led a team to deliver a revised Code of Conduct. The diverse nature of OSM and growing global nature are reasons that I aim to participate as part of this board.
If elected, my goals, in collaboration with fellow board members, will be two-fold: community building and governance. OSM has had an amazing impact on the world of open source and beyond. The impact of OSM on each of our lives, communities and, even, businesses is a story that is often understated. Community-building comes in many forms including localization of leadership, and organizational development. There are many global open source communities and models of governance. The goal would be to open up the discussion to determine how might the OSM community have more engagement across the globe in our governance and in working groups. Community-building is an essential ingredient in building good governance and expanding support. In my experience and research, this type of change is something that Boards make in concert with the various governance bodies and community members.
OSM is evolving and we need to create welcome, open mechanisms for engagement of more diverse skills and types of participation. Weekly OSM does an incredible job trying to bridge the OSM story. The voice of OSM and ways that we communicate across the world is beyond mailing lists. Other open source communities are investing in community development with tools to curate social media, mailing lists, and blogs. Much like OSM invests in tools and infrastructure, we should also invest in ourselves through community building. It means being open to more participation from people with diverse skills who want to support OSM in other ways beyond editing and building technology. Looking to other open source projects this is a natural evolution done with consultation and vision. This includes developing a volunteer network of community managers and using technology to bridge the global audiences of active participants. This is a shift of mindset to expand the type of community leadership in OSM. There is so much talent in the wide OSM community and in our supporting network of those who use OSM daily. There are OSM researchers, videographers, educators, and, even, journalists. What if we created pathways to encourage more diversity in skills and contributions?
OpenStreetMap governance is centralized with the Board, Working Groups, and Chapters. How might we adjust our structures and/or engagement tactics to reflect the global nature of this beloved project? What types of community activities beyond SotM can we add to support the global connections? At State of the Map Asia 2017, I was in awe listening to all the country reports of leaders. We had many conversations about learning from other open source organizations to support OSM’s journey. It is with these questions that I seek to support the existing community and reflect with you on how we might continue to diversify and grow OSM.
I look forward to your questions and comments. To that end, I can be reached here, on the Talk list or via my personal email = heatherleson AT gmail DOT com.
Thanks for reading,