I’m running for reelection to the OpenStreetMap U.S. board of directors. In my 14 years of grassroots mapping, organizing local communities, and evangelizing OSM, I’ve witnessed the community and ecosystem grow tremendously while remaining true to its humble roots.
The past year has proved that big things start small. Who could’ve predicted that a complaint from a park manager would turn into a thoughtful Trails Working Group, or that an offhand comment in a long Slack thread would inspire our community’s cartographers to come out of the woodwork and collaborate on a new OSM Americana renderer? We tend to think of OpenHistoricalMap as a daunting blank slate compared to OSM, but you should’ve seen people’s eyes light up at WikiConference North America when they learned about the project. You make all of this possible through your creativity, hard work, and financial support; the board is right here alongside you to connect the dots and grease the wheels.
OSMUS has matured to the point that the board no longer needs to run the day-to-day affairs of the organization, which frees us up to do what we’re better at. It’s up to us to have a big-picture, long-term vision for the organization. We funnel the U.S. community’s many needs into a coherent strategy. As representatives of the community, we engage with other communities and organizations, seeking to turn their interest in OSM into a source of energy and diversity for the project. Collectively, we support our staff by providing ideas, scrutiny, and encouragement in healthy doses.
All that may sound distant and abstract, but I’m also one of you. I wear multiple hats in the community, participating in working groups, socializing in Slack, tinkering on software, and applying elbow grease to the map. In fact, I spend more time doing stuff as an ordinary community member than formally as a board member.1 This is how I stay grounded, even as I reach out of my comfort zone, seeking opportunities for OSMUS to bring more people from more backgrounds into this community.
My crystal ball is as cloudy for 2022 as it’s been over the past two chaotic years. But I believe this is the time for us to take the connections we’ve fostered online and apply them to the real world. Many cities and states still lack a group of dedicated mappers who know and meet each other, recruit others, and have contacts within their local communities. We need to foster this basic foundation in order to build a sustainable, diverse movement. The small staff of OSMUS doesn’t have the resources and time to be everywhere, but with adequate support and guidance, our community can be more than an online community and we can reasonably aspire for our map to be comprehensive and essential.
I encourage you to read the other candidates’ position statements and cast your vote by February 9th. In addition to voting for the board, please remember the part about the proposed change to the bylaws. Thank you for your consideration!