Yesterday I had the pleasure of participating in the Local Chapters and Communities Congress, where we celebrated and Joost Schouppe ceremoniously countersigned new local chapter agreements. At the beginning of 2020, the OSMF had 8 local chapters, all in Europe. Today we have 14 local chapters, on five continents: Europe, South America, North America, Asia, and as of the last OSMF Board meeting, Africa. Joost as Board secretary has done the lion’s share of the work in processing six applications so far this year and deserves kudos for his efforts.
Among other things we discussed what the role of local chapters should be in OSM governance. Nothing has been set in stone, and indeed the conversation in a breakout session on the topic was free-flowing. Rob Nickerson of OSM UK suggested that the local chapters might be asked to help decide on admission of new corporate members, and also to help the Board prioritize paid work (e.g., to help decide when volunteer contributions of labor are not keeping up and OSM needs to pay somebody to fix broken software). I think these are ideas worth considering.
The conversation yielded a suggestion that the OSMF Board assist local chapters and communities with fundraising and perhaps help coordinate fundraising.
I have my own thoughts on this–I don’t think the Board itself should be a source of funds for local chapters and communities, because that could lead to dependency relationships that would undermine the decentralized nature of the OSM community, one of its strengths. That said, there is perhaps a role for the Board in cooperating with the LCCWG to assist local chapters in raising their own funds and to ensure that we don’t interfere with each other in the process.