When sitting down to write the Chairperson’s Report for this Annual General Meeting of the OpenStreetMap Foundation I have to confess I was having a difficult time. Not because OpenStreetMap hasn’t continued to make great strides over the past year and continue to become further THE free map of the entire world. No, it was because my heart once again was heavy. This year’s election has been even more hostile than others. Some of the debate has surrounded around if OpenStreetMap is currently a welcoming place for all and if we ever make people not feel welcome due to the actions of some of our members.
Procrastinating on writing this I was scrolling through Twitter and I happened across a quote from the CEO of Creative Commons, Ryan Merkley.
“Pick big fights with your enemies, not small fights with your friends.”
Stop and think about that for a moment.
When OpenStreetMap started we picked a huge fight with proprietary map provides. For a long time we were just some little upstart, but then they began to take us seriously. Today we continue to be used in more prominent and more important ways all over the world. Just in the past 2 weeks OpenStreetMap became used in Ingress and Pokemon Go, applications of millions of users. New editors are coming in because they can update the map themselves. How exciting is it that all our work continues to be used in more and more ways?
What is our next big fight to continue to be the best free map of the entire world? Let’s all think about those challenges and how we are going to surmount them.
How can we lay aside differences and be welcoming to people who are different from us? It is certainly not from fighting amongst ourselves. That just makes people want to check out, myself included, hence the difficulty in writing this report.
We were not without accomplishments this year though. We’ve increased all types of membership with the OSMF membership standing at almost 900 people now. That is more than we’ve ever had. We’ve increased the Corporate Membership to 24 and created an Advisory Board currently consisting of representatives from Corporate Members and Local Chapters.
Going forward things I’d like the OSMF Board to focus on in the next year include increasing the overall diversity of all our memberships. From encouraging different individuals to become OSMF Members, recruiting different types of corporate members and adding more local chapters. To do that I think we are going to have to show more value as the Foundation. By supporting local chapters more and tech community initiatives. To be able to do this we are going to have to explore ways to have additional funding avenues. I hope we can finish creating a micro-grants program to all groups to apply for this support.
I hope after the election I can be hopeful for the next year. I hope we all can be, let’s come together and stop picking the small fights.