FOSS4GNA Afterward

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This is an attempt at encapsulating the entire conversation around the FOSS4GNA discussion from the start on twitter and then through the conference dev list and finally to the discussion list. I edited for clarity and brevity, the best I could. -Guido

May 4th

Twitter thread

@rjhale

 “It would be nice if the financial end were open so we can see the sausage being made though”

@TheaClay

 “The financials are open,  have always been.  Happy to share if you're curious.”

Twitter subthread

@sarasomewhere writes

 “Hey Thea! Can you share the link to where it's all posted?”

@TheaClay writes

 “Sorry,  should have clarified,  open not posted to google.  I'll remedy bc clearly great info for the community.  
 @TernerGeo @GuidoS how did ya'll post the financials? I'd like to follow your model.”

May 11th

Twitter thread

@sarasomewhere writes

 “Hey #foss4gna folks, any update on getting that open financial info online and publicly accessible?”

@TheaClay writes

 "We are still in active registration and finalizing numbers.  We're working with sponsors and
 the committee to make sure you get the info you're requesting as soon as possible.  That
 said,  I'd prefer to give accurate numbers vs estimates so we truly appreciate your patience."

May 20th

Medium Post

@sarasomewhere writes

 "I was Program Chair of FOSS4G-NA 2018 until I stepped down from the role in February 2018
 (if you liked the keynotes in STL this year, you’re welcome)"
 "Conferences, community events, and related gatherings are a known quantity in the tech world. 
 I readily admit that open-source geo community events are my favorite ones to participate in.
 Most of us would probably say a conference offers some combination of professional networking 
 and development, along with opportunities to share what we know and do, and most of us probably
 agree that these reasons are what draw us together. But somewhere along the way, it feels like
 we’ve gotten sidetracked."
 Our mission has drifted.
 Last year, I was asked to Chair the Program Committee of FOSS4G-NA 2018 because, as the
 person who approached me put it, they “really needed a woman” to do the job. I let myself
 chalk that line up to language barriers, but in retrospect should have seen it for what it was:
 an attempt at diversity-washing an otherwise homogeneous affair. And so for six months, on
 nights & weekends, I was the woman they needed who did the job.
 Ultimately, I stepped down as Program Chair of FOSS4G-NA 2018 because of that hurt.
 So who are we excluding from our conferences and community events? For starters:
 * non-drinkers or people who avoid alcohol in professional settings
 * anyone who can't afford the cost of attendance — and doesn’t have an employer who will foot the bill
 * anyone who is unable to follow a tech talk by hearing alone
 * parents who lack a support network or the financial means to travel without their kids
 * underrepresented minorities, women & non-binary folks; essentially anyone not already  
   a member of the predominantly-white-and-male old boys’ club of open-source geo.  
 And many others.
 What are we going to do about it?
 * Implement — and enforce — a Code of Conduct
 * Offer childcare options
 * Reduce the booze
 * Lower costs & add more scholarships
 * Expand the reach of your content
 "But I'm not an organizer”
 * Advocate for those who might not advocate for themselves
 * Commit to only speaking, teaching, or otherwise contributing to events with a Code of Conduct.
 * Ask for it: if you're attending a conference, simply asking for information about childcare, 
   facility accessibility, food options, scholarship funds, and similar can make a huge difference.
 * Reach out & invite in
 * Put your money where your mouth is
 Moving away from our default “this is how we’ve always done it” habits is going to produce some growing pains.
 I have faith in the open-source geo community, though: it can grow up, and it can be better. Let’s do this.

May 29th

Twitter thread

@sarasomewhere writes

 "It's been a couple weeks, and I'm still interested in hearing any updates on this! 
 This kind of open info is important to our community, especially as folks start thinking 
 about 2019 events. #gistribe #foss4g #foss4gna"

June 11th

Twitter thread

@sarasomewhere writes

 "It's been *another* couple weeks, and I'm *still* interested in updates on this! I've learned
 that at least one keynote speaker was not paid due to "the money running out" 
 -- so it would be great for the community to get some official numbers. #foss4gna #foss4g"

June 13th

Conference dev email list

@sarasomewhere writes

 Hi folks,
 
 Some of you may be aware that for the past ~5 weeks, I have periodically renewed a
 public request [0] for FOSS4G-NA 2018's financial records. 
 
 Yesterday, Marc Vloemans, speaking on behalf of LocationTech, said that I was 
 "misrepresenting" this issue [1]. That's certainly not my intent, so I'd like to clarify the
 basis for my ongoing request in longform, and renew said request in this forum.
  
 On May 4, 2018, a LocationTech representative stated publicly that FOSS4G-NA's
 "financials are open, have always been" [2]
 
 - Later the same day, the same representative said that they were "working on 
   posting all our materials to the wiki (...) Expect those late this week" [3]
 
 - Those statements now appear to be contradicted by the recent comment [1]
   that "there is no obligation" of LocationTech to share FOSS4G-NA financials
 
 My ongoing requests have thus far been an attempt to continue the conversation 
 that originally took place on twitter on May 4th. As Marc said last night that he
 does not "communicate with people via twitter" [1], I'm more than happy to continue
 the public conversation with him or any relevant representative(s) here.
 
 [0a] https://twitter.com/sarasomewhere/status/1006304174332661760
 [0b] https://twitter.com/sarasomewhere/status/1001543441053114368
 [0c] https://twitter.com/sarasomewhere/status/994930635096641536
 [1] https://i.imgur.com/NlbXb4t.png
 [2] https://twitter.com/TheaClay/status/992394814749577217
 [3] https://twitter.com/TheaClay/status/993584128279957504
 
 Regards,  
 Sara Safavi

June 14th

Conference dev email list

@sarasomewhere writes

 Hi Marc:
 
 Please do not bring my employer into this. That is threatening behavior, and is incredibly
 inappropriate for anyone in this community to engage in.
 
 The fact that I was Program Chair of FOSS4G-NA 2018 for six months is no secret: among 
 many reasons documented elsewhere, I found a replacement for myself and stepped down
 from the role in order to maintain "separation of church & state", as it were, when I felt it was
 no longer tenable to represent both my employer and FOSS4G-NA at the same time (this directly
 followed you asking Sara-the-Program-Chair to "wiggle a platinum sponsorship from" her employer).
 
 Come on, folks. I'm not trying to make unreasonable demands. I'm not trying to launch any missiles.
 I'm just trying to continue a conversation that LocationTech staff started on May 4. Personal attacks 
 on me and dismissing this as a "non-discussion" aren't constructive.
 
 --Sara
 
 On Thu, Jun 14, 2018 at 8:00 PM, Marc Vloemans <[hidden email]> wrote:  
 > Dear all,
 >
 > After so many tweets, posts, blogs etc. I feel a formal response is needed.
 > 
 > LocationTech - as part of a longstanding agreement with the Core Committee of Foss4g NA - has acted
 > as the contractor/producer of this conference. This entailed that all pre-conference investments and financial
 > risks were off the shoulders of OSGeo.org. Regional conferences like this one elsewhere in the world are taken
 > on by local/regional chapters. But until some weeks ago there was no such chapter in North America. Therefor
 > this special construct. LocationTech has informed the Core Committee before “St Louis” that we would  not be
 > able to continue this arrangement as the financial and human resources were beyond its means.
 >
 > The demands made by Sara Safavi to give insight into the books are not appropriate. Comparable to a customer
 > asking her employer (Planet Labs) to open their books to a customer. Since FOSS4G NA mostly relied on professional
 > staff (instead of volunteers like in “Boston” and Companies sponsoring their employee’s time) this would give third
 > parties indirect information re salaries etc. And I will not do that. Ever. Especially if persons try to force my hand,
 > when they have no legal, moral or other right to this type of personal information.
 >
 > Furthermore, I would like to emphasise that Sara has been Program Chair of FOSS4G NA 2018 until the deadline
 > for the CfP. She has been aware of this arrangement from the beginning....
 > 
 > On another note; this non-discussion is damaging the Core Committee, the FOSS4G NA and overall brands at
 > large and OSGeo (both .org and US). And the great working relationship between OSGeo and LocationTech. But 
 > furthermore, it makes our community a place where those who put in actual work and energy are subjected to 
 > harassment. With the silent approval of the majority..... If we want to keep present/attract future volunteers, 
 > partners, supporters and sponsors we need to put a stop to this type of behaviour. Right here and now. Otherwise
 > we dig our collective grave.
 > 
 > If the majority keeps their silence then OSGeo has become a very toxic place, indeed!
 > 
 > (And I still wonder whether the demands represent Planet Labs’ (who was a welcome and respected 
 > sponsor of this year’s FOSS4G NA) opinion or not .....)
 > 
 > Hope this gives background and puts an end to this non-discussion.
 > 
 > Kind regards,  
 > Marc

June 15th

Conference dev email list

María (delawen) writes

 On Fri, Jun 15, 2018 at 2:49 PM, Marc Vloemans <[hidden email]> wrote:
 > Hi All,
 > Indeed, over the last three FOSS4G NA’s there were no financials published. Eclipse Foundation/LocationTech 
 > has been the supplier of production/logistical/marketing services. That is a different arrangement from other
 > FOSS4G’s. Call it a historical anomaly.
 > 
 > Without the involvement of the amount of volunteers usually involved In organising such event, EF/LT have used
 > the services of various sub-contractors. These are suppliers for 12+ years, with rates reflecting the longstanding
 > relationship. Divulging the contractual arrangements is bad business practice and in many cases against the
 > contractual stipulations. Even asking EF/LT as main contractor for monetary info is not done. Your companies/employers
 > don’t do this too re clients. 
 > 
 > So again, no numbers are given. For a host of valid and legal reasons.
 > 
 > However. On the income side anybody can do the math (10% early bird) from the publicly available info on the conference
 > website. Extra work to provide this seems rather excessive.
 > 
 > So, framing the discussion in terms of ‘transparency’ is - considering the above - somewhat beside the point. In that case no
 > 
 > The handover to future organisers is secured via the Core Committee. That was the ‘client’ of the event. 
 > 
 > What everyone seems to ignore is that harassment and misinformation have been happening. In the ‘open’. And that the 
 > Board and community at large is choosing to ignore this. Which sends a signal as loud as if shouted from the rooftops. 
 > If that is what we want....
 
 I was agreeing with you until this point.
 
 Why this separation between you and the community? Are you not part of the community? Did I miss something?
 
 And also, why this separation between the community and the board? Is it because the CoC team is dormant and we
 should do something about it? We are doing something about it. But my search for volunteers is not being very effective.
 People tend to think that either that is not something that affects them or that that is something they don't have to solve
 (because they are not the ones that created the harassment). If you have a better way to handle this, please, enlighten
 me. Because I am not sure what else to try besides what we are already trying.
 
 Also, on a personal side, I haven't seen any harassment yet. Maybe I missed it? Maybe I saw it but didn't see the 
 harassment? How can I, as part of the community, answer to something that I haven't seen? Did it happen outside the
 OSGeo mailing lists? Outside my social network range? How would I know?
 
 And if you (or anyone else) knows there is harassment, why haven't you pointed at it? Why haven't you told anything 
 until now? I still don't know where this harassment has happened, you just mentioned an ethereal event I don't know
 of, how can I act?


June 19th/20th

OSGeo Discussion List

 Thanks Jeff, Maxi. I appreciate both of your messages!
 
 It's not a matter of hurtful words, though; it's no longer wanting to be affiliated with a community whose members make open
 threats to my employment. I like & need my job too much to continue making myself a target for that.
 
 Don't worry, I'll still be out here evangelizing/supporting/contributing to open source geo software.
 
 Cheers,  
 Sara
 
 On Wed, Jun 20, 2018 at 9:26 AM, Jeff McKenna <[hidden email]> wrote:
 > 
 > Hi Sara,
 > 
 > Although we haven't (yet) shared FOSS4G travels together I have to say that I truly admire your passion and efforts, and we
 > share a lot of the same traits (do-ing, asking questions, diving in, etc.)  I strongly second Maxi's words.  You are a leader and
 > a big part of the OSGeo community.  Much of what you have been saying or asking I've been literally taking notes of how we
 > can improve.  In fact I see you taking on more of a role and not less.  I am just speaking from the heart and being open.
 >
 > I know how the written word can be so hurtful these days (and I don't want / but yet know that unfortunately my own words 
 > here can be misinterpreted as taking one side versus another), but I hope this public support shown here can give you
 > renewed hope and energy for the OSGeo community.
 > 
 > I encourage you to keep being you.
 > 
 > -jeff
 > 
 > On 2018-06-19 2:03 PM, Sara wrote:
 >> 
 >> Hello community,
 >> 
 >> Can someone point me at the relevant documentation re: retiring current membership status? Specifically, related to Charter membership.
 >> 
 >> I understand the processes to nominate & add new charter members but not clear on how current charter members can retire.
 >> 
 >> To put it another way: how to edit https://www.osgeo.org/about/charter-members/ <https://www.osgeo.org/about/charter-members/>?
 >> 
 >> Thanks,  
 >> Sara Safavi