[OSGeo-Discuss] Recent f2f board meeting

Mark Lucas mlucas17 at mac.com
Thu Feb 9 10:23:04 PST 2012

Reflections on the recent f2f board meeting in Seattle.

The f2f was a very productive and much needed meeting.  The board members brought together a number of different perspectives, but worked very closely in charting the way ahead for the OSGeo foundation.  After 6 years it is really amazing how far we have come with chapters distributed around the world as well as local and global conferences and meetings.

Before going on to the more strategic discussions, there are some mis perceptions that I'd like to help clear up if I can.

We were all disappointed that Jeff was unable to make it to the meeting.  There is also unanimous appreciation for all of the effort and organizational skills that he has performed for OSGeo.  Jeff has been instrumental in opening up regions of the world to OSGeo and he continues as an active contributor on a number of levels.  We previously approved funding to send Jeff to Beijing to help out with the efforts there and we were all surprised when he found it necessary to back out of that.  There was a lot of discussion at the board meeting leading to Arnulf reaching out to Jeff for input and to determine how we could all support near term activities going forward.  We all wanted him to remain on the board and remain has head of the conference committee if that is what he wanted.  We also were all very understanding if he wasn't able to make commitments in the near term.  Jeff asked to step down for his own reasons - we all value his friendship, contributions, and opinions and want to continue that into the future.  Jeff, we love you buddy, and we're looking forward to the next meet up.

We went through a lot of important administrative details and Daniel gave an excellent review of the budget.  We got educated on the differences between 501 c 3 and 501 c 6 and have plotted out a plan on moving towards final approval.  Michael did an excellent job of organizing the event, all of the details, and helping to manage the agenda and note taking.

For me, the most strategic part of the meeting revolved around expanding OSGeo around the world, encouraging more self organization and initiatives, and securing our future revenue streams. This will allow us to promote our collective agenda, support new initiatives, new regional conferences, and expand our excellent development capabilities further in other thrust areas. A few of the thrust areas discussed were - users, business model support for companies, helping migrate agencies from closed to open.

The annual conferences clearly show us that we have regional interest all over the world.  All of the conferences have been successful in their own right.   All of the conferences are dominated by attendees within that particular region with only a small percentage traveling from abroad.  We now are seeing pent up demand to have regional annual get togethers so that our members and supporters can afford to attend our events on an annual basis.  Beijing is coming up and we are excited about the potential for addressing needs and opportunities in Asia.  Independently, a smaller north american conference will be held in Washington DC in April and an Easter European conference is also underway.  The board desires to have these regions organize and host their own conferences so that the profits can sustain future conferences in the region and also invest in opening up new regions of the world.  We will still designate annual meetings, awards, etc in conjunction with these events.

We hope this approach encourages more distributed leadership and volunteerism around the world, gives more people an opportunity to attend annual events, and smooths out our overall revenue so that we can intelligently invest in code sprints, start up conferences, infrastructure, marketing, education, etc that all can benefit from.

To this end we decided that the regional conferences would be more appropriately run as committees vs chapters.  Local chapters are always free to independently run their own events and organizations.  Regional conferences will help us coordinate overall resources, distribute leadership to the appropriate geographical areas, and lift the organization up to a new level.

I think we discussed 4 or 5 potential motions related to this subject, but then decided it was wiser to just state our overall thoughts and open up the discussion to the wider membership.  We are very interested in hearing everyones thoughts as we move to become  a more capable global organization.

Finally, I'm really proud to be associated with the board of directors.  Every single member is totally committed toward moving forward and doing our best to address the needs of our community.  I encourage you all to ask questions and participate in the discussion.  Also, I look forward to other comments from the board.  It is natural that we all have slightly different perceptions and thoughts as we move forward.


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