[OSGeo-Discuss] Local Chapter Guidance

Michael Gerlek mpg at flaxen.com
Tue Apr 22 18:49:08 PDT 2014


Don¹t worry about the formalities: just find a few people who will regularly
attend and talk about cool stuff, and then let things organically grow form
there. It may take time, but be patient. Remember, a cool group of five
people sitting around chatting for an hour is perfectly fine: you don¹t need
to have a fancy venue, dozens of people, or Big Name speakers.

CUGOS (www.cugos.org) has been around for 7(!) years now, with monthly
attendance averaging 20-30 people (we hit a record 53 last week). Just off
the top of my head, some of the things we¹ve learned over the years:

* Try to find a place you can meet regularly, rather than switching venues
all the time ­ initially, just a conference room at a local library or
university is fine. Or perhaps one of your core attendees has a company
meeting room available after hours.

* Try to connect with your local college or university. Seniors and grad
students can present projects they¹re working on. Students looking to
graduate soon need to network, find skills they¹re missing, etc.

* Don¹t overly restrict yourself to "Open Source GIS". If you get a chance
to host a good talk on some new GIS app or technology outside the open
source realm, or a cool new open source thing outside of GIS, go for it. If
a local GIS company wants to pitch their services, why not?

* Get a mailing list going ­ you¹re likely to reach 10x the number of people
on a list over in-person meetings. In fact, consider just starting with a
mailing list, letting it grow for a while, and then hold your first
face-to-face meeting once you¹ve got some traction.

* Food always helps. Pass around a hat for donations and you¹ll almost
certainly wind up with a bit of profit from the evening you can use to seed
the next meeting.

* Going out for beers afterwards also helps. We get probably get 1/4 or 1/3
of our attendees socializing at a local bar for an hour or two after our the
actual meeting itself. (We¹ve reached the point where we need to give the
bar a heads-up call in advance so they¹re prepared for 10-20 people to walk
in all at once and ask for a table.)

* When you get a critical mass, hold outreach events: it¹s a public service
first, and as a side-benefit it will promote your group to others who may be
interested. Every year CUGOS holds an all-day event on the campus of UW that
attracts a lot of attention. Some of our members also volunteer their
services for various events like career fairs, mapping parties, GIS Day at
local schools, training, informal workshops and sprints, etc.

Good luck!


From:  Phil Nugent <philip.j.nugent at gmail.com>
Date:  Tuesday, April 22, 2014 at 6:15 PM
To:  <discuss at lists.osgeo.org>
Subject:  [OSGeo-Discuss] Local Chapter Guidance

Hey all,

I¹m wondering about general guidance or anecdotal experiences of creating a
local chapter or informal users groups.  I¹m wondering whether it helps to
have a fleshed out mission and objectives with some sort of general roadmap
or whether critical mass of interest is gained organically over time and to
not worry about the details and just create a wiki page to guage interest.
I am thinking of organizing a small seminar series at work for people
interested in FOSS4G, but beyond that, do you all have any guidance for
reaching out to potential cohorts in a fledgling chapter¹s region?  I have
thoughts on the mission of the chapter aside from goals aligned with the
greater community, but wonder if it¹s better if that arises naturally as,
and if, more people become involved.  Any guidance is appreciated.

- Phil
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