[OSGeo-Discuss] My feelings about board elections

María Arias de Reyna delawen+osgeo at gmail.com
Tue Oct 31 00:14:08 PDT 2017

Dear all,

Sorry for the late response. I was busy going back from different timezones
and that is a killer for me (travelling, being sleepy, etc...).

I agree with Sanghee that we have gone one step backwards. We have lost
Asia in the board. That's a step backwards we shouldn't have had. And I
agree with 90% of opinions posted here that are sad about the
European-NAmerica board. So I will just highlight what I don't agree with.
And this is an optimistic email, I don't share the general pessimism. Wait
for the end of it.

I don't agree that Venka has been punished somehow despite his good work.
Do you really think that if someone is doing a good work that should
warrantee his position on the board? I don't think so. I think the reward
of doing a good job comes somewhere else: recognition, ¿fame?, trust,
acknowledgement, even free beers! But even if you think a position on the
board is a reward, then, maybe other people have been also rewarded with
that for work outside the presidency of OSGeo but inside the community. Or
maybe people just wanted a fresh view, not necessarily that meaning that
his work (or your work!) was bad. There is a lot of reasons for voting
someone and I personally think that a "reward" vote shouldn't be one.
Having other candidates with more votes doesn't mean you did a bad job at

Do I think that you both should be on the board? Yes, of course! But this
has also been (at least for me) a very difficult voting. It was very hard
to choose between the candidates. All had good reasons to be there, all had
good work done inside the community. So, how to choose? I know what you
have been doing because I have done an explicit effort to know about that.
I have gone to international events, I have followed the mailing lists, I
have followed many threads on twitter. Most people only know what people
around them do. So it is possible (and very likely, in my opinion) that a
lot of people just see OSGeo as an organization, but don't see the work of
individuals. So for them, Venka is that person who does the "history of
OSGeo" talk, but nothing special around him that other active members don't
have. If we ask members who has been behind the new website, how many of
them would know? And that is something that has had a lot of publicity
recently. What about all the rest of work that has less exposure?

So when it comes to voting, they see candidates who are active in trying to
show their views and other candidates that are not present. Not being
present on the election process, that is what have drained votes, I would
say. Not your fault, maybe, but how do we explain that to people who don't
see individuals because they are already busy with local and regional stuff?

And now the optimistic part:On the other hand, we have gone two steps
forward. Wait, what? Let me explain:

We are finally half male half female. Although this may not look like a
step forward to some of you, to me it is a huge win. And we did that
without the need for quotas. That't a double win. And it is a tendency that
has been stable so I am optimistic here.

And the other step, but still an important step forward, we have recovered
the long lost Iberoamerican community in the board. Since Jorge Sanz, we
haven't had a spanish-speaking board member. I know I count as European,
but I am as European as I am part of the large (huge!) community that
culturally spreads also on north, central and south America. So yes, Vicky
may have been a better representative of this community because she is not
european, but still, I plan to work hard on getting latin americans closer
to OSGeo. Remember that this community is the ¿largest? community in OSGeo
and they are very silent because many reasons (low English level, no
international FOSS4G being done close, middle income economy that can't
afford to travel far or even organizing codesprints properly!,... etc...).
Most of them work hard towards OSGeo and don't even know there is such a
thing as a membership! They just work aligned with our goals and inside the
community, but they see so far away the OSGeo "official" community that
they don't even bother to get closer. To get what? What would be their
motivation to get closer to a community that largely ignores them?

If you think OSGeo has less importance in South America, check the
GeoInquietos. Different branding, same work. On the FOSS4G-BA, after María
Brovelli's talk about OSGeo, many of them were surprised. They knew about
FOSS4G just because the geoinquietos from Argentina placed it on their
doorstep. But, OSGeo? What's that? Aaah, the same thing they have been
doing but on an English-speaking community.

We have lost Asia, but we have a window to South America. And that's very

And, wait, have we lost Asia? Does it mean that if there is no board member
from Asia, Asia is going to disappear or something?

If you think it will help, we can have something like one representative
for each chapter as advisor or watcher of the board. Why not? Let each
chapter decide who to "send", like embassadors. I think that would be a
good approach to get closer to different communities.
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