Boris Mann

Open Source. Community. Decentralized Web. Building dev tools at Fission. Cooks & eats.


Sustainable Community Involvement: on the Drupal community and Drupal Association

Hi, you may remember me from such roles as the first Drupal Association Board of Directors. This is a bit of a recap of my year's involvement with the Association, along with an explanation of my current feeling about it, and that I won't be applying for a Board position this next year. Oh, and if you're a current or prospective Permanent Member, you should probably read this.

2007 was a tough, tough year. Lots of exciting things as well, but for me, lots of business and personal growth/changes/stress. The year ended with a business high (Raincity Studios acquired Bryght) and a personal low.

I struggled through the first half of 2007 to juggle my community commitments, both on the Association as well as the "regular" involvement of mailing lists, websites, user groups, and so on. OSCMS 2007 aka Drupalcon Yahoo 2007 just barely squeaked out the door, mainly thanks to some stellar folks at Yahoo and some last minute helping out from (among others, but she stands out) webchick. That was the last Drupalcon that I had a large hand in organizing, and it almost broke me. Maybe it actually did set some fractures in place :P

I went to Drupalcon Barcelona with a head filled with swirling changes of all kinds, before we had made the decision to join forces with Raincity. On the Association panel, I outlined many big picture items that I (still) want to accomplish: endowing chairs in open source at Canadian universities, with Drupal as some of the course material. One of the other main things I said was that I wanted to see myself replaced on the Board as quickly as possible with people more experienced and more capable. Perhaps one of the things I meant was people with more time :P

Barcelona was also the site of a knock down, dragged out, filled with passionate yelling Association discussion. webchick mentioned it as being one of the scariest meetings she had ever been in, but many of the other people, including myself, felt uplifted and cathartic. I left Barcelona ready to grab hold once again, do more delegation and organizing, and taking less tasks onto myself. But, it was not to be. I found myself again in a position of either following up with people constantly to "do" stuff, or just do it myself. Not sustainable. I couldn't do it.

And that's one of my main points to make. Considering applying to become a Permanent or Board Member of the Drupal Association? My question to all of those applicants, and the current Permanent Members, is this: what is your plan for sustainable community involvement?

Just like the keyword "sustainability" has been applied to everything from economics to food to energy, I think it must apply to the work/life/community balance that MUST exist for each person. You currently contribute to the community. Where are the 2, 4, or 6 extra hours *per week* that you said you can commit to going to come from?

OK, maybe I just have bad time management. I just want to underline, again, that we need people to actually *do* things. Just loading more tasks onto the already busiest members of the community isn't going to scale.

I don't want to be all doom and gloom here -- many of these items are a reality check: commit to things and follow through at a level that you have time for. I believe the Drupal Association to be a necessary part of the Drupal ecosystem. We're only now beginning to understand what its evolving role will be. I see many of the current applications as being "more of the same", with a few exceptions. We need *less* development members, and more organizational, finance, and other soft skill roles. My kingdom for a project manager, and my kingdom for a wider set of people to delegate tasks to that *will have the time available to execute them*.

2008 is a year where the Drupal landscape will continue to undergo change. There's the elephant in the room that I continue to be very supportive of and excited by, and Raincity has an office in Shanghai where we are going to attempt some new new things with building ecosystems in China. Personally, I will practice saying "no" to more things, and kicking ass on all the things in the "yes" column.

Tomorrow (today!), January 10th, is the deadline for applying as a member of the Drupal Association. Ask not what Drupal can do for you, but what you can do for Drupal, and remember that the Association is probably the last vehicle you need to "just do it". But if you really have the *time* and some good skills to contribute, check it out.